March 29, 2023

If you look at and analyze the Not-War on the strategic level, well, you can’t help but come to the conclusions and talking points presented by the pessimists. If you’re honest, that is.

But the narrative has now shifted and the discussion is being framed on the tactical level. That is, the events around Bakhmut are what the Russian news and the commentators are talking about now. But the action around Bakhmut is a tactical one. There are three levels to military operations, at least in the Russian school.




And if you were hoping for a quick conclusion to the Bakhmut offensive, well. I’ve got more bad, but totally predictable, news for you.


The founder of Wagner PMC Yevgeny Prigozhin denied the information about the encirclement of 1.5 thousand Ukrainian soldiers near Bakhmut (Artemovsk). His comment is published by Prigozhin’s press service in the official telegram channel. He noted that the Ukrainians are putting up strong resistance and Bakhmut (Artemovsk) will not be taken in the near future.

“In all directions, the enemy is becoming more active, pulling up more and more new reserves. Every day, from 300 to 500 new fighters approach Bakhmut in all directions. Artillery fire intensifies every day,” said Yevgeny Prigozhin. He drew attention to the inappropriateness of positive promises that will not come true in the near future.

At the moment, fierce battles are being fought near Bakhmut (Artemovsk). Serious losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine near Bakhmut were reported by the American media, 360 TV channel reports . Yevgeny Prigozhin said that the capture of Bakhmut would be the key to Russia’s victory in the Ukrainian conflict, the National News Service reports . Acting head of the DPR Denis Pushilin said that the Russian military surrounded 1.5 thousand Ukrainian soldiers near Bakhmut .

Contrast this with the early days of the war where entire swaths of Ukraine were being colored in on maps and shared by Russia pundits and bloggers. Now, they’re coloring in fields and factories and little farms. And they’re trying to keep the same level of hype going as when they were talking about entire provinces being taken. Or, perhaps they will show videos of a tank getting blown up. Or a platoon of soldiers getting a grenade dropped on them from a drone. Very interesting footage, don’t get me wrong. We are seeing a different kind of war — a mix of WWI trench warfare and mini-Stalingrads.

But it is undeniable that a certain “zoom-in” has occurred. At best, we’re talking endlessly about towns that have been fought over for months now.

Having a discussion about the tactical level of things is a worthy pursuit in its own right. But not when it is presented in the context of a bait and switch. That is, we were promised large scale offensives. However fierce the fighting is in Bakhmut, it doesn’t take away from the fact that everywhere else on the frontlines, we are at a standstill. Furthermore, people are drawing conclusions about the state of the war on the strategic level based on tactical level data.

They’re also making mistakes about developments on the operational level.

I will give you a concrete example of what I mean. Bakhmut, even if taken, will not be exploited on an operational level. That is, there is no follow-up planned. I have been saying this for months now. There are no large concentrations of tanks and reserve troops to throw at the enemy once Bakhmut, a key point in the Ukrainian defensive line (or so we are told), finally falls to Ukraine. And now we have confirmation that Bakhmut isn’t falling any time soon by the man leading the fighting there. So, here we have confirmation that, Wagner, working largely alone, is unable to either tactically or operationally secure a win on this front.

If Bakhmut actually were an important point in the defensive line and had to be taken no matter the cost, then you would see more resources committed to the area. Again, there are no significant resources being committed by Russia to achieve either a tactical or operational victory in the area. But if we take into account that Bakhmut is a political objective being pursued by Wagner to improve their standing in the political pecking order at home, then the situation suddenly becomes clearer. This may also shed light on why Wagner’s troops have been loudly attacking First Deputy Minister of Defense Gerasimov for not supplying them with ammo that they need. Progozhin is feuding with the Minister of Defense Shoigu and may have even attempted a soft coup against him.

Bakhmut then, was supposed to be a feather in Wagner’s cap, not a turning point for the war.

This ties neatly into our discussion of the strategic dimension of the war effort. In the early days, we saw a clear strategy reflected by large troop movements, rapid breakthroughs and consolidation of territory and so on. Since then, we have seen very little of the same kind of warfare. There was a successful advance in Donetsk, but it ran out of steam and the gains were reversed by the counter-offensives of the Ukrainian army in the fall.

