Putin’s Looming Winter Offensive Poses Real Danger to Ukraine: On Tuesday morning, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the G20 and mocked Russia by laying out a 10-point peace plan that was little more than a demand for unconditional surrender by Moscow. On Tuesday evening, Russia answered with a barrage of missiles attacking the energy infrastructure of dozens of Ukrainian cities that may be the most devastating missile attacks of the war. That barrage may well prove to be merely a foretaste of Russia’s winter offensive to come.
(Watch the author of this piece, RET. LT. Conolel Daniel Davis on NBC News discussing this article.)
Putin’s Winter Offensive Against Ukraine
Ukrainian authorities are claiming yesterday’s strikes have caused massive energy outages across the country, and that “the (energy) situation is critical.” These latest attacks struck the energy systems of Ukraine’s major cities (that had already been reduced by 40%) since Putin began attacking the country with sustained missile attacks following the Ukrainian attack on the Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea to Russia.
In all probability, these latest strikes were both an immediate Russian response to Zelensky’s speech at the G20 – and to set the stage for the coming winter offensive.
In an analysis published here last week on Ukraine’s victory in Kherson, I promised to present an assessment of possible objectives Putin may set for his looming winter offensive composed of more than 200,000 new troops.
In general, there are three main possibilities:
Option 1) Minimalist Objectives:
Putin uses his newly mobilized troops to backstop all Russia’s current frontline positions in Ukraine and hopes to cement territorial gains into permanent Russian possessions;
Option 2) Limited Objectives:
Putin will attempt to use his new formations to complete the conquest of the entire Donbas and return over the Dnipro River to retake Kherson and the remainder of the Kherson oblast.
Option 3) Hi-Risk/Hi-Reward:
Putin does not seek half-measures and strives to force the Zelensky government to capitulate on Moscow’s terms by engaging in all-out war.
Each option has its own pros and cons from the Kremlin’s perspective and each represents unique dangers for the Ukrainian state. Though as Zelensky reiterated on Tuesday, Ukraine publicly seeks to completely eradicate Russia from its territory. That stated intent may be one of the factors that determines which of the three course of action Putin may choose. Below I will briefly look at options 1 and 2, as both are fairly straight forward and would, frankly speaking, be the least of the bad options for Ukraine.
I will then spend much more space detailing the most dangerous course of action Putin could choose. Evidence is starting to pile up, however, that option 3 may also be the most likely. It is instructive, therefore, to both the West and Kyiv’s authorities to consider the potential of an all-out Russian assault on Ukraine now, while there is still time to avert the worst of the violence through diplomacy.
It must be admitted up front, however, that any negotiated end to the war will necessarily involve ceding some territory to Russia. The alternative, however, is to seek the complete return all lost Ukrainian territory, Kyiv continues to refuse to negotiate and, in the process, loses far more territory than might be surrendered if a deal could be reached before Russia launches its winter offensive. I fully acknowledge that only Ukraine can make such a call. Here, however, is what they may face if they choose to hold out to regain all their territory by continuing to fight.
Option 1): Minimalist Objectives: What Would Putin Do?
In this option, Putin uses his force, enhanced by the increase of 300,000 mobilized reservists, to prevent any further Ukrainian advances by sending large numbers of troops to bolster the Russian lines from Kharkiv region in the north, to the Donbas in the center, and in the Kherson/Zaporezhia fronts in the south.
Russian forces begin to dig in all along the current 1,000 mile long line of contact separating the warring sides. Newly arrived Russian troops will immediately add considerable firepower to the defense of each front, significantly adding a deterrent to any further Ukrainian advances. Last week Pentagon officials reported Ukraine was averaging firing 7,000 artillery rounds per day against Russia, but admitted Putin’s troops were sending up to 20,000 back.
Russia could literally double that amount of firepower in a winter campaign by stuffing the defense with hundreds of additional howitzers and rocket launchers, which would make it nearly impossible for Zelensky’s troops to successfully attack beyond current lines. Putin’s objectives would be to freeze the conflict where it is, effectively turn the land his troops currently occupy into de facto Russian territory, and over an extended time seek to make the partition recognized by the majority of the world.
While Russia could achieve these near-term objectives with relative ease – the battle lines have been fairly static over the past month while Russian troops have been outnumbered by their Ukrainian opponents. Essentially doubling the number of Russian troops and firepower would produce an advantage for Putin’s force that couldn’t be overcome until much time had passed.
Yet for that reason, this may be the most unlikely course for the Russian president to choose: in time, the Ukraine side would be free to build up its strength, add potentially hundreds of tanks and howitzers of their own, and even if a year or more later, launch new offensives that might successfully drive Russian troops out. This option solves a near-term problem for the Russian forces (stopping the current Ukraine advances), but it bakes in medium and long-term vulnerabilities, without providing a rational path to conflict resolution on terms acceptable to Moscow. Thus, Putin likely won’t select this course of action.
