Ukraine War Day #165: Why The Ukrainians Need To Take Kherson [continued]

Marie beschloß, Fritzen zu Rate zu ziehen, und erzählte ihm abends, als sie, da die Eltern ausgegangen, einsam in der Wohnstube am Glasschrank saßen, alles, was ihr mit dem Nußknacker und dem Mausekönig widerfahren, und worauf es nun ankomme, den Nußknacker zu retten. Über nichts wurde Fritz nachdenklicher, als darüber, daß sich, nach Mariens Bericht, seine Husaren in der Schlacht so schlecht genommen haben sollten. Er frug noch einmal sehr ernst, ob es sich wirklich so verhalte, und nachdem es Marie auf ihr Wort versichert, so ging Fritz schnell nach dem Glasschrank, hielt seinen Husaren eine pathetische Rede, und schnitt dann, zur Strafe ihrer Selbstsucht und Feigheit, einem nach dem andern das Feldzeichen von der Mütze, und untersagte ihnen auch, binnen einem Jahr den Gardehusarenmarsch zu blasen. Nachdem er sein Strafamt vollendet, wandte er sich wieder zu Marien, sprechend: »Was den Säbel betrifft, so kann ich dem Nußknacker helfen, da ich einen alten Obristen von den Kürassiers gestern mit Pension in Ruhestand versetzt habe, der folglich seinen schönen scharfen Säbel nicht mehr braucht.« Besagter Obrister verzehrte die ihm von Fritzen angewiesene Pension in der hintersten Ecke des dritten Faches. Dort wurde er hervorgeholt, ihm der in der Tat schmucke silberne Säbel abgenommen, und dem Nußknacker umgehängt.Maria at last resolved to ask advice of [her brother Fritz]; and in the evening, when their parents had gone out, and they sat alone together in the chamber by the glass case, she told him all that had happened to Nutcracker and Mouse-King, and then begged him to furnish the little fellow with a sword. Upon no part of this narration did Fritz reflect so long and so earnestly as upon the poor account which she gave him of the bravery of his hussars. He asked once more very seriously, if it were so. Maria assured him of it upon her word, when Fritz ran quickly to the glass case, addressed his hussars in a very moving speech, and then, as a punishment for their cowardice, cut their military badges from their caps, and forbade them for a year to play the Hussar’s Grand March. After this, he turned again to Maria, and said: “As to a sword, I can easily supply the little fellow with one. I yesterday permitted an old colonel of the cuirassiers to retire upon a pension, and consequently he has no farther use for his fine sharp sabre.” The aforesaid colonel was living on the pension which Fred had allowed him, in the farthest corner of the third shelf. He was brought out, his fine silver sabre taken from him, and buckled about Nutcracker.
E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Nutcracker And The Mouse King

Dear Readers:

We see that Fritz, upon being told the amazing story of midnight battles between mice and toy soldiers — immediately, instead of asking his little sister, “What have you been smoking?” his nine-year-old brain goes to the important issue: the shameful cowardice of his toy hussars. He should have asked a better question, though: How were the mice able to capture Harlequin’s cannons? Because in this war, artillery is everything.

Continuing with our own war game, here assisted by our two Russian Colonels, each coming out of retirement from his shelf, and each having promoted himself to General! Like two little boys playing at toy soldiers, Colonel Baranets strategizes for Ukraine; Timoshenko for Russia. The play on the table: Given the current configuration of forces, what is the best move for the Ukraine:

Scenario #1: Attack Kherson

Baranets: The best plan is to advance on Kherson. And here we have many different reasons…

Colonel Baranets
Colonel Timoshenko

First all: By doing this, we will push the Russian troops back farther from Nikolaev. From whence [as we know] opens the road to Odessa and Transnistria.

Secondly: The capture of Kherson will give us a new line of offense: along the Dnepr River. After which it is highly unlikely that the enemy will be able to cross this vast river.

Thirdly: Around Kherson, it’s all just steppe country. Flat as a table. We will be able to storm through the countryside in tanks and push the Moskali into the River.

Timoshenko: Judging by all the signs, [your Ukrainians] have already started their preparation for the counter-offensive. Several times they attempted to attack our troops, first having fortified their position on the Right Bank of the Dnepr River. It seemed like they were trying to feel out weak places in our defense. But they were not successful, they kept falling into fire pockets. All the attacks were pushed back.

