A beaten enemy must be pursued.


This is an undying principle of war. After their retreat from Kherson City the Russian forces on the southern front are precariously perched on the edge of a logistical catastrophe. The destruction wrought on the Kerch Strait Bridge by Ukrainian covert action and the drone boat attack on Sebastopol harbor have reduced Russian logistics to a pathetic set of truck routes around the north shore of the Sea of Azov where they are very open to a variety of forms of Ukrainian attack.

My advice to Ukraine would be to press on.

“Ride to the sound of the guns!” pl

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19 Responses to A beaten enemy must be pursued.

  1. Clueless Joe says:

    Makes a lot of sense, though the only place where it would be realistic without having to cross a big river by pontoons or boats would be an attack SE of Zaporozhie, towards the corridor running from Mariupol to Melitopol – where Russians have been expecting an attack for months. Worth a try maybe?

    That said, I’ve been wondering for some time about the culminating point. We’ve seen it crippling Russian advances earlier on, but doesn’t it also apply, sooner or later, to a defender who went on counter-attacking the exhausted attacker? One can guess it takes longer to reach that culminating point when you’re taking back your land, but still, depending on Ukrainian supplies, manpower and logistics, is it safe to assume they can push back all the way to the Crimean isthmus without running out of steam?
    Though I suppose cutting off Crimean from Russian mainland by going for Berdiansk or Melitopol and stopping there might already be good enough for Ukrainian army for now.

  2. Fourth and Long says:

    Interesting. No sooner though have the few rational experts still alive digested the facts and recalled to mind your ancient imperative than Murdoch’s Sky News emits this soothing balm. My thoughts ran to “will our pets fret needlessly that the Rooskies might on the off chance vaporize us here in Blighty when they understand how dismal the Russian situation is? If so, let’s not shutter the Colman’s Mustard factory on a mere hunch. Let’s roll out some of that sauce which is in such short supply – Auntie Maggie’s homemade remedy!”

    Ukraine War: Kherson battle “only half-won.”

    George Formby (1941): Auntie Maggie’s Homemade Remedy.

    • Pat Lang says:

      “Illegitimati non carborundum”

      • Fourth and Long says:

        Best advice ever. Thanks.

        I just discovered that George Fromby, one of the funniest, most entertaining and gifted and unquestionably patriotic entertainers in history, was banned by the BBC for his slightly off color lyrics in some songs.

        According to a comment by a Richard Gofin-Lecar:

        George Formby made a massive contribution to the allied forces, during WWII. As an entertainer, he would often perform under fire, or even during bombing raids. He entertained Russian troops, and was awarded the Order of Lenin, by Stalin himself. George will always be remembered. A nice bit of northern fun. Rest In Peace, George.
        George Formby Banned by BBC:

        Our Sargeant-Major:

        (Did Hirohito not get this recording translated soon enough after Truman’s envoy secretly delivered it minutes after Hiroshima? Or did he fail to get what was implied by the title? Joking)

        She’s Got Two of Everything (George Formby)

        It serves me right – I Shouldn’t Have Joined (George Formby):

  3. Jake says:

    Is this an aphorism, or the product of careful analysis?

  4. TTG says:

    Continue the pursuit , indeed. There’s a video making the rounds worthy of an SOF recruiting campaign of at least a half dozen small boats crossing the river at either sunset or sunrise. This was probably the spearhead of the force that already occupied the Kilburn Spit on the left bank of the Dnipro. Probably not a full blown invasion force, but a sufficient force of highly motivated, highly trained and well equipped commandos could tear the hell out of the disorganized Russians who just left most of their equipment on the far side of the Dnipro. Wade in amongst the Rooskies and kill them with the full support of conventional artillery and HIMARs on the right bank of the river. That would be a good start to pursuing the beaten enemy.