And after that, we well and truly saw nothing resembling a coherent strategy from Russia at all. Only feuding among its feudal commanders and an attempt to hold a defensive line. At the moment, there are no large concentrations of fresh Russian forces anywhere, except perhaps, in Belarus.

We have no idea what Russia’s plans are on the strategic level.

Some have floated the idea of attrition warfare — that is, that the Russians are focusing on simply killing as many enemy soldiers as possible and not on securing key objectives or territory. Putting aside, for a moment, that this is a horrible strategy, there is little to indicate that this is, indeed, the strategy being pursued by Russia. Again, Bakhmut, where Russia is engaging in a brutal grinding action fighting over buildings and factories block by block, is literally the opposite of the supposed attrition warfare strategy. Wagner was sending men to take fortified enemy positions head-on. In any war, occupying a fortified defensive position is a force multiplier or a buffer for the defenders. If the goal is attrition warfare, why go on the offensive against fortified positions?

It doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Furthermore, for this attrition warfare strategy to make sense, Russia would have to be killing far more men than they are losing. But, according to the data that we have now, Russia lost more men in the early days of the war because of the risky operations that they were conducting. Then, using their superior artillery, they began to kill more Ukrainians than they lost, true. However, going on the offensive against fortified positions should have evened out the balance in the other direction again.

I believe that the evidence points to Ukraine quickly approaching 100k military deaths by the anniversary of the start of the SMO and Russia lagging behind, but not by that much. And I will revisit the topic on the one-year anniversary of the start of the Not-War.

If the strategy is to engage in attrition warfare, then simply do the math yourselves. How many years of fighting will it take at this pace to destroy the Ukrainian army, which stands at 700k now, at least, and whose numbers continue to climb and which, in theory anyway, could easily draft another million men? And, of course, their ranks are being supplemented by Western mercenaries all the while. Poland openly admits to training tank crews and sending officers into Ukraine and so does NATO.
So, yes, there have been some tactical victories in Bakhmut. There have been no successful Russian operations since the smooth retreat from Kherson though (if you want to count that) and nobody can actually point to a cohesive strategy being pursued by either the people in charge of the battlefield or the home front.

All of this points to the fact that Russia’s elites have no stomach for this fight and a deal is being worked out through backroom channels.

If, on the strategic level, the goal is to engage in attrition warfare, then it simply isn’t working fast enough.

Many pessimistic pro-Russian analysts have already come to this conclusion and point out that a new strategy is necessary. That Russia needs to fight this war like wars are normally fought. Russia needs to focus on seizing territory and strategic objectives, on breaking through enemy lines and then enveloping their positions. More men and equipment are needed to achieve decisive victories that can then be followed up on and the war concluded more rapidly, not strung out, with the number of dead steadily rising and progressively more and more of the Ukraine left in smoldering ruins.

By narrowing in our focus on the tactical level fighting over a barn in Bakhmut or Ugledar, we lose sight of the strategic goals of the war.

The initial goal of the SMO was to quickly take back Ukraine without undue bloodshed. Now though, the nightmare scenario has been realized. The neocons got their protracted war and it is bleeding the Slavic peoples dry. The West has had to spend a lot of money to keep it going, true, but a lot of that money is being stolen to line the pockets of the same politicians who wanted the war in the first place. Yes, the average Briton or German has gotten poorer as a result of this holy Crusade for Liberal Democracy and the sanctity of Ukrainian borders, but the politicians have only benefitted. And in a Liberal Democracy, that is all that matters, really.

The criticisms of Russia’s overall strategy can be extended to the Russian home front, which has not been readied for war. If the goal is to kill 1 million Ukrainian soldiers over 10 years, there have to be enough shells, at least, being made in Russia. The only problem is that there aren’t. Supply problems have already started and no new factories are being opened in Russia to supply the front. Meanwhile, Russia has not made a play to establish a dollar-less world. Russia hasn’t even divested from globalist organizations like the WTO or the WEF. Furthermore, many of the same pro-Globalist forces in the Russian government, who we had good reason to believe would be fired, at least, remain at their posts.

So, yes, there have been some tactical victories in Bakhmut. There have been no successful Russian operations since the smooth retreat from Kherson though (if you want to count that), and nobody can actually point to a cohesive strategy being pursued by either the people in charge of the battlefield or the home front.

All of this points to the fact that Russia’s elites have no stomach for this fight and a deal is being worked out through backroom channels.

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