What do events in the Donbass have to do with Russian victory?

Saturday, 25 June 2022 — Thomas Bergman

Let’s examine the consequences of tactical success within the strategic context

Thomas Bergman

In the land of Western and Ukrainian media spaces, supported by corporate institutional power, there is often talk of how Russian successes don’t mean much.  They say that Ukrainians are bleeding Russia of munitions and manpower while luring Russian forces into traps and such. They say that once NATO weapons and training are delivered to Ukraine, the tide will surely turn upon the weight of Western power and expertise.  They also downplay the implications of the success of Russian forces in the Donbass, saying that it’s only a few small cities, while Russia can’t even take a single major city.  How do these opinions hold up to the scrutiny of strategic military analysis?  The results of such analysis bear great fruit against such notions propagated on behalf of the Ukrainian regime.

Let’s first consider how strategy and military reality plays into casualties.  As Russia enters into more advanced stages of its military operation in Ukraine, they are suffering fewer and fewer casualties, and are inflicting greater and greater casualties upon the Ukrainian forces.  While Ukraine may have been able to report on a few columns of wasted Russian battalions early in the war while Russia was getting used to unknown factors in the war, this kind of Ukrainian propaganda hasn’t been seen for a long time.  Instead we hear reports of Ukrainian forces being unable to hold their positions and being forced to flee while destroying their own equipment to keep it away from Russian hands and eyes.  We hear also of whole Ukrainian brigades and battalions being obliterated or made to surrender in cauldrons and failed counteroffensives.  And this is only on top of regular decimation of Ukrainian forces all over the country.  Thus the steady dreadful melody of casualties sometimes reaches a sudden crescendo for Ukraine.

And then in the face of this, Ukrainian and Western commentators say that as Russia is worn down in these “costly” (for whom?) battles, when Ukrainian forces are trained and replenished by NATO, they will be able to push back upon Russian forces.  Britain says they will be able to put up to 10,000 Ukrainian troops back into the theater of battle in three months.  If we consider the fact that Ukrainian officials themselves say they are losing around a thousand troops a day to death and wounds, and do a bit of basic math, that means that by the time those troops in the UK are ready to fight, Ukraine will have lost around ten times the troops that they gained.  It is therefore an unsustainable rate of attrition.  To put it into perspective, this is almost a half of all Ukrainian professional soldiers.

Not only will Ukrainian attrition be devastating, but Russian force concentration will catalyze a whole change in the balance of the whole Ukrainian theater.  As the Donbass falls to Russian forces, not only will Ukrainian forces in the area be lost, but as the loop of frontline forces straighten into a line, the slack of frontline troops will be able to be redeployed elsewhere to push for the encirclement and surrender of major cities like Kharkov, Nikolaev, Odessa, and Zaporozhia, to name a few, bringing vast areas of Ukrainian territory under the control of the Russian Federation.  There are already reports of Russian success towards Nikolaev and Kharkov.  By the time attrition is suffered along the entire Ukrainian frontline, those redeployed Russian forces will have such a force concentration disparity against the Ukrainian forces that there will be barely any ability to resist Russian operations at all.

Donbas frontlineAs can be seen on the map of the Donbass frontline, as Russia no longer needs to deal with three sides around the region, the troops dedicated to these three sides can be redeployed to other theaters.  The redeployment could number up to 40 Battalion Tactical Groups.
Donbas frontline 2Reports indicate that Russia has already started to dismantle the frontlines ahead of Nikolaev.

As can be clearly seen, optimism on the part of Western and Ukrainian commentators is clearly unwarranted.  Russia may have made some mistakes at the beginning, but they are professionals, and they treat matters more seriously than the Twitter mob masquerading as Western officials and Ukrainian spokesmen.  Russia continues to inflict devastating damage across the Ukrainian military.  They are accelerating the depletion of Ukrainian forces and equipment.  Ukraine may lose around fifteen thousand troops and seven hundred pieces of heavy equipment around Lysychansk alone.  The fall of Ukraine may come more quickly than anyone even realizes.  I wish the Western public just knew what a fool’s errand their leaders have been pursuing.

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