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Holding ground, losing war

Zelensky’s strategy of defending territory at all costs has been disastrous for Ukraine.

The American Conservative, Douglas Macgregor, Sep 22, 2022,

At the end of 1942, when the Wehrmacht could advance no further east, Hitler switched German ground forces from an “enemy force-oriented” strategy to a “ground-holding” strategy. Hitler demanded that his armies defend vast, largely empty and irrelevant stretches of Soviet territory. 

“Holding ground” not only robbed the German military of its ability to exercise operational discretion, and, above all, to outmaneuver the slow, methodical Soviet opponent; holding ground also pushed German logistics to the breaking point. When holding ground was combined with endless counterattacks to retake useless territory, the Wehrmacht was sentenced to slow, grinding destruction.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, (presumably with the advice of his U.S. and British military advisors), has also adopted a strategy of holding ground in Eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian forces immobilized themselves inside urban areas, and prepared defenses. As a result, Ukrainian forces turned urban centers into fortifications for what became “last stands.” Sensible withdrawals from cities like Mariupol that might have saved many of Ukraine’s best troops were forbidden. 

 Russian forces responded by methodically isolating and crushing the defenders left with no possibility of either escape or rescue by other Ukrainian forces.

Moscow’s determination to destroy Ukrainian forces at the least cost to Russian lives prevailed. 

 Ukrainian casualties were always heavier than reported from the moment Russian troops crossed into Eastern Ukraine, but now, thanks to the recent failure of Ukrainian counterattacks in the Kherson region, they’ve reached horrific levels that are impossible to conceal. Casualty rates have reached 20,000 killed or wounded a month.   

Despite the addition of 126 howitzers, 800,000 rounds of artillery rounds, and HIMARS (U.S. rocket artillery), months of hard fighting are eroding the foundations of Ukraine’s ground strength. In the face of this disaster, Zelensky continues to order counterattacks to re-take territory as a means of demonstrating that Ukraine’s strategic position vis-à-vis Russia is not as hopeless as it seems. 

The recent Ukrainian advance to the town of Izium, the link between Donbas and Kharkiv, seemed like a gift to Kiev. U.S. satellite arrays undoubtedly provided Ukrainians with a real-time picture of the area showing that Russian forces west of Izium numbered less than 2,000 light troops (the equivalent of paramilitary police, e.g., SWAT and airborne infantry). 

The Russian command opted to withdraw its small force from the area that is roughly 1 percent of formerly Ukrainian territory currently under Russian control. However, the price for Kiev’s propaganda victory was high—depending on the source, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 Ukrainian troops were killed or wounded in a flat, open area that Russian artillery, rockets, and air strikes turned into a killing field. 

Given Washington’s inability to end the war in Ukraine with the defeat of Russian arms, it seems certain that the Beltway will try instead to turn the ruins of the Ukrainian state into an open wound in Russia’s side that will never heal. From the beginning, the problem with this approach was that Russia always had the resources to dramatically escalate the fighting and end the fighting in Ukraine on very harsh terms. Escalation is now in progress. …………………………..

The defense establishment has a long record of success in tranquilizing American voters with meaningless clichés. As conditions favorable to Moscow develop in Eastern Ukraine and the Russian position in the world grows stronger, Washington confronts a stark choice: Talk about having successfully “degraded Russian power” in Ukraine and scale back its actions. Or risk a regional war with Russia that will engulf Europe. ……………………………… more  https://www.theamericanconservative.com/holding-ground-losing-war/

September 22, 2022 - Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war

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