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War on the rocks - hypothetical NATO-RUS

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6 minutes ago, Codename Duchess said:

f7d.jpg

That's a funny story about the rank thing.  The whole Lieutenant thing can get confusing as well.  On behalf of the US Navy I apologize that you guys do ranks wrong.

Dude.  Look at the Navy Ratings system and tell me that's a good idea.  I dare you.  Because you will so be grounded for further psychological testing because you are CLEARLY showing signs of complete madness.  

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Ahem.... 

OK,  let's put it at 3:1 force ratio. 

What Im working on here is a plan that doesn't use just brute force to achieve the capture of the city,and instead utilizes the form of wide spectrum warfare currently experimented with by Russia 

 

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2 hours ago, kinophile said:

Ahem.... 

OK,  let's put it at 3:1 force ratio. 

What Im working on here is a plan that doesn't use just brute force to achieve the capture of the city,and instead utilizes the form of wide spectrum warfare currently experimented with by Russia 

 

It'll be a tough run.  Using unconventional fighters might be helpful in taking important nodes, or disrupting Ukrainian deployments.  But single points of failure are harder to find in urban settings simply because as a city, they're large interlinked grids of avenues of approach.  If Spetznaz takes Victory Square intersection, they can be bypassed down 7th October Road.  As the attacker you really genuinely need to conduct a deliberate clearance  block by block, with integrated plan to prevent the enemy from infiltrating your rear areas. 

This when done effectively is rarely fast.  You could do a "show" invasion and take over important landmarks, drive in RT to celebrate great victory over fascists, but that'll still leave large Ukrainian forces in control of the city, and YOU on the defensive to prevent your units from being Groznyed.  Also as long as major forces continue to function within the city, it will continue to require containment and a sizable force in the city to do the actual clearance.

I'll concede it might succeed if the Ukrainians just have no fight in them, the Russians literally catch everyone with their pants around their ankles, and everything the Russian Military does goes flawlessly, but that's well and beyond a reasonable expectation to plan around, and is unlikely in any event given the current level of Ukrainian resolve and the sort of attention the region has on it for intelligence collection.   

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3 hours ago, panzersaurkrautwerfer said:

It'll be a tough run.  Using unconventional fighters might be helpful in taking important nodes, or disrupting Ukrainian deployments.  But single points of failure are harder to find in urban settings simply because as a city, they're large interlinked grids of avenues of approach.  If Spetznaz takes Victory Square intersection, they can be bypassed down 7th October Road.  As the attacker you really genuinely need to conduct a deliberate clearance  block by block, with integrated plan to prevent the enemy from infiltrating your rear areas. 

This when done effectively is rarely fast.  You could do a "show" invasion and take over important landmarks, drive in RT to celebrate great victory over fascists, but that'll still leave large Ukrainian forces in control of the city, and YOU on the defensive to prevent your units from being Groznyed.  Also as long as major forces continue to function within the city, it will continue to require containment and a sizable force in the city to do the actual clearance.

I'll concede it might succeed if the Ukrainians just have no fight in them, the Russians literally catch everyone with their pants around their ankles, and everything the Russian Military does goes flawlessly, but that's well and beyond a reasonable expectation to plan around, and is unlikely in any event given the current level of Ukrainian resolve and the sort of attention the region has on it for intelligence collection.   

Certainly you're right. Clearing the city of all resistance would be very tough. Although with air superiority on the Russian side in such a short notice, helicopters could be used to snipe armored vehicles. Now we're left with a bunch of dudes who are faced with the "fight or die" dugged in Grozny style. Would be a mess to clear if the men dug in a city like that were fanatical. Collateral damage would give me a head ache if I was the commander of that operation. instead of capturing the whole city I would surround it and capture key roads and keep the Ukrainian army in pockets, where they wont be able to effectively break out. You can expect the Ukrainian army in that city to lose most of their morale. But I'm sure professional units in the Ukrainian army would offer resistance.

