62 Comments
Feb 11, 2023·edited Feb 11, 2023Liked by Simplicius

Russia's dominance was clear from the start, though clearly they went in way too light...by design at the time. Kiev was effectively defeated some time ago followed with attack by DC/NATO, using Ukrainian bodies. Russia has ramped up in response. Let's hope they get it over with soon, for the sake of what is left of Ukraine as well as the rest of the world.

Expand full comment

Russia is not warring Ukraine.

Russia is not invading Ukraine.

Russia is pushing back NATO ... while ... warring Emperor , to end his 5 centuries malfeasance fo good.

Ukraine is just a battlefield.

The main battlefield is in the cutting of Emperor's gravy train.

War will end when de-dollarization bankrupt US.

Until then , in Ukraine Russia will just grind forthcoming NATO.

The "offensive" will just push nazis back enough to secure civilians of LDPR, Melitopole and Belgorod (take Kharkov).

Don't hold your breath ... by far the most important battlefield is in de-dollarization ... that's what will crush Emperor and his provincial army NATO.

Expand full comment
author

That is true, and the SMO is just the convenient stage for Russia to accelerate its own restructuring and reorganization towards multi-polarity, SWIFT substitution, de-dollarization, etc, etc. But as far as the microcosmic scale goes, IF the rumors of 'stealth mobilization' with 500k men proves true, it's very hard to imagine an army of that size is raised just to push back the front in Kharkov etc. Russia is already handily defeating AFU in Donbass with just the 100-150k total forces they currently have in combat, an additional 500k+ is for a lot more than local objectives. But that's a big IF.

Expand full comment

Exactly, the shock that a casino ponzi economy has been bested by an economy of real production seems to have pushed irrational babbling to new levels. And with a tottering financial system how do you reorient your economy along the choices of guns and butter? Are there any signs apart from WEF wet dreams of any appreciation of just how many years this would take?

Expand full comment

The reach of dollar denomination is vast. Unwinding the dollar as the global currency is a gigantic upheaval from which few will be sheltered. Many countries will have to start from scratch building the institutions and infrastructure that this system provided. It means smaller jurisdictions will crumble first as the flight to quality in investment will actually flow to the US. A large chunk of the financial ruling elite in banking are US or Europe trained and biased. And frankly, it is difficult to imagine a replacement system. This is why the US has such freedom to aggressively use coercion to get its way. I think de-dollarization is needed but the pain all around is going the keep the world's foot on the brake as we go. The end destination is a robust multipolar system but boy, it is going to be tough getting there.

Expand full comment

Yes, unimaginable really, every corner of the globalized globe. As the can got kicked, it grew, and one day it'll be too big to kick and will topple back to crush many...

Expand full comment
Feb 12, 2023Liked by Simplicius

We're definitely seeing a lot of shaping going on across the front. Gerasimov's team have done a masterful job of keeping everyone guessing as to their intentions. Regardless of how decisively or not they can convert this effort, the Ukraine cannot fall into failed state status with some sort of frozen conflict in place to allow NATO a pause.

Expand full comment
author

I agree. I still believe they're gonna get it done and it SEEMS the resolve is there. It's hard to TRULY get the pulse of it because Putin and co are mum on it, and very OPSEC oriented, but other 'insiders' like Dmitry Medvedev and Andrei Gurulyov, who are a bit more at liberty to speak, have been talking for months about the extent of Russia's objective and how Russia will go "to the western Ukraine/Poland border" and capture everything, etc, etc. So one can only think/hope that the resolve in the Kremlin is strong as granite but we can never be 100% sure because the psyops from the West are so strong they have a way of eroding our confidence, even if a little bit. But like I said in the report, I think we'll get a very good sense of how things stand soon, if/when the true operation begins

Expand full comment
Feb 12, 2023·edited Feb 12, 2023Liked by Simplicius

It will partially fail as 1.2 or 1.3 millions forces (including admin, logitic)is needed for the total occupation of 404(even if temporay in Llov and co, just to negociate).But Odessa and Nikolaev are a MUST for diferrent reasons(landlocked, corridor to Transnitria, 404 almost failed state in the future, vengeance for 2014 mass murder at the Union house.)People from Russia mainland will not tolerate a 'victory' without Odessa even more than Kharkov(Kiev who cares really?).If Odessa + Nikolaev are not taken, we will then soon have the biggest nato base in the World at our borders.I unfortunalety see this option at best as we are still understaffed for political reasons, atlanticists are still strong some want our defeat to restart everything as before with the West (trip to Paris, Nyc, Courchevel, St Tropez, Marbella). They are wrong, some sanctions will maybe be cancelled in 2024-25 but only those where the west is interested in. Syrian scenario 2.0: no win no lose is probable.