    • Fourth and Long says:

      Check out my reply below to Col Lang and the analysis by Gav Don. He speaks directly to the issue of force numbers required for Russian defense of X kilometers of the Dnipro left bank. 40,000, if I understood it. Unquoted but it’s at the link. Wait, here’s most of it:
      Stalemate on the ground

      In short, the ground war has reached a strategic stalemate. If that is so, then the cession of Kherson may be an embarrassing admission that Odesa is unreachable, but that apart, it is of little strategic significance to Moscow.

      The withdrawal from Kherson does, though, free up some forces on both sides for deployment elsewhere. On Russia’s side the force density calculus changes by only a little. The contact line around the Kherson bridgehead stretched for around 200 km. The new one, along the left bank of the Dnipro river, is still 150 km. While a river can be held by fewer men than a line in the steppe, it only forms a tactical obstacle if sufficiently guarded, which means that many of the estimated 40,000 Russians who were in the Kherson bridgehead will have to remain on guard on the new river front.

      On the Ukrainian side the density calculus is more favourable. Kyiv had stationed ten brigades around the Kherson bridgehead – 40,000 men. The overwhelming majority of these are now available for deployment elsewhere. They represent a substantial addition to Ukrainian fighting power east of the Dnipro.

  5. Fourth and Long says:

    A lot to sink one’s analytical teeth into here. By Gav Don, former United Kingdom military intelligence, now consultant.

    Needs to be read carefully by a military professional, not me. I’ve pasted the concluding paragraphs below the link. Seems to say it isn’t simple at all. Was I premature posting Zeihan’s video? Possibly. He comes off as rather a cheer leader type too often.

    Don also calls into question the issue of the present status of Crimea’s water supply. He’s very numerate. That said, previous to the invasion he outlined several scenarios for possible outcomes none of which actually took place, but they did anticipate very serious casualty numbers. He revisits the death and injury rates here in the recent attacks and defenses in the east. Brutal to put it mildly.


    At the outset of the war the AFU order of battle contained some 47 infantry and tank brigades. Two of these, the 36th Marines and the Azov brigade, were effectively destroyed in Mariupol. Two more, reserve tank brigades, were probably also destroyed early in the war. Of the remaining 43, Russian contact reports refer to 37 as being engaged on various fronts and contact lines. The other half-dozen are likely stationed on inactive fronts (the border with Belarus, in the Odesa garrison, around Kyiv and north of Kharkiv). What is notable is that we have seen no reports of the formation of new brigades of the AFU.

    What that implies is that for all its multiple call-ups the actual fighting manpower of the AFU remains the same now as it was at the start of the war – around 170,000 front-line troops, supported by another 150,000 men in rear areas engaged in logistics, training, administration, internal security, air defence, headquarters, intelligence, equipment repair, on leave and in various stages of medical rehabilitation.

    As the rear areas generate a flow of fresh men towards front-line units – maybe a thousand per day – the front line sees a thousand men per day killed. Overall Ukrainian combat power is not growing, but the arrival of 40,000 seasoned troops with high morale across the Dnipro will present a major obstacle to a deeper invasion of trans-Dnipro Ukraine.

    Russian reinforcements

    Balancing that re-deployment, Russian forces can look forward to a reinforcement seven times larger (in numbers, but less in experienced fighting power). The next question is how will Moscow use that new force? Two options are on offer: one is to concentrate forces and resources for one or two major assaults aimed at completing the destruction of the AFU and the placing of a new Russian frontier along the whole of the Dnipro river.

    That option implies the taking of several major cities (Zaporizhye, Kharkiv, Sumi, Kremenchuk, Chernihiv and Dnipro), the occupation of 100,000 sq km of open country and the assumption of civil responsibility for several million civilians in the middle of a war zone (food, energy, medical care, security and housing would all fall to Moscow’s account). It also implies the destruction of an army of nearly 200,000 men who have shown courage and endurance at the highest level.

    A major assault would be slow. Months of experience has shown that advances against prepared positions are measurable in a few kilometres per week. Advances are also bloody beyond belief, with an almost-certainty that 20% of Russia’s 300,000 attacking ground forces would die and another 20% be hospitalised over the several months it would take to achieve the aim.