 

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The USMC absolutely positively has had a permanent position on the hind teat when it comes to modern equipment and everything else. For example, when in ODS the Army was rocking the latest M1HAs shipped straight from VII Corps in Germany shortly before Stormin' Norman launched his "Hail Mary" almost to Baghdad, the poor (on several levels of meaning) Marines went to war equipped with the two generations behind M60A3 ERA. The Marines are now exacting a truly terrible revenge, for the entire F-35 program has been driven by the Marines' V/STOL version necessary to replace the ancient Harriers barely kept airborne after the US bought the entire British stockpile of Harrier parts! Because a V/STOL has to do things a regular aircraft doesn't (all the structural stresses of that vertical stuff, strange engine setups and the like), it requires a lot of special and strong structure simply not needed for a traditional type bird. Consequently, both the Air Force and the Navy are now, in addition to the seemingly unending avionics issues, thoroughly bedeviled by the impact of all that extra weight on range, combat agility, landing gear, etc. The Marines already have their F-35 operational, too. Sort of.

Codename Duchess,

Pretty funny, and I loved the disclaimer. You made some excellent points about what the Marines are flying.

panzersaurkrautwerfer,

Your learned discourse caused me to laugh so hard I nearly broke! Very good as a counter for my intense headache. I do have a niggle, though. Where you said "strange tracked boat" my brain kicked in and informed me you'd made a tanker oops. The original term for that odd vehicle was "landship," As for your memorable dinner experience, at least it wasn't "Kumbaya!"

Regards,

John Kettler

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Nothing magic about it. And I'm not buying into the Western panicky  hype about uber Storm trooperz polite green men.

I'm angling at more than just front line v front line units.

If infiltration from the sea and from. Inland can be achieved before the flank and main assaults, with pockets of Spetsnaz silent in the city until the right moment then I suspect that a major morale hit can be achieved.

I also can see that UKR resistance will be very strong and flexible,  and clearing the city completely within a week is probably not achievable. 

But nullifying the defenders as a strategic consideration is achievable by then. Once the main thorough-fares are secured and the river re-bridged the advance can continue. A solid cordon will be needed around the defenders, bottling them in against the coast.

There definitely will be heavy attacks on convoys going through, but they will gradually diminish through attrition.  Such attacks would be also useful in drawing the defenders out. 

Not a cheap victory by any means,  but achievable. 

That is,  until the Marines go all alpha-male and stonk ashore...!  

 

 

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11 hours ago, VladimirTarasov said:

Certainly you're right. Clearing the city of all resistance would be very tough. Although with air superiority on the Russian side in such a short notice, helicopters could be used to snipe armored vehicles. Now we're left with a bunch of dudes who are faced with the "fight or die" dugged in Grozny style. Would be a mess to clear if the men dug in a city like that were fanatical. Collateral damage would give me a head ache if I was the commander of that operation. instead of capturing the whole city I would surround it and capture key roads and keep the Ukrainian army in pockets, where they wont be able to effectively break out. You can expect the Ukrainian army in that city to lose most of their morale. But I'm sure professional units in the Ukrainian army would offer resistance.

 

I think you highly overestimate the ability of rotary wing to locate targets in an urban environment while someone tries to shoot them down.  There were several sharp, although still lopsided fights between US and Iraqi forces in 2003 when Iraqi armor was found in urban areas.  And that was with superior platforms, and a much more permissive airspace.  
If we're assuming this is a NATO involved war, laying siege isn't going to work fast enough to get it done before you're dodging bombers.  Also in capturing key roads, you're basically missing the point of urban warfare, instead of having to secure one cohesive front, you've basically got a spider web you have to secure, which still yields much of the city to the Ukrainians who have no small amount of capability to straight up murder your logistics, or just cut your supply lines and turn the tables on your elements in the city.

Sort of like Grozny.  

 

 

8 hours ago, John Kettler said:

The USMC absolutely positively has had a permanent position on the hind teat when it comes to modern equipment and everything else. For example, when in ODS the Army was rocking the latest M1HAs shipped straight from VII Corps in Germany shortly before Stormin' Norman launched his "Hail Mary" almost to Baghdad, the poor (on several levels of meaning) Marines went to war equipped with the two generations behind M60A3 ERA. The Marines are now exacting a truly terrible revenge, for the entire F-35 program has been driven by the Marines' V/STOL version necessary to replace the ancient Harriers barely kept airborne after the US bought the entire British stockpile of Harrier parts! Because a V/STOL has to do things a regular aircraft doesn't (all the structural stresses of that vertical stuff, strange engine setups and the like), it requires a lot of special and strong structure simply not needed for a traditional type bird. Consequently, both the Air Force and the Navy are now, in addition to the seemingly unending avionics issues, thoroughly bedeviled by the impact of all that extra weight on range, combat agility, landing gear, etc. The Marines already have their F-35 operational, too. Sort of.