However, our counter-intel informs us that Ukraine is [indeed] building a huge grouping of forces, thus planning to strike a major blow. They would have to vastly outnumber the Russians. Before they launch the attack on the Russian units positioned around Kherson, they will unleash a torrent of fire.

For this purpose they will use American M-777 Howitzers and HIMARS guided rocket systems. Their fighters jets and bomber planes are also getting ready. Air-Defense systems are being brought into the area. And for their main surprise — it’s possible they will land paratroopers from helicopters, down into our rear.

We know all of this, we know what they are preparing. Which means, we are ready for them.

Baranets: If we don’t succeed in taking Kherson on the fly, then we have a backup scenario. We call it “leapfrogging”. Storm groups will proceed [forward] and occupy the Right Bank of the Dnepr one piece at a time. [yalensis: This is a well-known Ukrainian tactic, and worked quite well for them in the past. Leapfrogging from town to town, one unit forward, then another skipping over it to the next position, etc. is the way the Ukrainian army took back all but a sliver of Donetsk Oblast in the years 2015-2022.]

As we are doing this, we will need to cut off the Russians from their supply lines and reinforcements. For this purpose we have already used our HIMARS to shoot up the Antonovsky Bridge over the Dnepr. We also tried to destroy the Kakhovskaya Hydroelectric Dam and Bridge, and the bridge over the Ingulets. [yalensis: Those three bridges are the only way for Russian army to bring reinforcements and supplies from Left to Right bank in Kherson.]

Children playing leapfrog.

Timoshenko: How many forces do [you Ukrainians] have in the Kherson area?

Even assuming you have the 200,000 bayonets that Kiev propaganda boasts of. (In reality, that’s an overestimate, the actual number if half that.) That many troops can’t even be squeezed into the region where the main attack is expected.

Also, what portion of these troops actually has experienced a successful counter-offensive? Not one of them! Currently the Ukrainian armed forces have experience only of falling into “fire pockets”, whither they seem to like to crawl, with lemming-like persistence.

And how many truly cadre units, those who have been forged in fire? Hardly more than a third, the rest are conscripts.

Yes, it is true that the Ukrainian forces have received long-range Howitzers and HIMARS from NATO. But just how many? A few dozen. This is clearly not enough. Poland contributed 200 tanks from the Soviet era. But out in the steppe, these tanks are just beautiful targets for cannons and aviation.

In the Kherson Oblast, Russians are on both banks of the Dnepr, but the Ukrainians will attack from the North (=Right Bank) and try to push Russians into the River.

Oh, and by the way, that bridge you damaged, we already built two pontoon bridges to replace it.

Baranets: In that case, we shall employ the patented Ukrainian military cunning. We will launch American HIMARS in full packages — all the rockets at once. When 10 rockets are all flying at the same time, even Russian anti-air, with its vaunted S-300 and Panzirs, can’t cope…

Timoshenko: Yes, but we know all about your Ukrainian cunning. All we have to do is strengthen our air defenses with a division of Buk-M3’s. They can intercept 36 targets all at once. Plus, throw in a regiment of army aviation.

The other thing we can do is place a part of our artillery on the other bank of the Dnepr [yalensis: in other words, on the Right Bank], in order to create, at the approaches to Kherson, a broad stripe of land, where the enemy will be met by a wall of fire. Even if he is able to penetrate through this fire, it will be with such losses, that he won’t even be thiking about taking any cities any more. He will just high-tail it.

And then we will pursue him all the way to Nikolaev.

Next: Scenario #2 is for the Ukrainians to attack in the Berdyansk direction.

[to be continued]

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19 Responses to Ukraine War Day #165: Why The Ukrainians Need To Take Kherson [continued]

  1. BM says:

    This is moving too slowly for me! The analogy with toy soldiers is certaily apt, but are you sure Baranets and Timoshenko merit so much attention?

    By the way, my guess is that (if the alleged counter-offensive ever materialises) the Russians will turn it into a rout and use it as an aid to leap-frog into Nikolaev.


