This article is a continuation of the article about Phase 1. Therefore, I highly recommend to first read the first article, before continuing here. Here is the link.
The second phase of this war still was carried out as a special military operation. Nevertheless, one step higher on the escalation ladder. The second phase still was carried out in an offensive way. Many strategic villages and towns were captured by the Russians. Buffer zones were expanded around strategic spots.
Phase 2 has been conducted, roughly, between April and July 2022. Officially Phase 2 never was concluded. That’s why the conclusion of Phase 2 at the end of July 2022 is according to my own definition.
The qualities of Russian officers were tested and some passed the test and others didn’t. Which reminds me of the Winter War between the Soviets and Finland. Moreover, first problems with the contracts of the Russian soldiers occurred, that were direct consequences of secretive planning.
The most interesting event, apart from the capturing of important cities, of phase 2, were the occurrence off HIMARS in Ukraine.
Most of the able-bodied men of Ukraine, that didn’t flee, were mobilized and underwent training abroad. Most of these men haven’t been committed to the fight during phase 2.
Last but not least, one major Russian political objective was achieved.
I will NOT cover the economic aspects of the war here. For economics look at my separate article here.
Well, this was a short introduction to my article. Now we will go into the details.
Russia still followed the same objectives as in Phase 1. Nevertheless, now without the possibility of a shock and awe victory. It was now absolutely clear, that Russia will need to defeat the Ukrainian army, to be able to implement the stated objectives. I will reiterate the most important:
Denazification of Ukraine
Demilitarization of Ukraine
Bring to justice those Ukrainians, that have committed (war)crimes against its own population from 2014 onwards
Free the Donbass to ensure its independence and security
Of course, Russia had a sufficient force assembled at this time, to achieve all of this goals. But what does that mean exactly? I will deepen this later in another chapter (deception), but we need to consider the following:
Russia planned through the whole ladder of escalations and prepared and provided (even today and going forward) exactly the resources on the battlefield, that are needed for the current configuration of the battlefield and the enemy.
Russia was planning to fight the UKAINIAN army and has been provided forces accordingly.
Ukrainians are Russian brothers and relatives. In Phase 2, Russia still planned to destroy only the Ukrainian army. Not civilians and not civilian infrastructure. If the army falls, the rest of the country would fall quickly as a whole.
Conclusion: Russia had provided enough troops, resources and equipment to Phase 2, to destroy the Ukrainian troops and the UKRANINIAN equipment. I will deepen this later.
Since Ukraine absorbed the first shock without collapsing, it started to plan with its allies (Western countries) how it can win the war. Now we need to remember. To win a war doesn’t mean to defeat the enemy army on the battlefield. That is an impossible task for Ukraine. To win a war means, to achieve its political objectives.
We need to consider, that “Ukraine” as a state didn’t have any objectives, since it lost the whole of its control and independence to US/UK services in 2014. That’s why it is a little hard, to write about Ukrainian objectives here. I will rather refer to Western objectives IN Ukraine:
Keeping as much territory under control near big Russian cities, to keep a leverage over Russia. Which included the Donbass, Kharkov, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Kiev.
Inflicting such heavy casualties on the Russian military, to influence the political situation in Russia.
Collecting as much intelligence over Russian tactics and strategies, as well as military equipment as possible.
Test as much own (NATO) tactics, strategies and military equipment under real conditions as possible to improve them.
Activate Europe as much as possible to sever all ties with Russia.
Not losing an inch of territory, to keep the Western public activated to keep on suffering (economically) to support Ukraine further on.
Concealing all own casualties, to keep its own population motivated. Moreover, the Westerners activated. The Western population would have struggled more, to support the war, when they would have known, for how many deaths they are responsible, by supporting and prolonging the war.
Collapsing Russia and especially activating the Russian population to coup Putin away.
One might think that these objectives are totally unrealistic. But there were not. More about that in the next chapters.
Thanks for reading Black Mountain Analysis! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
By taking into consideration the opposite objectives of both parties, as well as their ability to achieve them, we can conclude three different scenarios for the Russian side:
Best case scenario:
Russia’s main goal was, to destroy the enemy army. The best way to do this, is to fight at a place, where the following circumstances are guaranteed:
Short supply lines
Hence, the enemy has the opposite conditions to deal with.
If we take now into consideration, that Ukraine’s objective is, to not lose one inch, and even more to reconquer lost territory, then we can already see the tragic situation, Ukrainians are in.
