|So viel ist aber gewiß, daß, da er nun an nichts mehr, was ihm Marie erzählte, glaubte, er seinen Husaren bei öffentlicher Parade das ihnen geschehene Unrecht förmlich abbat, ihnen statt der verlornen Feldzeichen viel höhere, schönere Büsche von Gänsekielen anheftete, und ihnen auch wieder erlaubte, den Gardehusarenmarsch zu blasen.||This is certain, however, Fritz no longer believed a word of what [his sister] Maria had told him. He made a formal apology to his hussars, on public parade, for the injustice which he had done them; stuck in their caps feathers of goose-quill, much finer and taller than those of which they had been deprived; and permitted them again to blow the Hussar’s Grand March.|
Well, you see how it is: Little Fritz is a Ukrainian General, so he is not going to listen to any news or information that does not fit into his version of reality. Pockets? Cauldrons? Wall of Fire? Mouse traps crafted by Herr Drosselmeier! Fuhgeddaboudit. Besides, Harlequin told him that they were winning…
Continuing with our own war game, here assisted by our two Russian Colonels, 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. We already discussed Scenario #1 (Ukrainian frontal attack on Kherson), now it’s time to talk about…
Scenario #2: Flank At Berdyansk
Baranets: We Ukrainians have a whole bag of tricks, when it comes to military cunning. Here is one idea: Play with the Moskali minds, make it look like we are about to attack Kherson, announce it loudly, go through all the motions, shoot it up… and then don’t do it.
While this is going on, we make a Blitzkrieg attack across the River, to Melitopol and Berdyansk. With which, with a single blow we chop up the Russian “Southern” grouping into two pieces; and then we reach the Azov Sea. And fortify ourselves there.
Timoshenko: It sounds good in theory. All Zelensky has to do is pound his finger into the map and bark “Here! Do it now! Уси шоб було!” You Ukrainians already tried that cunning plan at David’s Ford. Senseless and merciless. Your offensive was beaten back. A punch to the face.
This sort of thing doesn’t happen in a real war. You are supposed to attack where the locality and forces permit. And where are we seeing the concentration of Ukrainian forces, and probing attacks? Where are you feeling out our positions? In the stripe around Kherson. How do you expect to secretly move your troops from there, somehow skirting the Khakhovsky Dam and Reservoir, 200 kilometers to the other side of the Dnepr? You can’t do that without being spotted!
Plus, you’re not going to be able to march to Berdyansk in just a day, it’s too far.
And in the end, you’ll just find yourselves in the mouse trap. Pushed into the Azov Sea. Just like recently the Ukrainian forces found themselves completely surrounded in Mariupol.
No, I don’t think so. Kiev won’t pick Berdyansk.
Scenario #3: Hunker Down In Slavyansk
Baranets: There is one other variant. The announced counter-offensive against Kherson is still a bluff, in this scenario. It’s aim is to lure half of the Russian troops from the Donbass.
Let’s look at it this way: The Ukrainian fortified regions in the Donbass are cracking, one by one. Lisichansk and Severodonetsk are lost. Bakhmut and Avdeevka are next. If we allow this to continue, then the Donetsk and Luhansk battalions, along with the Russians, will be on the outskirts of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk by the end of the summer. And they will take [those cities] before the winter cold weather arrives.
And then that’s it. The battle for the Donbass will be lost.
And yet we cannot permit that. Ever!
What would our Western allies say?
Not to mention that new disorders, a new Maidan, would start up in Kiev.
And then Russia will see its hands untied — it can pick whether to go on to Kharkov, or take Odessa.
Which means we have to stop the Russians in their tracks. By promoting the bluff about the Kherson attack. And, it seems, they already bit into the hook.
After all, what is the main goal here? That the West continue the flow of aid. And, for that to persist, we need to keep pretending that in just a little bit, just a wee bit more time, and we will be going on the counter-offensive. You believe in us.
In the worst case, instead of attacking Kherson, we’ll attack Transnistria. Or we’ll think of something else.
Timoshenko: You realize that, sooner or later, by one means or another, we will liberate the Donbass.
Still, to hope that Kiev’s announced offensive on Kherson is just a bluff, that would be naive. It’s not just the Ukrainian Hoorah-Patriots who are expecting it, the West as well is stocking up on the popcorn. They will not forgive Zelensky if it turns out he is deceiving them.
In conclusion I believe there is no doubt whatsoever, that the Ukrainian troops will attempt to re-take Kherson. If not in a frontal assault, then maybe along the Dnepr River, from the North, from Krivoi Rog.
Because any other starting position for the offensive would make the operation more complicated.
And Kherson just sits there in the naked steppe. Like an apple on an outstretched hand.
And here is the final exam for those commanding our [Russian] Special Operation groups. We cannot give up Kherson. Nor can we weaken our pressure against the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk conglomeration. The Donbass must be liberated before winter.
Thus ends our war game, with Colonel Timoshenko’s final instruction to his Armchair Cadets. The conclusion is this: Allied forces are faced with the challenge of fighting on two fronts at once, and they must somehow figure out how to do this. They have to take Slavyansk-Kramatorsk before the winter colds set in; while, at the same time, beefing up the southern front in preparation for the inevitable Ukrainian offensive. How can they do this, with so few troops? Well, maybe each soldier will have to grow seven heads and don seven golden crowns, no?