Jomini of the West Profile picture
Apr 15 30 tweets 6 min read
1/ Surmising Ukraine’s Strategic Options. Earlier this week I speculated on what a revised Russian OPLAN may look like. Today I will surmise on likely strategic options Ukraine may pursue to defeat Russia…and win. Another long thread. #UkraineRussiaWar #UkraineUnderAttack
2/ I ended the surmised Russian OPLAN thread with a very brief discussion regarding the challenge how sparse data on the Ukrainian Armed Forces makes it difficult to forecast its operational direction. If anything, this shows the strength of UAF operational security.
3/ One speculative statement I made guessed that the Ukrainian military may be stretched too thin for major counteroffensives, especially of the kind I suggest in this thread. However, I do feel the potential for the action I describe is there for a few reasons.
4/ First, the steady rearming of the Ukrainian military by the West. Second, unlike Russia, Ukraine does have a functioning strategic reserve force & robust domestic/foreign recruitment. Finally, & most importantly, well-motivated Soldiers & competent leaders.
5/ To date, Ukraine has conducted a successful defense in depth along the breath of Russia’s original invasion axes. It was an operational approach that maximized Ukraine’s strength’s while positioning Russian forces to expose their weaknesses.
6/ A key component of Ukraine’s defense in depth was revealing Russia’s principal operational shortcoming, logistics. Ukraine understood how vulnerable Russian logistics were, trading space for time outpaced Russia’s organic ability to support sustained ops & obtain rapid results
7/ Ukraine now faces a similar dilemma. How well the Ukrainian military can transition from an active defense in depth to a more offensive focus to defeat and drive out Russian forces from Ukrainian territory will mean the difference between victory and a renewed frozen conflict.
8/ I have previously stated that the decisive point of a battlefield is determined by the character of geographic positions, the value of the strategic object in view, and the arrangement of the contending forces.
9/ Bearing these in mind we can surmise what seems most important for Ukraine to focus the weight of offensive action to achieve its war aims. Ukraine must now answer the same three questions Russian forces have faced in devising their operational plans.
10/ First, what military conditions much be produced to achieve the strategic goals? Second, what sequence of actions is most likely to produce these conditions? Finally, how should forces and resources be arrayed to accomplish that sequence of actions?
11/ The logical conditions Ukraine must achieve to meet its strategic goals are ability to retain the Severodonetsk Salient, hold Kharkiv & its environs, & recapture the Kherson Oblast and/or a major counteroffensive east of Kharkiv to cut Russian GLOCs to Belgorod.
12/ The logical sequence of actions to obtain these conditions is to conduct simultaneous operations in designated Disruption Zones in the Donetsk & Zaporizhzhia Oblasts, and a series of sequential offensive actions in the Kherson and/or Kharkiv Oblasts.
13/ The current line of contact running from Kharkiv to Kherson (note, this is not a contiguous LOC) generally resembles a classic convex order with a center salient. The advantage this order offers is the ability to direct efforts against the center or one wing.
14/ The reason this is advantageous is that the Ukrainian military can execute a false attack against a portion of the line while applying localized overwhelming force more readily to a weakened defensive sector before the Russians can adjust forces to prevent a breakthrough.
15/ A successful breakthrough on one of the extremities of the convex lines would unravel Russia’s own offensive approach, forcing them into a strategic defense where the initiative would pass decidedly toward Ukraine who could then set the conditions for favorable negotiations.
16/ The Ukrainian military has the potential to execute such an ambitious plan because it has a functioning strategic reserve. Though I am speculating as to the size of this force pool, there are forces that can be repositioned to the east that would enable scalable operations.
17/ Ukraine’s primary focus will be first to defeat the Russian offensive in the Severodonetsk Salient. Russian forces here constitute the last of the Russian military’s immediately available offensive force.
18/ It will take until early fall for Russia to reconstitute more forces remotely capable of executing sustained offensive action (assessed as 30+ continuous days in combat). Defeating Russian forces here will remove the potential of shifting these forces to other sectors.
19/ Simultaneously, Ukraine will need to disrupt Russian disruption efforts in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Actions here would mostly by SOF/Partisan/Guerilla activity to target Russian logistics and prevent effective control of occupied cities & towns.
20/ Even if Mariupol falls, it is likely that a substantial part of its defenders will go to ground and continue guerilla activity to hamper Russian activity to incorporate it into the DPR while denying it as a reliable operational base to extend operations into western Donetsk.
21/ The Kherson Oblast is likely become Ukraine’s primary battle zone. Ukrainian forces are already encroaching on Kherson’s defenses. By assuming risk in the Odesa area, the Ukrainian military could reallocate maneuver forces to reinforce those already west of Kherson.
22/ A major counterattack here would be bloody and take considerable time, as Russia would fight a determined battle to hold Kherson. If the city can be retaken Ukrainian forces could advance south and east of the Dnieper River to cut Russian rail GLOCs out of Crimea.
23/ Ukraine could potentially follow up this success by advancing toward the Kherson Oblast border & threaten Russian control of Melitopol. The loss of the Kherson Oblast would be a major defeat for Russia, threatening its hold on Crimea & ability to control the Donbas.
24/ To the north, Ukraine could assume risk around Kyiv & in the NE to reinforce the Kharkiv area and conduct a major counterattack to push Russian forces to the international border and east of the Siverskyi Donets River.
25/ This would set conditions for a major counteroffensive east of the Siverskyi Donets that would likely seek to recapture the decisive geographic points of Vovchansk, Velykyi Burluk, and Kupiansk. Recapturing these towns would sever Russian GLOCs to Belgorod from Izium.
26/ With GLOCs to Belgorod blocked, Russian forces in the Izium area would either counterattack north to reestablish access to Belgorod or move east across the Oskil River and establish a new eventual line of defense to protect their hold on northern Luhansk.
27/ Concurently the recapture of Kupiansk would offer the Ukrainian military a new pivot of operations to either eventually advance into northern Luhansk or turn south and attack Russian forces toward Izium.
28/ The Izium area could be turned into a cauldron in which Ukrainian air & artillery strike could devastated a tightly compact Russian defense as it attempts to maneuver out of the kill zone.
29/ As with my Russian OPLAN assessment my estimation of Ukrainian options will likely end up being wildly off the mark. The point of such an exercise is more to illustrate that Ukraine has a variety of operational pathways it will undoubtedly explore and exploit.
30/ Both Russia and Ukraine have several weeks of hard fighting ahead. Though the situation currently favors Ukraine circumstances are always changing. Russian forces may be able to rally, or they could completely break. One thing is certain, it will be a long and deadly summer.