Option 2): Limited Objectives: Take Back All of Donbas?
In this scenario, Putin will seek limited military gains by engaging in efforts to complete the capture of the entire Donbas (including all of Donetsk and Luhansk territory), the Zaporezhia region, and launch a major operation to return back across the Dnieper River to re-take Kherson city and conquer the remainder of the Kherson region. He would allocate 45% of his mobilized forces for the Donbas offensive, 45% for the Kherson offensive, and retain 10% for a mobile reserve (to reinforce success or increase pressure if his forces stumble in either direction).
Along with the approximately 200,000 Russian troops presently fighting in Ukraine, Putin’s generals would have more than 400,000 troops to try and gain those limited objectives, which would not be guaranteed but definitely possible. One of the key challenges would be that the Ukrainian troops have spent months preparing hardened defenses throughout the depth of their side of the Donbas front.
The same effective defense Zelensky’s forces have been conducting since February there and have prevented Russia from winning the Donbas would remain a formidable obstacle, even with the inclusion of 75,000 or more new Russian troops. To continue to plow into the teeth of the Ukrainian defenses would extract an enormous casualty toll on the attackers, and still not guarantee success; the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) have become highly skilled at defense.
Meanwhile, even the drive to reconquer Kherson city would be fraught with difficulties. The same major obstacle of the Dnipro River that presently keeps Ukraine from crossing to the west to continue its offensive against Russian troops would likewise pose a major challenge to any Russian attempt to force the issue back to the west. The Ukraine side no doubt has already begun to build a new system of elaborate defenses in depth on their side of the Dnipro to make any Russian return inordinately costly.
Thus, this course of action would be high risk/low reward for Putin, as he might, with concerted effort, conquer all the Donbas, but may not be able to cross the Dnipro River and thereby fail to reconquer Kherson city. Even if eventually successful in both objectives, Putin’s forces would suffer egregious casualties that could match or exceed all they’ve suffered in the first nine months of the war.
If Putin tried anyway and was successful in taking both objectives, he would then be in the same position described in Option 1 above, whereby he would have a relatively secure line covering the four territories he illegally annexed in September, but that gain would be temporary and short-term, as again, Zelensky would be free to build up his forces for a certain future counteroffensive.
What Will Putin Do in Ukraine This Winter?
Putin would likely reject both options 1 and 2 for the same ultimate reason: even a successful tactical operation would come at great cost in blood and treasure yet prove to be a short-term and temporary victory. It would not solve his problem of securing Russia’s western flank from the threat he perceives from NATO and would virtually guarantee a future offensive from Zelensky that would likely be his most powerful to date. Then there are the domestic concerns.
Up to this point, it appears the Russian public is willing to give Putin the benefit of the doubt, despite his failures to win the war at the outset, the reverses in Kharkiv in September and the loss of Kherson this month. Russian public opinion – even the grumbling Russian hawks – are willing to wait and see how the promised winter offensive plays out.
However, if Putin fails to win the war, fails to secure Russian territory, and doesn’t vanquish the Ukrainian military threat on this border, it is possible his current approval rating of 79% will evaporate. In such a case, it would be very unlikely for the Russian people to accept another mobilization in the hundreds of thousands (which would be required to meet the certain Ukrainian offensive that would eventually follow). Vladimir Putin would be at serious risk of being forced to resign, driven from power via a coup, or possibly even losing his life in an assassination.
The most likely case, therefore, the most reasonable expectation given the current state of the war and the options available to the Russian leader, is for Putin go order his generals to execute option 3: all-out war to destroy Ukraine’s ability to threaten Russian territory or interests.
On the surface, it might seem beyond question that if Russia couldn’t successfully accomplish the lesser challenging options 1 or 2, that option 3 would be the most unrealistic and least likely of all. That is certainly conventional wisdom today, yet as we will begin to reveal in the next part of this analysis, the Russian military poses a much greater danger to the viability of the Ukrainian state than is commonly recognized.
Also a 19FortyFive 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.
Note: This has been updated to include an interview by NBC News with the author of this piece.
November 16, 2022 at 2:48 pm
Donbas is a totally wrecked wasteland. While Ukriane should certainly keep up the pressure, it should be done at the lowest risk level. Donbas simply is worth fighting for.
Meanwhile, the plum, the Gold Fleece, the coup de grace assault must be Crimea above all. I would plan a combined air, land and sea assault in such a way as to flush the Russians back over the Crimean Bridge at Kerch Straits. Gen. Patton would know how to make it work.
Once Crimea is back in Ukraine hands, Russia won’t have any good reason in particular to keep up the fight. Again, Donbas is wasted. I would think the Russians would like to avoid paying to rebuild it.
BTW, it’s doubtful the Russians will have their act together for an assault by winter time. More like spring. This winter is to the advantage of Ukraine.
