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Putin Could Launch a Big Winter Offensive in Ukraine to Cut Off Weapons

Russia Ukraine T-90 Tank
T-90 tank in the snow. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

As a stage-setter for this analysis of Russia’s looming winter offensive, I have previously evaluated limited objective options Putin might choose, and then the likely preparation phase of an all-out war scenario. In this final edition, I will lay out what I contend is the most dangerous course of action Ukraine could face: a ground campaign to deprive Ukraine of its lifeblood from the West.

(Watch the author of this Ukraine war analysis, U.S. Army LT. Colonel (Retired) Daniel Davis. Davis is a 19FortyFive Contributing Editor.)

As a disclaimer right up front, I will concede that I have no knowledge of any secret Russian plans and have no idea if this is what Putin will do. What I represent in this analysis, however, is that given the force dispositions of both sides, the geography of Ukraine, Russia, and Belorussia, and the current status of each side’s army, what follows represents the gravest danger to Ukraine and one possible scenario; there are a virtually unlimited number of alternatives.

At a minimum, however, Kyiv must account for the possibilities described below in its winter defensive plans.

Triple-Axis Advance in Ukraine

Aside from insufficient troops numbers in February, Russia’s biggest strategic mistake was attempting to invest Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv simultaneously in the north. The only chance that had of success would have been if Zelensky panicked and surrendered merely at the sight of Russian tanks. When that didn’t happen, the initial Russian plan was doomed. In this scenario, Putin recognizes that the number of troops he has for the task remains insufficient to capture large cities – and that he doesn’t need to capture major cities to succeed.

Instead, what he may seek to do is identify and then take out the Ukrainian center of gravity.  This is a term made famous in Western military circles by Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz. In the early Nineteenth Century, von Clausewitz wrote the book On War in which he defined the center of gravity as being “the hub of all power and movement (of the enemy), on which everything depends.”

Meaning, in war, the overall objective should be to deprive the enemy of the one thing he must maintain to win the war. A belligerent’s objective in war, von Clausewitz explained, must be to strike his enemy “using superior strength” against his enemy’s weakness, “constantly seeking out the center of his power.” Only by “daring all to win all,” he concluded, “will one really defeat the enemy.”

In my assessment, Ukraine’s unquestioned strategic center of gravity is its western corridors to the Polish border where the vast majority of its war support enters the country. Their operational center of gravity is their resupply lines emanating eastwards from Kyiv to Ukraine’s various frontline positions. Without those two corridors, it would be nearly impossible for Kyiv to sustain wartime operations for more than a few weeks.

Putin, therefore, may calculate the best use of those 218,000 additional troops will be to launch a three-pronged axis to cut both of those supply routes: the priority effort in the west out of Belarus with the objective of Lviv, a supporting effort to the northeast in the Sumy direction, and supporting axis from the east to reinforce the current offensive in the Donbas.

Lviv Axis (Main Effort, 40% of available troops)

A Russian attack out of southeast Belorussia with the objective of Lviv would represent the greatest strategic threat to the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF). Virtually all of the UAF’s weapons, ammunition, and repair parts enter the country from Poland through several land routes towards Kyiv. If Russia were to cut these routes off by attacking along the Polish/Ukraine border down to Lviv, Russia could cut off the majority of the shipments of war material from the West, without which Kyiv would not long be able to sustain its forces at the frontlines in the eastern part of Ukraine.

There are available rail lines in Belarus that could transport and then sustain a Russian incursion there, and already there have been reports of Russian forces building up in the Brest region. At the moment, the vast majority of Ukraine’s combat forces are concentrated in the southeast (near Zaporizhia), the east (Donbas) and northeast (Svatavo). If Russia made a major unexpected push, with up to 75,000 combat forces, they would have a real chance at plunging roughly 250km to Lviv.

If Russia attained strategic surprise, Ukraine would have to try and hold off the Russian advance with whatever forces it could muster from the west of the country, as it would likely take weeks to move meaningful combat power from the east of the country to the west (and as described in the section below on Donbas Axis, putting combat troops from the eastern fronts would risk a Russian breakthrough from the east) – and that would imply Kyiv would have the capacity to move troops across country, as Russia has already severely disrupted Ukraine’s energy system and any new missile attacks could outright destroy it.

