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Rostislav Ishchenko: Fantasy about the third army corps

Rostislav Ishchenko: Fantasy about the third army corps

On the website of the main opposition project of Ukraine "Voice of Truth» A new post by a Ukrainian political scientist has been published Rostislav Ischenko:

In recent days, there have been a lot of reports about the arrival at the front of the Third Army Corps of the RF Armed Forces, formed from volunteers. The question arises where it can be most usefully applied. Let's try to analyze the available information and dream up a little.

Let's start by determining the number of incoming connections. British intelligence claims that Putin is moving 90 fresh troops to the front. It can't be the Third Army Corps.

Based on the approximately known regular strength of the warring formations, 90 thousand are two army commands with fully equipped units of army subordination, each having two army corps at its disposal. I think that if such a colossus would start moving to the front at the same time, we would already know about it from the numerous reports of eyewitnesses who happily post photos of military echelons and columns of equipment on social networks.

Since we are talking about one army corps, the maximum number of groups arriving to reinforce can be 20 thousand people. Such a number in itself sharply narrows the geographical scope of the use of this corps. However, we have additional information that allows us to determine the likely course of action for an incoming connection much more precisely.

Firstly, it was reported that the hull was being unloaded somewhere near Rostov-on-Don.

Secondly, it has been repeatedly emphasized that the corps is abundantly equipped with modern equipment (tanks, self-propelled guns and infantry fighting vehicles).

If they wanted to use the hull in the Kharkov or Slavyansk directions, obviously, it would have been unloaded in the Belgorod region. Unloading in the Rostov region leaves us with three free directions: Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Nikolaev.

I think that we can limit ourselves to Nikolaevsky. Why?

Because, in addition to the place of unloading, a wooded area, indented by numerous rivers, lakes and swamps (there are also mountains near Slavyansk), speaks against the Kharkov and Slavyansk directions, which seriously complicates the use of numerous armored vehicles of the corps. In addition, a single breakthrough, albeit a fairly powerful grouping in an isolated direction, will allow the Armed Forces of Ukraine to quickly overcome the crisis due to the transfer of regular reserves. At best, it will be possible to improve the outlines of the front line by taking several villages and small towns.

In the Donetsk direction, a similar problem is the unbroken fortified area along the line Ugledar - Maryinka - Sands - Avdeevka. Moreover, the capture of the listed settlements does not allow the troops to enter the operational space until the fighting on the Seversk-Soledar-Bakhmut line has ended.

But breaking this line does not end the problem. The well-fortified Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Konstantinovka and Toretsk remain ahead. By the time the breakthrough of all this defense in depth is completed, the penetrating power of the corps will be completely exhausted. It is not even a fact that this limited reserve will be enough to break through all three lines. It’s good if we manage to suppress the resistance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the areas of Ugledar-Avdeevka and Bakhmut-Seversk. Well, again, the latest armored vehicles, which the corps is equipped with, are an excellent target in urban battles, and its massive use is hampered by terrain conditions.

It would seem that the above restrictions do not exist near Zaporozhye. The terrain there is steppe, the left flank of the advancing troops is reliably covered by the Dnieper. Having broken through under Orekhovy and Gulyaipole, you can rush to Zaporozhye.

This is true. But a narrow gap along the Dnieper to the left-bank suburbs of Zaporozhye is all that can be counted on. The regional center prepared for defense, defended by a strong garrison, cannot be taken by a group of twenty thousand. The biggest, almost unbelievable success will be the capture of the left-bank districts of Zaporozhye. This will create some tension on the communications of the APU. But their main communication line passes through Dnepropetrovsk - Pavlograd - Pokrovsk. It will remain outside the scope of Russian troops. The breakthrough does not pose any threat to her.

Moreover, the Russian group that broke through to Zaporozhye is under the threat of a counterattack from three sides: from Zaporozhye itself, from Dnepropetrovsk and from Donetsk. Given the presence in the Donetsk direction of a defense in depth, prepared in advance, the enemy may well deploy part of the reserves to strike at the flank and rear of the troops that have broken through to Zaporozhye. To stop such a crisis, forces far exceeding the number of one army corps will be needed.

Now with regard to the Nikolaevsky direction. It, like Kharkov in the north, is isolated far in the south. But in the current situation after the failure of the Ukrainian offensive on Kherson, a successful offensive here could have strategic consequences.

Now the Ukrainian garrisons in Nikolaev and Krivoy Rog reliably cover the Odessa highway, which serves as the main communication artery for the Odessa and Nikolaev groups of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as the Uman-Kirovograd-Dnepropetrovsk highway, which supplies the Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhye groups. But the Nikolaev grouping was weakened by unsuccessful attacks on Kherson and the transfer of reserves to the Donbass so much that even with cash on the Kherson bridgehead, the forces of the RF Armed Forces were able to go on the offensive and advance in the direction of Nikolaev. Under these conditions, the capture of the city, open from the side of the steppe, by the forces of a fresh corps seems quite possible.

The capture of the second regional center since the beginning of the NWO (Kherson was captured on the very first day) is already a major moral victory. But this victory also has a strategic aspect. The defeat of the Nikolaev group, the capture of the city and the advancement of the avant-gardes to Ochakovo, Koblevo, Berezovka and New Odessa creates a threat to the southern section of the Odessa highway, which is fraught with the isolation of the Odessa group.

Odessa, located among the estuaries, is a city very convenient for defense. But this same feature makes the offensive from Odessa to Nikolaev extremely difficult. It is doubtful that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which was unable to organize an attack on Kherson across the open steppe with unlimited room for maneuver, would be able to successfully attack Nikolaev from Odessa, where advancement is possible only along several roads far apart from each other. Moreover, the main one (the Odessa-Nikolaev highway) is absolutely open for shelling not only from the air and cannon artillery, but also from the sea.