Let’s formulate (assume) the likely best-case scenario. Russia would push the front slowly eastwards, so the objective, to free the Donbass can be achieved. The Ukrainians, even though they have a large country and strategic depth, they can’t use it. Since they mustn’t lose an inch of territory, to keep the Western support up, they need to push as many troops as possible into undefendable positions and trenches.
I’ll keep it short since I’ll go later deeper into this kind of warfare (grinding). The best-case scenario for Russia would have been, that Ukraine pushes most of its equipment, troops and ammunition into the Donbass, where it would be destroyed. As a consequence, Ukraine’s army would eventually collapse totally. Russia could capture Ukraine with less/no resistance, even in the middle and western parts.
Middle case scenario:
Essentially the same, as in the best-case scenario. With the difference, that no collapse is to be achieved but the pressure would be that high on the Ukrainians, that they would negotiate a peace treaty, that would be favourable to Russia. Most likely that would have preserved Ukraine in some shape. Depending on the negotiations.
Worst case scenario:
Ukraine keeps holding the line in Donbass and elsewhere. On some front keeps pushing the Russians even back. Thereby inflicting high casualties on the Russian side.
This would lead to two challenges for the Russians:
The Western public would be euphoric and would accept even more weapon deliveries to Ukraine. Not in quantity but in quality. Moreover, it would be willing to endure more hardship, to defeat Russia all and for once.
High pressure in Russia, explicitly on President Putin. It would be seen as his weakness and there could be powers within Russia, to harm his presidency, his influence or even to try to coup him away. The same goes for the public, that wouldn’t accept defeats on the battlegrounds and high causalities, even though Russia has one of the strongest armies in the world.
And considering the worst-case scenario we can now conclude the Ukrainian strategy. Ukraine and its “allies” know perfectly well that it doesn’t stand a chance militarily against Russia. Before the beginning of the war, through Russian deception, the West thought, Russia will use all its military might and end Ukraine within days/weeks. Obviously, because of geopolitical reasons, Russia have chosen the slow approach. The West and Ukraine adapted to the new reality. The new plan was, to exploit Russia’s slow approach with very few soldiers.
Thereby, Ukraine have chosen the strategy, to fight this small Russian military grouping as hard as possible, to deny Russia the achievement of its political goals. Remember, by not achieving its political goals in Ukraine, Russia loses this war. Von Clausewitz and Scott Ritter. Moreover, preparing in the background tens of thousands of soldiers abroad and organizing foreign equipment for a big counter offensive, that would collapse the small Russian grouping. Such a defeat would eventually lead to a coup in Russia and the West could seize the control over Russia and its nuclear weapons during the coup.
Remember, most coups worldwide were started by the population with good intentions. For change. For freedom and prosperity etc. And eventually all these momentums and coups were hijacked by Western services and own (Western), prepared, puppets were installed. This fact is extremely important since the West is dealing with a nuclear superpower. The game, played by the West is not only dangerous, but could end us all. That’s why the push for a collapse of the small Russian grouping and a consequent coup in Moscow. The Western puppets are standing ready in Moscow to step in as soon as the chaos on the streets is starting.
Materialized scenario and background information about the deviations
Having presented the three possible scenarios I want to present my assessment of which one I think has materialized. From my point of view, Phase 2 was concluded and Phase 3 was started because the danger of the worst-case scenario has become more probable. Which means, Phase 2 was drifting in the direction of the worst-case scenario, before it was concluded.
Now I want to explain, why the best and middle-case scenario wasn’t able to be implemented.
As already written, Russia has been planning to demilitarize the UKRANIAN army. The troops, equipment and logistics were in place for this task. In the military you can’t design one plan and follow it through until the end. When the first bullets start flying, everything is highly dynamic and you need a multi layered plan with scenarios for the most probable developments.
But you start with a standard scenario, that doesn't require you to do a full mobilization up from the start. The question was, will the West support Ukraine militarily? If yes, on which degree? Light weapons? Heavy weapons? Boots on the ground? Etc. etc. etc.
For all of these possibilities there was a corresponding plan, that would be activated (switching from one phase to another) when needed. It turned out, that the West is doing almost everything short of sending own troops into Ukraine. The chosen strategy for Phase 2 was not sufficient for this escalation, even though it was fully sufficient to fulfil the initial objectives against the Ukrainian army with Ukrainian equipment.
That’s why Phase 3 was activated eventually, which consists of strategies to fight NATO in Ukraine. This new Phase was never officially announced, though, many Russian politicians, including Lavrov, Putin and Medvedev hinted to it. Phase 3 is active since August 2022 and is still ongoing, while I write this Article. I will write another Article, that is describing Phase 3 as well.
