Maskirovka had been a major component of the Soviet Army, but now it remains to be seen if the modern Russian Army has reinstated such a masked deception in terms of a perceived withdraw of troops from a city or region once held by force—that is Kherson-- but now given up because of the overpowering of enemy forces, or if the retreat is in fact a trap for an eventual violent counter-attack. As the Soviet military theorist, A.A. Sidorenko wrote in his modern classic The Offensive “Under contemporary conditions, in connection with the presence of nuclear weapons, and motorization of troops, and their saturation with a large number of tanks and other combat vehicles, the attention to the security zone rose considerable in the armies of imperialist states”. This military historian does not in any way know if such a military deception of Maskirovka does indeed play a vital strategic role in the military methodology of the contemporary Special Operations in Ukraine, therefore this essay is only one of speculation, albeit, a serious theoretical observation of the modern counter-attack, with the possibility of tactical nuclear weapons being used in attacking an enemy’s combat security zone, while eventually enveloping the forward positions as well as destroying the more formidable entrenched rear forces with overwhelming air force and missile strikes, including massive precise drone encroachment. All these various counter-attack strokes being combined with numerical troop encirclement being part of the penetration of the enemy’s security zone, after detailed reconnaissance of the enemy’s forward positions within the actual zone itself.
Let us use the capture of Kherson by the Ukrainian forces as an example of what was not a strategic success because there was not a surprise in attacking the Russian forces. Instead, a tactical success was only achieved, because there was no great victory in ending the war or an expulsion of the Russian military forces on Ukrainian territory. It was an initial tactical victory, and nothing else. We do not know if the Ukrainian forces will hold Kherson or not. What the Ukrainian forces achieved in taking the city of Kherson was as Clausewitz wrote with great clarity “The surprise of the enemy, by placing superior forces in position at certain points, has again a great resemblance to the analogous case in tactics.” There was no initial surprise to the military leadership of the Russian Armed Forces located in and around the vicinity of Kherson, and such an acknowledgement was couched in subtle language by the Russian Defense Minister as reported by the Middle Eastern news link, Aljazeera— “Defence minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday announced Russia would pull out its troops from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, the first and only regional capital to be captured by Russian forces since they invaded Ukraine in late February.
The decision, Russian officials said, was taken to save the lives of Russian soldiers in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive and difficulties to keep supply lines to the strategic city open.” It was not just the saving of “the lives of Russian soldiers” but it was a precise tactical, defensive move so as to keep logistic ties intact with the main Russian forces should a counter-attack eventually take place by the Russian forces. There can be no end to this friction of war unless either side has achieved a strategic victory on the battlefield. The Ukrainian occupation of Kherson is no strategic victory as the Russian forces are still in the general area. In the theater of “Special Operation” as defined by the Russian Chief of Staff, one can note that The Armed Forces of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Збройні сили України, romanized: Zbroini syly Ukrainy), in Ukraine most commonly known as ZSU (Ukrainian: ЗСУ) or anglicized as AFU) did not achieve an envelopment of the Russian troops within Kherson or trap Russian troops on the right bank of the Dnieper River. It was an orderly withdrawal by the Russian forces that resulted in the Ukrainian forces loosening their principle logistic support or assistance in the theater of war, or at least made it precarious at best. The Ukrainian military forces spread their forces thin by amassing large military forces and military hardware in one particular zone of cover without the umbilical cord of logistic support in the rear. What is also to be observed, other than the Western media propaganda television networks, such as CNN, showing a small group of Kherson civilians handing out bouquets of flowers to the new Ukrainian occupiers (reminding this author of the Ukrainian people who showered the Nazi invaders of the Ukraine during the early days of World War II with bouquets of flowers and applause), that actually neither side has ample evidence of support from the people of Kherson. But what should be understood that regarding the defensive operation of a city or territory being successful depends as Clausewitz wrote “…that is, the defensive carried on in our own soil, and that they are much weaker if the defense takes place in an enemy’s country and is mixed up offensive undertakings, then from that a new disadvantage for the offensive is derived…”