20% scenario for serious strikes on Crimea or even mainland Russia.

5% nuclear false flag or chemical or any gigantic crazy psyop when Ukraine army will be destroyed in Donbass.

Expand full comment
author

I'm surprised you have nuclear falseflag at 5%, I have it at least at 20% because they already desperately tried to initiate it several times, and as I mentioned in previous reports one AFU is totally destroyed they will likely try again so that U.S./NATO can blame Russia for irradiating NATO 'allies' to use it as an excuse to send expeditionary force of American 101st Airborne stationed in Romania into Odessa to seize Odessa in thunder-run similar to Russia's Pristina airport adventure in 1999

Expand full comment
Feb 12, 2023Liked by Simplicius

This whole thing has been little more than Russia doing exactly what it said it would do. This big mean invasion narrative falls apart when you show people how much of Russia Borders ukraine and how little the fought over area is. (Its actually fun to point it out to people and see them get confused).

They wanted the DPR and LPR to be safe and the set out to pretty much only do that. If ukraines owners had been smart they would have just given those two bits away, but they had to keep running their mouths.

Javelins, didnt save ukraine, saxons, M113s, polak T series tanks, Mraps and whatever else didnt save ukraine, and nothing will. Except surrender, or negotiating one.

Expand full comment
Feb 12, 2023Liked by Simplicius

I have a feeling that RU does not mind if this takes time, for a few geopolitical reasons. They accept this is a war with NATO, but don't want it to spread or escalate to nuclear conflict. Having NATO come to you far from western support lines and ISR is the ideal place to fight. All the time soaked up gives more time for China to prepare. All the energy and $$ used to support the war undermines the already shaky financial base of the west, plus adds potential for civil unrest. Mufti NATO soldiers in UKR are welcome, whether as infantry, in the(ir) tanks or aircraft for the above reasons. RU does not need a 'big arrow' victory ASAP, they are content to let western leaders stew in their own juices.

Expand full comment
author

on one hand it's true, the longer the war goes, the more damage it does to the Western geopolitical systems in place, but on the other hand I believe Russia is also against the clock for certain objectives because the "psychological barrier" of arming Ukraine has been broken in many key ways. The West is no longer against sending almost anything. And there will come a certain point at which it reaches a critical mass to such an extent that it will make Russian advances extremely costly in lives. As superior as Russia is in most ways, the fact of the matter is it can't compete with the totality of the West's combined recon capabilities. All together between the '5 Eyes' nations they have hundreds of spy satellites working in unison to track everything Russia does, feeding an endless array of targets to the AFU. Russia's satellite/ISR capabilities are a tiny fraction of that. So, barring an unprecedented Russian decision to shoot down all their satellites or create apocalyptic space Kesslerization, they will have major disadvantages IF Ukraine is supplied with much more long range precision systems. These systems in concert with the total western ISR overmatch will give the capability to rain havoc on Russian rear lines and supply/logistic/c3 infrastructure. So I think, even though the overall war perhaps is not in urgent need of winning, but it is to some extent urgent to get SOME form of control over the total resupply of AFU's main forces with certain systems, and that can be done with massive pushes to cut off all of eastern Ukraine. Sure, the escaped forces in the West can continue to rebuild and be supplied with such systems but at least the main body will have been cut off.

Expand full comment
Feb 13, 2023Liked by Simplicius

yep, I hear you and agree, but RU could push to the western borders of UKR and still be under the same threat and attacked directly from within NATO countries - nothing changed except worse. War is costly to everyone, who has the will, and who has the industrial capacity to prevail?

Expand full comment

That’s a completely different scenario. The West will never attack directly from NATO countries as that nullifies article 5 and invites devastating counter attacks on NATO territory. In essence it would be the unequivocal start of WW3 with very high chances of nuclear Armageddon.