November 16, 2022 at 3:02 pm
If Russia couldn’t conquer Ukraine with its best troops & equipment, as well as the element of surprise (to some degree), it’s extremely doubtful that a poorly-trained, poorly-equipped & poorly-led cannon-fodder conscript army will do better this winter.
For reasons known only to himself, Davis, who [wrongly] expressed deep skepticism in the Spring that Ukraine would ever be able to generate enough effective combat power to go on the offensive, now suggests, without elaboration or analysis, that numbers alone will provide Putin the means to launch a winter offensive. I suppose he may try, but success seems unlikely.
November 16, 2022 at 3:30 pm
Johnny Ray – you are dreaming.
Ukraine is totally screwed and will likely lose odessa and possibly Kharkov too.
Ukraine with US and Nato had no options now.
Ukraine without US and Nato as it now seems just does what Russia asks.
November 16, 2022 at 3:31 pm
Russia’s advantage in manpower is entirely illusory. The conscripts are of the lowest morale and are the poorest equipped troops in history. Whether inserted into existing units or as standalone battalions, they are obvious for their incompetence. Their deployment is being met by withering attacks from the Ukrainians and they are suffering sickeningly high levels of casualties.
One can only assume that a conscript army of such ineffectualness would, rather than standing victorious over the battlefield in Spring, be reduced to a terrified frozen rabble by mid-January.
November 16, 2022 at 3:34 pm
I see Lt Col Davis is wavering around trying to follow the official line. Pity 6 months ago he was ahead of it.
He has reversed in a week from saying how well Ukraine is doing to recognising how awful this winter is likely to be for them.
Perhaps the weather changed unexpectedly.
Still this is pretty much the General Milley version. He too has gone from warmonger to chief promoter of a massive climb down to a superior force.
At least he got that right, if 9 months late (actually 11 months late – the US should have backed down when Russia was making demands that it backs off pushing in E Europe last December)
Neil Ross Hutchings
November 16, 2022 at 3:38 pm
I suspect the pride of the Russian military is on the line in any future offensive. I seem to recall Davis stating that an offensive force requires a 3 to 1 advantage in troops in order to have any chance of success. This article seems to indicate that this advantage may no longer exist in any part of the battlefueld. I do not know.
The Dnipro remains a mighty obstacle to any offensive or counter offensive, just look to history for evidence. It seems to me that if the Russian offensive does indeed happen this winter, and is successful, then Russian strategists will want advances to end at the most efficient line to defend against any future Ukranian counter attacks. I incorrectly believed earlier in the war that this would be the full length of the Dnipro Rover itself, but was unaware of strong nationalist belief in the northeast of the country. I have no clue where that final desired defensive line might well be located now, so l look forward to reading the follow up article by Davis in the hope that this point is addressed.
November 16, 2022 at 4:00 pm
The Russian Copium of the day.
‘hundreds of additional howitzers and rocket launchers’: really? where do they come from? from WWII stocks?
For the information of Daniel Davis, who does not seem to read the news, the remaining stock of Russian missiles is plummeting, with no convincing results on the ground: power was already back in many parts of Ukraine today.
November 16, 2022 at 4:14 pm
Just from the title I knew who the author was going to be.
November 16, 2022 at 4:21 pm
This is the first time I partially agree with Mr. Davis. There is an enormous danger that Russia keeps bombing civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and at some point it becomes unbearable for the general population. It is impossible to have enough air defense for all essential infrastructure.
Where I get frustrated with the author is in his failure to get more technical about the logistics of both sides. For example Peter Zeihan, who is not a military analyst, does go into details about logistical situation of the Russians, which does not look good. The Kerch railroad bridge is damaged and with limited traffic. Other railway lines bridges are also in range of HIMARS. Same goes for the highways around Melitopol, some portions in range of Ukrainian howitzers. I hear that a large portion of Russian military supply trucks have been lost. They are relying on civilian trucks which are vulnerable to even small arms fire. How will the Russians supply a massive offensive without access to reliable supply routes? Pretty much every military analyst I read states that Ukrainian supply lines are more diverse and secure.
However, it does not appear that Ukraine and allies have a reliable defense against Russian missile and drone attacks, even thought they intercept 60-80% percent the rest manage to inflict severe damage. So as a supporter of Ukraine I see little chance of Russians sustaining offensive actions, but I do worry about loss of the power grid.
November 16, 2022 at 4:34 pm
I can only imagine the carnage if poorly trained and poorly equipped Russians attempt an opposed river crossing, one of hte hardest military maneuvers, in wintertime. When that order is given Russian officers will have to worry more about being shot by their own troops than from Ukrainian ones.
November 16, 2022 at 5:02 pm
Biden, the latest warmonger hell-bent on a one-world govt or one-world order dominated by American-led elites, can without breaking a sweat, fatten up ukros with himars, 155mm shells and russophibic agitprop BUT can he supply heat and warmth and clean water to them as winter arrives.