Russian-installed authorities in the occupied Ukrainian region of Kherson said on Wednesday that they plan to evacuate around 50,000-60,000 people over the next six days amid escalating pressure from a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Russian-installed governor Vladimir Saldo said authorities were moving civilians to the left (east) bank of the Dnipro River in order to "keep people safe" and allow the military to "act resolutely". "I drove through the regional centre this morning. On the exterior, there was nothing to suggest there was a lot of pressure," Saldo said. "But when I arrived at the river port I saw that the boats were waiting and are already loaded with people ready to go to the left bank of the Dnipro," he said, adding that the situation "is getting tense”
What is lacking in both adversaries, that being Ukrainian and Russian military combat forces is the lack of intense repeated infantry attacks. As the pioneering Soviet military theorist, V.K. Triandafillov wrote so succinctly about this issue “Success in a modern operation is achieved slowly, only as a result of enormous efforts, repeated attacks. An operation (especially a meeting operation) reaches its culminating point of development only a long time after its initiation” and then the more violent pursuit of the enemy in which according to Triandafillov involves the “Achievement of an outcome in a modern operation means to surmount the entire depth of the enemy tactical disposition and, immediately thereafter, to push back those units , which, during that time will be brought by a means of a march in vehicles, and via rail to the area where combat had been joined.” Of course, that Triandafillov’s visionary kind of operation no longer has relevance in modern deep operations, except for his profound and brilliant observation that to defeat an enemy in depth, that is, to achieve complete strategic surprise, one must destroy as many enemy tactical military dispositions as humanly possible, Neither the Ukrainian nor Russian Armed Forces have achieved this with Mariupol taken by Russian forces being the exception. The brilliant achievement of the Russian military destroying key utility and water infrastructures of certain Ukrainian cities which caused hardship not only upon the civilian population but have made it extremely difficult for the Ukrainian forces to keep up its logistics support to the troops at the advance front lines of operation, wherever they may be.
In my final assessment of the so-called defeats of the Russian Armed Forces in the Kherson region, which is indeed only a part of the ongoing strategic operations throughout Ukraine, I would like to again refer to Col. Sidorenko and his overall view of attacking the security zone or cover zone of an enemy’s defensive position. In many ways, Sidorenko expands in a modern sense on Triandafillov’s theory of operational attack, except for the profound advocation of a tactical nuclear weapons as part of the counter-attack. Sidorenko expresses such an initial attack against an enemy’s security zone. In this case, I would use the city of Kherson as an example of how the Ukrainian forces have secured a security zone, since the intentional withdrawal of Russian military forces. Sidorenko thus takes us theoretically in his work The Offensive, through the various stages of such an eventual counter-attack by stating thus:
Sometimes the security area in foreign armies is called the zone of cover, security zone, area of cover, etc., but these zones and areas essentially have the same purpose inasmuch as the defender will have small forces in the security area. It is quite obvious that in order to overcome it, it is best to use also only a portion of the forces of attacking troops. In particular, accomplishment of this mission can evidently be place on security podrazdeleniya or on specially assigned troops, depending on the situation… The actions of the troops must be bold, decisive, full of initiative, calculated for the rapid destruction of the enemy. The breakthrough can be accomplished from the march or from a position of immediate contact. Before the podrazdeleniya attack, nuclear strikes are made for the purpose of destruction of enemy means of mass destruction and to smash his grouping, and a powerful fire preparation is conducted.
A very studied and forceful envelopment by the Russian forces upon Kherson could only be achieved by the advancement of special operation forces, including stealth and surprise by the advancing of massive Russian ground forces, and the possible usage of a tactical nuclear weapon or weapons as a way of opening a breach in the defensive Ukrainian forces in their entrenched security zone in Kherson. Speculation of what the Russian Chief of Staff will actually do in the event of a counter-attack in the Kherson region is from this military theorist’s observation simply military theory and nothing else. A more profound observation other than mine was written by A.A. Sidorenko in that “Marxism-Leninism teaches that no social phenomenon can understood correctly without the profound study of its past”. The Kherson battle is an example of combining military theoretical ideas of the past and present with military strategy in Ukraine.