Russia would not intend to attack Lviv, but rather isolate it by creating a blocking position east of the city to cut off the M10 Highway and prevent any supplies reaching the UAF from the Polish border. If properly resourced and sufficient strategic surprise is gained, this axis would have a reasonable chance of successfully attacking to blocking positions west of Lviv. The bigger challenge for Russia would be to keep the corridor from the Belarus border secure and its forces supplied, however, as Ukraine would no doubt throw everything it had to cutting off the penetration. To limit Kyiv’s ability to focus all its reinforcements on the Lviv Axis, Russia would simultaneously launch an axis in the Sumy area.

Sumy Axis (Supporting Effort, 40% of available troops)

Russia made an initial assault in the Sumy region in February, and Ukraine currently mans newly created defensive barriers to slow down any future Russian advance in this direction. Moscow would either choose less densely manned entry points or plan on a major push through contested zones near the border. The initial push in this axis would be similar to the February path, which will create uncertainty in the Ukrainian Command as to the objective of this axis.

Initial penetrations will put Russian columns on a route that could lead to Kyiv. It would be very difficult for the Ukrainian authorities to conclude anything besides it being a new push on the capital, and they would likely send whatever reinforcements that were available in the region racing to defend Kyiv. But once Russia’s leading elements reach somewhere around the town of Pryluky, about 150km from the capital, they would turn south, with the objective of Blahodatny, on the northern bank of the Dnipro River.

As with the Lviv axis, the Sumy axis will be composed of approximately 75,000 troops with the ultimate objective of creating a corridor to the Dnipro River so as to cut off all connections and resupply routes with Kyiv and its forward armies in the Kharkiv, Donbas, and Zaporizhia fronts. Also, as with the Lviv axis, the Sumy axis will seek to bypass or block access to major cities. It will only seek to capture those areas necessary to ensure security of the corridor and provide security for the Russian line.

Donbas Axis (Supporting Effort, 20% of available troops)

Simultaneous with the launching of the Lviv and Sumy axes, Russia would send a major force to supplement its existing offensive in the Donbas. The intent would be to send about 40,000 of the newly created mechanized units, along with about 10,000 Russian troops freed up after withdrawing from Kherson, to attack the weakest identified flanks of the UAF in the Donbas region. The purpose of this attack will be twofold.

First, to the extent possible, the inclusion of major additional forces on weak flanks could help break the stalemates roughly existing in the Bakhmut/Adveevka direction, and possibly force Ukraine back to Seversk and Kramatorsk. But more importantly second, would be to fix all the Ukrainian troops in the Svatavo, Donbas, and Zaporizhia fronts in place so they are not able to withdraw in an effort to blunt Russia’s Lviv or Sumy axes advances.

Should Ukraine seek to thin their lines in order to send reinforcements west, they would run the risk that Russian mechanized forces accomplish a breakthrough. One of Russia’s biggest failures in the opening invasion was not to mass forces at key and decisive locations and did try to attack cities with woefully insufficient numbers of troops. That lack of mass and mutually reinforcing actions allowed Ukrainian forces to isolate the Russian advances in each area and bring the invasion to a standstill in less than three weeks.

If Russia employs a three-axes advance with its newly mobilized combat forces, added to the roughly 200,000 troops already engaged – and critically, avoids trying to invest cities – they will have a chance to focus their combat power where Ukraine is weakest, and in ways that are mutually reinforcing to other axes.  This course of action would represent great risk for Zelensky’s troops, but it isn’t without significant risk for the Russians either.

Russian Risk in Ukraine

In war, nothing is guaranteed and nothing is ever easy. Despite the months of building up of combat power around Ukraine’s borders in the months prior to February, Russia still caught Ukraine by surprise when the invasion actually took place. Other than the elaborate defensive positions constructed over eight years in the Donbas, there were little other barriers to Russia’s entry on February 24. That will not be the case for the troops launching Putin’s winter offensive.

