About enthusiastic hawks and hasty cuckoos
Moscow (19/4 – 40). Some representatives of the Russian political class today argue that Russia is able to inflict a crushing defeat on Ukraine in a few hours (and shorter periods are also mentioned) if a military conflict breaks out. Let’s see how such statements correspond to reality.
In the expert community of Russia, the opinion has recently taken root quite strongly that it will not even be necessary to send troops to the territory of Ukraine, since the Armed Forces of this country are in a deplorable state.
Some political analysts emphasize that a powerful Russian fire strike will destroy almost all surveillance and communication systems, artillery and tank formations. Moreover, a number of experts conclude that even one crushing blow from Russia will be enough to end such a war.
As a cherry on the cake, some analysts emphasize the fact that no one in Ukraine will defend the “Kyiv regime”.
NO EASY WALK
Let’s start with the last one. To assert that no one in Ukraine will defend the regime means, in practice, complete ignorance of the military-political situation and the mood of the broad masses of the people in the neighboring state. Moreover, the degree of hatred (which, as you know, is the most effective fuel for armed struggle) in the neighboring republic in relation to Moscow is frankly underestimated. No one will meet the Russian army with bread, salt and flowers in Ukraine.
It seems that the events in the south-east of Ukraine in 2014 did not teach anyone anything. Then, after all, they also expected that the entire left-bank Ukraine, in a single impulse and in a matter of seconds, would turn into Novorossia. We have already drawn maps, estimated the personnel of future administrations of cities and regions, and developed state flags.
But even the Russian-speaking population of this part of Ukraine (including such cities as Kharkov, Zaporozhye, Dnepropetrovsk, Mariupol) did not support such plans in their vast majority. The project “Novorossiya” was somehow imperceptibly blown away and quietly died.
In a word, the liberation campaign in 2022, following the model and likeness of 1939, will not succeed in any way. In this case, the words of the classic of Soviet literature Arkady Gaidar are more true than ever: “It is clear that we will now have not an easy battle, but a hard battle.”
“BY A SMALL BLOOD, A POWERFUL BLOW”
Now about the “powerful fire strike by Russia”, which allegedly will destroy “practically all surveillance and communication systems, artillery and tank formations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
This expression alone shows that only political workers could say such a thing. For reference: in the course of hypothetical military operations on the scale of a theater of operations, strikes are carried out on priority targets and massive fire strikes. Note that in the course of operational-strategic planning, the epithets “powerful” (as well as “medium”, “weak”, etc.) are not used.
Military science emphasizes that strikes can be strategic (this mostly applies to strategic nuclear forces), operational and tactical. According to the number of forces involved and objects hit, strikes can be massive, group and single. It is still better not to introduce or use other concepts, even in works of a political science nature.
Attacks on priority targets and massive fire strikes can be carried out within the front (fronts on the western borders of Russia have not yet been formed) or the main command of the armed forces in the theater of operations (so far, one has not been created in the South-Western strategic direction either). Anything less than that is no longer a massive hit.
And what is, for example, a massive fire strike (MOA) of the front? To begin with, we note that the maximum number of combat-ready forces and means of aviation, missile troops and artillery, electronic warfare equipment at the disposal of the commander of the front forces (operational-strategic formation) is involved in the MOU. The MOU consists of one massive air sortie, two or three launches of OTP and TR missile systems, and several artillery fire raids. Well, if the degree of fire damage to the enemy is 60-70%.
What is the most important thing in this matter in relation to the conflict with Ukraine? Of course, the MOU will inflict heavy losses on a potential enemy. But to expect to crush the armed forces of an entire state with just one such blow means to show simply unbridled optimism in the course of planning and conducting combat operations. In the course of hypothetical strategic actions on the theater of operations, such MOUs will have to be applied not one or two, but much more.
It must be added by all means that the reserves of promising and high-precision weapons in the RF Armed Forces are not of any unlimited nature. Hypersonic missiles of the Zircon type are not yet in service. And the number of Kalibr (sea-launched cruise missiles), Kinzhals, Kh-101 (air-launched cruise missiles) and Iskander missiles is measured in the hundreds at best (tens in the case of Kinzhals). This arsenal is absolutely not enough to wipe out a state the size of France and with a population of over 40 million from the face of the Earth. Namely, Ukraine is characterized by such parameters.
ABOUT AIR SUPERIORITY
Sometimes it is asserted in the Russian expert community (by fans of the Douai doctrine) that since the hypothetical military operations in Ukraine will take place under the conditions of complete dominance of Russian aircraft in the air, the war will be extremely short and will end in the shortest possible time.