With Russia going after ukros’ power plants and facilities, people will begin to question whether america’s proxy wars are the best hope for humanity’s future this side of heaven.
Once masses of refugees stream across the polish border, NATO leaders will only point fingers at Moscow even though they are the people most directly responsible for the crisis with their dogbarking and hellishly warrish stance.
This situation in Europe today truly reinforces the rule that the west only understands the language of force or the language of power.
November 16, 2022 at 5:17 pm
If the goal of Russia is to “de-militarize” Ukraine, then they are doing a good job right now.
As I understand it, on many areas of the front Ukraine’s military has been feeding men into the “kill zone” like chunks of meat into a meat grinder.
The Russians (from a defensive posture) simply kill all the Ukraine soldiers that present themselves (and destroy the equipment).
Thus, that development fulfills the “de-militarization” goal of the Russians.
Thus, it depends on whether Ukraine keeps up suicidal frontal attacks like they did in Kherson before Russia decided to make a tactical/strategic retreat to the South side of the Dnipro River (the river is one Kilometer wide).
I’ve been expecting from Russia a classic combined arms offensive maneuver… but it may be Russia does not want to do it… because it exposes their soldiers & equipment to too much risk.
And why do it when Ukraine willingly feeds it’s men down the shute like cattle to the slaughter pen.
Let Ukraine exhaust themselves, then impose Russia’s will at leisure… and dictate terms.
November 16, 2022 at 5:24 pm
The author sounds like an old Naval hand who only considers the weight of the battleships cannons in determining who will win. The world has moved on. Ukraine troops seem to understand this. The Russians are like the Iranians in the Iran v Iraq war just sending raw numbers into the meet grinder.
November 16, 2022 at 5:31 pm
And…. He’s back.
Can Davis actually be this stupid? Or is he being paid to be the “Devils Advocate”. To be the one at 1945 who takes the Russian side of what ifs. I don’t think so, but it’s just difficult imagining anyone be so stupid.
I’m not even going to talk about Davis three scenarios in this article because it’s just so stupid. Instead, I’m going to rebut his underlying thesis.
The one consistent thing Davis says is that Ukraine needs to sue for peace. It is the basis for everything Davis says. It’s like he has a mental illness and this is his twitch. And on this, he is completely wrong.
1.) He never says Russia should negotiate peace. Russia is now in the losing position. Any advantages they have at the moment, they should try to lock in. But Davis assumes that as the aggressor, it is not Russia who needs to negotiate.
2.) Davis never understood why Russia attacked in the first place. Davis and many like him consistently misunderstood this. He believes what Putin said. But we all know Putin is a liar. So why does he simply accept Putin’s reasoning instead actually looking at it? The idea that Russia needs Ukraine as some buffer is laughable and stupid on its face. No country is to be allowed to control another “just to make it feel comfortable”. But if we look closer, it is even more obvious. This isn’t about a buffer at all. This is about power. Putin believes it is his right to push others around. He attacks Ukraine because he believes he can and it is his right. It’s not his fear of NATO, he’s not really even afraid of NATO, if he was, he wouldn’t have even attacked in the first place. It’s his belief that Ukraine should be under his thumb that has lead him to attack.
3.) Davis never considers the consequences of 2014 when he spouts off about how Ukraine needs to capitulate. He never stops to realize that Russia will continue on until it gets what it wants. And what Putin wants is the control of Ukraine. He didn’t get that in 2014. The frozen conflict did not give Putin the results he wanted which was for Ukraine to become more corrupt and Russia reliant as he expected. This is why Russia attacked. Not because of NATO. We all know NATO was never going to accept Ukraine after 2014. There is only down sides to NATO and no upsides. So this reasoning makes no sense and we go back to the obvious, Russia want to control Ukraine.
All this means that Ukraine can not sue for peace until it knows that Russia has learned from its mistake. So if Russia doesn’t want peace, Ukraine shouldn’t give up anything to try and get it. And even if Russia really wants peace, Ukraine has to consider what Russia did in 2014 and 2021. Because how can Ukraine be sure that Russia really wants peace and is not just going to use a ceasefire to rebuild its army to attack again?
Peace can only be had when the people of Russia have had enough of this war. When the Russian warhawks admit that the war was a mistake. When all are asking Putin to sue for peace. Only then can Russia even be considered as in a place where peace may be possible. Until then Ukraine and by extension, the rest of the world need to continue the fight. The chances of Russia walking away from this in one price are close to zero. They will have to accept the consequences of their aggression.
I don’t expect Davis to understand this. His thinking is fundamentally flawed. He doesn’t really analyze the reasoning for this war at all. My best guess is that he fears so much for this to escalate into a world war that he looks for any way possible to end it. But an end pressured from the outside only delays the inevitable. Better to to work to get the best outcome and control the situation to keep it from spreading. Like the missiles landing in Poland. We just don’t loose our cool on it and let it be a mistake while warning Russia of consequences if it does do it on purpose.