Ukraine continues to man and expand on the defensive works in the Donbas but are now constructing new defensive positions and barriers in the Sumy, Kyiv, and Lviv areas to the north along the Belarus border. Though the border between Ukraine and Belarus is more than 1,000km long, Zelensky’s forces will seek to build fortifications and barriers along the most likely routes of entry and will make use of all natural barriers (such as rivers, marshes, or lakes) to channel Russian forces into preplanned “kill zones” or block their paths.

Some of the Russian troops that enter the fight will be trained fighters with combat experience. But meaningful numbers of the troops will be raw recruits who have never been under fire. Even in my own experience in armored warfare in Iraq, I observed how there can sometimes be significant differences in the skills and quality of different units of the same army.

The disparity in the Russian army, however, could be dramatic, in that some may be good while others may fail abysmally. It is uncertain, therefore, that Russian ground forces would be able to successfully penetrate Ukrainian border defenses and drive 100 or more kilometers to the south and seize their objectives on the Lviv and Sumy axes.

As has been extensively covered, Russia’s logistic system was inadequate at the start of the war. Logistics and resupply could again be a major constraint for Putin’s winter offensive, as the farther away from Russian or Belarussian rail lines his army gets, the more difficult it will be to sustain the forward units. A long corridor of troops also has built in vulnerabilities to Ukrainian interdiction and flanking attacks.

If Russia attains strategic surprise in the location of its primary two axes of advance, Ukraine may not have sufficient combat strength in the region to stop Russia. But over time, Kyiv may have success in building combat power in the Ukrainian interior and strike at weak points along Russia’s support corridors, preventing supplies and reinforcements from reaching the frontline troops.

Bottom line: war is hard, all the time, and rarely do initial plans work out. The enemy is always devising new and creative ways to frustrate one’s own objectives. As with all wars, the winner in this one will be determined by which side does the best to cope with the unexpected, reacts the best and quickest, and proves to be the most resilient. It is impossible, at this point, to predict which side that will be, as both Ukrainian and Russian militaries have shown flashes of brilliance, courage, and stamina.

Conclusion

In addition to the risk that will be faced by the Russian army, we must consider Putin’s personal risk. Many have long argued that Putin desires to be a modern-day Peter the Great. He wants to be remembered in Russian history as a great statesman and military leader. It is possible that in pursuit of that goal, he may use every conventional tool in his military chest to subdue Ukraine. If he succeeds to any degree, he will likely remain in power for some time. If he fails, he may not last much into 2023.

If Putin’s mobilization and winter offensive stall out and make little to no dent in the current front lines, the risk of his running afoul of Russian public opinion will be great. Russians have long rallied behind strong men who succeed and strengthen their country. They have sometimes driven from power those that fail. Putin is painfully aware of Russian history and realizes what is at stake for his country generally and his life specifically in this war.

We will have a much clearer picture of the level of risk Putin is willing to take when we see which path Putin takes in the coming winter offensive. He will lean towards pursuing the limited objective paths of options 1 and 2 if he is uncertain about the quality and capacity of his ground forces. If he is willing to risk his regime and his life, and has sufficient confidence in his army, he may engage in all-out war to subdue eastern Ukraine, using his entire force and arsenal short of nuclear weapons.

Ironically, it might be better for European and NATO security if Putin chooses either of the limited objective options, as doing so would result in Russia on a firm defensive footing for the foreseeable future. If he goes for all-out warfare and succeeds – conquering all of Ukraine east of the Dniper and imposing a negotiated settlement on the rump western Ukraine on terms favorable to Moscow – Europe may face the prospect of a larger, experienced, and successful Russian army on its eastern flank.

Given the stakes, it might make more sense for the West to use all its diplomatic tools to get both sides to end this war as soon as possible, with neither side getting all it wants. Holding out in hopes of draining Russia with a drawn-out stalemate runs the risk that Russia defeats Ukraine, leaving Europe with a much less favorable security environment.

Also a 1945 Contributing Editor, Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis.

Written By

Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis1.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Brad Arnold

    November 20, 2022 at 12:07 am

    Great analysis. May I suggest another option, holding the lines and bombard Ukraine into the 19th century. Since the Ukraine conflict is primarily financial, why ruin a good thing by taking risks?