    • Not my swastika; blame Gravatar says:

      For news and political discussions on the events in Ukraine, I can go to thirty other websites and blogs, and I do. I’ve no doubt I’ve heard the music at some point, even if it doesn’t come to mind at the moment, but I’ve neither read nor seen The Nutcracker before. Who else but yalensis could get me interested in it while discussing something else I’m interested in, and tying them together? That sort of thing in this and previous posts, to me, is what makes this blog even more interesting and valuable than others I could be reading instead, and I urge him not to rush through this.


      • yalensis says:

        Thanks, gravatar, I appreciate that! I tried to add some literature and culture to the usual mix, maybe educate some philistines, you know the thing…



        • Keep up the edumacayshun, Yalensis. It never hurts to expand one’s cultural horizons. I vaguely remember The Nutcracker from my youth; I think one of my younger sisters pranced in it for a school function. But as far as the specifics (aside from the Nutcracker figure in his uniform) I had no memory. I find it interesting how, in many circumstances, works of art can be a template through which to view current events that were undreamt of when the works were created. There are only X number of patterns of behaviour we humans are capable of, and some creative type has already laid them down in print or song somewhere.


          • yalensis says:

            Thanks, Bukko! It is my personal goal in life to ejumacate the likes of you in the Higher Forms of European Culture, snoot snoot!

            Seriously though, sometimes these literary metaphors just write themselves and provide unexpected insight. I started with the phrase “hard nut to crack” which is the metaphor all the Russophile bloggers are using to describe the pounding of the Donbass defensive lines. Which brought my fingers on the ten wings of thought (as the Bard Bayan once wrote) to ETA Hoffmann, one of my very favorite writers. (I think he is right up there with Victor Hugo, in my personal pantheon.)

            Hoffmann’s masterpiece deals quite a lot with hard nuts, mouse traps, artillery duels, and the like. It’s a brilliant work in its own right, and Tchaikovsky’s music makes it all the more sublime. And it’s not a kiddy story at all, despite that it was written for children.

            It was only when I was halfway through Part I, I realized that the mice were the Russians. Oh dear! But don’t worry, I have a way out of this which will leave everybody a winner, both mice, and men, and Princes, and lonely little girls.


            • moon says:

              Hoffmann and Tieck attracted me most among the Romantics in times gone by. Hoffmann is one of the people who made me wonder if the study of law (Kafka) creates good writers. … There is another aspect of Hoffman and the arts that fascinated me, since it felt familiar? Drawn to the different fields: drawing, music, writing.

              You haven’t written about opera for quite a while.


              • yalensis says:

                moon, I would LOVE to write opera reviews again. That’s actually all I really want to do. But I have to wait until the war is over.
                Plus, I am still boycotting the Metropolitan Opera, because they banned Russian artists. That really ticked me off.


        • yalensis says:

          P.S. – Tchaikovsky’s ballet simplifies and collapses the original story-line.
          In Hoffmann’s original story, the Mice actually win that first battle, after they capture the artillery.


    • yalensis says:

      I am reading on internet that Russians might be moving on Nikolaev, as next step.


  2. Jean Meslier says:

    The war in the Ukraine, for me, a russophile European westerner, educated by russophile communist parents, has at least been positive for one thing : I’ve discovered your blog (thank you, Moon
    Of Alabama).

    I can get my non-mainstream news about the minutiae of the war or its day to day tactic or strategic analysis on many websites. Some are very good, some boast too much about the invincible russian army or disparage the drooling western moronic elite too much (it is tiring; I know the other side’s propaganda is monstrously insufferable, but there is no need to try to emulate it), but none have given me as much insight about the real Russian POV (not the Russian emigrate living in the U.S. POV – not saying it’s not also valuable) as your blog posts.

    You write long, detailed pieces about interesting subjects, often starting from, or relating to other long pieces written by Russian journalists which, as a non Russian speaker (unfortunately), I would never have had access to.

    Cherry upon the cake, the breadth of your culture (especially Russian culture OFC) is really sizeable, and your writing is very good, which make for very interesting reads (I think I’ve read all your “Ukraine war day #” posts).

    So, thanks a lot for your work. For me, personally, it’s not moving too slowly, I have other sources for quick.


    • yalensis says:

      Thank you very much, Jean, for your super-kind words! (and thanks to moon of alabama for mentioning me, apparently that has brought me some excellent new readers!)


