Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Russia Lost the Long Game at Debaltseve

Alexander Golts, Moscow Times

The main event of last week was the military victory by what President Vladimir Putin called "yesterday's tractor drivers" in Debaltseve. That statement is an almost verbatim replay of this very old Soviet-era joke: "TASS reports that a peaceful Soviet tractor came under fire from Chinese territory. The tractor immediately returned fire, destroying three enemy squadrons, then started its engines and flew into orbit. The tractor driver is reported to be feeling fine."

In today's case, a mug shot of these so-called "tractor drivers" would show a striking resemblance to Russian generals.

As a result, the separatists won a few more square kilometers of territory, occupied an important railway junction and took control over a major road hub.

What did the victors gain as a result? True, they did improve their tactical position somewhat and created an opportunity for a further offensive. But that is all they did, and I doubt that such an attack will ever occur. After all, Russia has only limited capabilities for fighting this type of hybrid war.

As I mentioned previously in this column, the Kremlin has only two or three dozen units of high readiness forces that can achieve victory in a short-term conflict — with "short-term" the key word in that sentence. Obviously, those units are now worn out after months of fighting a hybrid war, and no replacements exist.

(More here.)

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