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The Ukrainian Counter-offensive

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There are three main assaults to follow: one of strategic importance and the other being a mix of strategic and emotional significance because wars are not merely thought for strategic objectives but for emotional value.

Two examples of this can be found in World War II during the Battle of Britain in 1940, with Nazi Germany focused bombing attacks on the British people and not focusing on the more strategic and vital infrastructure, manufacturing and the Royal Air Force.

With the Germans pursuing emotional tactical strategies, they enabled the Royal Air Force to rearm and equip the Air Force to fight the Luftwaffe/German Air Force and maintain British air superiority.

The second example is during the Battle of Stalingrad, 23 Aug 1942 – 2 Feb 1943, the Germans needed to take the Russian oil fields to keep its divisions and mechanised fighting forces in action.

Instead, due to the interference of Adolf Hitler, the Germans focused on taking Stalingrad, which had no real strategic aims or significance.

Still, it had great significance to the Soviet Union because the city was named after its leader Joseph Stalin, and Hitler wanted to hurt Stalin’s pride.

We can see this again during the Ukrainian conflict, where according to University Professor Geoffrey Roberts, Bakhmut is becoming Ukraine Stalingrad and is draining the Russian Federation resources by focusing on taking a location that has no genuine significance regarding strategic importance.

It is estimated that over 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded fighting to take control of that city; it’s now become an important symbol of resistance for the Ukrainians.

The purely strategic assault is a multi-pronged move on Zaporizhia, hoping to push south to the Sea of Azov. This would sever the land bridges of Ukraine proper and Russia proper…splitting the front in two.

The second assault was supposed to be an amphibious assault further down the river that would eventually cut off the Crimean Peninsula.

The Russians foiled those plans with the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. And possibly triggering farming that has not been seen since the Soviet famine of 1930 to 1933 killed between 4 to 5 million Ukrainians.

The third assault is a push east into the Donbas. This would be no easy feat, but it’s on the table for one reason: if the Ukrainians can reclaim territory that Russia seized in 2014, it would be a global humiliation.

Humiliating enough to convince some of those Russian backers to reconsider their allegiances.

Sources and Blogography

Responsible Statecraft Whose ‘Stalingrad’ will Bakhmut be? link

Britannica Battle of Britain European History [1940] link

Imperial War Museum What You Need To Know About The Battle Of Stalingrad link

 Zeihan on Geopolitics The Ukrainian Counter-Offensive Is Upon Us || Peter Zeihan link

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Why Were There no Mass Style World War II Tank Battles During the Ukraine War

memorial wall decorated with golden stars in park on rainy day

For the reader unaware of the Ukraine war, it has been taking place since 2014 until the present day. This is a conflict being waged by the Russian Federation led by Vladimir Putin against the free peoples of Ukraine.

The war is being waged for many reasons, such as the expansion of NATO since the end of the Cold War in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union/USSR in 1990.

There are many diverse reasons for this conflict, ranging from geopolitical to national security and from the perspective that this war for Russia may be its last war due to only having 7 million able-bodied men to fight modern industrial warfare.

Fighting a modern war requires not only able-bodied men but also the necessary technological and industrial development that makes modern warfare possible. It is modern warfare, and the mass style Movements of World War II shall be discussed in this article as to why Tanks are not featured heavily in this conflict.

In the popular imagination when it comes to tank warfare, the popular imagination goes back to the blitzkrieg tactics of the Second World War, where the Germans outmanoeuvred the British and French armies winning the battle of France in 1940 and the conquest and subjugation of Poland in 1939.

women with ukrainian flag and a soldier standing next to a tank  Ukraine War
Photo by Svitlana Myslyvets on

Lessons of World War II

The tank was developed during World War I from 1914 to 1918 or from 1914 to the Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919. Historically, the war is remembered from 1914 to 1918, but the blockades of Gemernone ports continued until 1919 due to fear that the war may continue.