November 16, 2022 at 5:49 pm
Dan, mostly I agree with your points, but one point you are slightly wrong about. Military supply trucks are not really any more protected against small arms fire than commercial trucks. In reality, there are two basic breeds of military supply trucks. One is better at getting supplies to as difficult of terrain as it can and the second breed are basically commercial trucks maintained by the military. Neither are usually given special protection. This would add weight which would lower their carrying capacity. Trucks are usually considered to be kept behind defensive lines so need for this protection is minimal and not worth the trade off. The US however since the Cold War has come up with a third breed which is more protected against IAD’s, but they are limited and the trade offs mean they are specific use vehicles.
November 16, 2022 at 5:59 pm
“There are long waiting lists for volunteers eager to serve in the Ukrainian military, and people pull strings to get called up sooner — a contrast to the hundreds of thousands of Russian men fleeing their country to avoid the draft.” (NYT)
Russian conscripts do not even have winter clothing!
November 16, 2022 at 7:26 pm
Kherson was a strategic retreat.
Behind a 2/3 mile wide river @ Kherson.
The Front is Frozen for the Winter.
Some talk excitedly about a Ukraine offensive to Melitopol, but that would be a strategic risk to Ukraine’s army.
An effective attack would take the bulk of Ukraine’s army… leaving the army without effective reserves.
An opportunity for the long predicted dreaded “boiler” or “cauldron” — envelopment — Russian analysts predicted early on in the war, but never materialized… leaving Ukraine in a much better battlefield position than many predicted.)
On a drive for Melitopol envelopment could happen.
“The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, described as the Varian Disaster by Roman historians, took place at modern Kalkriese in AD 9, when an alliance of Germanic peoples ambushed Roman legions and their auxiliaries, led by Publius Quinctilius Varus.”
Winter should be for negotiations, but regrettably President Zelensky has rejected meaningful negotiations.
But the frozen front hopefully will give time to promote a thaw in thinking regarding Ukraine’s future.
The best outcome is a negotiated peace.
November 16, 2022 at 7:50 pm
as usual, you have the situation precisely backwards. It is Russia that is feeding men into the meat grinder, and they are getting creamed.
But you dont have to take the Ukrainians word for it. Russia’s ultra nationalist military bloggers, many of whom are on the ground in Ukraine, are the ones doing the reporting on just how bad Russia is doing.
In the wake of several Russian soldiers in this area going public with how badly they are losing in Pavlivka…Russian milblogger Alexander Khodakovsky, who has nearly 650,000 followers on Telegram, reports on Russia’s ongoing disaster:
“I will continue the publication, moving from general reasoning to specifics – I will return to the ill-fated Pavlovka. When the idea was hatched, it was assumed that the offensive would go in two directions. The brigade commanders and I, discussing our ability to develop such an offensive at the current moment in time, came to the conclusion that it was unequivocally impossible to realize this plan: the reinforcements were not trained, no matter how they saved it, it was only enough for the first surge … But the brigade commanders , who had to solve the problem, could not reach out to those who were above them – those who needed any result at any cost.”
Pavlovka is the Russian way of saying Pavlivka, which I have repeatedly noted from multiple *Russian* sources is an utter disaster for them and they are losing massive amounts of soldiers and equipment there in a desperate attempt to create a buffer to restart a rail line. But the neighboring town of Vuhledar, which Ukraine controls completely, is the high ground overlooking Pavlivka.
There are similar events unfolding in the Svatove / Kreminna area. Some reports indicate the Russians have made the decision to withdraw from that area because they are losing so badly. I will believe that when I see it, but the coming winter freezing of the mud will favor Ukraine’s advance in that area anyway.
What can be seen already is Russian troops pulling back 15-20km from the left bank of the Dnipro river in Kherson. The Ukrainians wasted no time moving HIMARS and barrel artillery close to the newly liberated right bank. And the Russians simply have no answer for HIMARS.
And there will be more HIMARS arriving soon from the other 18 the US ordered from Lockheed instead of using our own stock.
Bottom line: the Russians are in DEEP trouble in multiple areas of Ukraine. No amount of untrained troops is going to help them at this point. It’s only a matter of time for more Ukrainian advances… the other big question is how many Russians is Putin willing to sacrifice for a war he cannot win?
November 16, 2022 at 9:43 pm
Dan is an idiot. There are many false or misleading statements in his article, but I’ll only point out two, because anything else is stealing minutes of my life.
1) he says Russia has engaged in a “sustained” bombardment of Ukraine since the Kerch bridge bombing. Truth: Russia lobbed one barrage, then a dribble, and then this final barrage yesterday. All of this is only further depleting their vastly dwindling stocks of missiles. They’re using SAM missiles to target ground targets, for Christ sake
2) The very same article he quotes from the Pentagon that says Russia is using 20k artillery shells a day also says,
“ Russia is also running low on artillery and other equipment, according to a Western official and a U.S. official. Russia has lost a lot of its equipment and weapons, including attack helicopters, and it has been using more of its long-range munitions to strike targets, which could indicate it is running through other stocks, a Western official said. Russian reservists and mobilized forces are even arriving at the front lines without weapons in some cases, the officials said.”
