February 5, 2016

They Have Learnt Nothing from History — 2

Yuriy Radkovets


They Have Learnt Nothing from History or Why Russia Is Creating a New Attack Force — 2

Instead of looking for compromises and maintaining a balance of power, Russia is now beginning to create a new Attack Force on the Western strategic direction.

Part 2: Russia's Blitzkrieg against Europe or a Repetition of Stalin's Failed Ideas and Plans

In the first part of our study, “They Have Learnt Nothing from History, or why Russia Is Creating a New Striking Force” (Part 1. What for Does Russia Need Three New Divisions on the Western Strategic Direction?) we drew quite a reasonable conclusion, namely, if Russia is getting prepared for a large-scale war against the West (NATO), the newly created three divisions of the Army (in the form of new “Striking Task Forces”) in the West strategic direction (with appropriate means of strengthening) — this, actually, is quite a handy tool to use in a large (conventional) war.

Recently, in scenarios of a hypothetical conflict between Russia and NATO countries, leading Western experts and military experts give the key role to the so-called Suwalki Corridor (“Suwalki Gap”), where, according to their estimates, Russia may start war against NATO.

Suwalki Corridor or Suwalki Gap (after the name of the Polish town of Suwalki /Polish — Suwałki/) — is the code name of the strip of land (up to 100 km long and approximately 60 km wide) between Kaliningrad and Belarus, which runs along the border of Poland and Lithuania.

генерал-лейтенант Бен ХоджесIn fact, NATO fears — and these not groundless fears have been recently openly expressed by the Commander of the United States' Army in Europe, Lieutenant-General Ben Hodges (Frederick Benjamin Hodges), — that the Russian troops, with the support of Belarus, may seize the territory of Suwalki Corridor and thus cut off the Baltic countries from its NATO allies. History clearly shows: the territory of modern Belarus has always played a central role in Russian Army's offensive operations. Russians have always used the Belarusian land during their offensives to the West, attacking Poland. They did it in 1920 against Poland and in 1944 during the operation “Bagration”. But for NATO allies, respectively, Suwalki Corridor — is the main direction for transportation of troops and weapons into the Baltic countries, as well as for a possible counterattack from the center of Europe in their direction. That is why NATO military specialists are paying great attention to this area.

However, according to experts of Stratfor (Strategic Forecasting Inc.), the role of Suwalki Gap should not be exaggerated. According to the analysts of this authoritative American agency, Russia would further strengthen the military power of the Kaliningrad enclave and try to strengthen its presence in Belarus (although the Belarusian authorities have recently demonstratively refused to deploy a Russian airbase on their territory). Under these circumstances, an attempt to seize the territory between Kaliningrad and Belarus, that is, to enter into direct violent confrontation with NATO, will cost them (Russia and Belarus) very much, and therefore, such a scenario is unlikely, as the global war that, according to some Western experts, can begin because of this, would negate the whole strategic value of this strip of land.

Some Western experts in their estimations compare the district of Suwalki Corridor With Fulda Corridor (“Fulda Gap”) — the region in Germany, which during the “Cold War” was located on the border between the FRG and GDR, that is actually between NATO and the Soviet bloc. It was believed that that was one of the most likely ways by which the Soviet troops could break into Western Europe (during the Second World War it was used effectively enough by American troops to penetrate into the inner parts of Germany). On both sides of it were concentrated significant military forces, namely: the corridor was in the area of NATO's responsibility — 5th US Army Corps, and on the side of the countries of the Warsaw Pact — the USSR's 8th Guards Army. That is, in the years of the “cold war”, Fulda Corridor was seen as a significant factor on which could depend the very existence of NATO in case of an armed conflict with the Soviet bloc.

Today, most Western experts believe that Russia's hypothetical interest to Suwalki Corridor may mark the beginning of a big (conventional) war, but does not pose an immediate threat to the Alliance. According to them, in the case of Suwalki Corridor (unlike Fulda one) is meant not the direction of Russian troops' hypothetical attack against the entire Alliance (NATO), but only a threat of blockade of individual NATO countries — the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia), which, in case of a possible military conflict, could not defend themselves either separately or all together, at this, Russia, in terms of its military presence in the Baltic region, has sufficient capacity to prevent support of the Baltic republics by their NATO allies, both on land and sea.

