July 9, 2015
By Aleksandr Rodzhers
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
“We retreated and retreated in silence
Humiliated, we desired battle
Are we off to winter quarters?
Don’t our commanders know
How to tear foreign uniforms to shreds
With Russian bayonets?”
Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov, “Borodino”
Two hundred years have passed and nothing has changed. Veterans are once again grumbling, but they are deprived of the specifics, they don’t see the full picture, but even so they are demanding an instant victory.
They don’t care that the US defense budget is ten times higher than Russia’s, they don’t care about the NATO-RF balance of forces. They don’t know the number, the range, the speed of US cruise missiles. They don’t know how many US nuclear warheads would break through Russian defenses should the mutually assured destruction scenario be implemented, and how many people will be left among the living. They don’t think about the consequences. They just want to “smack” something (just as certain superannuated US senators suffering from dementia).
What would have happened if Kutuzov, having assumed command, followed the hotheads’ recommendations and gave a general battle right away?
First of all, the full strength of Russian forces was considerably lower than that of the Grande Armee. That’s why Kutuzov delayed for several months, bringing up and forming reserves.
Secondly, both the flying columns under Denis Davydov and the people’s militia partisans were weakening the French army all this time, killing its personnel, demoralizing, interrupting forage and breaking the supply lines.
Thus when the day of battle at Borodino came, the Russian army showed up considerably strengthened, while the French army–weaker.
However, the general battle did not yield a decisive result. It was a draw. And “Moscow, burned by fire, fell to the French.”
And then what? Then the Russians quite quickly assembled new regiments, restored their army’s strength and Napoleon, stuck in Moscow, was faced with a starving army at the end of a cut supply tether.
What would have happened if Borodino were fought a few months later? Russia would have won with far fewer casualties, because the French would have been weakened not only by partisans but also by General Frost. But Kutuzov was being pressured by hundreds of the “Kutuzov betrayed” folks of the era who demanded an immediate victory.
Do you think any of them repented after Kutuzov’s victory and Napoleon’s ejection from Russia? No they were still unhappy that “Moscow was not held.”
It’s the same today. What changes have we seen in the global balance of forces over the last year?
1. The Kiev regime is on the brink of default. The majority of the population is disappointed by the collapse of euroillusions, the poverty, and the mobilization. And the regime is balancing on the brink of default.
2. The Greece referendum threatens the entire EU financial and banking system, and now EU couldn’t care less about Ukraine.
Also the Europeans’ view on sanctions and Russia has changed over the last year–many Italian and German firms are openly ignoring sanctions, doing business in Russia.
3. Cooperation within BRICS, SCO, and Collective Security Treaty has increased. Contracts signed with China at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum are estimated at trillion dollars.
4. The US is facing another financial bubble ready to burst which threatens to exceed the Great Depression in magnitude, which was just recently demonstrated by the most recent NYSE report. This supercrisis threatens to bury not only the US hegemony but the very existence of the US. Time here is also on Russia’s side.
5. Russia has lowered its US Treasuries holdings by 50%, to 66 billion dollars.
6. The “crisis” in China. Its volume is estimated at about 2.2 trillion USD. However, commenters seem to forget that China has more than 1.3 trillion USD worth of treasuries. China’s reserves are nearly 4 trillion USD. So they can easily quench this crisis with liquidity, buying up the depreciated shares at a discount (and logic suggests it’s better to wait a bit longer, while they are still falling).
The Russian government acted in a similar manner last spring, having bought up a sizable quantity of state corporation shares, thus having saved $20 billion thanks to the panic.
So now we are faced with the following question: what happens if China quenches its crisis by dumping a trillion dollars of treasuries? How will it affect the US economy?
All in all, Russia is concentrating and strengthening, while the US are losing positions and weakening. Soon we’ll be observing the election battle between yet another Bush and yet another Clinton. The time, guys, is on our side. Don’t hurry Kutuzov.
J.Hawk’s Comment: 1812 is not the only example (or counter-example) of this phenomenon. Russia went on the offensive prematurely in 1914 and 1915 before it was able to achieve a strategic concentration (Svechin wrote about it at length in his work On Strategy), and likewise the Soviet Spring ’42 offensives were arguably the worst strategic move by Stalin, without which Sevastopol probably would not have been lost and the Battle of Stalingrad would not have to have been fought.
Russia’s ability to mobilize is a crucial advantage it has over Western adversaries whose capabilities are more of a “shop-window” variety. There are very few recorded cases in which Russia or USSR had to act sooner rather than later. Today, as Rodzhers writes, it’s no different, and the whole of “Putin betrayed” crowd really does remind one of the criticism that Kutuzov faced when pursuing his war-winning strategy. And let’s not forget that even Borodino was fought not because Kutuzov wanted to fight it, but because the “armchair strategists”, the 19th-century “Colonel” Cassads and Girkin/”Strelkovs” wanted him to fight one and (luckily, unlike the current “Colonels” and “Strelkovs”) they had the czar’s ear, being in St. Petersburg rather than with the army.