Codename Duchess,

Pretty funny, and I loved the disclaimer. You made some excellent points about what the Marines are flying.

panzersaurkrautwerfer,

Your learned discourse caused me to laugh so hard I nearly broke! Very good as a counter for my intense headache. I do have a niggle, though. Where you said "strange tracked boat" my brain kicked in and informed me you'd made a tanker oops. The original term for that odd vehicle was "landship," As for your memorable dinner experience, at least it wasn't "Kumbaya!"

Regards,

John Kettler

I think you'll find it shocking, but the Marines actually had the most advanced tanks in the Persian Gulf War.  While the lion's share of their tank fleet was the M60A1 with ERA (they never operated the M60A3 in number), the first batch of M1A1HCs were sent straight to the Marines in the Gulf.  While most of their M1s would be M1A1HAs (or their equivalent) borrowed from the Army, the M1A1HC represented the most recent M1 variant at the time.  

 

 

2 hours ago, kinophile said:

Nothing magic about it. And I'm not buying into the Western panicky  hype about uber Storm trooperz polite green men.

I'm angling at more than just front line v front line units.

If infiltration from the sea and from. Inland can be achieved before the flank and main assaults, with pockets of Spetsnaz silent in the city until the right moment then I suspect that a major morale hit can be achieved.

I also can see that UKR resistance will be very strong and flexible,  and clearing the city completely within a week is probably not achievable. 

But nullifying the defenders as a strategic consideration is achievable by then. Once the main thorough-fares are secured and the river re-bridged the advance can continue. A solid cordon will be needed around the defenders, bottling them in against the coast.

There definitely will be heavy attacks on convoys going through, but they will gradually diminish through attrition.  Such attacks would be also useful in drawing the defenders out. 

Not a cheap victory by any means,  but achievable. 

That is,  until the Marines go all alpha-male and stonk ashore...!  

 

 

As sort of an interesting question, where do the Spetsnaz live while they're waiting the go-ahead?

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panzersaurkrautwerfer,

M60A1s. Appreciate the correction. That revelation is indeed a shock, but I was making my statement based on what was actually photographed and reported at the time. It was cool to see ERA on the Marine Corps tanks, but I felt sorry that the Marines were going into battle in ancient M60s. I do, though, have the faintest of recollections that I read the Marines had M60s because they didn't have a large enough landing craft (LCU, presumably) for anything bigger, which I thought might be vanilla M1s with the original 105. How on earth did the Corps manage to get the latest and the greatest Abrams tanks? Please tell me more. I did see during OIF the Marines campaigning some version (never did get a handle on all the M1 tank versions to this day and certainly can't tell them apart at a glance) of the Abrams, and all such were fitted with a Dazzler DAS (of which I know rough capabilities and squat ref how it stacks up vs the Russian counterpart), somewhat akin to the Shtora. The way I immediately could tell the USMC Abrams from the Army's was the former had the Dazzler and the latter the CITV. To me, this showed the Marines were again operating earlier generation Abrams.

Regards,

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler

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The short version of the story is the Marines have always had a smaller budget, and a lower emphasis on tanks than the Army (which is why they only had M60A1s vs M60A3s or M1s in 1991).  Just from recollection though it was readily apparent that the M60A1 was well past its prime by the late 1980's and a lot of the issues that had kept the Marines on the fence about the Abrams (perceived lack of reliability, fuel consumption) had either simply not been true or had been resolved.

However as the Marines had basically opted out of the M1's development process, there were a lot of odds and ends the basic Abrams at the time (the M1A1HA, the first model with DU inserts) lacked that the Marines considered important (mounting lugs for wading trunks, odds and ends like that).  The Army was also doing some upgrades to the M1A1HA fleet at the time such as later generation DU inserts and various mechanical upgrades.

As a result, a new version of the Abrams panned out as the "M1A1HC" for "Heavy Common" which denoted the "Heavy" DU armor, and that it had all the various bits and bobs to make it Marine friendly (thus "common").  The first batch of them was intended for the USMC in light of their obsolete tank fleet, and the first five or so of them went straight from the factory to the Middle East.  Functionally not much different than the late model M1A1HAs in the Army use, they were strictly speaking the most modern tanks of any of the military forces deployed to Desert Storm.