To understand the Ukraine War and the lack of tank warfare, it is first necessary to look back at tank development and why that technology was created to overcome the fixed and entrenched positions of trench warfare during World War II, which continues to apply to modern fixed defences in the contemporary 21st-century.

For tanks to be effective in combat, they need the support of infantry and a robust supply chain that sends ammunition and fuel to the front lines, which the Russians did not have during their invasion in 2022.

Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, the Russians have been pushed out of northern Ukraine and are focused on fighting in the defensive frontlines around Donetsk, Lyschanks, Izium and Bakhmut.

Eastern Ukraine and the region are perfect for tank battles due to their flat terrain, and some of the biggest battles in tank mechanised warfarin happened during World War II on the ground, similar to the combat zones in Ukraine.

The reasons why the Russians were unsuccessful can be seen during World War II and the German and Soviet invasions of Poland. During the invasion of Poland in 1939, the Germans had the advantage of the best technologically some of the most advanced tanks on the planet, combined with air superiority and the element of surprise.

In contrast, the Russian Federation does not have this advantage because United States intelligence agencies were able to monitor the Russian military’s movements, ensuring that the Ukrainians would not be surprised by a Russian advance.

In 1940 the Germans invaded Holland and Belgium to bypass the Maginot Line fortification, which stretched along the shared French and German border of the Rhineland.

The Germans chose to bypass the defences because, despite the superior mobility of modern mechanised armies, they still could not destroy entrenched positions that had been heavily fortified.

To be successful on the battlefield, the ability for tanks to manoeuvre and not enter killing fields where fixed artillery positions, minefields and other defences can destroy them.

Tanks work best with infantry support and air superiority so that the Air Force can remove obstacles for tank divisions. Ultimately tanks work best with the power of manoeuvre.

The British expeditionary forces or the French military did not heavily outnumber the Germans in 1940, but the Germans’ ability to use speed won them the battle for France.

war museum perspective army  Ukraine War
Photo by Skitterphoto on

Operation Barbarossa and War in the East

In 1941 Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, named after the mediaeval German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa from the 12th century; during this operation, the German invasion of Russia in terms of military equipment was evenly matched.

The Germans were so victorious because they had superior experience, having conducted lightning war or blitzkrieg during the 1939 conquest of Poland and the 1940 battle for France, which saw the defeat of France and the evacuation of the British expeditionary forces at Dunkirk.

The Germans used the flat ground and the fact that the Russians did not prepare adequate defences to stop the German advance having the Germans overrun Kyiv and most of Ukraine and advance until the gates of Moscow through failing to take the city.

The Soviets had more planes and tanks during Operation Barbarossa and repeatedly during the eastern front side of the war between the Allied powers: the United States, the British Empire and the Soviet Union.

The Axis powers were Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy led by Benito Mussolini and the Japanese Empire. During engagements between Nazi tank divisions and Soviet Red Army forces, the Germans were often outnumbered from 5 to 1 or 2 to 1 and, towards the war’s end, 10 to 1.

One of the critical technologies of the time was the radio, and in modern battles and warfare, technology is king.

The ability to have communications with all assets in and out of the combat zone leads to more success on the battlefield because the infantry division can call on air support to destroy the enemy’s tank divisions.

The ability to communicate and coordinate is the ultimate force multiplier and a concentration of force that can lead to an inferior opponent inflicting massive damage on the superior enemy regarding numerical advantages seen repeatedly during the Ukraine war.

One great battle during Operation Barbarossa was the Battle Brody, the biggest tank battle in history, where the Soviet Union destroyed 200 German tanks out of 730 tanks.

In turn, the German tank divisions destroyed 800 Red Army tanks out of the total of 2800 tanks that were in the combat zone. The Red Army learned from these mistakes during the battle of Kursk in 1943, a German counter-attack.

The Russians won the battle due to having prepared defences and numerical superiority.