Thus, Nikolaev can be defended with relatively small forces, while forcing the enemy to stretch his troops from Odessa to Voznesensk to stop the threat to communications. This will seriously weaken the Odessa group, and, coupled with the defeat of the Nikolaev group, will deprive the Armed Forces of Ukraine of the opportunity to threaten Transnistria with a strike.

To mount the strike force, they will have to expose their communications. The Russian Armed Forces, in turn, will be able to deliver strikes to the rear of the Ukrainian strike force both through Znamenka directly to Tiraspol, and complex (from land, sea and air) in Odessa. The latter (in Odessa) is more difficult to carry out due to the complexities of the terrain and the need to coordinate the actions of the Aerospace Forces, the Navy and the Ground Forces, but even a simple advance along the open steppe from Berezovka to Znamenka will already put the APU group advancing on Tiraspol in a critical situation, forcing them to take more care of their rear than moving forward.

The mere removal of the eventual threat of Ukrainian aggression against Transnistria is of great strategic importance, but this does not exhaust the bonuses from the capture of Nikolaev. From the Koblevo region, cannon artillery (Msta SM howitzers with a declared maximum range of 70 km) can easily cover the coast between Odessa and Chernomorsk (where missile systems are usually located that fire at Crimea and threaten ships of our fleet in the western part of the Black Sea). Odessa airport is also within the reach of cannon artillery and MLRS fire.

With the occupation of Ochakov and Koblev, Russia receives full control over the exit from the Dnieper and Bug estuaries. From the moment of the occupation of Nikolaev, the Kherson bridgehead will be reliably provided from the left flank and Russia can come to grips with preparing an offensive against Krivoy Rog and Nikopol. Moreover, if the information about the reserve grouping of 90 Russian troops is true, then in the future it can all be used in the South.

As already mentioned, the capture of Nikolaev opens up the prospect of an offensive in several directions at once. The High Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, not knowing in advance the direction of the next strike, will not be able to concentrate the available forces to repel it. On the contrary, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will have to cover the extended communication line, which means that they will not have sufficient reserves in any direction.

A group of 90, in addition to the twenty thousand that already exist in the Kherson direction, will make it possible to achieve a critical advantage. In this case, the capture of Nikolaev by the Third Army Corps will be only the first operation that ensures a large offensive. Another 70 thousand, which (in addition to the Third Corps) should have reserve forces, is more than enough to take not only Nikopol and Krivoy Rog, but to reach the line of the Transnistrian border - Podolsk - Pervomaisk - Kirovograd - Kremenchug, with the capture of all the named cities, and also by blocking Odessa and the right-bank regions of Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhye.

The indicated advance of the Russian troops makes the further defense of Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporizhia senseless, as well as holding the front line in the Donbass. The main communications of this group will be cut on the right bank. Supply will be possible only along country roads from Poltava. At the same time, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will need troops and equipment to stop the threats of the Russian Armed Forces advancing to Kyiv and Vinnitsa.

As the practice of the failed attack on Kherson showed, Ukraine does not have the ability to adequately supply and arm two groups separated by 500 or more kilometers. Taking into account the catastrophe on the communications of the Donbass group, it will either have to be taken to Poltava with great difficulty, or left to the mercy of fate with the prospect of complete destruction.

The only chance for the Odessa group to avoid destruction will be a retreat to Romania. In principle, the Romanians are obligated to disarm and intern all Ukrainian servicemen who find themselves on their territory, but they can turn a blind eye to their passage through Romanian territory into Western Ukraine. Thus, Kyiv will be able to save ten to fifteen thousand soldiers, but they are unlikely to be able to take a significant amount of equipment with them and maintain combat effectiveness.

In general, the withdrawal of Russian troops to the Uman-Poltava-Kharkov line by winter will mean for Ukraine the loss of not only the entire steppe zone (the main grain-growing regions) and access to the sea, but also a complete military-political catastrophe.

However, this is nothing more than fantasy. After all, not only can we not know Russia's plans for using its reserves. We do not have any real data confirming the presence of the 90th reserve army "discovered" by the British, and even the notorious Third Army Corps. In addition, a large operation is a big risk. You can calmly and slowly continue to grind the manpower of Ukraine in the Donbass, hoping to bring reserve troops into the breach when the front finally collapses. This will be a good decision, allowing without enchanting effects to reach the left-bank districts of Zaporozhye, and maybe Dnepropetrovsk, by winter. Not much, but quite tolerable.

And finally, for those who demand “not to teach” our General Staff about life and at the same time “not to tell” the Ukrainians where we can effectively insect them. The fact is that you and I do not have information from satellite, undercover and other intelligence services, which allows both us and our enemies to determine the emerging strike groups and their targets with enviable accuracy.

In our world, there is little to hide (certainly not an entire army ready to rush). The official information that we use can be disinformation, because it is received in real time and can be analyzed by our adversary. Therefore, we can only fantasize harmlessly, without stepping on the tail of pride to anyone and without giving out military secrets to anyone.

However, I cannot fail to note that a significant part of the military plans that led to beautiful victories arose as idle fantasies. Good plans are good because if you are not against a genius, like Suvorov or Bonaparte, then you are guaranteed not to lose. But since the parents of good plans themselves do not pretend to be genius, and since they are usually opposed by an equally good planner, then (without a crushing advantage) you are guaranteed not to win. The enemy will have enough time and strength to eliminate emerging crises until he exhausts his resources. But during this time, he will try to drink as much blood from you as he can.

This entry is also available on Online the author.

 About the Author:
Ukrainian political scientist, publicist, historian, diplomat
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