However in more practical terms, the majority of Abrams in USMC use were from US Army stocks, and represented a selection of M1A1HAs* (if I recall correctly, total USMC Abrams count was 1 Battalion complete plus one Company, with the remainder being M60 based).



*The M1A1HA had three odd little sub varients too which confuses things further:

M1A1HA: M1A1 tank equipped with the then new DU armor inserts, operational 1987 if I recall correctly.
M1A1HA+: Unofficial designation for M1A1HAs equipped with a modernized DU insert that would become fleet standard in the M1A1HC
M1A1: And oddly enough a few hundred older M1A1s were upgraded to M1A1HA standard in Saudia Arabia during the build up to the war.  Functionally equal to other M1A1HAs, just with some minor differences.  

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Getting back to the center of the discussions, it is much like the Baltic invasion scenario.  Looking at what Russia can do in X days and stopping there is a ridiculous way to examine these hypothesis.  It's like saying "Well, if the Germans had taken Moscow before the winter of 1941 the war would have been over".  Poppycock ;)  The Soviet Union was both capable and motivated to keep the war going even if it lost Moscow.

In the Mariupol scenario I can see Russia perhaps cutting the city off from Ukraine's main line of resistance, but then what?  As others have said it's not like Ukraine is likely to say "gee, I guess we should surrender now", so what happens in week 2 of this hypothetical offensive?  It's tough to say as there's a lot of moving parts to this, but I expect large scale Ukrainian activity along the larger front which would obligate Russia to commit more forces elsewhere.  Even if Russia invested enough forces into Mariupol AND the Ukrainian forces either did not retreat into it or surrendered once surrounded, what does this buy Russia?  Nothing if it isn't able to win the war, and it's not clear if Russia is able to do that even without NATO's direct intervention.  With NATO's direct intervention it's only a matter of time before Russia finds it can not absorb the losses.

Remember, Ukraine and the West don't have to defeat Russia outright.  All they have to do is prevent Russia from achieving victory and other factors (economic in particular) will take their toll and force a conclusion which is not likely in Russia's favor.

This is my thinking as to why the puppet DPR/LPR states are "all talk" when it comes to offensive activities for the past two years (Debaltseve was a limited action compared to what they said they were aiming for).  Simply put, Ukraine is too strong to defeat without a massive Russian offensive and such an offensive comes with a huge set of risks for Russia that extend beyond this one conflict.

Russia isn't happy with the status quo, but they also know it could be worse.  It will be interesting to see if Ukraine stays (mostly) on the defensive this summer.  Given that the value of infrastructure destroyed and looted it's not like there's a lot of incentives to take it back.

Steve

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So... If Russia will inevitably lose any war v NATO,  then.. Well... What's the point of CM:BS?  It's a foregone conclusion,  much like all the CM WW2 titles. CM:SF has more leeway,  in that it would be quite possible to get mired in insurgency. 

To be clear, I'm imagining the capture of Mariupol is part of a much larger,  full scale offensive to the Dnieper, not a limited local action on its own. 

Panzer,  that's a lot of NOs....very solid points,  very clear. 

But lets flip it -  how would you,  as Russia,  take/nullify Mariupol as part of a wider offensive?

 

Edited by kinophile

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The issue is how does one define "winning"?  Given current event in Iraq, did we "win"?  Are we "winning" vs ISIS?  Focusing purely on military "winning" means one is trying to fight the last war, not the current or next one.  Short of nuclear annihilation, in the long term Russia could lose a military engagement that still leaves them in control of real estate, or that destabilizes a region sufficiently that it extends its sphere of influence.  Note how often we now discuss Crimea... 

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2 hours ago, kinophile said:

So... If Russia will inevitably lose any war v NATO,  then.. Well... What's the point of CM:BS?  It's a foregone conclusion,  much like all the CM WW2 titles. CM:SF has more leeway,  in that it would be quite possible to get mired in insurgency. 

To be clear, I'm imagining the capture of Mariupol is part of a much larger,  full scale offensive to the Dnieper, not a limited local action on its own. 

Panzer,  that's a lot of NOs....very solid points,  very clear. 

But lets flip it -  how would you,  as Russia,  take/nullify Mariupol as part of a wider offensive?

 

Depends on what the strategy or national objectives are.  If the plan is restore the 1991 USSR borders because Russia Stronk or whatever, then frankly I might as well send a pack of Putin Youth with sharp objects in because it's a fool's errand to begin with.  If it's a more modest mission, damage the Ukrainian state to the degree it has to recognize the various fake-states I've carved off of it, I'm just going to bypass the city and go for softer targets.

