The tactic ‘scorched earth is nothing new regarding the history of warfare in Europe; the Russians are mainly famous, if not infamous, for using scorched earth tactics to defeat their enemies historically.
In the last 200 years, Russia has been invaded twice by foreign powers; the first was Napoleon Bonaparte of the first French Empire which existed from 1804 until Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo by Arthur Wales, the Duke of Wellington, at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
When Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, he invaded with a force of over 600,000 men made up of French, Germans, Italians and other peoples from part of the new French Empire, which had expanded since the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793 until the collapse of the Napoleonic Empire first in 1814 and finally in 1815.
The Russians did not defeat Napoleon on the battlefield. Still, they defeated him by using scorched earth tactics to prevent Napoleon from using his power of manoeuvre and the ability to feed his vast army with supply lines stretching from France to the Russian capital city Moscow.
Russia is both a very strong country but also a weak one; it is the norm that Russian defeats enemies by swarming them with Russian soldiers or using Russian terrain to defeat the enemies of Russia.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s inability to feed his army and keep it supplied with winter equipment cost Napoleon the ability to conquer Europe and the collapse of the first French Empire.
Russia, again over a century later, during the Second World War in 1939 until 1945, was invaded by another wannabe hegemony of Europe; this invading force was Nazi Germany which Adolf Hitler led.
Again it was not superior Russian tactics that won Russians their freedom and the freedom of the rest of Europe, but the inability of the Germans to keep its army supplied and the Russians destroyed their farmland to prevent any means for the Germans to keep their army supplied using the internal resources of Russia.
Kakhovka Dam Destroyed
Russians, on 6 June 2023, destroyed the Kakhovka dam, which is the head of a large water reservoir in the Ukrainian central river of the Dnieper.
The explosion of Kakhovka dam was an internal explosion and, therefore, could only have been deliberately destroyed by the Russian Federation.
Though it is essential to add that there has been fighting in the area and that the Ukrainians and Russians have damaged the dam in the past, this did not cause the current destruction of the Kakhovka dam.
The Russians have committed this act of terror because they are doing poorly in Ukraine; this destruction is part of Russian scorched earth tactics to delay and prevent the Ukrainian offensive and bide Russians time to mobilise and resupply their forces.
The way the Russians fight the war is not pretty, but no war is pretty, to begin with, the Russians will fight the Ukrainian conflict the way they fight most of their wars by throwing bodies at the problem, and the Russians have 7 million men that can be thrown into the meat grinder.
Make no mistake; this war is still very much the Russian’s war to lose even though their current casualties are between 300,000 to 400,000 men, depending on the available statistics.
The Delay of the Ukrainian Offensive
With the destruction Kakhovka dam, the possibility for the Ukrainians to launch an amphibious offensive within that region and surrounding territories will be further delayed for several more months if the Ukrainians still intend to fight in that region and possibly take the Crimea peninsula.
The previous offensives planned by the Ukrainians have already been delayed due to the Russian winter, making it impossible for tanks and other equipment to successfully manoeuvre in Ukraine due to the sludge and the melting ice, making transport impractical.
The Kakhovka dam is also part of a cooling system for one of the Ukrainian nuclear power plants called the Zaporizhzhia power plant; there is currently no concern due to backup cooling systems, but it is placed in danger due to the destruction of the Ukrainian dam.
With scorched earth takes, we can expect the Russians to destroy more infrastructure and dams to prevent Ukrainians from successfully manoeuvring their armies, which could deliver a hard blow to the Russian military.
Suppose the Russians are pushed out of Ukraine. In that case, it makes it possible that the Ukraine war could see the use of nuclear weapons or the Ukrainians may invade Russia or its satellite puppet state Belarus, making the situation more deadly regarding the Ukraine war.
It’s unclear if the Ukrainians defeated the Russians on the battlefield; they would surrender and hold a ceasefire with the Ukrainians because, like the Crimea War of 1853 to 1856, Russians could keep sending more soldiers to fight.
Russia is easy to attack and can be accessible in summer conditions to move large tank divisions throughout the Russian flatlands; it may be easy to invade Russia, but it’s another matter entirely in subduing a country that large.
Furthermore, the destruction Kakhovka dam may trigger a regional famine in Ukraine; this happened in the past again caused because of the Russian state, and this may further inflame hostilities and violence between both nations.
The scorched earth tactics being used by the Russians in the Ukraine war may only further escalate the conflict and entrenched hostilities of Ukrainians towards the Russians, which have deep historical roots.
According to Wheatcroft, the last time the Russians starved Ukrainians gave an estimated 5.5 to 6.5 million deaths during the Soviet famine of 1930 to 1933.
The Encyclopedialike Britannica estimates that 6 to 8 million people died from hunger in the Soviet Union during this period, of whom 4 to 5 million were Ukrainians.
Sources and Biography
Zeihan on Geopolitics The Russians Go Scorched Earth: Destroying a Critical Dam For Crimea || Peter Zeihan link
Reuters Kakhovka dam breach takes Ukraine war into uncharted territory link
Britannica Dnieper River River, Europe link
Sky News Ukraine war: Workers at deteriorating Zaporizhzhia plant fear ‘devastation’ on a scale ‘worse than Chernobyl’ link
History Channel How Joseph Stalin Starved Millions in the Ukrainian Famine link
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