    With the extra troops and equipment in reserve, Putin can hold the fortified lines against frantic Ukrainian suicidal attacks. Z is crazy for progress, and a butcher bill of Ukrainian losses would astonish the pro-Ukrainian masses. Notice no Western media publishes realist figures – they must be bad.

    Have you ever heard of soldiers shooting to wound? That way the heros must spend time and blood trying to save the man down. Ukraine is a basket case economically. How much will the West expend trying to save it? For realatively little resources, Russia is bleeding the West dry. Then comes China…

  2. xheavy

    November 20, 2022 at 12:10 am

    Ukraine with the Savatove Offensive east of Kharkhiv City (Kharkov) has been a project to choke off the three main RU Supply Routes (Source, Twitter via ISW feed)

    They are grinding their way in.

    Winter is setting in nicely. Right now its what I call mud season. You dont want to run tanks on that ground without special swamp tracks for low ground pressure per square inch. I think everyone has forgotten the last time that was used back in WW2.

    In a month and change I expect the ground to be frozen.

    What is not spoken of is the situation of the RU Western Military District. Which is above Belarus. It will be very possible to have several tank armies take a drive down to Lviv and towards Moldova-Odessa sector.

    THAT will simply turn off everything in the UKR Eastern Front. Kiev and NATO-Poland will have a horrible choice to make. We have drained pretty much the stocks we are or were willing to drain from European and USA Homelands. A fresh RU Red Storm movement involving say 3000 tanks and three times that carriers of infantry etc with enough provisions for a week will already be rolling through Lviv before NATO, USA and UKR decides what to do in their endless meetings.

    You dont want to fight Cities. A million People in a large city can really make things difficult and they have. UKR had to spool from peacetime in a few hours straight to war. I remember the evening of the Invasion there were people living life under the stars and bright lights as they always did the world over. That was almost a year ago.

    And here we are. If I was Putin and has had all this time to carefully transfer and build up the necessary Tank Formations using whatever is in the RU stocks there isnt enough missiles in the entire inventory of the Western World to stop such a Red Storm. Thats what I would do. Straight to Lviv, thence to Odessa. That also means I am as Putin gambling on the idea that NATO and USA etc do not have the balls to actually move forward east from Poland etc to counter strike such a invasion with their own tanks and equiptment. They will sit there and dither.

    If I was wrong and they rolled East into UKR? Fine. So be it. It has been a World War on paper for months. At this point what will be will be.

  3. Steve

    November 20, 2022 at 2:13 am

    It’s highly unlikely that Russia can attain the strategic surprise that Davis casually assigns to it. Any large movement or concentration of Russian troops would be spotted by U.S. spy satellites and relayed to Ukraine, which also appears to have good human intelligence in Belarus. Ukraine can now out range Russian artillery, and inflict major damage on attacking forces.

    It’s also unlikely that a poorly motivated, poorly trained, poorly supplied & poorly led cannon fodder conscript army can do what Russia’s best troops couldn’t do even with the element of surprise in their ‘winter offensive’ back in February.

  4. Simon Beerstecher

    November 20, 2022 at 3:40 am

    Do you have any credibility left?

  5. Ivir

    November 20, 2022 at 4:22 am

    Why would a US former defence expert want to write an article or articles that may put ideas into the head of Russia Putin on how to best stop the West’s weapons reaching Ukraine it must be be tantamount support for Russia very strange indeed you would think he would put ideas that are bad and bound to fail out there and hope Russia takes the bait very unethical and disturbing.

  6. aldol11

    November 20, 2022 at 5:57 am

    as Russia escalates so does the west
    air defense AND OFFENSE weapons will be made available

  7. Neil Ross

    November 20, 2022 at 7:31 am

    At this point in the conflict I suspect Putin has limited confidence in the ability of his troops to pull off a three front offensive. Western Ukraine, has always seemed to me to be a ‘no-go’ area in the eyes of NATO command. The thought of Russian troops lingering inside Ukraine in the Lviv region could revitalize NATO arms shipments whick possibly could include donations of fighter aircraft. I have no doubt that Ukranian pilots and support teams are already training on NATO aircraft.

