The Russian Special Operation: An Early Strategic Overview

The Russian Special Operation: An Early Strategic Overview

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The Russian Special Operation: An Early Strategic Overview

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The Russian Special Operation: An Early Strategic Overview
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The Russian Special Operation: An Early Strategic Overview

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Written by Cato for SouthFront

Now that we are just over 24 hours into the Russian Federation’s initiation of armed intervention on a massive scale in Ukraine, I wanted to take the opportunity to write down my initial thoughts and brief strategic analysis. At this point there is so much that is unclear, and much of this has to do with Russian EW efforts in the theater of operations (which encompasses most of the territory of Ukraine). There is also quite a bit of distraction/disinformation being utilized by both the Kiev regime and the Russian Armed Forces for varying reasons. Coupled with other elements of its attack, Russia will use the fog of war to its advantage, while Ukraine will attempt to paint as positive a picture as possible to mislead the public and its potential allies.

I’ll start by stating that despite the varying media commentary to the contrary, the official recognition of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Peoples Republic and the Luhansk Peoples Republics by Russian president Vladimir Putin was a long-drawn-out inevitability. The Russian leadership undoubtedly came to the correct conclusion that there was no point in attempting to negotiate with the US or NATO regarding their security concerns, legally binding security treaties, or even the successful resolution of the Minsk II Agreement. The final decision to conduct a military operation to liquidate the security threat to Russia that has grown in strength in Ukraine under the full patronage of US and NATO countries over the past eight years is no longer tenable.

At such an early stage in operations it is hard to make any detailed analysis of the Russian battle plan, only broad assumptions; however, a great deal has happened in the first 24 hours. The Russian naval and aerospace forces first suppressed and then effectively destroyed the Ukrainian air defense network, its military aviation on the ground, and eliminated its small navy in short order. This was achieved under an extensive EW umbrella that rendered command and control impossible by modern technical means. Precision munitions launched by Russian aircraft and cruise missiles employed by vessels of the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian flotilla targeted and knocked out strategic leadership and command and control targets.

Strong forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics engaged the Ukrainian Armed Forces all along the Line of Contact from the outset. They have continued to do this, while achieving minor breakthroughs in two areas, Lopaskino in the North and Nikolaevka/Viktorovka in the South. While I believe that the DPR/LPR forces will exploit any breakthroughs, their real objective is to keep the UAF forces in place and engaged as much as possible. They will act as the anvil that the Russian hammer will strike the UAF against. Highly mobile armored formations attacking out of the proximity of Kursk and Belgorod southwest towards Kharkov and Sumy will likely form the northern pincer of envelopment, while similar forces advancing out of the Crimean Peninsula will form the southern pincer. These forces will envelope the majority of UAF forces positioned in the East, along and close to the Line of Contact. These forces will be contained and slowly eliminated. Having lost their mobility, they will play no part in confronting further Russian movements within Ukraine.

It is important to stress that the Russians are attacking from several different directions, and this serves a number of purposes. The UAF does not know (now that its command and control capabilities have been handicapped or eliminated) which attacks are the main Russian efforts of advance. This will not allow the UAF to concentrate their forces against a numerically and qualitatively superior opponent. Although diluting the combat power of its forces through multiple efforts, this does give Russia flexibility and more options as the battle unfolds. Their superior numbers and combat power affords them this luxury. Some of these lines of advance are most likely diversionary in nature. Some of these attacks may not actually even be real. The early reports of an amphibious or air assault of Odessa have yet to be verified and may in actuality be a Russian engineered psyop/diversion. Similar to the amphibious feint employed during the first Gulf War, the amphibious assets moved into the Black Sea may be one large diversion to tie up UAF assets that could be better utilized elsewhere. I will believe that an amphibious assault has occurred in Odessa when I see verifiable proof. Naval infantry can be landed by traditional means in captured ports as follow-on forces.

Finally, the northern axis of advance coming from Belarus is meant to put pressure on the military and civilian leadership in Kiev. They are forced to focus energy and military units on checking this threat. The Russian air assault conducted at the Hostomel/Antonov airport has added greatly to this pressure, as it forces the UAF to attempt to eliminate it before it can be significantly enforced. If left to threaten the capital, it will pull needed resources away from confronting the strong Russian forces advancing south from Belarus. I was surprised to see the Russian MOD act so brazenly as to insert airborne infantry so far behind enemy lines, so early in the operation. It could prove to be an extremely decisive and pivotal decision, or a costly gamble.

In closing, the aims of the special operation are to disarm and de-nazify the Ukraine. By enveloping the UAF units supporting and engaged along the LOC, many of the volunteer battalions such as Azov and Aidar will be trapped and can be eliminated. Members of these units that have engaged in crimes against the populace can be identified, tried, and punished for their crimes. Similarly, the successful capture of the capitol will lead to the capture of the political and military leadership that represent the nationalist/neo-nazi paramilitary and political organizations that hold positions of power.

I greatly hope that the Russian political leadership does not intend to occupy large portions of the Ukraine for an extended period of time. They should eliminate the identified threat, destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure and hardware and return home, as they did in Georgia in 2008. The Donbass Republics should take sovereignty over their full territories and have their military capabilities strengthened. By helping these republics in the long run, improving the quality of life, civilian infrastructure and economy of these friendly areas will form a reliable, secure buffer on Russia’s border.

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