Intelligence, deception and preparations
My personal assumption is, that all sides knowing perfectly well, that his war will end only with the total defeat of the enemy. Either with Russia’s total defeat or with a Western total defeat. There is nothing in between and everyone know that there won’t be negotiated anything.
Nevertheless, both sides need, for their own reasons, to hold up the public perceptions, that it is a local war, where every side wants to stop this war and negotiate, but the opposite faction won’t.
That’s why we have the following circumstances:
Russia have been planning for a total war against NATO since 2014. Hence, it was allocating all resources and was preparing its economy to sustain a total world war. This is the top of a potential escalation ladder (which I will describe later), which hopefully (and probably) will never been reached. Russia couldn’t have informed its lower and middle ranked officers in advance, out of secrecy. But since the SMO (Special Military Operation) began, all plans could have been communicated to those it concerns and the preparations started since Phase 1 onwards, for all further escalation steps.
Since Phase 2 started, Russia withdrew most of its elite and trained troops from Ukraine, to be trained and prepared for what is going to come. We are talking about preparations for Phase 3 and potentially already for further Phases/escalations. That’s why we saw very few actual Russian troops fighting in Phase 2. Some in Mariupol and some in the Liberation of the major cities of Lugansk. But the heaviest infantry fighting was done by the DNLR militias.
Ukraine and its “allies” have NOT been planning for such a prolonged war. In fact, both, Ukraine and the West was expecting Russia to fight doctrinally and thereby Ukraine would cease to exist within days/weeks. Most special forces, that were trained by Western services were trained in insurgency, guerrilla and ambush warfare. Short à Stay-behind operations. Initially the US wanted to bleed Russia dry within Ukraine. Several tens, or even hundreds of thousands highly trained special operations forces would make it one of the bloodiest occupations ever. The reality didn’t play that way. Those forces are currently dying all on the battlefield. To be more precise, most likely, as I write, all are already dead.
To implement the Ukrainian (Western) goals of Phase 2, Ukraine withdrew some hundred thousand troops as well into Western training camps. Ukraine was holding the line in Donbass, with a smaller force, since it needed to train a huge portion of its troops abroad. The strategy was, which eventually led to Phase 3, to accumulate a huge, western trained force, as well as equipped with Western equipment, until summer. The fighting and dying in Donbass during Phase 2, was one part of the Western/Ukrainian deception. Even though I assume, that Russia had at least some intelligence over it. Many preparations have been made during this time. The goal was, to shock the small Russian force in Ukraine with Western trained troops and equipment, so the Russian front would collapse. I described the rest above à Coup against President Putin.
One could conclude that Western intelligence never had access to the Russian plans and failed totally to plan accordingly. By considering the international reaction, many nations were involved in the (economical part) planning and refusing currently to help the West against Russia.
Russia planned everything from 2014 onwards, as already described, in total secrecy. Moreover, there was a total deception for both, the own public and army and for the rest of the world, that nothing is in planning and that Minsk 2 is the whole plan. Minsk 2 was for both sides only a vehicle, to gain time until everything was ready.
Ukrainian Command and Control
Most assets of the traditional Ukrainian command and control organisation were defeated in Phase 1. Which of course was anticipated by the West. That’s why SpaceX’ Starlink was distributed in Ukraine like candy. Which is essentially a terminal for satellite internet and communications. Usually, the Ukrainian army is trained according to Russian/Soviet standards. Which means, that the officers leading their troops from the front.
This hasn’t been applied in this war. The West took full control of Ukrainian command and control and is controlling it through communication, established by Starlink. The Ukrainian officers are not allowed to lead from the front, which still irritates most of the Ukrainian troops. They are searching for their officers in the field and there are very few. Why?
Very high casualties were expected. To be able to simply supply endless, low trained, mobilized troops, the officers needed to be preserved in the rear. In such a way, Ukraine can simply mobilize everything, that moves, train it abroad and send it to the frontline. The officers simply take control of them, remotely. It wouldn’t be sustainable to lose the number of officers and retrain new ones, in that period of time, that matters.
The officers shouldn’t be allowed to see, what is happening on the frontlines. Essentially, Ukrainian soldiers are filling up gaps with their bodies since there have nothing else to fight with. It would be far more difficult, emotionally, for the officers, to order this kind of mass suicide (without any purpose), if being forced to watch it on spot.
Foreign mercenaries, or unofficial foreign military personal, that hates Russians anyway (hates Ukrainians as well, so both deaths are a plus for them) of course sometimes filling this command gap. They can order such actions and atrocities without having emotional and moral issues with it.