This is another wargamerism that we get trapped in.  We're consistently placed in front of a difficult problemset and asked to accomplish what is usually a goal well beyond what is intelligent or practical (here's looking at you Mission 2 from CMSF).   There's never the question of "why" and that's an important thing to have to dissect.  Why is it important to occupy Mariupol?  What national objectives are accomplished by taking that city by force?  Are those objectives attainable?  Is the good that will come of them worth the sacrifices it will require both in terms of treasure and opportunity?  

So again, assuming we're doing an Corps-Army level raid, we're just showing up to burn up enough Ukrainian stuff, demonstrate their impotence and threaten national integrity before NATO shows up.  Let's look at Russia's strengths vs the Ukraine:

1. Superior fires (artillery-aviation as a net ability to break stuff over the horizon)
2. Superior maneuver warfare complex (armor-mech infantry-supporting arms teams) 
3. Superior C2/counter-C2

Now let's look at weaknesses:

1. Limited campaign length.  If the fight goes on too long I'll have more trouble than I can handle.
2. Robust enemy "light" formations (regular infantry or unconventional forces)
3. Enemy is fighting on his home soil with supportive population.

All of my advantages favor a rapid war of maneuver, using superior mobility to strike where the enemy is weak, avoid his strong points, and inflict major damage to the Ukrainian state's economic, political and military structures across a fairly wide swath.  In open terrain I can leverage my artillery and aviation freely, and Ukrainian armor is inferior to Russian armor (as formations, not simply equipment wise).  

However all of my weaknesses are brought to the forefront the farther I go into a city.  I lose most of my advantages, and the enemy gains some advantages over me.  Further I am obligated to spend my strength much less efficiently cordoning off the city, while I burn through troops in difficult house to house fighting.  Unless there's instricic, and decisive value to capturing the city, I am best off leaving it to hang out while I burn the countryside for Papa Putin and his fellow oligarchs or whatever.  

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This has been my issue all along reading this thread. What are Russia's goals in this? Is it to capture the city? If so for what reason? To do so would nullify all of Russia's advantages and commit suicide them into a costly fight for the city and fix them in place for Nato airstrikes. 

If it is to gain position at the bargaining table better to cordon off the city, cut its supplies and leave it behind the front lines. But if that is the goal (recognition of Russian control of eastern Ukraine) why spend the effort when and just go and isolate the capitol, Kiev.

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8 hours ago, kinophile said:

So... If Russia will inevitably lose any war v NATO,  then.. Well... What's the point of CM:BS?  It's a foregone conclusion,  much like all the CM WW2 titles. CM:SF has more leeway,  in that it would be quite possible to get mired in insurgency. 

To be clear, I'm imagining the capture of Mariupol is part of a much larger,  full scale offensive to the Dnieper, not a limited local action on its own. 

Panzer,  that's a lot of NOs....very solid points,  very clear. 

But lets flip it -  how would you,  as Russia,  take/nullify Mariupol as part of a wider offensive?

 

Nothing is inevitable. I would suggest we amend "Russia will inevitably lose" to "If Russia is unable to accomplish a quick military victory and can exploit this politically by negotiating from a position of strength the Russia will lose" Hence, to win Russia must go for limited political and strategic objectives achievable within a short period of time before NATO can mobilize and deploy superior forces

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6 hours ago, panzersaurkrautwerfer said:

Depends on what the strategy or national objectives are.  If the plan is restore the 1991 USSR borders because Russia Stronk or whatever, then frankly I might as well send a pack of Putin Youth with sharp objects in because it's a fool's errand to begin with.  If it's a more modest mission, damage the Ukrainian state to the degree it has to recognize the various fake-states I've carved off of it, I'm just going to bypass the city and go for softer targets.

This is another wargamerism that we get trapped in.  We're consistently placed in front of a difficult problemset and asked to accomplish what is usually a goal well beyond what is intelligent or practical (here's looking at you Mission 2 from CMSF).   There's never the question of "why" and that's an important thing to have to dissect.  Why is it important to occupy Mariupol?  What national objectives are accomplished by taking that city by force?  Are those objectives attainable?  Is the good that will come of them worth the sacrifices it will require both in terms of treasure and opportunity?  

