Why the Russian Army Uses Barrage Tactics When Attacking Slavyansk

NEW – July 22, 2022

According to military experts, it is quite possible that the new “fire rampart” tactics will be used in breaking through enemy fortified areas during the offensive on Slavyansk and Kramatorsk.

A new phase of the special operation in Ukraine

During July, the New York Times published several publications that made a forecast about the further development of the special operation. On July 9, former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder told reporters that “there is a large motion reserve, but it is clearly felt that the next few months will be really critical”.

On July 12, Thomas Friedman, a NYT columnist, predicted the imminent onset of the most dangerous phase of the conflict. Finally, on July 17, British analyst Carlotta Gall, who previously covered the Balkan conflict and worked as a NYT correspondent in Pakistan and Afghanistan, wrote that Russia has stepped up attacks along the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk-Bakhmut line. Some analysts believe that a successful Russian offensive is ensured by the use of the “fire rampart” tactic, which was made possible by the absolute superiority of the Russian Army in artillery. This technique has been known since the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940 and was successfully implemented in the breakthrough of the “Mannerheim Line”. During the Second World War, it was successfully used against the Wehrmacht. In particular, the “fire rampart” played a crucial role in the counteroffensive at Stalingrad.

Artillery barrage — breakthrough of layered defences

“The ‘fire rampart’ will be used, as a rule, whenever we need to take a decisive and paralysing effect on the entire enemy system and allow our infantry to move forward,” noted the People’s Commissar of Defence, Marshal of the Soviet Union Semyon Timoshenko (Smena Magazine No. 338, February 1941).

The field regulations of the Red Army noted that this method clears the way for ground troops on the offensive and blocks the way for the enemy on the defensive.

In the special operation “fire rampart” is a consequence and logical continuation of “northern flower” tactics, which was tested in Severodonetsk. Let’s briefly recall what it is. After an artillery strike on the city, the Russian Armed Forces, together with their allies from the LPR and DPR, bypassed Severodonetsk from the north and closed the remaining escape routes for the UAF. The strategic area was divided into several sectors, and if to look at the scheme of the offensive on the map, the development of the operation resembled a flower bud opening in both directions. The flower bloomed in parallel with the fading morale of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and their ability to resist.

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“Fire rampart” allows to develop the tactical initiative gained during the use of “northern flower”. In fact, this is a massive use of artillery on enemy positions, combined with the offensive of mobile formations.

In an interview with the “Life” website, Aleksey Leonkov, a military analyst and editor of the Arsenal of the Motherland magazine, noted that “fire rampart” is crushing both in terms of defeating enemy positions and demoralising the enemy.

“This is an artillery and missile tactic, when the enemy forces are being hit by fire and the offensive begins. And this defeat comes in conjunction with the offensive,” Aleksey Leonkov explained.

It is noted that much here depends on the gunners, who are required to conduct an avalanche of explosions synchronously with the advancing units. If the balance is reached, success is guaranteed.

“In this case, the enemy does not have time to organise defence, to oppose anything, when our troops enter its fortified areas. It is of great psychological importance. When ‘Blazing Sun‘, multiple launch rocket systems are working, artillery strikes at the identified points, then control points, headquarters, and main fire weapons are taken out there. To say that the demoralisation of the enemy troops is taking place is an understatement. In fact, this allows us to break through echeloned defence lines with a rush,” Aleksey Leonkov noted.

How the Russian army works in Ukraine

“Fire rampart” is not the know-how of the last month, but in fact, the main feature of the special military operation. The Russian army, in order to preserve its personnel, does not enter cities, does not approach the enemy, does not go into a frontal attack, but strikes from afar.

“In fact, the Russians have finally found a more effective way to lead the offensive… Russia shells and fires at Ukrainian positions in the east, turning them into ruins, and then moves forward,” NY Times military columnist Thomas Friedman described the tactics of the Russian Armed Forces.

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According to military analyst Aleksey Leonkov, “fire rampart” has not undergone drastic changes, because, as before, it is a massive suppression of enemy forces. However, the order of use of means and combat capabilities has changed.

“Today, tactics are based on reconnaissance, additional reconnaissance and related activities. The key point is not to waste shells. Among the means of fire destruction, high-precision complexes are gaining weight. They provide less ammunition consumption and more accurate target acquisition,” said Aleksey Leonkov.

Thanks to the introduction of automated systems, the management of “fire rampart” has become more flexible. Today, the Russian Army is armed with the latest artillery and operational-tactical missile systems that can hit more accurately, faster and farther than 80 years ago.

The Russian military uses “Grad” and “Smerch” multiple launch rocket systems, “Msta-S” howitzers, Soviet 152-millimetre “Giatsint-S” and “Giatsint-B” guns, and “Krasnopol” adjustable artillery ammunition in “fire rampart” tactics. According to military experts, it is possible that the self-propelled artillery installation “Koalitsiya-SV” is also being used, the use of which has been discussed on the fields of the Northern Military District since the beginning of July, although the information has not yet received official confirmation. “Koalitsiya-SV” is capable of shooting from a distance of 40 kilometres, and when using a “Krasnopol” missile projectile this range reaches 70 kilometres.

Victory for Russia

Thus, “fire rampart” has a high efficiency, and its only disadvantage, if it can be called a minus, is the need to concentrate a large number of resources on a single breakthrough area. This is the prerogative of the most powerful armies in the world with advanced artillery and a large supply of ammunition. In addition to Russia, “fire rampart” is used by the US Army.

“This is a tactic that the Americans still use. If you look closely, their main tactics after the Second World War — heavy fire suppression, artillery preparation, increased impact. After that, the American army advances, finishes off. This tactic is at the heart of network-centric wars,” said military analyst Aleksey Leonkov.

The Ukrainian army cannot afford this tactic, which is why it has such heavy losses. The Polish recon agency AW recently prepared a report with an analysis of the situation in Ukraine and concluded that the situation in the UAF formations was catastrophic. The Ukrainian army loses up to 1,000 people on the battlefield every day, and over 300 – irrevocably. The enemy’s morale is getting worse and worse every day.

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“It’s tense,” the 55-year-old commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces with the call sign Samson complains in an interview with the New York Times. “There is daily mortar fire, airplanes, helicopters, ‘Grads.’ They have a lot of ammunition.”

According to experts, today the density of fire of the Russian army is about 30 times higher than that of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and this despite the fact that Russia uses a peacetime army and is numerically inferior to the enemy. According to AW, the American 155-mm M-777 howitzers and HIMARS MLRS received by Kiev are not always used for their intended purpose, and often instead of conducting counter-battery warfare, the cannons are used to fire at civilians. Often, after accelerated training, the Ukrainian military cannot independently maintain complex artillery systems, and therefore they have to attract foreign instructors from among the mercenaries. The Ukrainian army is not a single unit, unlike the Russian one.

Earlier, Israeli military strategist Martin van Creveld stressed that Ukraine adheres to a deliberately losing tactic of military operations against Russia, which is significantly superior in strength, in which the Russian Armed Forces respond to every Ukrainian gun salvo with ten.

The New York Times publication of July 17 also noted that Ukraine’s NATO allies are tired and in a state bordering on panic. The West is talking about Vladimir Putin’s “winter strategy”, which analysts say implies a further advance of the Russian Army in Ukraine, while at the same time soaring inflation and rising energy and food prices in Europe, which will ultimately destroy the NATO alliance. Expert Thomas Friedman does not rule out that European NATO members will soon begin to put pressure on Zelensky to make a deal with Russia on any terms, just to end the conflict.


Evgeny Zhukov

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