So, apparently the Pentagon does not think Russia has hundreds of additional artillery pieces to suddenly rush to the front lines that they’ve been withholding for the past 11 months.
There are many more falsehoods in this article. Pure garbage. My 6th grader could write a better article.
November 16, 2022 at 11:16 pm
Daniel Davis: “the Russian military poses a much greater danger to the viability of the Ukrainian state than is commonly recognized”
Wrong, but even if it was true, it would be irrelevant, as Ukrainians are obviously not interested in surrendering and would rather die than kiss the ring of the one so vile. Let that simmer before you write another article on this subject, they would rather die than cave in, what else can you threaten them with?
November 17, 2022 at 12:05 am
I doubt the Russians will be able put a extra 300,000 new troops in the field….100,000 maybe but not 300,000
All Russian strengths have been extremely exaggerated from the beginning
November 17, 2022 at 3:47 am
Do not pay attention to Daniel Davis’s opinion. He has been consistently wrong from the beginning of this war. His consistent illogical arguments seem to suggest that he is a paid Russian agent. In the first phase of this war, small portable weapons such as Javelin, NLAW, and Stinger successfully disrupted Russian offense. In the second phase of the war, HIMARS broke the stalemate. Now, it is time for Switchblade 600, which will be delivered soon. Once a large number of switchblade 600 are delivered to Ukraine, the Russian army either loses most of its artillery and tanks or has to remove artillery and tanks from the front line. That means Russian soldiers become true cannon fodders. Russia cannot win this modern war without advanced weapons and Ukraine cannot lose this war because the western countries will provide the next advanced weapons to defeat Russia. Ukraine will get US Abrams tanks in the near future.
November 17, 2022 at 3:50 am
Simple facts: russia advance into Ukraine land is maximum 100 km in 9 month. They lost in Kiev, they lost in Sumi and Chernigiv regions in April. They lost Kharkiv region. Latest loss is Kherson.
All these losses happened to russia professional and supposedly well trained troops.
Now they have 40 years old conscripts armed with rusty outdated weapons.
If russian professional army was destroyed in Ukraine, what the chances that Putin will succeed with any of his “strategies”? Answer is obvious
November 17, 2022 at 6:04 am
Ukraine will heavily pummel Russia trops come winter if Russia could not do better when they invaded with their so called best troops they have no chance now .I ran weapons must be stopped reaching Russia the it’s game over for Russia they will be snnihilated and driven out and Putin will no longer breathe air curtesy of fellow Russians.
November 17, 2022 at 7:25 am
God bless people in the world.
High Representative of Europe Union don’t obey Ten Commandments, he teach people in Europe to take advantage of foreign people. Because of their wrong thought, they always make war.
They think they are living in the garden while they cause other people to live in the threat of violence. This is immoral.
Every people should worship God and obey Ten Commandments and follow Jesus. Steal or murder are Sin, like socialism. So people in Europe should confess their Sin and repent to God.
Winter is coming. Merry Christmas.
God bless America.
November 17, 2022 at 7:34 am
Dan the Man! The comedy gift that keeps on giving! It is hard to decide which bit is my favorite.
For concise ridiculousness, I go with “the battle lines have been fairly static over the past month”. Yeah, except for the part where the Russians withdrew from a major city and chunk of land. But if we look at the parts that haven’t moved much, they indeed have been fairly static. Good insight!
For operational ridiculousness, I go with “re-take Kherson city and conquer the remainder of the Kherson region”. That would be the area they just withdrew from, while blowing the bridges over the Dnipro behind them. They apparently can make an opposed crossing over a major river and retake everything with, what was that? Oh, right. “45%” of the forces.
For strategic ridiculousness, there is the implicit claim that Russia has been holding back forces and equipment: good forces and equipment, too. Apparently the war so far as been fought by the B team. But if Zelensky keeps on being mean, Putin will have no choice but to send in the A Team. I pity the fool!
November 17, 2022 at 9:01 am
Daniel Davis is incontrovertibly a jackass.
November 17, 2022 at 9:33 am
I want to know what army the Russians are going to sweep down to Kyiv from Belerus with.
Is this the 300,000 poorly trained Mobiks that aren’t even equipped with winter clothing or even functioning weapons?
IS this the VDV elite that got chewed up at Hostomal airport?
The chaps that abandoned a 40 mile long convoy that stalled for lack of fuel?
Or perhaps the Rent a cop B**tar*s that were recruited by Wagnar, the chaps that have advanced a grand total of a dozen kilometres at Bakmuht.
