Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Novorussia - Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and settle for anything in the middle

I love the American expression "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and settle for anything in the middle" and since no halfway clear picture is coming out of the combat operations taking place in Novorussia, I think that this is the approach we should use.

Hope for the best is easy: the Novorussian resistance beats back the Nazi forces.

But what is the worst which can happen?

The worst which can happen is that a lot of Novorussian defenders get killed, that the towns of Slaviansk, Kramatorsk, Krasnyi Liman and others will get basically flattened and most of their inhabitants killed, that the road between Donetsk and Lugansk gets cut-off by the Ukies and that Ukie forces enter deep inside these two cities.

I have to be honest here, there is a pretty good chance that all of the above will happen in the next 24 hours.

If that happens, I would like to remind you all that entering into a city is one thing, taking control of it is quite another.  Think Beirut, think Grozny, think Baghdad, think Fallujah, think Gaza, think Bint Jbeil.  Even if Poroshenko announces that Donetsk and Lugansk have "fallen", this will be only a empty statement on par with Dubya's "mission accomplished".  What will *really* happen is that the type of warfare taking place will change.  Not only will it change, but the new (urban) type of warfare will almost completely negate the current huge advantage in aviation, artillery and armor of the Ukie side.  So if these cities "fall" - please do not despair.

I hope that Novorussians will be able to resist the Ukie attack, but I also know that by all accounts the kind of firepower the junta is using now is truly huge - we are dealing with a merciless and massive attack with everything the junta could muster and we have to accept that the Novorussian Defense Forces might have to retreat deeper into the cities or even go underground.  While heroic for sure, it is not smart to stay in the open when your enemy is using Smerch and Uragan MRLS against you or even the building you are in.  During the first Chechen war the Chechen retreated deeply inside Grozny and did not even bother defending the outskirts, in part because the city center buildings were far stronger than the flimsy houses in the suburbs.  I never studied the layout of the cities of Lugansk and Donetsk, but if they are typical of the way the Soviets liked to build, then retreating into the city center and giving up the suburbs would probably make sense.

The first defensive option is to let the Ukies enter the suburbs and then cut them off, envelop (surround) them, and then attack them.  If that works, great!  But if the Ukies clear the way with massive sustained strikes and flatten their way in, then it will become necessarily to switch to "plan B" and retreat deeper into the cities.  If the Ukie advance is multi-pronged and too fast, or if the city center defenses were not adequately prepared (for whatever reason), then plan "C" is to go more or less underground and switch to an active mobile defense centered on short but intense ambushes followed by immediate retreats.

I am not saying that this will happen, I have not heard from Juan or Gleb yet, but I think that I ought to prepare you for the worst, should it happen.

The Saker