Statistics from the United States show that tank losses during World War II were caused by anti-tank guns 29%, other tanks 25%, tanks lost due to mins 22%, self-propelled guns 13%, lost to bazookas 6% and 3% due to other causes.

writing made from dices on world map  Ukraine War
Photo by Nothing Ahead on

Thank Battles Outside of World War II

During the fourth Arab-Israeli War of 1973, the Syrian army rushed its tank divisions into Israel, but the Israelis, despite being unprepared fortified the positions on the Golan Heights.

The battle took place over 30 miles. With the ability to prepare their defences, the Syrians lost 260 tanks out of a total force of 750 tanks.

This shows that using fortification and time to prepare and equip defences will mitigate the effectiveness of tanks. In many ways, the tank’s ability has been overstated and overused in the popular imagination tanks are an effective tool of warfare.

Still, the artillery, mines and other warfare methods should never be overlooked. From 1990 to 1991, during the First Gulf War and 2003, the Second Gulf War witnessed the American war machine decimate the Iraqi army twice in both conflicts.

During both wars, American casualties and of its allies were shockingly low compared to the Iraqis, primarily due to the superior technologies of the West, particularly in the art of communications.

The United States expanded resources into what it calls joint all domain command and control, a web of systems that networks all US forces together.

The best example of this doctrine happened during the 2003 Iraq invasion; during the Baghdad push, an Iraqi tank division intercepted a single platoon of American soldiers.

The Marines should have been killed, being only equipped with light machine guns and other light weaponry, including armoured Humvees Marines in communication with neighbouring aircraft, which enabled them to call in an airstrike, which destroyed the advancing Iraqi forces.

This kind of network communication is helping Ukrainians to successfully fight the war in Ukraine due to American expertise, American intelligence, American logistics and American methods of warfare being used to fight the Russian Federation.

The United States is providing everything to the Ukrainian war effort apart from boots on the ground, so we are seeing Ukrainians fighting a war in a predominantly Western style which is only highlighted in a total war in a purely conventional sense without the use of nuclear weapons Western militaries will kick the Russian ass according to the geopolitical analyst Peter Zeilhan.

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Sources and Bibliography

Imperial War Museum How Britain Invented The Tank In The First World War link

Britannica Persian Gulf War 1990 to 1991 link

Britannica Iraq War link

The Infographics Show Why France Is Preparing for a Large Scale War link

 Binkov’s Battlegrounds Why haven’t we seen WW2-style mass tank offensives in Ukraine? link

Imperial War Museum What Was Operation ‘Barbarossa’? link

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Ukraine War: Wagner Group Rebellion

woman holding a painting

In just 24 hours, the leader of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, staged an insurrection, sending troops into the southern city of Rostov and then towards Moscow.

These actions took place from June 23 and 24 of 2023.

The rebellion may have been brief, but it has highlighted the Russian Federation’s massive weaknesses and Vladimir Putin’s regime.

The rebellion led by Yevgeny Prigozhin never had any real intention to dethrone President Vladimir Putin from power but mainly the means for Prigozhin to survive the power struggle taking place between himself and the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu.

This dispute was due to the leader of Wagner’s accused defence Minister Shoigu withholding ammunition and military equipment to the soldiers numbering 40,000 men engaged in the battle for Bakhmut.

We also made accusations that the defence minister was embezzling funds and stealing money from the Russian people, which was very true is believed that Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu stole an estimate between 1/3 of the Russian military defence budget that should have gone to equipping the Russian military and modernising its army.

Russia’s official 2022 military budget is expected to be 4.7 trillion Rubles ($75bn) or higher and about $84bn for 2023, 40% more than the initial military budget announced in 2021.

2022–2025, Russia plans to spend $600bn on the military and the police. Naturally, the leader of Wagner accused the Minister of Defence for the Russian Federation of stealing from the Russian people and the military.