So again, assuming we're doing an Corps-Army level raid, we're just showing up to burn up enough Ukrainian stuff, demonstrate their impotence and threaten national integrity before NATO shows up.  Let's look at Russia's strengths vs the Ukraine:

1. Superior fires (artillery-aviation as a net ability to break stuff over the horizon)
2. Superior maneuver warfare complex (armor-mech infantry-supporting arms teams) 
3. Superior C2/counter-C2

Now let's look at weaknesses:

1. Limited campaign length.  If the fight goes on too long I'll have more trouble than I can handle.
2. Robust enemy "light" formations (regular infantry or unconventional forces)
3. Enemy is fighting on his home soil with supportive population.

All of my advantages favor a rapid war of maneuver, using superior mobility to strike where the enemy is weak, avoid his strong points, and inflict major damage to the Ukrainian state's economic, political and military structures across a fairly wide swath.  In open terrain I can leverage my artillery and aviation freely, and Ukrainian armor is inferior to Russian armor (as formations, not simply equipment wise).  

However all of my weaknesses are brought to the forefront the farther I go into a city.  I lose most of my advantages, and the enemy gains some advantages over me.  Further I am obligated to spend my strength much less efficiently cordoning off the city, while I burn through troops in difficult house to house fighting.  Unless there's instricic, and decisive value to capturing the city, I am best off leaving it to hang out while I burn the countryside for Papa Putin and his fellow oligarchs or whatever.  

What abut a more modest mission such as either

1 imply opening a land route to the Crimea 

2 Occupying Ukraine up to the line of the River Dnieper

https://www.stratfor.com/video/wargaming-russias-military-options-ukraine

I agree with you in that Russia won't want tp get bogged down n urban warfare. If a city cannot be taken quickly encircle and blockade until the main mission is achieved. Then capture the place. If Mariupol for example can be taken easily then do so. If not besiege the place perhaps using ethnic Russian militias. Same with Kharkov. The objective of the Russian army is to defeat Ukranian army armoured elements outside the cities and secure the area up to the Dnieper establishing  defense line there  Then negotiate for a ceasefire.

Much e same in the Baltic Sates ##here the objective is to occupy Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia within a few dys and to open up a land route to the Kaliningrad Oblast. Then negotiate for a ceasefire.

Regarding Mariupol itself. If you take a look on Google Earth and look specifically at the road network you will see that a major road, the M23 passes through the city and that it is the center of a road hub. There are a couple of airfields to the west of the city. These may provide good reasons for taking the city from the Russian POV assuming you are driving down the coast road either with the limited objective of opening a land route to the Crimea or as part of a bigger occuption of Eastern Ukraine up to the River Dniepr

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57 minutes ago, Sublime said:

Yes the lamd route to Kaliningrad Oblast. We all know how rich a Russian heritage Konigsb I mean Kaliningrad has.. 

Also, as the headquarters of the Baltic Fleet it is a rather important strategic asset that really is surrounded by NATO territory. I could see NATO trying t take it in the event of war. Putin won't like that

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12 hours ago, kinophile said:

So... If Russia will inevitably lose any war v NATO,  then.. Well... What's the point of CM:BS?  It's a foregone conclusion,  much like all the CM WW2 titles. CM:SF has more leeway,  in that it would be quite possible to get mired in insurgency. 

CM is a tactical game.  Strategic level victory/defeat is unimportant to a tactical game.  If it were, then we wouldn't be able to do historical wargames.

Quote

To be clear, I'm imagining the capture of Mariupol is part of a much larger,  full scale offensive to the Dnieper, not a limited local action on its own. 

That is a very different scenario.  Under that scenario it has to invade on a large scale and very openly.  That exposes Russia to even bigger forces that work against its chances of victory.

Quote

But lets flip it -  how would you,  as Russia,  take/nullify Mariupol as part of a wider offensive?

I wouldn't.  As an objective on its own it has very little value.  As part of a broader goal, for example making a land bridge to Crimea, it might be critically important.  But then we're talking about a sideshow in a much larger strategy.

11 hours ago, Erwin said:

The issue is how does one define "winning"?  Given current event in Iraq, did we "win"?  Are we "winning" vs ISIS?  Focusing purely on military "winning" means one is trying to fight the last war, not the current or next one.  Short of nuclear annihilation, in the long term Russia could lose a military engagement that still leaves them in control of real estate, or that destabilizes a region sufficiently that it extends its sphere of influence.  Note how often we now discuss Crimea... 