Expand full comment

Have they not walked the 'they wouldn't do that, would they?' line a long way since the start of the conflict? Right now there is only a very small fig leaf over NATO direct involvement - mufti NATO soldiers, French troops (?) killed, F16 only staging through Ukr to launch missiles. The West would just concoct another rhetorical flourish to legally cloak 'not a party to the conflict' attacks/defence from across a NATO border. It does not change RU response, as they know they are fighting NATO, and will continue to attrite them wherever they are - but preferably in eastern Ukr. Since the original article was published RU has continued to lure and tease Ukr to commit to hold cities, villages and territory based on their pride and need to back up their media spin. Ditto the west keeps feeding more materiel in, disarming themselves gradually, once again the rhetoric demanding continuation of a ruinous military action. Mouth writing cheques the body can't cash seems apt.

Expand full comment

Not the same thing at all. You’re talking about direct attacks from NATO countries, it’s chalk and cheese with what’s currently occurring.

Expand full comment

I am not sure if taking odessa is the goal of SMO. Pyhrric or complete victory will not depend on military vector anymore as US/NATo should be defeated in that case. Are those maps valid in this case after 1 year of SMO. I don't think so. They couldn't kherson city itself. How can they hold odessa or Nikoleav where there will be more people sympathetic to Ukrainian cause. What if so called annexed regions failed to pass referendum? Destruction of Ukraine as a society and functioning state is only left. If Ukrainians started firing belgorod or Bryansk or Kursk, then armed forces will enter 70-100Kms and make it a no-man zone to prevent artillery strikes.

Expand full comment
author

You can read part 2: https://simplicius76.substack.com/p/the-coming-russian-offensive-part

to get my thoughts as to why the northern vector will in fact necessarily come into play, as it's tied to new constitutional changes and has top priority.

They're already firing beyond Bryansk/Kursk, though perhaps not in as great a volume as it can be soon/in future if they get some of the new upgrades like GLSDB's etc., but there's been a good handful of tu-141 (and otherwise) drone strikes not only the ones toward Voronezh and Ryazan, near the famed Russian air bases but a recent one as well shot down not far from Moscow in Kaluga region, well beyond Bryansk.

As far as not holding Kherson--they could have easily held Kherson and in fact they did. The Ukrainian forces posed almost no threat at all in that region and were repeatedly brutally repelled anytime they attempted a hapless 'assault'. The only reason Kherson was evacuated over the right bank of river is because of the impending threat of collapsing Nova Khakovka dam, which would have catastrophically flooded the region, destroying Russia's pontooning capability and thus completely cutting off Russian forces from all logistical/supplies. If it wasn't for the issue of that dam, they could have easily held the Kherson region indefinitely.

Expand full comment
Feb 14, 2023Liked by Simplicius

Thank you for an excellent overview of the military side.

However, I will note that there is little to no mention of the extra-Ukraine situation nor is there a review on the fundamental challenges faced by the AFU regarding ammunition. Platforms are important but they are relatively easy to replace as opposed to the retooling, reorientation of economies and reindustrializing required to achieve even half of Russian military industrial capacity in missile, rocket and artillery shell production.

I posit this as a structural weakness with the otherwise excellent analysis laid out.

What does it matter if the AFU has 50 or 300 air platforms if the AFU's ability to defend against missile attack continues to fall due to the simple lack of availability of S300s, AMRAAMs or whatever? Doubly so if Russia is able to manufacture 100 cruise missiles a month and 500 offensive drones of various types?

What does it matter if the AFU has 300 or 1000 armored platforms if the AFU's 6K/day artillery logistics capacity continues to fall vs. the Russian armies 20K/day steady state and possibly 60K max effort artillery logistics capacity?

Nor is the problem restricted to the Ukraine. The entire West has denuded its artillery, anti-missile and rocket consumables to the point of Western militaries complaining publicly and Eastern European NATO members almost literally demilitarizing themselves.

I don't have a background in the military - so I ask you what the relative impact of lack of consumables would be as opposed to the lack of platforms to fire said consumables from.

Expand full comment
author

Well did you read this article that revolves around those sustainment issues? https://simplicius76.substack.com/p/on-shells-and-armor-the-war-of-sustainment

In short, for artillery only, the west can likely sustain Ukraine at its bare minimum. But as you mentioned there are a host of other aspects, like missiles of every other variety. And just yesterday news broke that U.S. refuses to supply Ukraine with ATACMs for HIMARS for the very purpose you mention, which is that U.S. only produced 4000 total of those missiles, and many of them were sold to partner countries, and the U.S. no longer retains the ability to produce many of them as they are much more advanced and sophisticated and even 'ramping' the production lines on those would take many years as you can't just train people out of the blue to produce such complex guided rocketry, etc.