For the Baltic States, fully dependent on the NATO's military support, in any case Suwalki Corridor remains the main direction of the land connection with the Allies. Well, for some (“new”), NATO member states, the existence of such a corridor and a probable threat of capture — is a serious reason to strengthen NATO/USA's military presence in Eastern Europe.

At the same time, a number of NATO experts keep insisting that in the nearest future and in the short term, there will be a threat of Russia's purely military offensive from the territory of Belarus by certain forces of the Western Military District of the RF Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of Belarus — in the joint between Lithuania and Poland in the direction of the Kaliningrad enclave, with the support of Air Forces of the 1st Command of the RF AF and AD (6th Army of Air Force and Air Defense), forces of the Baltic and Northern Fleets, as well as Airborne Troops, Special Task Forces and Long-Range (Strategic) Aviation. At this, the build-up of offensive efforts of this Russia's groupping in the Suwalki direction and scaling the offensive is possible due to its strengthening by troops (forces) of the Central and Eastern Military Districts of the RF Armed Forces — based on the experience of working out tasks for transfer of troops/forces/weapons and military equipment over long distances by air, rail and road types of transport in the course of the strategic command post exercises (SPX) of the RF Armed Forces such as the “West”, “Caucasus”, “Center” and “East” of the last five years.

At the same time, among other things, one of the main tasks of the forces of the Baltic and Northern Fleets, as well as of the Long-Range (Strategic) Aviation of the RF Army Air Forces, according to NATO experts, will be to block the Baltic Straits to NATO's Naval Forces in Europe and in the Atlantic.

At the same time, if we imagine that Russia really tries to take control of Suwalki Corridor, it would provoke a military conflict between Russia and NATO/USA of such a scale that the captured territory would quickly lose its value. And to the fore would come Kaliningrad — a Russian outpost, which, if nothing else, makes it possible to conduct naval operations against NATO forces (Russia's Baltic Fleet's Headquarters are in Kaliningrad).

In case of a hypothetical conflict, Russia could take advantage of NATO's limited capabilities where it comes to the land connection between the Baltic States and other members of the Alliance. However, Russia's participation in such a conflict, in itself, would be a terrible adventure. The country is now going through the most severe economic crisis in recent history and is already leading a war on two fronts, it would be too difficult to finance participation in yet another conflict, most likely — global one, taking into account the fact that other conflicts — around Ukraine and Syria — continue. Let alone the victory in it.


Yet, some Western military specialists and experts do insist that after the unprecedented by its nature, content and cynicism, as well as the rigidity, Russia's occupation of the Ukrainian Crimea and the capture of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions — in any case, we should not rule out a possibility the Russian Attack Force's being used along the border between Poland and Lithuania. That is, according to the results of most of their analytical estimates and forecasts, in any case, one should not underestimate the Russian Federation's ability to unleash a full-scale war against NATO at Suwalki direction.


The examples to confirm this version are as follows:

  • activation of aviation intelligence activities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the airspace of Belarus (on the western and north-western operation directions), integrated air-sea reconnaissance and provocative activities in the waters and airspace of the Baltic and North Seas, as well as on the Atlantic;
  • systematic and targeted reconnaissance events (especially within the last two years) in the territory of the western regions of Belarus carried out by senior officers of the Western Military District of the RF Armed Forces (from Battalion Commanders to Division Commanders);
  • peculiarities of the content and direction of plans and scenarios of SPX’s such as “West” and unannounced inspections of troops of the Western, Central and Southern Military Districts of the RF Armed Forces of recent years;
  • intensification of joint activities of the offensive operational and combat training of the Armed Forces' formations and of the Belarus AF at the western and north-western operational directions;
  • The Russian Federation's plans and preparatory activities for the deployment of new air bases and controls of the Air Defense Forces of the RF Armed Forces on the territory of Belarus;
  • working out at military exercises and trainings of the RF Armed Forces (in all Military Districts) of tasks of transportation of troops (forces), weapons and military equipment over long distances by air, railway and road transport;
  • organizing and conducting firing by cruise missiles type X-101 by planes of the strategic aviation Tu-22M3 and “Kalibr” type by Russia's surface ships and submarines from the water area of the Caspian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea the task of which is demonstration and provocation (especially for the United States and other NATO countries);
  • large-scale information war against the NATO member countries and the EU, first of all, against the United States, Germany, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and the Baltic countries in order to destabilize the political and socio-economic situation in these countries, as well as to divert attention from events around Ukraine.