There is a difference between "winning" and "won".  By many definitions Russia is winning the war against Ukraine because it has denied Ukraine full sovereignty over its territory and is costing Ukraine a lot of money that it can't afford.  But has Russia "won" anything?  Not in any meaningful way.  Even Crimea is an open question, though admittedly it looks like that will be a part of Russia for a long time.  However, if Russia dissolves as a result of a broader conflict, can it be said it "won" even if it keeps Crimea?  An analogy is that modern day Germany has Schleswig-Holstein, which was stripped from it in WW1.  It also has the Rheinland under its full control, which it lost control of as a result of WW1.  WW2 is what returned those territories to German control.  Do you really think Germany "won" WW2? :D

Steve

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3 hours ago, LUCASWILLEN05 said:

Nothing is inevitable. I would suggest we amend "Russia will inevitably lose" to "If Russia is unable to accomplish a quick military victory and can exploit this politically by negotiating from a position of strength the Russia will lose" Hence, to win Russia must go for limited political and strategic objectives achievable within a short period of time before NATO can mobilize and deploy superior forces

There are longer term forces at play.  Economic and internal population conditions are chief among them.  Even if Russia got Ukraine to surrender, outright, these things would remain in play.  So while I agree that nothing is inevitable, some things are less likely than others.  The conditions necessary for Russia to fully declare victory AND maintain it are very unlikely.

3 hours ago, LUCASWILLEN05 said:

What abut a more modest mission such as either

1 imply opening a land route to the Crimea 

This is not modest.  It opens up a massive flak for the Russian forces and the local populace does not want Russian control.  It would be a massive amount of hostile territory to manage and defend.

3 hours ago, LUCASWILLEN05 said:

2 Occupying Ukraine up to the line of the River Dnieper

Modest?  This would require most of the entire Russian armed forces and it would entail thousands of casualties, occupying people that don't want to be under Russian rule, and the full array of international reactions to it.

1 hour ago, LUCASWILLEN05 said:

Also, as the headquarters of the Baltic Fleet it is a rather important strategic asset that really is surrounded by NATO territory. I could see NATO trying t take it in the event of war. Putin won't like that

I doubt very much that NATO would do anything directly to Kaliningrad.  Why?  Because Russia has made it clear that doing so would invite a nuclear response.  That threat is real and must be taken seriously.  However in the event of war it would be blockaded very easily.  The only work around would be a land bridge through Lithuania, and that would require taking over Lithuania, which in turn gets us into the "Russia will not survive such a thing" area of discussion.

Look, it really is pretty simple.  All nations have limited capacity to execute their agendas upon the world.  Look at the US in the Middle East if you don't believe me ;)  Russia is economically, militarily, and politically too weak to tangle with the West in the way that's being discussed AND come out ahead.  Even if it manages to somehow pull off a short term military victory, the other two factors will eventually cause it to fail.  Unlike a stable democracy, failure in this case means a major internal crisis which all of Moscow's enemies (internal and external) will seek to exploit.

Steve

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7 minutes ago, Battlefront.com said:

CM is a tactical game.  Strategic level victory/defeat is unimportant to a tactical game.  If it were, then we wouldn't be able to do historical wargames.

That is a very different scenario.  Under that scenario it has to invade on a large scale and very openly.  That exposes Russia to even bigger forces that work against its chances of victory.

I wouldn't.  As an objective on its own it has very little value.  As part of a broader goal, for example making a land bridge to Crimea, it might be critically important.  But then we're talking about a sideshow in a much larger strategy.

There is a difference between "winning" and "won".  By many definitions Russia is winning the war against Ukraine because it has denied Ukraine full sovereignty over its territory and is costing Ukraine a lot of money that it can't afford.  But has Russia "won" anything?  Not in any meaningful way.  Even Crimea is an open question, though admittedly it looks like that will be a part of Russia for a long time.  However, if Russia dissolves as a result of a broader conflict, can it be said it "won" even if it keeps Crimea?  An analogy is that modern day Germany has Schleswig-Holstein, which was stripped from it in WW1.  It also has the Rheinland under its full control, which it lost control of as a result of WW1.  WW2 is what returned those territories to German control.  Do you really think Germany "won" WW2? :D