Essentially, from what I was analysing for the time being, I would propose the following command structure. NATO commanders in Germany à Joint Ukrainian political (Zelensky), military (Zaluzhnyi and staff) and Western (Western general staff in (West)Ukraine) military command à Joint Western and Ukrainian local military command of formations from Battalion size and above à Ukrainian Officers (mostly Lieutenants) and Sergeants, as well as foreign mercenaries are leading the troops from the front.
Implications for the ability to surrender
If I am right with my above assessment of the Ukrainian command and control structure, then we could conclude the following. The Ukrainian army is NOT able to surrender at any time. Maybe some formations below battalion size are able to surrender in battle when there are no barrier troops/forces nearby. But as long as the West is unwilling to surrender Ukraine, there won’t be surrender.
One could argue that only the middle and higher command is under NATO control. Why are the soldiers not stopping the madness? Unfortunately, there are so called barrier troops around. Most are formed from nationalistic voluntary formations. They take care, that the fighting formations don’t retreat, surrender or desert. Unfortunately, in most Ukrainian formations are some of these barrier formations, often battalion sized, embedded. This are the boots on the ground, that take care, that the orders from the middle and high command are being executed.
HIMARS and its handling
Scott Ritter called all this circumstances, that are being described until now, a “game changer”. And yes, he was right. The game changed. Phase 3 was started. Scott was predicting it early on. The Russian intelligence services knew it from the get-go, as I assume. The rest of the public fell for the Russian and Western deception. But there was one piece of equipment, that drew the attention of the public the most. HIMARS.
That’s why I want to dedicate an own chapter to this piece of equipment. Not because it is any kind of “Wunderwaffe”. But because of the truly amazing intelligence campaign, that was set up around the usage of HIMARS in Ukraine.
I don’t want to go into technical details here, there are blogs and webpages, that are far deeper into technology, then this one. But I want to give a short overview. HIMARS is a multiple launch rocket system, short MLRS. Both, the Russians and the Ukrainians have / had plenty of those. Usually, artillery and rocket artillery are the backbone of any Soviet army.
There are, only to name some of many, the Grad (Short-range), Uragan (middle-range) and Smerch (long-range) systems available. Ukraine had, as already said, plenty of all variants. The Smerch is comparable to the HIMARS system. Maybe a little less accurate. But I’m not completely sure about it, since there are many variations of rockets with different ranges and accuracies.
What do I want to say with this? That Ukraine had hundreds of “HIMARS” like systems from the get-go with an own spare part and ammunition production. All were destroyed in Phase 1 and 2. Why is the same system, HIMARS, then such a hype and “success”?
Because of the truly amazing, and still ongoing, intelligence campaign conducted by the US, to make HIMARS a (export) success.
In Ukraine there is always a certain amount of HIMARS launchers active. As many HIMARS launchers, as can be taken care of by the assigned intelligence assets. How many? I don’t know. I assume some figure between 10 and 20. What do I mean by “taken care of”?
Well, as pointed out previously, HIMARS is similar to the Smerch system. So, the Smerch system could have made the same damage and be hiding the same way as the HIMARS. Even better since its spare parts and ammunition production are already in place in Ukraine. This leads us to the following conclusions:
It is all about disguising the position and usage of HIMARS.
To avoid, that many of these systems get detected and destroyed to avoid bad PR.
The system is being used in a hit and run manner. There are certain exclusively allocated intelligence assets, such as satellites and other intelligence means (signal, etc.).
The Western agencies are determining exactly high value (either militarily or PR) targets and assigning them to a certain HIMARS team.
The above-mentioned intelligence assets are double checking, whether the launcher can be moved out of the hiding place or not. And it determines the new place, where the launcher needs to be moved and hidden right after the launch.
Western operators are operating on the HIMARS launchers, most private contractors (ex-military personal).
There is a huge effort being made by those operating teams and other intelligence means, to shield of the area off operations off drones by jamming and other means.
Thereby the West hides its HIMARS, conduct hit and run attacks and hides the launchers instantly at a predetermined new place. One can say it is being used as a sniper rifle.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to say, that it is a bad systems or that its attacks are not devastating. It is a good system, the same as the Smerch is a good system. And the attacks are, if successful sometimes very, at least annoying. But the same strategy could have been done with a Smerch or Tornado launcher, if the whole intelligence operation would have been attached to it, as well.
