Over the course of the past few days, Ukraine has thrown two of its best-trained, best-equipped mechanized brigades into offensive operations against entrenched Russian defenders in the Zaporozhye sector of the front lines.
These two brigades had been hand-picked for this job, having been equipped with modern Western tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, supported by Western-supplied artillery, and using NATO-specific tactics shaped by NATO-provided intelligence and NATO operational planning.
In short, these two brigades represented a top-level NATO-level capability, the epitome of the nexus between Ukraine and the Collective West in their ongoing war to destroy Russia.
As the world comes to grips with the imagery of destroyed US-manufactured M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and German-made Leopard 2A6 tanks abandoned and burning on the Ukrainian steppe, the harsh truth regarding the futility of its larger designs—the strategic defeat of Russia—is starting to sink in.
The reality, however, is that Ukraine was never going to achieve its stated objective of punching through the Russian defenses to sever the land bridge connecting Crimea with Russia proper.
This was pie-in-the-sky thinking promulgated by Ukraine’s Western supporters to motivate the Ukrainians into committing the equivalent of mass suicide to inflict similarly prohibitive casualties among the Russian defenders.
The Western hope was that Russia would become demoralized by these casualties and accept a negotiated end to the conflict on terms acceptable to both Ukraine and its Western allies.
The genesis of this failure can be traced to two things. First, the low-opinion Ukraine and their NATO allies had regarding the combat capabilities of the Russian army, and in particular those forces deployed in the Zaporozhye region.
And second, the unrealistic expectations assigned to NATO training and equipment that had been provided to the Ukrainian forces assigned the task of breaking through the Russian defenses.
The area selected by Ukraine and its NATO partners as the focus of effort for the counteroffensive was held by the 42nd Guards Motorized Rifle Division, part of the 58th Combined Arms Army.
The Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think tank with close ties to US and NATO, claimed that the troops of the 42nd Guards Motorized Rifle Division are predominantly comprised of mobilized recruits and volunteers and are therefore likely to face some problems with poor training and discipline.
The 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment has been singled out as performing very well under difficult circumstances.
The same can be said of the 291st Motorized Rifle Regiment and the 71st Motorized Rifles Regiment, along with special forces soldiers from the 22nd Spetsnaz Brigade.
Analysts from ISW, in assessing the initial successes of the Russian defenders, noted that Russian forces appear to have executed their formal tactical defensive doctrine in response to the Ukrainian attacks.
NATO and Ukraine gambled that Russia lacked the military capacity to successfully implement its own military doctrine, believing that Russian command staffs lacked the communications necessary to coordinate the complex operations.
These operations were necesarry to implement this doctrine, and that the Russian forces—especially those who were recently mobilized—lacked both the training and morale needed to perform well under stressful combat conditions.
The sad truth of the matter is that there are no NATO forces capable of successfully executing the offensive tasks that have been assigned to Ukraine.
No one doubts the courage and commitment of the Ukrainian forces which have been thrown against Colonel General Romanchuk’s defensive barrier.
But courage and commitment cannot overcome the reality that NATO lacks the ability, both in terms of equipment and doctrine, to successfully defeat Russia in a force-on-force confrontation.
Especially one which has Russia playing to its doctrinal strength (defensive operations) while NATO seeks to do something (an assault against prepared defenses) that it has no experience in doing.
Moreover, NATO and the Ukrainian high command threw the Ukrainian brigades into the teeth of the Russian defensive buzz-saw without adequate fire support.
Meaning that the Russians were free to maximize their superiority in artillery and air power to neutralize and destroy the Ukrainian attacking forces before they could generate the momentum expected from high-tempo maneuver.
The end result: Russian reality trumped NATO theory on the battlefield, and it is Ukraine’s military that once again paid the heaviest price.
Moreover, there is no reason to believe that this situation will change anytime soon, if ever, a fact that bodes poorly for the future of Ukraine and NATO going forward.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2023.