    Option two is much less painful. Moscow could use its reinforcements to make its current contact-line effectively impregnable, while completing the occupation of Donetsk oblast, which requires an advance of just 80 km on a 100-km front. Once past the fortress town of Bakhmut the rate of advance might speed up a little, reducing the campaign to perhaps ten weeks at an acceptable cost in lives (many of whom would be LDNR militia, Chechens and Wagner PMCs anyway).

    At the end of that campaign Moscow might simply freeze the contact line in place and concentrate on suppressing Ukrainian artillery to prevent it from repeating its eight-year bombardment of civilians in Donetsk from 2014 to now.

    That might be a politically acceptable end-point for Russian President Vladimir Putin, if a deeply unacceptable fait accompli for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Soldiers and their families on both sides would no doubt quietly welcome it.

    • Pat Lang says:

      “Effectively impregnable” eh? We will see if that is true.

      • Fourth and Long says:

        I guess impregnability is theoretically possible provided they can sufficiently fortify and dig in. But with dubious logistics is that possible? You need logistics to implement the fortifications themselves and then you need them to continually supply, repair and rotate the troops manning the fortification structures. If behind the fortifications there directly stood Russia itself that’s one thing. In this case a large percentage of the contact line backs up into the Sea of Azov and Crimea and only the Donbas regions of contact back up into Russia proper.

  6. borko says:


    When is the time to stop pursuing the beaten enemy and start to build trust and cooperation ?

    After this war is over and Russia hopefully leaves Ukraine the urge to pursue the beaten enemy will be strong.

    In fact the Russians claim that after the Soviet Union ended, the West did not stop pursuing them and proceeded with NATO expansion. This, along with the Russian imperialism and sense of entitlement contributed to the current situation.

    Your idea about the condominium for Crimea is interesting since it would force the two countries to engage in dialog and cooperation. We need that to prevent an even worse war 10-15 years down the line.

    • Pat Lang says:

      The pursuit will end when the Russians either learn how to wage war or are willing to make a peace that reflects their weakness.

      • Bill Roche says:

        IMO the Russians are simply unable to make a peace reflecting their military weakness. They will throw more wood on the fire. Its the Russian way. In a war of attrition, Ukraine can’t keep up so it will have to be enabled to kill faster. That will mean more involvement with Ukraine’s Slavic neighbors, the Germans, and French. Russia has never seen civil disobedience since St Petersberg ’17. Putin will have to feel public resistance from Novosibersk to Archangel. But again, this is not the Russian way. Thus “time is of the essence”. Despite an exhausted UKM, the RUM must be pursued and completely thrown off the eastern bank of the Dnieper. Maybe this will cause Putin to stop – for a while, and negotiate. My terms have not changed since Feb. 24th. No NATO for Ukraine, part of the Donbass to Russia, and (although I doubt it will work) a “Cyprus” like division of Crimea.

    • Bill Roche says:

      The Ukr/Russo War got me thinking about post ’91 “diplomacy” b/t NATO and Russia. Who F’d up. NATO to be sure. When Bush “the unready”, said it was time for a new world order I knew evil was afoot. On the other hand, when Russia continued to assert hegemony over her western Baltic/Slavic neighbors
      who could be surprised when they rushed to get into NATO’s protective arms. Russia thought it was still 1914 and the west thought Russia was a cooked goose. If Ukraine can get out of this fight w/most of Ukraine accepted as a sovereign state by Russia there w/b no “next war” 10-15 years from now. From Sweden to Bulgaria the European East will ally APART from NATO in order to constrict the Bear. The next 6 months will tell the tale of Eastern Europe.

  7. A. Pols says:

    Wasn’t it Napoleon who advised “press hard on the heels of a rout”? Good advice if it’s actually a rout, but perhaps fatal when it’s not. Despite the wishful thinking, it doesn’t really look like a Russian rout.

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