    What I find lacking in this article is a statement of what final goal Russia would have for such an offensive? Couldn’t the objectives of a Lviv offensive be much more easily achieved by simply removing the bridges, or access to the bridges, over the Dneiper? I do not know.

    Geography and terrain seem to be the major difficulty for Russian strategists. I do not see an obvious final land border that could be achieved and easily defended by Russian troops anywhere in eastern Ukraine, outside of a few minor river valleys. So in my opinion the only option for Putin would be to try and achieve the shortest possible battlefront, which in my limited knowledge, would be from south of Dnipro east to the Russian border; the previous Nuvorussia(?) border. This might be defendable in the longer term, while Russia negotiates for permanent control of Crimea, the majority of the Donbas, and a water supply for Crimea (and the Donbas); which I suspect Russia, in any final negotiated settlement, will end up paying Ukraine for access to this water supply.

    I don’t know so I await other more knowledgeable people to comment on this article.

  8. Michael Droy

    November 20, 2022 at 7:31 am

    After a few independent comments 6 months ago it seems the lt Col is fully a mouthpiece for the Pentagon.

    The US now has decided to give up Ukraine (well White House and Pentagon have, the CIA is lagging a little behind). Daniel Davis is here to talk down hopes for Ukraine having spend most of the last 5 months unreasonably talking them up.
    The real target as ever is the US population that need to be told “Ukraine aren’t such good guys, Putin is no longer a monster, actually it really isn’t such a terrible thing if we let Putin take a third of Ukraine. That Zelensky was always a bit nuts”.

    Which is 100% correct, but lets avoid what was said and done in the 2014 US backed coup, the support for the Nazis killing civilians for all those years and the provocation of Russia by Nato. “That never happened”.

  9. dogsofwar

    November 20, 2022 at 8:22 am

    Daniel Davis should be renamed Delusional Davis.

    If the Russians have any success in this war it will be based upon indiscriminate bombing; something that they are capable of doing, not combined arms actions; something that they are not. Because of US and Ukrainian intelligence a force amassing in Belarus would be seen a mile away. There is zero chance that they would achieve operational surprise and the west will send over a dozen more HIMARs to ensure that the Ukraine/Belarus border is a pre sited kill zone the likes of which haven’t been seen since Falaise. Ukraine may not be able to break Russia’s grip on portions of the Donbas over the next 12 months, that is an open question, but a Russian attack through Belarus would be an operational fiasco on the order of Operation Mars. Putin is no genius but he’s not stupid enough to try this.

  10. Neil Ross

    November 20, 2022 at 8:23 am

    Michael Droy raises a good point. Is it possible that U.S. support for Ukraine really did hinge on the mid-term election? Now that they have provided a boost to Biden’s image and support, does the prospect of candidate Trump now require winding down that same support for Ukraine? The ongoing White House support will be an easy target for candidate Trump, whether rightly or wrongly. Trump’s criticisms will no doubt focus on the lack of direct strategic goals for the U.S., something raised and repeated by Davis in the early days of the conflict; and subsequently forgotten by many of us readers. What will definitely go unmentioned by both sides in the coming campaign is how the U.S. has benefited financially (maybe not broken even) from the conflict. $200B benefits to the petroleum sector, $50B for the military industrial sector, $40B to the heavy industrial sector, and so on.

  11. xheavy

    November 20, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    The USA Money is not the problem. They can generate on a keyboard in a few minutes a thousand trillion dollars and then send it to UKR. It wont matter.

    There is a multitude of problems thats been festering for years. If Falaise is the Artilleryman’s Dream or the German Breakthrough Attempt at Anzio facing sufficient artillery concentrations that essentially destroyed 45000 humans in about three miles of ground over a period of time… Or or or.

    Himars is nice. But they are not the mass killing artillery. You could not concentrate enough of them from our entire inventory for it to matter. There is for example about a thousand artillery vehicles in the US Military give or take. To pick all that up and transfer to Ukr to fight a fireblow style attack cannot be done in the time frame by the time they finish the storm into Lviv and Odessa. Whatever resistance offered by anyone would just simply be ”’ assimilated and more Borg will show up.

