December 6, 2023

and where the war will be decided

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Why and where the war will be decided
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON — Russia led with its tank-laden chin to take Kyiv and was stopped cold by Ukrainians armed with tank-killing drones and shoulder-fired Javelin missiles, proving the age of the blitzkrieg is over. Now, Russia has commenced a new campaign, a campaign predicted six years ago in “World War 4: Nine Scenarios” (see tagline below) whereby Russia would seek the conquest of Novorussiya (New Russia), the Russian-speaking areas of eastern and southern Ukraine.
          Having learned from the Kyiv operation, Russia realized that the principles of war still stand. One commander was appointed (unity of command), forces were concentrated (mass) with troops stripped from sectors that were then moved into defensive postures (economy of force). The Russians also learned that while Javelin missiles were deadly for tanks, they pose little threat to disbursed infantry formations.
          As a result, the Novorussiya Campaign is grinding away yards at a time with infantry in World War I fashion, and it is making headway.
          To counter these tactics, the Ukrainian Army must employ artillery, automatic weapons, drones, and, when possible, manned aircraft to make up for its disparity in manpower. So, Ukraine, also, is refighting World War I, but time and numbers are not on their side.
          The United States and NATO allies are increasing armament shipments to Ukraine, and President Biden is asking Congress for an additional $33 billion for the effort. The question is whether or not these deliveries consist of the right weapons and will they come in time. Hopefully, the U.S. and NATO, like Russia, have come to the realization that the World War II blitzkrieg tactics employed against Kyiv have given way to the World War I tactics in Novorussiya.
          The Russian plan is obvious. Their forces are driving south from Kharkiv and north from Mariupol and Donetsk to cut off the large Ukrainian forces in the Donbass. If they succeed, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin will have his off ramp, declaring victory and occupying more territory than expected after his Kyiv failure. He will demand that Ukraine acknowledge the battlefield reality and cede a third of the nation to him.
          However, Russian success is far from guaranteed. All will turn on Ukraine’s ability to prevent the closing of Russia’s north-south pincers. Already, Ukrainian attacks struck military depots inside Russia in an attempt to disrupt Russian supply lines, and Ukrainian counter attacks have gained ground east of Kharkiv where Russian forces went on the defensive. In the end, Ukrainian attacks aimed at Russian supply lines will not be enough unless those counter attacks can be turned into a major breakthrough offensive utilizing troops freed up by the Russian retreat from the Kyiv sector.
          Meanwhile, Russian forces took Izyum south of Kharkiv and are moving north from Donetsk and Mariupol. In between is the city of Kramatorsk, and either there or nearby the war will be decided for hat is where allied weapons and Ukrainian grit will face Russian numbers in a battle that will dwarf all others in this pointless war.
          See Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2021 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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