And you're right in terms of air defense, recently there has been some indications that Ukraine has had its AD badly eroded to the point where Russian fighters are even incurring further into airspace to do bombing runs without fear of reprisal. Also there is evidence based on simple interviews of Russian pilots. For anyone that watches the official Russian MoD telegram channels, they post interviews semi-often with Russian pilots and several times now the pilots have outright stated that Ukraine's AD is SO degraded at this point, that many of the pilots' SEAD missions now come empty handed because there is simply nothing to hit. Ukraine now operates in full blackout mode of their remaining AD systems in order to save what they have. They rely on a system of forward spotters only. Meaning: when frontline fighters see Russian air assets in a given front, they will radio the rear AD their positions and ONLY turn on that AD briefly IF the Russian air assets happen to fall into a corridor where they might be shot down. Otherwise the AD radars stay off and don't just blindly "scan the skies" for targets as that has become too dangerous for them as they're quickly taken out by SEAD anti-radiation missiles (mostly kh-31p).

So yes the AFU is being degraded in a lot of critical systems, BUT the crux of this war is that the AFU is willing to take massive, unprecedented casualties, and Russia is operating in a very casualty averse style. So the playing field is not level. What I mean is, the AFU can be fully degraded and still keep fighting and get slaughtered at disproportionate ratios, BUT as long as they can keep inflicting steady casualties on Russian forces, they believe they still have a chance to turn the tide of Russian popular sentiment against the war eventually (farther down the line), by also utilizing their far more powerful western propaganda engine to eventually overwhelmingly reach a critical mass of negative sentiment in the Russian public sphere.

But the question is how long can they really hold on with such degraded capabilities and such heavy losses.

With that said, lastly, we must not be too quick to over-exaggerate the erosion of their sustainment abilities either because on one hand it sometimes seems dire, and they do very regularly complain on their social networks that they're always low on ammo etc., but on the other hand, when you see interviews with Russian forces on the frontline, they attest to the fact that the AFU continues to pound them mercilessly day in and day out with all types of weapons. So the perception can be skewed depending at which angle you view it from, but we must be careful not to exaggerate the AFU's demise too much as they still clearly have a powerful supply/logistical machine still churning.

Expand full comment
Feb 14, 2023Liked by Simplicius

Thank you for your reply. I did read your article on artillery shells - I agree with your conclusion that NATO "could" potentially keep up with AFU artillery expenditures albeit with the detailed problems you also outline.

Thing is: the AFU cannot succeed without going on offense. The present rate of artillery use is clearly almost exclusively defensive - thus it seems unlikely that Ukraine would be able to even conduct multi-theater counterattacks as opposed to single theater counterattacks and defense. This would seem to be a structural weakness.

As for air defenses: again, agree with your analysis in general.

The question that still remains, however, is if the ongoing attritional warfare can be sustained by the AFU in all fronts: artillery, air defense, manpower, platforms, morale, economy and so forth.

The AFU's troops aren't robots - they surely must entertain doubts as their ongoing human and equipment losses mount. Nor are the Ukrainian people robots - they are experiencing increasing levels of real suffering and the Ukrainian economy's ability to provide food, fuel and other forms of support for the fighting troops must surely be degrading faster than the electrical grid.

How does Ukraine's economy and military compare, even with Western support, compare with the fully mobilized WW2 era Germany vs. an equally fully mobilized Soviet Russia? Perhaps that might give an idea of the situation and likely outcomes.

Expand full comment
author

That's a good point. On defense you have the 'luxury' of firing less simply because you already have the environmental advantage over the advancing enemy so you have leeway to not need to use your artillery as much. Plus you're dug in fortifications etc., whereas the advancing enemy is more exposed as he pushes forward and is more reliant on artillery to break the fortifications and defensive structures of the enemy. So you're right they can hold out defensively in this way, but to push a massive offensive of their own to 'reclaim/liberate' vast territories as they intend to do is simply not feasible.