    The Chinese also runs on a mass model. They have in the past revealed that when a US Unit runs out of ammunition whatever it might be its no problem overrunning it. A US Carrier Battle Group? No problem. Just shoot 2000 missiles at it. The Battle Group will run out of missiles in 30 minutes and eventually sunk in about a hour. And that will be that.

    Same with Taiwan. They can put half a million infantry on 250,000 Jet Skis and be onshore all over that island in a few hours. Taiwan and the other Nations can see them coming like a Locust Swarm towards a lush and plentiful Farm that is in a few minutes reduced to bare earth. Disinfecting Taiwan will take much longer than the Island will have in terms of fuels, energy, food and so on.

    Numbers.

    Putin just needs to dig deep and reach for the big brass balls he once possessed so many years ago. The Western Powers need to simply keep a eye on RU’s homeland and interdict massive assembly areas. RU simply does not possess the things that we thought they did prior to the litmus test of their invasion performance within Ukraine in actual war. Some things did work well, other things were junk and not worth any further attention.

    Now a thousand tanks coming at you? Well you kill a bunch but then all the missiles and money sent to you will not get to you in time as the tanks roll over and around your position. You no longer matter. And then the overall result is that UKR will be broken up into a variety of chunks and then RU can simply just keep the pot boiling long enough until the UKR and Western Powers simply say thats enough and go home.

    And then what? It never ends. There is no ending, never has been one and the goal at some point is to do a irreversable damage to the World and the People that has to live on it when its all over.

    The other implication is that RU is at the end of it’s string. I think not. There is such shuffling of military trains all over that Country and within Belarus. Where is all that shit going? No one knows.

    But Intelligence within USA and the Western Powers sure as hell do. WE the people are not being told anything. We will probably have our last day together in a ending situation where we will not know why we are killed.

    Once UKR is in darkness. No power anywhere, No starlink in particular (There is about 90 ground stations supporting the entire network in space) and theres no food and a absolute problem of millions of people who have nothing and are dying in bunches in a cold winter that will create a dead thawed out UKR and hardly anything for RU to do except bury and dispose of the dead. Then absorb the entire land into the RU Homeland.

    Then what? Moldova? Poland? Baltic States? It never ends.

    If Reagan was still President and RU did this invasion he would have turned RU Into a parking lot that will glow for ten thousand years. RU will do the same to the USA and Europe and the survivors will just have to make do on sticks and stones. Not our problem.

  12. Steve

    November 20, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    From xheavy: “A fresh RU Red Storm movement involving say 3000 tanks and three times that carriers of infantry etc with enough provisions for a week will already be rolling through Lviv before NATO, USA and UKR decides what to do in their endless meetings.”

    Doubtful Russia has that capability. It’s best tanks & armored personnel carriers have taken heavy losses, mostly from Javelins & other anti-tank weapons. The situation is so desperate that Russia is bringing ancient T-62 tanks out of storage. However, they have been sitting outside for decades with little or no maintenance. They probably couldn’t make it to Lviv on their own even if Ukraine wasn’t taking them out easily with its anti-tank weapons & artillery.

    There’s an old adage that if you have 20 tanks & 10 tank crews, you only have 10 tanks. Russia has that problem in spades.

  13. Scottfs

    November 20, 2022 at 8:33 pm

    The author neglects to mention sanctions. It has been reported Russia is buying ammunition from North Korea, and drones from Iran. Does the author think sanctions will be immediately lifted tomorrow?

    Iran is in the midst of a serious internal uprising. Do the freedom fighters in Tehran want to pay to supply drones to Russia?

    North Korea, I don’t believe, is in any shape to ramp up war production over the lang haul to keep Russia alive.

    China knows it depends on a foolish West to keep the $$$ flowing in. More sanctions on that country would not be welcomed.

    And I though Russia has run low of tanks and other motorized vehicles. Does Putin have 10,000 modern tanks hidden away no one knows about?

    Give Ukraine the military aid it needs. Make it crystal clear to Putin the sanctions will never be lifted as long as Russian troops are in Ukraine. Give Ukraine a modern siyr force and a million drones.

    This is not simply about Ukraine. This is about ending these ridiculous wars of empire building in the 21st century. We have made a stand here. We must persevere and stay the course.