I think we learned now enough about the backgrounds, that I can introduce the “escalation ladder” system. As mentioned before, I am sure, that both, Russia and the West knowing very well, that this is an all-out war between both adversaries. Not between Ukraine and Russia. This is a Russian civil war. No. Between Russia and the West. And it follows a certain escalation scheme. This scheme is not pre-planned but most likely in some kind anticipated.
I do truly not know the escalation ladder anticipations by both nations, but I want to propose a possible way. It is only one out of many! So, don’t pin me down to that.
Possible anticipated Russian escalation ladder:
Conduct a special military operation to free the Donbass. (Phase 1) (Fails because of massive NATO support)
Destroying the Ukrainian army in Donbass. (Phase 2) (Fails, because Ukraine generates that much pressure with troops, trained abroad and foreign equipment, that the small Russian force in Ukraine went into the danger of collapsing on some fronts.)
Partially mobilize, overstretch Ukrainian troops, logistics and equipment, destroy the energy and logistics infrastructure and cause the total collapse of the Ukrainian army. (Phase 3) (Still ongoing. Could succeed, then Ukraine would fall and go to Russia. Could fail, because of new escalation steps of NATO in Ukraine. Maybe even unofficial NATO boots on the ground. Say Polish and Romanian troops, dressed as Ukrainians).
If Phase 3 is not sufficient to collapse the Ukrainian army (I give it a 70% probability) then the next escalation step would be activated. From here onwards, I can only guess. Since at this point the Ukrainian army would have been totally defeated (killed, in plain English) and NATO would have stepped in, to keep the fight up, Russia most likely would mobilize further on. I could estimate some one million troops, only for the Western direction. Not taking into consideration other strategic directions of Russia. Switching to war economy. And finally, the activation of strategic air and missile defence assets. For now, the S-400’s and above, are not activated, for a good reason. NATO should not collect combat data. Devastation (conventional) of the countries of origin of these unofficial intervention forces by a strategic missile and air campaign. Russia is sparing Ukraine because it IS Russia. I don’t want even to think about those people, that are not Ukrainians and starting a war with Russia… There are plenty of assets available, to destroy a whole country conventionally, that are currently not being used since IT IS NOT the objective to destroy Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are one nation.
Poland and Romania defeated and NATO decides either afterwards, or in the process, to fully join. World war 3, that would be fought globally between all nations that have open issues with each other. The present alliances would be not worth the paper, where they were signed at. The West has “allies” only by blackmailing. If a big war breaks out, the global alliances picture would change dramatically. Even inside Europe there would be an own little continental war, where European countries would fight each other, not Russia. It would be most likely either the last war of humanity, or at least for some thousand years, the last. Until we are technologically back up again, to sail to other countries to wage war there.
You consider scenario 4 (20%) and 5 (10%) as horror? Me too. But to be honest, there are enough powers in the background, especially economic reasons, that I am very confident, that Phase 3 will be the last Phase, that will collapse Ukraine. I assume, that the West will go down economically and the World will not need to fight an independence war against the West, to free itself. The West, as an empire will collapse by itself. Which doesn’t mean, that single former Western states will not be able to prosper going forward, by taking independent economic and political decisions.
All preconditions are already described in my article about Phase 1.
Russian contract soldiers
Which maybe needs to be highlighted, is the fact, that Russia ran out of the needed quantity of soldiers in August 2022. I don’t refer to loses. But, that most contracts of the contract soldiers expired after six months. You might want to say, that this doesn’t concern Phase 2. Yes. It is Phase 3. But the problem came from Phase 1 and 2. There was no legal possibility, to give bond these soldiers in advance, for a longer period to the army, because of the secrecy and deception. Neither these soldiers nor the public was allowed, to know, that there will be such a war.
Nevertheless, it was planned to get these soldiers back into service, by the official way. By mobilization. Now their service term lasts as long as the war is going. Problem solved.
Thanks for reading Black Mountain Analysis! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Shaping and buffering
The Russians had different shaping and buffering approaches for each region.
Here the objective was the liberation of the whole territory, which eventually was achieved. No more shaping needed.
The Ukrainians built their main defensive lines in the Donetsk region over eight years. To storm them by force, would have cost many Russian lives. Therefore, the frontline was shaped in such a way, that Russian artillery could be brought to frontline sections, where it could target pre-defined fire zones. What qualifies as a fire zone?
The Russians moved the frontline during Phase 2, to the Siversk, Soledar and Bahmut line. They did not capture these towns to the present day. Bad? Yes, but for whom? For the Ukrainians, that needs to constantly push fresh troops to this line, just to replace it constantly with new recruits.