According to wiki, Lend Lease provided $10,982,100,000 or $10.9 billion worth of supplies to the USSR in 1940's dollars. (keep in mind USSR was not even the largest recipient, U.S. Lend Lease to Britain gave over $31 billion).

Using an online converter to convert inflation from 1943 to present, we get that $10.9 billion is reportedly equal to $189 billion of modern dollars. What's interesting is Stoltenberg just announced days ago here: https://en.topwar.ru/210562-gensek-nato-strany-aljansa-uzhe-pomogli-kievu-na-120-mlrd-dollarov.html

that the west has already given $120 billion to Ukraine. However, this is not even counting previous moneys. For instance Nuland famously stated in 2014 that Ukraine was given $8 billion worth. Also, this is only official designated money and doesn't count the likely much more in black budgets and 'off the books' assistance Ukraine gets. And keep in mind, that staggering $189 billion (in modern dollars) Lend Lease to the USSR was done over the course of almost 5 years. So Ukraine has already been given almost the same amount in less than a single year. At this pace, if the war lasts 4-5 years, then Ukraine will likely have tripled or quadrupled the total Lend Lease expenditures to USSR in WW2.

Expand full comment
Feb 14, 2023Liked by Simplicius

FYI: you might find this interesting - a 1977 EPA article talking about the input materials consumed by the US explosives industry in 1971 (Vietnam war height) https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/2000I4WR.PDF?Dockey=2000I4WR.PDF

As I am working on a startup in a directly related area, I dug further into these numbers.

Basically if you take the entire explosives output of the industry - roughly 76 million kg of explosives and assumed it was all TNT - the ratio of energy consumed vs. explosive energy created in the form of explosives is about 95 to 1.

Now apply this to artillery shells: a 155mm shell has about 10.8 kg of TNT and 1 kg of TNT = 1.15 kWh.

Basically you need 1 bcm of natural gas or 10.5 million MWh to create the explosives in 9 million 155 mm artillery shells.

1 bcm is a small fraction of the natural gas that Russia exported to Europe in 2021...but it is A LOT of energy. Actual feedstock inputs are likely some multiple higher.

Expand full comment
author

yep great points. You need tons of energy infrastructure to make weapons. I covered this a bit in my article: https://simplicius76.substack.com/p/on-shells-and-armor-the-war-of-sustainment

Though not as in depth as I could have. For instance: https://i.imgur.com/1Gi0J1X.jpg

and https://fortune.com/2023/01/22/ukraine-war-europe-russia-rail-trade-china-defense-industry-rare-earth-supply-chains/

It's a little known secret that Europe relies greatly on Russian/Chinese natural resources from energy to rare-earth and precious metals, the latter of which U.S. greatly relies on as well and so they're simply not positioned well at all to win a long term manufacturing race. However as we speak they're meeting in Ramstein, Germany to discuss this very issue of greatly accelerating/expanding their weapons sustainment for Ukraine.

Expand full comment
Feb 14, 2023Liked by Simplicius

For the first time in 30 years the ships of the Russian Northern Fleet when at sea now carry nuclear weapons with which their missiles may be armed.

Expand full comment
author

Yep, I heard--very interesting if true, BUT my first question was "how do they know?" that Russian ships are carrying nukes? Sounds like a possible psyop or deliberate fear-mongering but it could be true, and would make logical sense for the obvious reason that Russia expects the coming mass-offensive and escalation to quite 'trigger' NATO into escalating, and so Russia would be wise to prepare for those escalations in case things 'go nuclear'.

Expand full comment
Feb 15, 2023Liked by Simplicius

You're right. A Russian-source statement of claim that's as difficult to verify as one about there being evil weather balloons. Yet, this would be in order, quite the sort of thing Putin would use to send a message to smarten the US up. NATO has little means to actually escalate anything since they out-sourced their manufacturing and run a just-in-time military. Claiming to escalate when you really can't is a tough line to take against Russia. Which actually can.

Expand full comment
Feb 15, 2023Liked by Simplicius

Actually, I read a Russian media article today stating that there had been an informal agreement between Russia and the U.S. that most classes of surface ships would not carry nuclear warheads. Not being under any obligation then, Russia had resumed such and simply not particularly concealed this. To let the Americans just find out on their own and say nothing. Which left the Yanks looking like chumps and so they were put out and whined. Russia will just still say nothing but do what they wanted. One round to Russia and they still raise the ante. And sent the message. Of course, like balloons, the business remains unquantifiable. How many ships, which ships, what sort of weapons, how often, sailing where. Nacht und Nebel boys!