  14. June

    November 20, 2022 at 11:04 pm

    Through many articles this year, Daniel Davis has shown that he does not have an ability to analyze data. So, this article is a fantasy novel but is not based on data. Russia is in no position to move its troops. The last time Russia moved their troops, they lost Kharkiv. This time it would be Crimea. The Polish and Slovakian border is 400km long. It would be a logistical nightmare and a great trap for the Russian army because the Russian army cannot cross the Polish border. Furthermore, NATO can monitor individual Russian soldiers day and night along the border and send the exact coordinates to Ukraine artillery. On the other hand, Ukraine has zero logistic problems along the border.

  15. from Russia with love

    November 21, 2022 at 5:11 am

    @Steve
    you have an interesting logic. 😉 T-55 tanks are now being delivered to Ukraine, write what does this tell you?
    By the way, T-14s were spotted at one of the training grounds where the mobilized were trained. how can you comment on this?

  16. Steve

    November 21, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    The T-55 tanks delivered to Ukraine were modernized, not really comparable to the original models. On the other hand, Russian tank losses have been extensive – those pretending that Russia could soon launch a massive tank assault that would take Lviv and/or threaten Western supply lines aren’t fooling anyone but themselves.

  17. Jim

    November 21, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    From the beginning Russia has taken a restrained approach… calling the invasion a “Special Military Operation.”

    Russia has taken care not to inflame the West any more than necessary… and to spare Ukrainians.

    Lt. Col. Davis suggests a Western campaign as a possibility.

    Too me, this is a bridge too far… akin to Odessa being a bridge too far.

    Russia does not want Nato intervention or a intervention of a “coalition of the willing.”

    Nor do they want neutral nations to view Russia as the aggressor.

    Is interdiction of supply routes important? Yes it is. But interdiction can be farther East… East of Kiev… Ukraine is a 1000 miles wide… East of the Dnipro River is where all the fighting is taking place.

    The Dnipro River would be a natural border between Ukraine & Russia.

    Russian actions West of Kiev are risky both militarily & politically… with the highest chance of bringing a response from the West… the U. S.

    Russia does not want an escalation with the West… that is why I think Lt. Col. Davis (while right to put our the scenario as a possibility) is wrong in terms of his calculation of probability of Russian action.

    This is a war of attrition…

    Russia is winning the war of attrition.

    Why gamble on some far flung western gambit.

    My bet, Russia will stay closer to home… East of the Dnipro River with some interdiction West of the Dnipro River via artillery, missiles & drones, but keep their troops East of the river.

    This is the conservative approach.

    This is the “smart money” approach.

    Remember, Russia’s goal is to get a peace settlement… the U. S. knows that… and has been determined not to give a “settlement,” in fact… the U. S. holds the “Ace” of being satisfied with a “bleeding stump”… an open ended “frozen” conflict, never having a settlement.

    I think that is mistaken, but the best way to a settlement that doesn’t leave a permanent “broken Europe” and coax the U S. into a hemispheric settlement of outstanding issues is to continue the attrition…

    With…

    Quite possibly with a sharp Eastern offensive (smaller) which takes just enough territory & cities to convince the West that the war is lost… don’t throw good money after bad.

    Then the West will be most inclined to engage diplomatic negotiations in good faith.

    A Peace Conference resulting in A Peace Treaty of all issues between the U. S. and Russia… no lingering issues… which would ultimately poison the Treaty.

    That is what the Russians are striving for and thus will direct their military to achieve.

    A Western offensive is counter productive to that end.

    Possibilities are fine… probabilities are better.