At the same time, it is somehow forgotten that the armed formations of the Afghan opposition during the conflict of 1979-1989 did not have a single aircraft and not a single combat helicopter. And the war in this country dragged on for as much as 10 years. The Chechen fighters did not have a single aircraft either. And the fight against them lasted for several years and cost the federal forces a lot of blood and casualties.
And the Armed Forces of Ukraine still have some kind of combat aircraft. As well as means of air defense.
By the way, the Ukrainian crews of the anti-aircraft missile forces (by no means Georgian ones) significantly pinched the Russian Air Force during the 2008 conflict. After the first day of hostilities, the leadership of the Russian Air Force was in frank shock from the losses incurred. And you shouldn’t forget about it.
Mourned in advance
Now about the thesis “The Armed Forces of Ukraine are in a deplorable state.” Of course, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have problems with aviation and modern air defense systems. But the following must also be acknowledged. If until 2014 the Armed Forces of Ukraine were a fragment of the Soviet army, over the past seven years a qualitatively different army has been created in Ukraine, on a completely different ideological basis and largely on NATO standards. And very modern weapons and equipment are being supplied and continue to be supplied to Ukraine from many countries of the North Atlantic Alliance.
As for the weakest point of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – the Air Force. It cannot be ruled out that the collective West may, in a fairly short time, supply Kiev with fighters, as they say, from the presence of the armed forces – in other words, second-hand. However, this second-hand, in terms of its tactical and technical characteristics, will be quite comparable with the majority of aircraft in the Russian fleet.
Of course, today the Armed Forces of Ukraine are significantly inferior to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in terms of their combat and operational capabilities. No one doubts this, neither in the East nor in the West.
But this army cannot be taken lightly either. In this regard, one must always remember the testament of Alexander Suvorov: “Never despise your enemy, do not consider him stupider and weaker than you.”
Now with regard to the assertion that Western countries will not send a single soldier to die for Ukraine.
It should be noted that this is likely to be the case. However, in the event of Russia’s invasion, this does not at all rule out massive assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the collective West with a wide variety of weapons and military equipment and bulk deliveries of all kinds of materiel. In this regard, the West has already shown a consolidated position, unprecedented until now, which, it seems, was not predicted in Moscow.
There is no doubt that the United States and the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance will begin a kind of reincarnation of Lend-Lease, modeled after the Second World War, there is no doubt. An influx of volunteers from the West, which can be very numerous, is not ruled out.
PARTISANS AND UNDERGROUND
And finally, about the duration of a hypothetical campaign. In the Russian expert community, several hours are called, sometimes even several tens of minutes. At the same time, it is somehow forgotten that we have already gone through all this. The phrase “take the city with one airborne regiment in two hours” has already become a classic of the genre.
It is also worth recalling that the mighty Stalinist NKVD and the multi-million Soviet army fought the nationalist underground in Western Ukraine for more than 10 years. And now there is an option that the whole of Ukraine can easily go into the partisans. In addition, these formations can easily begin to operate already on the territory of Russia.
The armed struggle in large Ukrainian cities is generally difficult to predict. It is common knowledge that the big city is the best battlefield for the weak and less technically advanced side of the armed conflict.
Serious experts emphasize that in a metropolis it is possible not only to concentrate a grouping of thousands and even tens of thousands of fighters, but also to hide it from the superior firepower of the enemy. And also to supply it with material resources for a long time and make up for losses in people and equipment. Neither mountains, nor forests, nor jungles today provide such an opportunity.
Experts are convinced that the urban environment helps the defenders, slows down the movement of the attackers, allows you to place a record number of fighters per unit area, and compensates for the lag in forces and technologies. And in Ukraine there are more than enough large cities, including those with a million inhabitants. So the Russian army in the course of a hypothetical war with Ukraine may meet far from only Stalingrad and Grozny.
In general, there will be no Ukrainian blitzkrieg. The statements of some experts such as “The Russian army will defeat most of the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 30-40 minutes”, “Russia is able to defeat Ukraine in 10 minutes in the event of a full-scale war”, “Russia will defeat Ukraine in eight minutes” have no serious grounds.
And finally, the most important thing. An armed conflict with Ukraine is currently fundamentally not in Russia’s national interests. Therefore, it is best for some overexcited Russian experts to forget about their hatred fantasies. And in order to prevent further reputational losses, never remember again.
Mikhail Mikhailovich Khodarenok – ex-head of the group of the 1st direction of the 1st directorate of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces, Colonel