Steve

Looking at the road network around Mariupol it is clearly an important transport hub. If Russia invades Ukraine one of the strategic objectives will be to open a land route to the Crimea. Mariupol is in a location where it blocks th advance down th coast road needed for that thrust and for the logistics to support that advance. True CMBS is a tactical game, not an operational /strategic one but we cannot simply ignore the issue We could certainly set a scenario or two in and around the city

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10 hours ago, panzersaurkrautwerfer said:

All of my advantages favor a rapid war of maneuver, using superior mobility to strike where the enemy is weak, avoid his strong points, and inflict major damage to the Ukrainian state's economic, political and military structures across a fairly wide swath.  In open terrain I can leverage my artillery and aviation freely, and Ukrainian armor is inferior to Russian armor (as formations, not simply equipment wise).  

However all of my weaknesses are brought to the forefront the farther I go into a city.  I lose most of my advantages, and the enemy gains some advantages over me.  Further I am obligated to spend my strength much less efficiently cordoning off the city, while I burn through troops in difficult house to house fighting.  Unless there's instricic, and decisive value to capturing the city, I am best off leaving it to hang out while I burn the countryside for Papa Putin and his fellow oligarchs or whatever.  

There's another angle.  Traditional Russian/Soviet offensive doctrinal principles are a series of objectives with each one becoming less planned for than the one prior to it.  Everything is geared for this, in particular institutional organizations.  In the case of Mariupol it means having a pretty detailed and well planned attack to take isolate the city, a less planned way to take it, and an even less planned way to defend it, and pretty much no plan at all to hold it.  All of its strengths are focused on the first step, which means all of its weaknesses are progressively exposed as things progress.  If major variables go its way and the counter measures aren't outside of anticipated parameters, it can work just fine.  But how often does that work out?

Look at Russia's war against Georgia.  The initial phase of getting into Georgia went well in military terms, but each passing day things started to go less well.  If the war turned into a protracted conflict it could have been another (smaller scale) Chechnya.  Fortunately for Russia, Georgia threw in the towel quickly.  Similarly for the Second Chechen War, it likely would have gone in a different direction had they not corrupted a significant amount of the Chechen fighters to switch sides.

Steve

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1 minute ago, Battlefront.com said:

There are longer term forces at play.  Economic and internal population conditions are chief among them.  Even if Russia got Ukraine to surrender, outright, these things would remain in play.  So while I agree that nothing is inevitable, some things are less likely than others.  The conditions necessary for Russia to fully declare victory AND maintain it are very unlikely.

This is not modest.  It opens up a massive flak for the Russian forces and the local populace does not want Russian control.  It would be a massive amount of hostile territory to manage and defend.

Modest?  This would require most of the entire Russian armed forces and it would entail thousands of casualties, occupying people that don't want to be under Russian rule, and the full array of international reactions to it.

I doubt very much that NATO would do anything directly to Kaliningrad.  Why?  Because Russia has made it clear that doing so would invite a nuclear response.  That threat is real and must be taken seriously.  However in the event of war it would be blockaded very easily.  The only work around would be a land bridge through Lithuania, and that would require taking over Lithuania, which in turn gets us into the "Russia will not survive such a thing" area of discussion.

Look, it really is pretty simple.  All nations have limited capacity to execute their agendas upon the world.  Look at the US in the Middle East if you don't believe me ;)  Russia is economically, militarily, and politically too weak to tangle with the West in the way that's being discussed AND come out ahead.  Even if it manages to somehow pull off a short term military victory, the other two factors will eventually cause it to fail.  Unlike a stable democracy, failure in this case means a major internal crisis which all of Moscow's enemies (internal and external) will seek to exploit.

Steve

It is one of the options discussed in the Stratfor video link I posted An advance to the Dnieper line is certainly more modest than the scenario assumed in CMBS. Either an advance to the Dniepr or a full conquest of the Ukraine would indeed be  big operation requiring a significant portion of the Russian military. Even more so if there were a contingency plan to operate in the Baltic States as well or o defend against a NATO attack from that area in the event of war with NATO. Russia would have to plan for the contingency if nothing else.

Russia would be worried even if NATO imply blockaded Kaliningrad in the event of war. A sensible Russian war plan would have to consider the contingency.

Regarding the longer term issues Russia would face, yes I agree with you there. If the Russians invaded Ukraine the best military option, as shown in the Stratfor video is to advance to the Dnieper line as the best defensible position

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