Expand full comment
Feb 15, 2023·edited Feb 15, 2023Liked by Simplicius

Commandos could take the bridges and establish bridgeheads on the other side of the Dnepr, before the Ukrainians manage to blow them up.

Alternatively, cities laying across the big river could be turned by internal sleeping Russian cells as the Russian army approaches, similarly to what seems to have happened with Kherson in February/March 2022.

Expand full comment
author

It's a nice thought, but unfortunately not practical in reality, or simply not as easy as it sounds. Not only because the whole 'commandoes in the rear lines' thing is extremely difficult in a near-peer conflict, and nigh-impossible to do effectively. U.S. popularized this myth that superstar Seal teams and Delta Force commandoes can go into rear lines with impunity and kill everyone, or blow up anything, and this works only against sandals-clad insurgents with no types of NVG/NFE capability but against a real western, near-peer force, you'll mostly only get killed. Also there's the issue that there's so MANY of the bridges that this trick would only potentially work once or twice (if it even works at all), then once they see what you're doing they'll secure the other bridges much better to make sure you can't stop them from blowing them. The element surprise in this case would only work initially.

And thirdly, even if you WERE to secure the bridge with commandoes, then Ukraine can just bomb the bridge with HIMARs from 100km away just like they did the Antonovsky in Kherson and completely disable them. So basically any way you look at it, there's no way to keep them intact if Ukraine really wants them disabled/destroyed.

And anyway, the Ukrainians can rig the bridges to blow long before they actually cross it, while their forces are still defending the other side, and this is what they have done before. Then, once they cross, even if you send a commando team to try to secure it, they can blow it remotely from far away. Even if some of them still haven't crossed, they'll gladly take the hit and lose a few men rather than allow Russian forces to control the bridge which would allow the whole army to cross the river.

Expand full comment
Feb 15, 2023Liked by Simplicius

The situation mirrors the Americans getting to the Rhine and passing it at the bridge in Remagen during WW2.

You'd have the Ukrainians in retreat and the Russians pursuing. The Ukrainians escaping by the bridges and then trying to blow them up, while Russian forward groups and commandos trying to prevent that from happening.

Obviously, near any crossing the Ukrainian riverside should get saturated with artillery. Any long range missile system further deep-behind Ukrainian lines should also get spotted and suppressed by Russian air superiority. In addition, you wrote yourself that Himars could only manage to dent the Antonov bridge, after days of continuous shelling. These bridges are very sturdy, having been built by the Soviets with the express intent of withstanding military attacks.

After all, to evoke another example from WW2, the Germans managed to cross the Dnestr, the Prut, the Dnepr both in Ukraine and at Smolensk, the Don, the big Baltic rivers, and I am sure many others. Not all of these rivers were frozen.

In summary, once the other side is suppressed crossings can be undertaken. Invade from Belarus in order to reach Odessa would indeed be very bizarre. Those troops now in Belarus will probably assault Kiev again with the aim of decapitating the Ukrainian government.

But I don't personally think this war will come down to any extensive fighting in the west side of the river.

Expand full comment
author

You're right the HIMARs can't put a dent in terms of collapsing them, but they can and do completely make them unpassable by shredding the top layer of it.

The biggest thing to understand how retreats are usually carried out is that they're an actually very prolonged and extensive process that begins days/weeks before the last forces. For instance, as we speak in Bakhmut the 'heavy equipment' of the AFU has already been in full retreat for at least the past week or two. It works in stages. First you pull out the heavy equipment bit by bit while ground forces continue fighting on and slowing the enemy troops, then you pull out some of your contingents, then more, in piece meal fashion.

So what this means is, you'll never get a situation where it's just some mad dash of everyone across the bridge and Russian commandos can act quickly to 'seize the initiative' and blockade them by capturing the bridge. No, the vast majority of the AFU force will have already withdrawn over the bridge WEEKS prior to any Russian capability to even get within dozens of miles of that. If they know that the east of Dnieper is a losing position, they will withdraw gradually over the course of weeks and by the time Russians get anywhere near to being able to seize it, the vast majority will already have withdrawn and the bridge will already be long rigged with explosives which can be remotely blown even as the 'commandos' are there.