November 17, 2022 at 9:46 am
Daniel says “Russian military poses a much greater danger to the viability of the Ukrainian state than is commonly recognized.”After 8 months of war..no shit Daniel!!I think we all know that.However with the Wests backing Russia will continue to be held at bay and most of all loose more and more men and material.The strategy of the West is to make the blood and material loss to Russia (preferably with NATO stand off weapons) so great that Putin decides to go home.To do so Ukraine needs ever increasing numbers of sophisticated arty both shell and rocket,backed up by the very best ground and air launched missile defences.Without that supply Ukraine will of course loose.The West will be torn apart by recrimination ,NATO will loose all credibility, and China will become the Worlds new political and economic model of choice.Autocracy wins.Might will rule and who knows what other borders will be changed?Georgia will be the next target,followed over the next decade by the Baltics.Russia Imperialist dreams will have come true.To stop this nightmare senario we need to up our weapons and training supply to Ukraine…where are the ATACAMS…?
November 17, 2022 at 9:51 am
Saw the title and figured it was a Daniel Davis article. The premise fails in that for the long foreseeable future Russia is incapable of mounting any effectual ‘offensive’. Russia has lost 10% of its boots, armor, and armored infantry support vehicles, and expended over 10% of it’s long range rockets and missiles. Corruption and incompetence is the rule of Russian logistics. The hungry, cold, and poorly led Russian individual soldier does everything possible to avoid dying, including and especially combat. So… Davis didn’t have an option 3 – here it is.
Option #3: Russia continues to be plagued by supply and logistic issues, poor leadership and abysmal morale, and early one frigid morning Ukraine hammers the snot out of first and second line Russian soldiers (who have suffered from months of starvation, cold, and lack of vodka) with stockpiled artillery, vaporizes C3 assets with HIMARS, and rolls over occupying troops in Ukraine proper all the way to the Russian border. Thousands of Russian soldier die or are captured. Many surrender with happiness.
Crimea gets cut off from water, and slowly dies. The Russian soldiers that don’t desert have no will to fight. Ukraine simply takes over in summer 2023, and while feeding and watering the population, the world starts to hear about the stupidly brutal, desperate crimes committed by Russian ‘liberators’.
Now, Davis could be right – a stopped clock is right twice a day – but if not, and I am correct, 1945 should hire me and let Davis go.
November 17, 2022 at 10:15 am
Daniel Davis is not alone in citing the 300,000 conscripts and millions of supposedly eager Russians willing to recreate the Great Patriotic War.
Quantity does have a quality all of it own, but tell that to Darius’s million Persians and subjects conquered by Alexander; America’s vast population and conscript army defeated by the Vietnamese; and finally the Soviet hordes driven out by the Mujaheddin.
November 17, 2022 at 10:38 am
Going in to the “pause” of Winter
(If there is a pause at all… I’m hoping there will be.)
President Biden has said, “As long as it takes…”
And, now, after floating the suggestion of negotiations, General Milley has re-affirmed Biden’s “as long as it takes” mantra.
Translation, forever proxy war… Americans are tired of “forever wars.”
Now, President Biden wants another 38 billion for Ukraine raising the total somewhere around 90 billion total…
“As long as it takes” means a blank check… Americans are tying to figure out if that means “throwing good money after bad.”
We have problems, here, in America.
The budget is deep in the red… threatening the stability of the U. S. dollar… as expressed by inflation & higher interest rates.
Where will it end?
If you say, “Victory!” Well, we heard that in Afghanistan & Iraq and we know how that ended.
The Maximalists will never admit their agenda is hurting America… have they ever admitted their mistakes?
November 17, 2022 at 11:13 am
It seems most likely the reinforcements are for defense against a Ukrainian army buttressed with nato soldiers and weapons in Ukrainian uniforms. The winter offensive will be Ukrainian to cut the land bridge to crimea which is more isolated with the bridge crippled. If the Russians have any sense they’ll prepare defences. Its no longer appropriate to view this as ukraine vs Russia anymore. The level of military support short of overt intervention is off the charts and nato wants to burn off weapons to stuff their defense contractor pockets.
November 17, 2022 at 11:35 am
This is just plain stupid. The only allowable outcome is total and complete destruction of the Russian military, followed by a collapse of the Russian state. And for this the supply of weapons to Ukraine should be increased tenfold.
November 17, 2022 at 4:13 pm
The liberation of Kherson City and frantic retreat of Russian forces across the Dnipro will likely result in a minor operational pause along that southern front as Ukrainian troops consolidate new defensive positions facing the river while sussing out just how far Russian forces have fled. Some have fled over 100km out of HIMARS range, some are only 15-20km back.
HIMAR systems and other reinforcements from the Kherson offensive are now being dispatched to Donbas frontlines.
Russia meanwhile continues to sputter along with futile attacks that appear premised on killing their own Russian troops and conscripts as efficiently as possible while making no actual gains. That’s not new either, but a momentary pause by Wagner Group mercenaries in their continual but near pointless attacks on Bakhmut is a bit unusual. Are they running out of prisoners to use as cannon fodder, or just pausing to consider what a new flush of Ukrainian defenses might mean for their little privatized slice of the war? Who knows.