Which means, that Russia shaped a line, favourable to them, to target the Ukrainian accumulation points in these cities and in between.
The frontline was pushed far from Kherson city into the north. This was necessary, to create a buffer, that would be able to absorb the anticipated counter offensive. The Russian army has air dominance in Kherson and Donbass. Thereby, it can manoeuvre freely on the territory it holds, without risking being targeted by an air strike. Ideal conditions, to create a deep buffer zone to be able to defend in depth by manoeuvre and mobility. Moreover, there was the possibility to set up a layered defence with predefined fall-back positions.
Though, there was no counter offensive in Phase 2, the Russians knew already, not only because of constant Ukrainian bragging, but through intelligence, that there will be this counter offensive. The Russian military doctrine is designed, to absorb a NATO offensive, destroy the advancing units and then counterattack in depth. This has already been prepared during Phase 2, by shaping around Kherson and creating buffer zones for this doctrinal approach.
Here goes the same as for Kherson. Kharkov is not yet a target. Russians won’t fight for Kharkov. It is a Russian city. Russia will wait until the Ukrainian army collapses and take Kharkov and all other major Russian cities without a (huge) fight and destruction. Like Odessa etc. So, the whole Kharkov campaign is, for the time being, only a buffer zone for Lugansk. There was some back and forth during Phase 2. Some territories were lost by Russia, some taken back again. But as I said. Kharkov (region, not Town) had two purposes. 1) Creating a buffer for Lugansk and Donetsk. 2) Pinning down as much Ukrainian forces around Kharkov, as possible, to relieve other frontlines.
I was talking about shaping. Shaping for what? To create the perfect geographical circumstances to kill as many Ukrainian troops as possible. That is the purpose of war. To kill the enemy army, and thereby get the country as a reward.
Russia is very good in killing the enemy army.
It created a fire line in Donbass, where it took care over the course of Phase two, to bring out all civilians and to force the Ukrainians to constantly reinforce these positions. Ukraine can’t lose the Donbass. Thereby Russia took advantage of it and chose a place to fight, that is maximally disadvantages for Ukraine maximally advantages for Russia. It is the beforementioned Siversk-Soledar-Bahmut line. Okay, I’m focusing here only on this towns, but there weren’t the only one, for the grinding operations. The same applies to the whole line of contact in Donetsk. Which means Marinka, Avdiivka, Pisky and many more as well.
Since Ukraine mustn’t lose it, Ukraine is forced to send ever more troops into these towns. They have here extra-long supply lines, which are under constant fire. They have a hostile population and absolutely no air cover. Instead, the Russians had the exact opposite conditions.
So, the Ukrainians kept pushing more and more fresh conscripted troops there and the Russians simply were hitting these positions day and night with artillery. Most troops did not ever see a Russian solider. Most causes of death were artillery. Very few died by gunfire from small arms.
Huge numbers of Ukrainian troops were killed through the course of Phase 2 in this meat grinder. And they still keep dying as I write this text, during Phase 3. I’m talking about tens of thousands of troops. Only in this meat grinder. Not considering other frontlines.
So, is it bad for Russia, to not gain any (huge) ground here? Yes, there are some incremental advances, but nothing significant during Phase 2. No, it is not. It is bad for Ukraine, since it is forced to defend undefendable ground and in the process losing tens of thousands of men, without any purpose or fight.
I do not expect this to change, until the end of the war. In the best-case the Ukrainian army will be defeated and killed in favourable positions for the Russians. And these are near to the Russian border. And definitely not within historical Russian Towns like Kharkov, Odessa or Kiev.
The issue of losses is a hard one to determine. Because there are almost no reliable sources. That’s why I will do two things. I will reflect what General Shoigu said about losses and moreover, I will do a little military math on my own and offer these figures as well. Eventually, I will offer some criticism about Shoigu’s presentation over the losses.
Shoigu at his speech on September 21 in 2022 offered the following figures:
Some 60,000 killed and 50,000 wounded troops.
6,000 killed troops.
I want first to start with my criticism about the figure of the killed Russian soldiers.
Shoigu might be right or not, about this figure. From my point of view most these killed troops died at the first Phase. Later, the Russian soldiers were mostly withdrawn for training and re-equipping for further escalation steps. See the according chapter. Who took over the highly dangerous frontline infantry fighting? The Donbass militia.
So, the inhabitants of a small part of the whole of Ukraine was fighting the whole army of the rest of Ukraine. Some, maybe 60,000 militia men against an army of 300,000 Ukrainians, approximately. Yes, the militia had the best command and control, as well as reconnaissance and artillery support, they could hope for. The Russian army. But still they were engaged in offensive action against a highly entrenched enemy. From my point of view the militia men lost until the end of Phase 2, some 10,000 men in dead. Which is a tragedy.