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More from @JominiW

Apr 16
1/ Ukrainian Theater of War, Day 47-51: The past 120 hrs. have seen Russian forces attempt to break through the Donets River Line & Severodonetsk Salient. In Mariupol Russian forces have made multiple gains, Ukrainian defenses still hold SW & central Mariupol. #UkraineRussianWar Image
2/ Humanitarian Impact. Ukrainian refugees top 6.4 million, with over 6.6 million IDPs throughout Ukraine. The extent of destruction to Ukrainian cities due to recent fighting is becoming more apparent as UN UNOSAT data becomes available. t.me/ukrpravda_news…
3/ Weather Impact. The 10-day forecast for most of the Donbas-Kherson TVD will comprise of increased cloud cover & rainstorms, wind speed will generally average at 10 mph. These conditions will degrade air & artillery strikes, while restricting ground movement. Image
Read 19 tweets
Apr 11
1/ Surmising a revised Russian OPLAN. Here are my thoughts on what Russia’s revised operational plan may look like. I have constructed this off what I consider the most logical operational approach that can yield positive results. #UkraineRussianWar #UkraineUnderAttack #strategy
2/ Given Russian operational performance to date I realize that this assessment may end up being wildly off. Producing a reliable open-source analysis is difficult to say the least. Information is scarce & what is available is heavily weighted in favor of Ukraine.
3/ Still, to understand where this war is going, what conditions military operations will create in the coming weeks, and how they may set conditions for a negotiated settlement an attempt to surmise a logical course of action is necessary.
Read 32 tweets
Apr 11
1/ Ukrainian Theater of War, Day 42-46: The past 100 hrs. have seen increased Russian focus on the Donets River Line & Severodonetsk Salient. Ukraine has mounted a series of successful counter attacks against Kherson, threatening Russian control there. #UkraineRussianWar Image
2/ Humanitarian Impact. Ukrainian refugees top 6.1 million, with over 6.6 million IDPs throughout Ukraine. Russian forces allowed 3,425 civilians to be evacuated from Berdyanak & Mariupol, while another 529 civilians were evacuated from Melitopol.
3/ Weather Impact. The 10-day forecast for most of the Donbas-Kherson TVD will comprise of increased cloud cover & rainstorms, wind speed will generally average above 10 mph. These conditions will degrade air & artillery strikes, while ground movement will be slowed.
Read 18 tweets
Apr 6
1/ Ukrainian Theater of War, Day 41: The past 24 hours saw Russian forces continue retreat from the Sumy oblast, although a small portion maintains a token Russian force. Redeployment of units from Kyiv & Sumy to Izium continues. #UkraineWar #RussianUkrainianWar #Ukraine
2/ Humanitarian Impact. Ukrainian refugees near 6 million, with over 6.6 million IDPs throughout Ukraine. The UN Human Rights Office now states Russian forces directly & killed civilians in Bucha. Russian forces continue to block access to Mariupol.
3/ Weather assessment. The Donbas region will experience extended periods of cloud cover and rain during the early part of next week (11-13 Apr). These conditions and varying wind speed will hamper the accuracy of air & artillery strikes for VKS & UAF.
Read 16 tweets
Apr 5
1/ Ukrainian Theater of War, Day 38-40: Today’s update Is a brief commentary on the state of the war. The collapse of the Kyiv-Chernihiv & Sumy Strategic Fronts & a shift of combat focus to east Ukraine will change the character of the war, not its essence. #Ukraine #UkraineWar
2/ The situation on the ground is fluid, as the remaining Russian forces withdraw from the Kyiv, Chernihiv, & Sumy Oblasts and is difficult to map. As a result, today’s update only presents a general overview of the situation across Ukraine as is currently understood.
3/ On the third day of the war I posted the following estimate of what I felt were Russia’s surmised war aims. The collapse of 2 of 3 West OSK fronts forces a reassessment of how Russia intends to accomplish its goals. More to follow in the coming days.
Read 16 tweets
Apr 2
1/ Ukrainian Theater of War, Day 37: Today’s update focuses on each of the Strategic Fronts in the UTW. BLUF, Ukraine has defeated Russian forces along the Kyiv-Chernihiv & Sumy Fronts. East Ukraine is now the focal point of operations. #Ukraine #UkraineWar #RussiaUkraineWar
2/ Humanitarian Impact. Ukrainian refugees exceed 5.4 million, with 6.5 million IDPs throughout Ukraine. As Russian forces pull out of NW Kyiv, the brutality of their occupation is more apparent. Russia continues to block aid convoys access to Mariupol.
3/ Weather assessment. Thunderstorms & wintery mix remain in the forecast & will continue to adversely affect aerospace and ground operations. Poor weather may hamper Ukrainian attempts to disrupt the Russian retreat from Kyiv. Temperatures generally will remain between 17/ 0 C.
Read 19 tweets

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