However, the pause in Wagner’s attacks on Bakhumut werent matched in Pavlivka. Russia is continuing to shove troops and equipment into the same Ukrainian trap that already wiped out Russia’s 155th Naval Infantry Brigade. Over and over, Russian commanders send poorly geared troops into uncoordinated attacks against Ukrainian defenses that quickly mop them up.
It’s self evident why Russia found it necessary to mount a large scale mobilization. Russian commanders dont know any method of warfare that doesnt depend on piling up Russian bodies until the defenders simply run out of ammo to shoot them with.
It’s also evident that even at this late date Russia simply cant reform a kleptocratic military culture in which individual commanders work for their own self glory [or more often, self-preservation] while thumbing their nose at whatever larger tactical plans their own bosses dream up.
It seems most likely that the action will resume just as soon as the mud freezes and Ukrainian forces that have liberated Kherson and the north side of the Dnipro have been resupplied and repositioned to the likely new Ukrainian priorities: an offensive to cut off Russian troops in and everywhere west of Melitopol, and another to neutralize Russian supply routes passing not just through Svatove, but Starobilsk to its east.
Have a liberating day.
November 17, 2022 at 5:19 pm
Daniel Davis is a military genius, a Lt Colonel of… The Salvation army perhaps? I suppose of the Russian Orthodox Salvation Army then.
2. Limited objectives
In this scenario Davis propose that 45% of the new recruits should cross the Dniepr river and take back Kherson. This is the area that they abandoned a week ago because their best units could not hold it. Im not of Davis caliber but you might think that if this was the great masterplan of Putin, then the Russians would instead fight harder to keep it until the new conscripts could come to the rescue instead of retreating. At the very least they should have refrained from blowing up bridges and sinking all the riverboats they could find on their way out.
3. War on all fronts
Russia tried this i February and failed. Why would the outcome be better for Russia this time? They have no element of surprise, lower morale, more but less experienced troops, their best equipment is destroyed or taken over by the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians have higher morale than ever, they are better trained and better equipped than in February, and they have the military and industrial might of the west behind them.
Im not a genius as Davis but this idea seems horrible for the Russians. Russia would pin their hopes on their ability to overwhelm the Ukrainians with hordes of new POWs. Ukraine and NATOs stocks of barbed wire might run dry so they will be unable to construct enough POW camps. According to this great Davis/Schlieffen plan, Ukraine would then be checkmate and have no other options than to sue for peace.
Danny Davis the Fool
November 17, 2022 at 5:38 pm
Daniel Davis needs to put down the crack pipe. It is seriously messing with his brain activity.
November 17, 2022 at 9:34 pm
Donbas snow. All Ukraine must do is target their supply line. Thousands of Russian conscripts will become frozen little bear statues. Easy Peasy.
Meanwhile, Ukraine works with it’s allies to take the naval base at Sevastopol and sink the Black Sea Fleet (what’s left of it). That might not end the war that day, but it would certainly end Putin’s rule over Russia. There would be no greater humiliation.
(Recall Crimea is the land of Florence Nightingale and the Charge of the Light Brigade.)
Russian assets on Crimea would flee in panic seeing that all was lost when the flag of Ukraine was raised at the remains of the naval base.
My two cents: CRIMEA!
November 17, 2022 at 11:25 pm
Russian army, DPR, and LPR forces been outnumbered 3 to 1. Now the Ukrainians will be outnumbered. Just cannon fodder? How trained do you think the Ukrainian call ups were on their 5th draft, or is it 6th now? Tons of Ukrainians left the country to avoid the drafts. There was all kinds of videos of recruiters chasing guys on beaches, etc. Most of the NATO trained are dead, or wounded.Colonel Douglas MacGregor said 100,000 dead Ukrainian soldiers with 300,000 to 500,000 wounded.
November 19, 2022 at 12:41 am
Some strange takes in the comments, befitting a strange article.
This article really misses the point- It is not what Russia wants to do next, but what Ukraine wants to do next. Ukraine holds the initiative. Ukraine is now the one planning offensives, choosing the battlefield. Russia is attempting to dig defensive lines in new positions every few days. Does this sound like a super-power prepared to send wave after wave of well equipped soldiers backed by multiple tanks, rockets, and artillery? Or does this sound like the behavior of an army that knows it should retreat but its leader won’t let it out of misplaced pride?
Bombing civilians and targeting medical and electrical infrastructure with strategic weapons is both a war crime and a serious misuse of what remains of Russia’s offensive capabilities. The Russians wouldn’t be doing it if they weren’t desperate for anything to work for them.
November 19, 2022 at 10:08 am
I must wonder if Mr. Davis actually believes half of what he says.
Moving goalposts is good cardio, though.