    • BM says:

      but none have given me as much insight about the real Russian POV (not the Russian emigrate living in the U.S. POV – not saying it’s not also valuable) as your blog posts.

      You write long, detailed pieces about interesting subjects, often starting from, or relating to other long pieces written by Russian journalists which, as a non Russian speaker (unfortunately), I would never have had access to.

      Cherry upon the cake, the breadth of your culture (especially Russian culture OFC) is really sizeable, and your writing is very good, which make for very interesting reads

      Agreed 100%. Of course Yalensis I appreciate you are doing this in your spare time and have other commitments in life, and translating takes a lot of time, but I’d just like to humbly suggest that rather than for example a series of 3 short articles all so tantalisingly cut in mid-flow, you could say “I am working on xyz and hope to have it ready in a few days”, and then post it as one self-contained article. If that’s not possible, then I suggest at least trying to break at a thematically logical point rather than halfway through a breath …


      • yalensis says:

        Hi, BM. Before the war I would post quite regularly, but not necessarily every day.
        When the war started, I made a promise to my readers that I would post something every single day, to help them keep up with what was going on.
        To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into — I was so dumb I thought the war would be over in just a couple of weeks – LOL!
        Nonetheless, a vow is a vow, and I am trying to keep it up. I don’t think it would count if I just posted a stub saying, “you’ll have to wait until I finish reading this…”

        Besides, from feedback, I think most of my readers like the content in more bite-sized chunks. On a longer story, when I break, I try to break on a cliffhanger, keep ’em coming back for more… Isn’t that how Charles Dickens did it with “The Little Curiosity Shop” ?

        I know, I know, I am no Charles Dickens. But one can aspire…


  3. Now those guys LOOK like colonels! And their heads are not particularly potato-shaped either. Although it’s hard to be sure with Baranets, much of his noggin being hidden that green military cap. He bears a certain resemblance to Ernest Borgnine from “McHale’s Navy.” (Jeez am I ever dating myself by that reference…) I can imagine either of them ordering with steely eyes an assault that will result in the deaths of hundreds of their men, but which is necessary to ensure victory.

    On a serious note, I wonder whether any comparable people in the Westie military are doing such scenario games between themselves to suss out the likely outcomes of actions in Ukraine? Probably they are on the military side of things, but it’s hard to imagine that the politicians responsible for sending so many billions of currency units into that black hole are as perspicacious.


  4. buratino says:

    A structured education is a terrible/awesome secret to bestow on the ones seeking it aint it?
    I see yaall doodes a mile away – and I gotta say LOVE ya, for your attempts.

    I escaped…I posses AWESOME processing powers, without the aid of RAM and DRAM. AFAIK.


    The problem YOU live with is the guilt. Built in the narrative.

    The outcome of this battle is not gonna be decided in “ukraine”.

    What we have is a phony war.

    I know, ya gonna say – but Mr B: people are being killed…and such.

    I weep. Everyday. For my brothers and sisters. On both sides. I weep.

    What I miss from Your narrative is the recognition of the true nature of the warring parties – and in a way, you are excused, since you are using the narrative of the participants. Plus your privileges in the public square.

    Do you think, that VVP has ANY illusions of what he is up against?

    If he does, he already lost.

    Mabbe he called it the SMO, so he can administer the pain gradually. I dont know.

    But the pain is on the way. Even in Russia proper. The world over.

    Anyone thinking, that Russia is making bank over this shit and will come out of it one morning with coffee in hand and the car prewarmed is…educated.


    This WAR is coming Your way – wherever you may live.

    Since You read this site – I consider you valuable. You manage information well.


    You do not have to outrun the bear – only your fellow camper.

    …now back to shakes-peer…or more appropriately – Wagner…

    To my point to the phony war, consider this:

    Precisely at the 1:22 mark.

    You would do Yourself a favour to listen to it all, but that is much to ask I understand.

    These people have done this before. Many times. And they write the history – so we(the public) draw all the wrong conclusions.

    Well…dass about it for now.

    The military affair is – over. With hundreds of dead every day. I AM…dunno what to say. My people not there anymore. My friends, frenemies…I am devastated. The best of the best. Our kids, children.

    HATE it.

    What do You do?

    what do YOU DO?


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