  18. T. Martin

    November 21, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    Critical analysis by Mr. Daniels of the Ukraine situation is appreciated. Since no one viewpoint is correct. for arguments sake, I will posit mine based on numerous readings. 1) Recently, there was a video released: . Something like, true or false, will prime the Russian population for what’s to come – no sympathy for Ukraine and to force Putin to ‘finish the job you started’ or leave.; 2) The Russian military must have some field objectives to support any political objectives. The logicalfield objectives would be the eventual destruction (army & will power) of the Ukrainian resistance, and the creation of a ‘defensive Russian line’. 3) Classical stategy would be first to cut supply lines, to hammer willpower & manpower both in the field and with popular support, and to attack with force at whatever is percieved to be Ukraines weak spot. It seems impossible to formulate a comment without a knowledge of Russian objectives, but based on observation: a) it doesn’t seem that Russia is running out of missiles, b) targeting the electrical grid of Ukraine will pit those with electricity against those without it (the dystopian equivalent of a nuke), c) winter will cause a refugee crisis in an overstrained Europe, & d) all of which will tend to demoralize troops in the field who can’t protect themselves or their loved ones back home. IMO, I am unable to envision US/NATO boots in Ukraine or ‘negotiations’, but it is easy to visualize a lot of suffering on the part of Ukraine until a resolution is reached whatever it might be. Somehow, spin it how you like, someone (Who?) has got the US in an undeclared war (something the US hasn’t won in 50 yrs) with Russia and this without the unified support of the general population. When the dust settles, whats left will be unsettling.

  19. from Russia with love

    November 22, 2022 at 2:31 pm

    @Steve
    yes, I know that this is the T-55S, but I can’t understand why you ignore the fact that the T-62s were also modernized and delivered specifically for the unit from Ossetia because they have experience working on these tanks? also in the field of this, units from both the T-72B3 and the T-90M entered the combat zone. so far, the story with the Russian T-62s only speaks of the incompetence of Western analysts.🤷‍♂️
    big losses of Russian tanks? based on British intelligence received from the Ukrainian administration? from that Ukrainian administration that talks about how it shoots down 90-100% of Russian missiles (and a Polish tractor) and lost 50% of the energy infrastructure? this is very reliable information. a little less reliable than the stories of fishermen about the size of the fish, but also very reliable.😂
    PS
    the idea of ​​​​attacking with large masses of tanks in the conditions of modern hostilities is complete nonsense. neither NATO nor Russia fight like that in Ukraine.😎

  20. Garouda

    November 27, 2022 at 12:10 am

    This plan is interesting, but I do not see the major military interest of Lvov. There are other entry points for Western weapons, including the railway line that runs from Romania and the Danube to Odessa. I would not attack Lvov, but would keep troops in reserve in Belarus in case of … I would have a two-stages plan, basically on both bank of the Dnieper River, without attacking any cities, but fixing the Ukrainian army and protecting the LOC flanks.
    The first stage would be close to the above-mentioned plan, from Kupiansk/Svatove for instance, not Sumy which would overextend the Russian army, fixing but not taking Kharkiv and Zaporizhia in order to attack the Donbass from the north, cutting the supply lines to the current main frontline (Bakhmut-Siversk) and catching the Ukrainian army in a large cauldron. Putting an end to the shelling of the civilian population in Donetsk is a priority.
    The second stage would be on the western bank, the main effort would be towards Krivoi Rog, fixing the Ukrainian army in Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv. The starting point, depending on greatly from the results of the first stage. The last option would be a rush from Belarus that represents a +/- 500 km risky journey, could be too ambitious. In 1943, the Red Army under time pressure decided to cross the river at the expense of heavy casualties, this is not an option today.
    Why Krivoi Rog? To attack and control the western bank of the Dnieper River (Nikopol) and put an end to the shelling of the Zaporizhia power plant, previous to a future attack towards Odessa, which could be combined with an airborne-amphibious operation towards the Dniester estuary.

  21. Wesser

    November 29, 2022 at 1:38 pm

    Another poor analysis

    Yes, we were shocked Putin actually pulledvthe trigger on 24/2, but it is hardly like the russians have been remotely able to redeploy troops as Davis describe, let alone supply Them properly.

    Russia simply isnt capable of pulling off what Davis describe.

    Nay I predict a russian victory (and lets pray the entire russian army is annihilated and thrown out of Ukraine) Can come in Two forms:

    1. Russia managed to dig in and hang on to parts of Ukraine and we’ll have a latent War for years

    2. Russia simply endures losses into the hundreds of thousands and the country going bankrupt and managed to simply grind Ukraine down

    A great offensive is beyond russias ability to execute

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