In retaliation, Shoigu tried to discredit Yevgeny Prigozhin by ensuring they suffered heavy losses and a military defeat by withholding his ability to wage war on Ukraine.

devastated bus stop in town after bomb explosion  Ukraine War: Wagner Group Rebellion
Photo by Алесь Усцінаў on

Power in Russia

Russia has never been a democracy.

They have been a czardom, communist-run state, run by a cult of personality or held together by military rule, such as during the rule of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1990.

What this means for the Russian Federation is that it is held together or can be held together by two models: a model governed by the military or how Russia was ruled under a cult of personality being governed by whoever can build an internal coalition that can hold the nation together.

What this tells us about Vladimir Putin is that he governs through a select group of individuals that, like the old emperor/czar of Russia, rely on favourites and the inner circle established during his time in the political field in the city of St Petersburg which he became mayor of 1996.

What Wagner’s coup d’état highlights, without a doubt which has failed to be mentioned by mainstream news outlets, is that Vladimir Putin does not have support from the Russian military but only a support base which mainly comes from criminals and supporters he gained in the 1990s.

No Russian military personnel or even individual soldier tried to prevent Yevgeny Prigozhin’s march on the Kremlin, and the only reason he stopped was to lose his nerve and cut out a deal with Vladimir Putin so that it would survive.

The most significant takeaway from the Wagner group Rebellion is that Vladimir Putin doesn’t have military support in Russia to maintain his regime.

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Ukraine War Battle for Bakhmut

destroyed residential building in ukraine

Wagner’s group is a paramilitary organisation that has for over nine months been trying to conquer the Ukraine city of Bakhmut; this organisation was created with the support of the Kremlin with the organisation led by a former caterer Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Currently, the Waggoner group consists of 50,000 combat personnel fighting for control over the region Bakhmut’s original plan is believed to have been to encircle the city, which began successfully in January 2023 with the Waggoner group taking the Ukrainian village Klishchivka and surrounding the City Siversk.

In mid-February, the Russians were within reach of Ivanivske (Town) and Chasiv Yar (City); these locations were taken and threatened by the Russians to destroy any supplies and soldiers trying to reinforce the city of Bakhmut.

Ukrainians were left with the only available supply route to Bakhmut by the 0-0506 road and surrounding dirt tracks to send supplies to the besieged city; this is where the Russians launched a three-pronged offensive to surround the city and forced the surrender of the defending Ukrainians.

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Internal Divisions in Russian Military Effort

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Waggoner group and the commander of the invading forces in the Bakhumet region advance, was stalled in May.

Prigozhin has directly accused the Russian Ministry of Defence, particularly Sergei Shoigu, who has been the Minister of Defence since 2012, of lying to Vladimir Putin, which potentially means the Waggoner group may have to withdraw from the region due to the lack of ammunition.

The growing tensions between the Waggoner group and the Russian Federation by Vladimir Putin opens up the possibility of an internal conflict, potentially a civil war, due to the Wagner group being the only army at the disposal of the Russian government until the next batch of mobilisation.

It’s necessary to highlight that in 2022 when the Russians began their invasion on 24 February between that time and the start of 2023, Russians suffered at the most 200,000 deaths and a further 200,000 casualties.

These numbers are essential to highlight that they are dubious in accuracy due to the lack of good-quality information. Still, it is substantial enough to argue that the new call-up of Russian conscripts will not be as effective as the previous professional forces that invaded Ukraine in 2022.

This potentially may leave the Waggoner group as Russia’s main effective fighting force in the short term, providing there is not another significant disaster on the Russian side of the conflict.

It will be interesting to see what may happen in the future, and it may be concerning the Wagner group if it significantly expands during this conflict; it could potentially lead to problems in Russia.