They buffered off, for Russia the time, to withdraw and prepare for the real war in later Phases, with their own lives. For many months. And that’s okay. But Shoigu could have mentioned the militias with some words. And their sacrifice. Maybe not in numbers, but he could have honoured their sacrifice verbally without talking about figures.
What do I think about the mentioned loses by Shoigu? As already stated, it is until the end of Phase 2. And many auxiliary forces are not included here. Neither on the Russian nor on the Ukrainian sides. Loses of Ukrainian nationalistic formations and the national guard etc. were not counted in. And on the Russian side, as already stated, the militia losses weren’t counted in as well.
I did a small assessment, which I will NOT present here in detail about what overall loses (incl. auxiliary forces) I estimate for the first two Phases combined:
80,000 dead and approximately 60,000 wounded.
Thanks for reading Black Mountain Analysis! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Russia is running out of…
I won’t go into details, of what Western outlets and pundits are claiming, that Russia is running out of. I can make it very short. Russia is running out of everything, right from the first day of the war. Russia is working for a long time already with “minus-stocks”.
In every war, there is a huge media/propaganda effort by each side, to support the own stated goals. Since almost every Western media outlet gets the information, it should report about geopolitical events from AP (Associated Press). One can inform oneself about what exactly AP is and whom it serves. I won’t do that here. But again, you win a war by achieving the politically states objectives. And the media is one branch of the government on the battlefield, to achieve the stated goals.
Since one of the goals of the West in Ukraine is, to sustain a foothold, near big Russian cities, all parties involved needs to be motivated to sacrifice as much as possible for this sake. The media is the weapon keeping the people motivated. These journalists are not dumb or liars. They are soldiers on the information battlefield to produce (totally made up, they must be rolling on the floor, laughing when inventing these “information”) “news” that will motivate the population to support the political goals and to make the sacrifices needed. It was always like that.
So, Russia is running out of everything and is fighting with imaginary equipment and is constantly shelling itself. Unfortunately, if you are living in the West, you are programmed and raised, that you need always to trust the media. Exactly out of these reasons.
Let’s come to the reality.
Russia, and back than the Soviet Union, was preparing for decades for a war with the West. Therefore, it built up strategic arsenals and depots to sustain months of fighting with the whole of NATO, without producing a single further piece. For example, you can take into account one of these arsenals, that is guarded by Russian troops in Transnistria. But there are numerous, across Russia.
Why is there enough stock for many months? Simple answer. Russia has across the country numerous defence factories, that are either mothballed or running on a very low capacity. But taking the whole possible capacity of all these factories together, there is enough capacity, to constantly supplying equipment and ammunition for an army of several million men, against NATO.
These capacities are being activated step by step, in the process of escalation. As higher the conflict between East and West is climbing on the escalation ladder, the more capacities will be activated, to produce enough equipment and ammunition, for the task, that is currently assigned.
Moreover, I would like to distinguish between strategic and operational stocks. Russia is currently using the operational stock against Ukraine. Which means, that what it expends in Ukraine is exactly being reproduced or even a little more, to fill up gradually the strategic stock.
The strategic stock is being held in reserve in case of a sudden breakout of a war against the West. We are talking about amounts of missiles that are sufficient to be fired day and night against the whole critical infrastructure in Europe for weeks. There are predefined targets, to knock NATO out in case of war, and an according number of equipment, inclusively the estimated number of interceptions by NATO. In case of NATO, there won’t be any holding back by Russia. NATO is not Russia (Ukraine). Every sign, that one might consider of Putin’s weakness against his own people (Ukraine) won’t be in place against NATO. Therefore, there is the strategic stock.
The missiles of course, were only an example. It contains tanks, shells, artillery etc. etc.
Thanks for reading Black Mountain Analysis! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Pro-Russian commentators are often demanding that Russia should do this or that.
I won’t judge every single case here. But I assume, that most demands are short sighted. People don’t think strategically. They think, how to win this single operation or battle. But that is not the objective. Consider all my articles, but especially the one about economics. These are strategic objectives, laid out to be implemented over years. On the way, many sacrifices have to be made, many battles, both kinetic, economic and political to be fought. Single battles or events are totally insignificant, in terms of the big picture. Of course, they are absolutely significant for the people on the ground, that are suffering from single events. That’s why I want to highlight. People are suffering. That’s horrible. But it seems, that the “decision makers” are decided, that some sacrifices have to be made, to free the world from an Empire and Hegemony.