There really is no way to effectively do it. The withdrawing side has all the advantages in this case.

And what's more, even were you to seize a few of them, there is no point crossing your army over them because you will now be at great risk of entrapping your entire army on the wrong side because Ukraine could at any point use direct strikes (whether HIMARs or something new they'll have in the future like GLSDB's, ATACMs, Storm Shadows, or something else, even the trusty Tochkas if need be, and naval drones sent from up the Dnieper to take out the pylons etc. In Kherson they were planning to use naval MINES to drift down the river to blow the Khakovka dam). And you can't risk an entire large army grouping on one side of the river if your only crossing is one or two bridges which are at constant risk of being blown and trapping / cutting off your entire group. If there were many bridges successfully prevented from blowing it would be different but as I outlined I don't think it's possible for Russia to salvage that many bridges as Ukraine has way too many advantages in being able to pre-rig long before Russian forces are near, then blow them at their convenience later on.

If advances in this day and age went very quickly, or as quick as some in WW2 did then maybe it would be possible. But in this near-peer level conflict, advances are so slow that it gives the opposing side plenty of time to make such preparations. The plan for the bridges would be long put into operation and carried out way before Russian forces are anywhere within even artillery range of any AFU units near the bridges, etc, etc., we're talking several weeks out.

As for taking Odessa from Belarus, well, on one hand you're right which is why personally I didn't choose that vector in my 'Part 2' write up where I discussed all the different vectors the coming offensive will likely take, but it does remain a possibility. It all depends on how large the actual force is that Russia has built up. But I agree the more realistic option would be to fully siege Kiev as psychological pressure on the leadership, and would be much easier to do since Russia already previously 70% sieged it with a tiny force of less than 50k men. If they bring 100-200k to bear then it should be no problem, apart from the fact that north of Kiev region is INFAMOUSLY boggy particularly in the Rasputitsa season that's coming up, and Ukraine has already flooded the huge reservoir north of Kiev by opening the dams up last time.

Expand full comment
Feb 16, 2023Liked by Simplicius

... the infamous Pripyat Marshes.

Thank you for the brush-up on how modern retreats are staged. At the moment, the war in the Donbass has essentially the nature of a siege. The AFU has had time since 2014 to fortify the western half of Donetsk Oblast with multiple lines of trenches and strongpoints.

Once these lines are breached, with all probability the war will become one of movement, as I don't think the Ukrainians are preparing new lines of defenses stretching, say, from Kharkov to Dnipropetrovsk, or anywhere anything of the sort found in the Donbass.

To this dearth of fortified positions further West of the Donbass, mix in Russian now sizeable army, and also their air superiority, and we'll probably as a result see swift advances up to the Dnepr river (bypassing the cities). In these conditions - numerically strong enemy with air superiority - it might be difficult to effect a cool and collected retreat as the one you describe in the previous post, lacking now for Ukrainians the possibility to fix the enemy to a strong defense line.

An example from WW2 that would fit your picture would be the Italian campaign, where the Germans successfully stalled the Allies for years by resisting on static lines, and then after a while go retreating to new fortified positions. But in that war there were plenty of dynamic theaters as well: Normandy, the German advances in the East...so it really depends on terrain and static defenses already there + plus the current technological state, if weapons available favour more the defense (as in WW1) or the offense (WW2, airplans). A last example of near-peer dynamic conflict, where commandos played a crucial role in taking key positions by surprise from the rear, is the very recent 2020 Azeri-Armenian war in Nagorno-Karabaq.

Also, hard for Putin to justify at home dead soldiers to the west of the Dnepr, far away from the breakout republics.

With all of the above I wouldn't want to give the impression of being hostile or argumentative. It's simply in the nature of internet discussions, where one tends to debate at length minor points of disagreements. In fact I mostly agree with the things you write, but then again being in complete accord, I feel there would be nothing to comment about!

Expand full comment
author

Good points! Check my newest article just posted as it actually coincidentally discusses some of the things you mention, might be of interest to you.

And no, definitely no impression of hostility. Just good much needed analysis back and forth

Expand full comment

What I do not understand is Russias tolerance level for a future “west Ukraine” brimming with NATO based, airfields, missiles, a hostile population, an economic wall, and sigint capacity. To me, pushing these farther away from Moscow snd Sebastopol are a necessity? If so, how far back West will they Russia go? Or will they need to conquer all of Ukraine do it is always passive and can never be an agent of the West against Russia? Russian can have passable relations with Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia-

Expand full comment

Ukraine is just another battle in a slow moving war.