In December 2022, United States National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby claimed Wagner has 50,000 fighters in Ukraine, including 10,000 contractors and 40,000 convicts.

residential buildings in ukrainian city destroyed by war activity  Bakhmut
Photo by Алесь Усцінаў on

Ukrainians Reclaiming Territory

With the Russian state’s failure to keep the Wagner group adequately supplied with ammunition and other materials, the Ukrainian army pushed the Russians to the watered reservoir of Berkhivika and reached the town of Klishchivka to the South of Bakhmut.

Even with this good news, it’s important not to have over expectations; it appears there is more of the case of the Russians pulling back and trading space for time to re-equip their army. As for Ukrainians, the territory they have reclaimed is primarily forest and the countryside.

There is still a long way to go in this conflict, where there will be repeats of backwards and forwards in the advancements and retreats of both armies.

An example of trading space for time can be found during the American Civil War 1861 to 1865 in the Western theatre of combat during the Battle of Shiloh (1862), where the American Union army, 66,812 strong, was fighting the rebel Confederate States of America Army of Tennessee 44,699 strong.

The Union was initially losing the battle until the leadership of Ulysses S Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman traded space for time and slowly withdrew and consolidating the Union army into an effective fighting force and successfully pulling back slowly and thereby trading territory in exchange for reforming the Union army.

What happened during the Battle of Shiloh has been and will be repeated during the Ukraine war and many other conflicts; this kind of tactic that involves trading space for time was also used by the communist leader Chairman Mao Tse-tung who was accused of being timid by other communist leaders in the 1930s.

But it was his calm demeanour and trading space for time that helped to enable the Communist victory in 1949, having been at war since 7 December 1927.

This reinforces the point that Ukrainians and Russians will be giving up and gaining territory throughout this war like a good old-fashioned tug of war until one side is victorious and that Ukrainians of Russian advance is not necessarily mean one side is being crushed.

They are just buying time to reform and consolidate their military forces. It won’t be into one army that has been destroyed in detail in the way made explicit for Victor either conquer Ukraine or see the liberation of Ukrainian territory.

Neither side is sufficiently exhausted from the war due to attrition, lack of materials, or other reasons; the war may go on providing Ukrainians keep their casualties low and still have access to the materials from the Western alliance.

As for the Russians is a very different story because they can still afford to throw bodies at the problem, providing they have the appropriate equipment.

A historical analogy can be found again in the American Civil War; by 1863, it was clear from a strategic point and due to General Grant’s advance down the Mississippi that the war was effectively over for the Confederate States of America.

Unfortunately, the Confederate States of America army, particularly the Army of Northern Virginia, was still intact, and the only way the war was going to end was due to Ulysses S Grant’s war aim was not to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond but to destroy the Army of Northern Virginia and thereby effectively ending the war.

Ukrainians in this historical example are Confederacy in the sense that they are fighting a predominantly defensive war within their territory, and to be victorious Ukrainian army must remain intact.

(Fun fact the British during the American Civil War gave at least 60,000 rifles to the Confederate States of America)

photo of woman reading book  Bakhmut
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on

Sources and Bibliography

Conflict in Ukraine: A timeline (2014 – present) link

NRA Throwback Thursday: Guns of 1861 link

Britannica Chinese Civil War link  

Unearned Wisdom Strategy 11: Trade Space for Time (The 33 Strategies of War) link

America Battle Filed Trust Shiloh link

Wikipedia Battle of Shiloh link

Britannica William Tecumseh Sherman United States General link

PBS What to know about Russia’s Wagner mercenaries as they threaten to leave Ukraine’s front-line link  

Politico Inside the stunning growth of Russia’s Wagner Group link

0-0506 link

Britannica Russia-Ukraine War link

Mail Online Ukraine’s STALINGRAD: Hand-to-hand bayonet combat, phosphorus bombs and ‘meat waves’ of Russian convicts… The year-long battle for Bakhmut still rages, but when the Nazis exhausted themselves, it could yet be a turning point towards Putin’s defeat link.

The Great Courses: The American Civil War by Gary W. Gallagher link

Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee, by Michael Korda link

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