In this situation, the question arises: what forces of the Russian Federation could carry out such an offensive at Suwalki direction and for what purpose (what tasks)?

The answer actually lies on the surface — the appointment forces of the 1st Guards Tank, 6th Combined Arms and the newly formed 20th Guards Combined Arms Armies of the Western Military District of the RF Armed Forces and units of the Armed Forces of Belarus, with the support of aviation of the 1st Command of the Air Force and Air Defense Force, forces of the Baltic and Northern Fleets, as well as Airborne Troops, Special Task Forces and Long-Range (Strategic) Aviation.

The immediate task of such an operation could be — to capture the territory of the area and to take control of Suwalki Gap in order to create a land corridor to the Kaliningrad enclave and to block the Baltic states' connection with their NATO allies.

Building up offensive efforts at Suwalki direction and the possible scaling of an offensive can be implemented due to its strengthening by troops (forces), which will be transported from the Central and Eastern Military Districts of the RF Armed Forces and introduced into a breakthrough in this area.

Part of the forces of the 6th Combined Arms and the newly formed 20th Guards Combined Arms Armies of the Western Military District of the RF Armed Forces will remain on the border with the Baltic countries and Ukraine to deter their possible offensive operations against Russia.

A further task could be — to conduct offshore operations (actions) by forces of tank and mechanized formations in Poland's rear, as well as on territories of a number of north-European and Central European NATO countries to demonstratively destruct (or capture) important military facilities (or critical infrastructure) and to breach the functioning of logistics and communications.

These raid operations will be accompanied and supported by sabotage and subversion units of airborne forces, intelligence units and special task forces.

Organization and carrying out of raid operations (actions) to the rear of the NATO member states will be in accordance with the provisions and requirements of the concept of “deep operations”, to be exact — the concept of the use of “operational mobile groups” (“OMG”) fronts (armies), developed in the Armed Forces of the USSR in the 1980s, mainly based on the experience of the operations of the second world war, and new capabilities of armored forces.

But the greatest concern for Europe and NATO will cause the fact that all this will take place under the threat of Russia's possible use of nuclear weapons.


Is Russia capable to carry out this kind of military operation against NATO and Europe at Suwalki direction?

Are Europe and NATO/USA ready to adequately respond to such Russia's military operation?

In what time terms is possible such a military operation in the direction of Suwalki?

Most western military experts as well as experts of the Independent Analytical Center for Geopolitical Studies “Borysfen Intel” answering the first question, say that today Russia is not ready to conduct such an operation. Right now it is actively and purposefully working on the preparation of such an operation, including the preparation of “Striking Operational Forces” to break through the defense and carrying out offshore operations in NATO's rear. It is within the framework of preparation for supporting and carrying out of a military operation against NATO that Russia is intensively forming its three divisions for combat operations in the western direction.

However, the cornered “Leningrad rat” out of despair any moments can attack its tamer.

The answer to the second question raises some doubts of most Western military specialists and experts of “Borysfen Intel”.

Note: the number of US troops in Europe over the last 25 years has decreased by almost 8 times (from 231 to 29 thousand people); the number of tanks in Germany (320) is significantly less than that of Poland (890), and the Baltic States have only 3 tanks (only in Estonia); the last tank of the American army left Germany in 2013 — a year before the annexation of the Crimea; up to 40 % of the German Bundeswehr's stored armored equipment at the trainings in autumn of 2015 turned out to be technically not fit — they not even start up; for almost 20 last years, the Armed Forces of NATO member countries in the military exercises have been practicing tasks purely for the peacekeeping forces and the forces that are used in local conflicts of low and medium intensity, while Russia for almost 8 years (after the Russian-Georgian war of 2008) has been modernizing its Armed Forces, within the framework of which it is creating an “Attack Force”.