Capitulation will not come as long as the west is able to provide arms and Ukraine has bodies for the meat grinder.

I doubt that a palace coup in Ukraine will happen and Zelensky is a puppet that can be replaced.

As frustrating this slow war is, there isn't much incentive for Russia to change the game at this point, they

will prolong this war until the EU starts to scream.

Expand full comment
Feb 20, 2023·edited Feb 20, 2023Liked by Simplicius

Truly astounding articles and assessment. Thank you.

An ace in the hole and using the Nordstream attacks as impetus, Russia could launch a coordinated attack on the extremely vulnerable U.S. grid infrastructure, make a major city or two go black for a while and effectively render NATO obsolete almost instantaneously.

Even the most braindead American NPC would completely forget about “muh Ukraine” as U.S. cities burn from rioting and violence, the stock market crashes, first responders are overwhelmed and fighting to the death for food becomes a very frightening reality for the vast majority of unprepared coastal urbanites.

NATO would cease to exist, the UA would immediately surrender, no more blood would be shed (in this conflict), Russia could basically take what it wants and former U.S “allies” held at gun point to an abusive, delusional spouse would be jumping ship to BRICS faster than Zelensky on a coke binge.

China would probably NOT want the U.S to go all SHTF for economic reasons but given their love of the long game, perhaps a quick death for the collapsing empire would be the most pragmatic move.

This could also result in the U.S going out Dr. Strangelove style but so could the current state of affairs.

Fascinating times we live in!

Expand full comment

Reading the articles and incredibly intelligent comments makes me realize how little I understand about many things especially about war on land. What scares me most is the leadership of our country is lead by the most delusional corrupt group of leaders both military and civilian in my life time, maybe of our entire history. Not so much for me as I am old man but for my son, daughter and people of the country.

Expand full comment

Excellent article as always, thank you.

Can you please write an article about the possibility of Ukraine/ Moldova/Romania attacking Transinistria and seizing the large ammunition depot to use against Russia and how that would shape the battlefield and likely play out?

Expand full comment

A total shit show by the Biden administration.

Ukrainian people are dying and it’s a shame because it didn’t have to be this way. Peace talks and nato agreements in the beginning could’ve been reached but oh no. Biden had to puff out his chest and bang the warmonger drum. I’m not ashamed of saying this because I know it’s true.

Expand full comment

" In his now-famous early 2019 interview, he foresaw the entirety of the conflict with a startling clarity, predicting the war with Russia would come in 2021 or 2022, and even accurately outlining the exact vectors and tactics employed."

This assertion is intellectual SUICIDE - one can always find someone - somewhere - saying something that turns out to resemble REALITY.

BUT simply listening to his "reasoning" - which is nothing more than baseless rumbling - I cannot find anything that resembles what can be observed by the actors of this whole theatre.

Which does NOT mean that in hindsight one will NOT have to conclude it turned out the way it has been "outlined" by this "wizard"! ;-)

Expand full comment

he's a relatively intelligent and radically shameless bullsh#t artist. Most of his conclusions in that interview are nonsense (including the main point, that there was no alternative - in fact the status quo was acceptable to everyone but the ultranationalists for whom this POS was shilling). He did correctly describe Russia's position, that's about all.

Expand full comment

Most HUMAN MINDS act like that... shameless BS artists ... I give you that ... only to add on every intellectual level and in any shape and form .... and the rest even takes it at face value and acts upon the BS, which is the THE WORLD appears the way it is ... the saying goes for a reason AS THE FATHER SO THE SON ....

Expand full comment

Arestovich would have fit right in with the management by Chaos circus of the 3rd Reich, and of course it's one step ahead of physical bankruptcy pyramid scheme would need men/monsters like him to keep the pot stirring and the creditors at bay until it all collapsed. As to his ability to predict the long run, well, it seems he too can read a Rand Report. Getting the general thrust approximately right and being able to capitalize on it are very different skill sets. If Chaos decends yet again, then I'd bet on Moscow, as they beat the Chechens bloodly when much weaker and against a far more united enemy.

Expand full comment