Ukrainian Offensive – I can dream, can’t I?

Posted: April 15, 2022 in Geopolitics, Readiness & Strategy, War
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by Richard Martin

Some people are questioning whether Moskva is the biggest sinking since WW2. Wikipedia claims Belgrano displaced 12,242 tons full up and Moskva 12,490 (but without specifying if that is dry or full up).

The loss figures I’ve seen are 14 crew recovered and brought to Sevastopol, with 496 still missing. The Belgrano had way over 1,000 crew.

The Moskva fulfilled a different role to the Belgrano, especially in this conflict, similar in some ways to an Arleigh Burke class DDG, although much less capable of course. According to what I’ve been reading, it was patrolling in a fixed pattern off shore to provide area air defence cover in the area of Kherson (and Crimea?).

There’s currently a lot of poopoo-ing of the Ukrainian claim that they hit the Moskva with 2 home-grown Neptun anti-ship missiles, but I think it is realistic. ASM are designed to penetrate the hull of a warship and detonate the main charge after penetration. Also, remember the Sheffield. It was sunk by an Exocet missile, if memory serves.

On the other hand, maybe the Ukrainians are only claiming they hit it with Neptuns but actually used Harpoons provided by the UK. Would be cool.

As with the “experts” claiming the death of the tank, this does not show the death of the area air defence ship, even in coastal waters. Like all weapons systems, ships are part of a tactical and operational system.We must also factor in that the Moskva was obsolete and likely in poor repair. Those sixteen impressive-looking tubes housed jet powered cruise missiles. That means liquid fuel. So, basically a floating fuel depot. Add to that low standards of training and survivability, and you have a recipe for disaster.

It is my estimate that the Ukrainians did deliberately target the Moskva with the intent of at minimum incapacitating it. The aim was to eliminate or degrading the air defence cover it provided over Kherson and the Crimean Peninsula in preparation for an attack on Kherson.

In fact, if I were the Ukrainians, I’d be looking to outflank Kherson on the W, head for the narrow isthmus that links the mainland to the Crimea, and then roll up the Russian flank toward Melitopol. I would also try to damage or even drop the bridge over the Kerch strait to prevent Russia from maintaining lines of communication with Crimea from the E.

See maps. Part 1 (UK MoD) shows UA forces south of Dniepr W of Kherson. If that’s accurate, could be a jumping off point. Depending on the terrain (it looks pretty marshy), it may require a lot of engineer support and amphibious, perhaps even further to the E to be feasible. Part 2 shows the intent to cut off the isthmus at its narrowest point. Part 3 shows also the need to destroy or deny the bridge further east linking Crimea to the mainland, and also the Kerch narrows bridge, which would represent a complete Sickelschnitt.

Of course, this is all speculation on my part, based on some conversations (you know who you are) and a very quick and dirty map estimate. I’m willing to be proven wrong, but I can always dream, especially on Good Friday.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was an infantry officer for over 20 years in the Canadian Army. He is currently an entrepreneur, strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable information and signals from chaos and noise.

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