So are Europe and NATO/USA ready to adequately respond to Russia's capturing Suwalki Corridor and Raid orgy of Russian Tank and Mobile Special Task Forces in the center of Europe? The answer is, probably, rhetorical.

As for the third question, according to estimates of authoritative Western military specialists and experts of the Independent Analytical Center “Borysfen Intel”, taking into consideration the present trends in the development and direction of Russia's confrontation with NATO/USA and the European Union, already since the second half of 2016, depending on resolving/ not resolving sanction issues, conducting of such a military operation by Russians in Suwalki direction is not excluded.


By the way, in a certain sense, here the analogy arises with the concept and plans of V. Putin's idol — Stalin (until June 22, 1941 Hitler's ally), who had been preparing for a war — namely, a large-scale offensive (not defensive or even counter-offensive) and an insidious invasion of Europe, and thus provoked Hitler's preventive attack.

In the last year before the war, the Soviet Union and its Red Army had been aggressively getting prepared for war, and in early 1941, on the western border were concentrated many millions of troops and huge stocks of military equipment, ammunition, fuel and lubricants, spare parts for military equipment, and the like.

Here, in the areas of operational mission had been unfolded newly formed tank, mechanized, mountain infantry and airborne forces of the Red Army, specially trained and tested during the latest military trainings for offensive actions. And even "M" Day had already been determined — July 6, 1941. But June 22, 1941, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, in fact having worked proactively.

Detailed information and evidence on this issue are provided in V. Suvorov's book “Icebreaker", the work on which he completed in 2013.

Doesn't this somewhat resemble the situation with the troops of the re-formed 1st Guards Tank Army and the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District of the RF Armed Forces?

By the way, with the beginning of the war, the Western Front got the High Command's order to deliver a powerful blow in the direction of the Polish town of Suwalki and in its district to surround the German group. The attack was planned to be carried out by forces of the 27th Infantry Division of the 3rd Combined Arms Army of the Western Front. Reconnaissance Battalion of the 27th Infantry Division was to ensure the division's jump-off from the area of the Polish town of Augustow in the direction of the town of Suwalki. But the attack was thwarted by German troops, who June 22, 1941 preemptively attacked the forces of this Division (V. Suvorov, “Icebreaker” — Archive of the USSR Ministry of Defense, Fund 181. Inventory 1631. File 1. Page 128).


So, today we can state with a great degree of certainty that the creation of new Russian “Attack Operational Forces” in the Western strategic direction clearly and convincingly enough shows, first of all, preparations for the Russian offensive military operations against NATO at Suwalki direction.

The West (the EU, NATO/USA), not without reason, is concerned about possibility of Russia's preparation and conduct of a military operation against the NATO and EU countries and, first of all, against the Baltic countries and Poland. The most dangerous option is considered Russia's military operation by the above -mentioned forces of the Western Military District of the RF Armed Forces from the territory of Belarus at the Suwalki direction — at the junction between Lithuania and Poland in the direction of the Kaliningrad enclave.

In these circumstances, it is considered advisable and necessary to step up the activities of NATO in all directions, both to test the possibility of the worst possible scenario of Russia's actions — conducting its military operations against NATO at Suwalki direction and refinement of data and the timely detection of new signs of its preparations for conducting it out on the Western direction.

Among other things, in this context, the West could consolidate analytical resources and potential of both, the countries of the EU, the USA/NATO and partner countries, which already have an experience in fighting with the Russian side in the conditions of the latter's realization of its strategy and tactics of the “wars of the new generation” (“a new generation of warfare“, “hybrid warfare”, and the like).

Now we can also state that the creation/re-formation and strengthening of the two armies (including due to the three new Divisions) of the RF Armed Forces in the Western strategic direction — is not to “prevent danger to Russia by NATO/USA” and not to “Russia's getting prepared in advance to Ukraine's accession to NATO”, but purely to prepare and conduct Russia's quite possible offensive military operation against NATO at Suwalki direction.

Indeed, history has taught Russia nothing.



The article is available in the edition of the Romanian Center “INGEPO Consulting Company” —

“Geostrategic Pulse” № 212 from April 20, 2016