I think that Russia’s Special Military Operations are starting anew and that the United States and NATO are confused and confused about Russia’s next steps. We have some clear benchmarks – the end of the grain deal, meaning Russia is likely to take more aggressive action in shutting down maritime traffic in the Black Sea that could benefit Ukraine, and the recent terrorist attack on the Kerch Bridge in Crimea. President Putin has no doubt that there will be massive retaliation for Ukraine’s latest attack on Russian civilians.
The Russians appear to be using a micro version of Operation Sequential, which was at the heart of the Soviet plan to defeat the Nazi army. during World War II:
The concept of sequencing operations to achieve campaign objectives is not unique to AirLand Battle doctrine. MN Tukhachevsky, in his manuscript New Problems in Warfare, describes the historical development of the idea of combat sequences to achieve war goals. In it, Tukhachevsky associated with the changing nature of the battlefield the need to sequence operations. According to Tukhachevsky, the operational art during the Napoleonic period principally involved the function of “spreading out” troops to enable maximum fighting strength to be brought to a decisive battle. Towards the end of the Napoleonic period, the need arose to conduct several battles in order to create the prerequisites for fighting a decisive campaign. Waterloo is an example of such a campaign. After Napoleon, armies grew in size, weapons became more destructive, and the dimensions of the battlefield grew wider and deeper. The troops’ ability to destroy opponents in one decisive battle disappeared. Both the American Civil War and World War I clearly demonstrated this. In 1926 Tukhachevsky commented further that:
“The nature of modern weapons and modern combat is such that it is impossible to destroy the enemy’s manpower with one blow in one day’s battle. The battles in modern operations stretch into a series of battles not only on the front line but also in depth until the moment the enemy has been struck by the final extermination blow or when the offensive forces are exhausted in that case, the modern tactics of the theater of military operations are much more complex than those of Napoleonic and they are made more complexed by the inescapable condition mentioned above: that the strategic commander cannot personally orchestrate the battle.
It was written almost 100 years ago but was known before. Tukhachevsky’s wisdom is still relevant and seems to shed some light on what happened along the 800 mile line of contact in Ukraine.
Which brings me to this amazing piece written by my friend, Stephen Bryen. WAGNER RETURNS TO FIGHT AGAIN (Prigozhin and Surovikin Missing). you can read full section on Substack here.
Wagner’s troops are in Belarus training soldiers there. More Wagner troops now in convoy on the way to Belarus. A spokesperson for Wagner and one of its top leaders has released a video with the same bottom line: they will defend the motherland and support the military and civilian leaders of Russia.
Wagner is back and they look set to play a strategic role for Russia and Belarus. . . .
The Prigozhin-led offensive aimed at Moscow on June 24 nearly proved disastrous for Putin. The Russian leader was removed from Moscow as a security precaution. Loyalty troops, including the Chechen, Presidential Guard and police, were transferred to protect the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, Prigozhin’s main target.
Prigozhin apparently believed that key leaders in the army, apart from Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov, would support his takeover, purge the defense minister and chief of staff, and put Prigozhin and, possibly, Surovikin in charge of Russia. armed forces. Putin will be given a fait accompli. Either he can come to terms with the change or, in Prigozhin’s view, he will be replaced. Prigozhin saw himself as Russia’s power broker and, depending on how it turned out, possibly Russia’s new President.
Putin, it seems, is also not sure about the loyalty of the army. The uncertainty was no doubt fueled by fears for Armageddon General Sergey Surovikin.
Surovikin, who served as a special consultant to Prigozhin and Wagner, was furious with the army leadership. Surovikin had been Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces from 8 October 2022 to January 2023 when he was replaced by Valery Gerasimov. Surovikin was given the obscure title of Deputy Gerasimov, and although he allegedly kept the job, became special consultant to Prigozhin. Surovikin’s insult, inflicted by the “old guard” in the Army, undoubtedly made him strongly support Prigozhin. The two made their move after Bakhmut’s victory.
I want to remind you that you can be friends with someone and not always agree with them. My experience with Steve is that he gives an honest assessment based on the facts available to him. He may be right about his assessment of Prigozhin and Surovikin, but I have a different view.
I have an alternative hypothesis for Wagner and Surovikin. Let’s start with Wagner. It’s a GRU creature, which I think means it’s used for psychological operations as well as conventional military operations. It has limited military capabilities as it is primarily light infantry. My understanding (and I could be wrong) is that it relies on the Grand Russian Army for artillery, armor and air support. But much of the media and Biden’s national security team think Wagner is too important. In my opinion Wagner is a squirrel running around my backyard and my dogs bark like crazy because they focus on the creature’s every move. Wagner is like a chess piece dancing in a strip club – shedding layers of clothing and underwear while Westerners look on lecherously.
Russian intelligence officers can see and read that the West is obsessed with Wagner – seeing him as an almost miraculous fighting force. That leads me to believe that the public information released about Wagner was intentional and part of a wider undercover operation. Moving Wagner to Belarus and focusing on a “new” leadership would have the effect of forcing Ukraine and NATO to increase strength and defense on the northern front. I continue to believe this is part of operation maskirovka to convince the West of a narrative that will force NATO to divert troops to Belarus and away from other parts of the battlefield where Russia intends to strike by force.
I also think there was deliberate manipulation of Surovikin’s narrative as well. When Prigozhin started his reckless mutiny, Surovikin very quickly came out of the box with videos supporting Putin and warning Wagner’s men to hold fire or risk destruction. Throughout the 24-hour play, Surovikin is not concerned with Gerasimov or the chain of command. Now that he has “disappeared,” a narrative has emerged in the West that is having a similar Wagnerian effect on analysts and intel planners. It was Surovikin who saved the Russian Army from being trapped in Kherson. I think the Russian military leadership is using Surovikin to convince the West that he is no longer a threat to worry about. Gerasimov could use Surovikin to promote the meme that chaos reigns over the Russian military leadership.
Meanwhile, there has been a marked increase in Russian air and missile attack operations. That was Surovikin’s order, or at least his. The fact that his family didn’t screw up on social media or use a surrogate to screw it up convinces me even more that his alleged “absence” is part of a wider fraud operation.
I would like to pay belated praise to US Army Major Russell J. Goehring, whose description of Tukhachevsky’s novel view of modern warfare caught my attention. Russia is not in the grip of chaos and uncertainty. I suspect Tukhachevsky’s views are an important part of the foundation of Russia’s Special Military Operations.