And here is the sequence of layers, you need to consider, when you are short of crying why Russia is not doing this or that. Ask yourself, how does this particular event fits into this sequence of (ascending) significance:
Implementation of the new draft treaty for European security
Free the world from the Empire and Hegemon and implement the multipolar world order
Avoidance of Russia to use the most modern weapons in Ukraine
Since Russia is not officially at war with NATO, it is still hiding its most modern weapons. They will be uncovered only when there is no reason to holding back anymore. Why? To not give NATO the possibility to study the specifications of these weapons, to not being able to develop counter measures, that would be used in case in an all-out war.
The same goes for NATO as well.
Let’s hope, that we will never reach the level on the escalation ladder, that we will witness the use of the most modern Russian (and NATO) weapons.
Bad Russian PR
It seems to me, that Russia abandoned the approach to educate and enlighten the Western public by its media and PR means. There are only dry and cold straight forward statements left.
Don’t get me wrong. I wrote above about Western propaganda and its objectives. The same goes of course for Russia. But Russia is by far not as good as the Western adversaries in the media sphere.
I assume, that it is simply too expensive, to fund a campaign for the whole West for a single country. On the other side is the combined money of the West for their (dis)information campaigns.
Nevertheless, it is no more needed at all. The current Russian propaganda/information campaign is, as I said straight forward and is aimed now at the people of the Global South. And they are fully committed to Russia’s objectives.
Reminiscent of the Winter War 1939
I’m sorry again, for wanting to hold this chapter short.
Russia fought a war against Finland in 1939. It was very bloody. Since some people say that Russia won (political objectives achieved) and some people say Russia lost (sustaining huge casualties and didn’t defeat the Finish army), I won’t judge here as well.
But what can be said definitely, is that the Soviet Union uncovered huge problems in their whole structure. From mobilization, over the leadership of the higher officers to the defence industry processes. Russia struggled as hell in Finland against a far smaller and weaker adversary. It lost, unfortunately, tens of thousands of troops. But the Soviets uncovered many problems within its processes.
I assume, that what is currently going on in Ukraine, will do the same to the Russians. Uncovering all problems in the whole process chain (civilian, military and industrial processes), so that these problems can be eliminated, before the big push comes. As I said, I hope there will never be the need, to field a perfectly balanced army against NATO. Never. And I assigned a low probability to it.
Russia’s ability to end the war
Russia could have defeated Ukraine within days. By fighting by its doctrine, the war would be over months ago. We can see the evidence today in Phase 3. By just probing, to destroy parts of the Ukrainian energy infrastructure, the whole country struggles to survive. The first push could have been from Belarus down to Lvov and sealing of Ukraine from the West. The war would be over long ago. I can list you many examples here. But I want. Because it is most likely (I won’t pretend to know it) Russia’s overall strategy, to let the West bleed out through Ukraine. Think of the implementation of the new draft treaty for European Security and ending the Western hegemony over the planet.
Results of Phase 2
The following results has been achieved:
Completely achieved. The Ukrainian army was defeated comprehensively in July 2022. NATO took over and now (Phase 3) Russia is fighting NATO with Ukrainian boots on the ground. Therefore, the objectives were adjusted in Phase 3.
Bringing to justice war criminals:
Pending. Many were captured in Mariupol alive. But were released again through negotiations. Is this good for the captives? I don’t think so. They were protected. Now Russia is in the business in killing the enemy army. They will be either killed by the own, as traitors or fielded again, if they don’t flee, and then on the battlefield.
Of course, there are many more to come. When Ukraine falls, Russia (FSB) will have access to the whole of Ukraine and much work to do. (Just an assessment, not a wish).
Lugansk was freed. Donetsk still pending.
First of all thank you for the time and effort that went into writing this in-depth analysis. I have to give you credit this was the most in depth analysis I've read since the start of the Ukrainian conflict, I'm also glad I came across your article because I've just joined substack. In your article you refer to what I think is the most unexpected flaw in the western strategy going into Ukraine, and that's the economy and specifically the back firing of the sanctions seeing as to how the eu economy is going increasing inflation and a grinding down of industry. My question to you, going forward how realistic do you think we will see an increase in domestic unrest in the eu to the point the grip of Brussels crumbles? Would this change the trajectory of this conflict or the west led by the United States will continue regardless. And finally if I can squeeze one last question to you, when do you think this conflict ends? Thank you.
No comments. Just admiration for your analysis.