‘Starve, Stretch and Strike’ – Russia’s Defense becoming ‘Brittle’ in War of Attrition

Ukraine’s Military Commanders have done a brilliant job in their planning & conducting of this war against Russia’s reinvasion.

Just the opposite was done by ‘Paper Bear’ Putin and his top Military Commanders.

From day two of Russia’s reinvasion, it has been obvious that Russia’s entire Military is incredibly inept—by September of 2022 it was even obvious to the ‘untrained eye’.

Now – one can start to see just how ‘Brittle’ Russia’s defense against Ukraine’s counteroffensive is becoming: ‘Russian defenses in Ukraine are likely brittle’.

War of Attrition

By anyone’s count, other than Russia’s cover-up, Russian losses in their reinvasion of Ukraine are enormous.

Attrition warfare:

Attrition warfare represents an attempt to grind down an opponent’s ability to make war by destroying their military resources by any means including guerrilla warfare, people’s war, scorched earth and all kind of battles apart from a decisive battle. Attrition warfare does not include all kinds of Blitzkrieg or using concentration of force and a decisive battle to win. The side that reinforces their army at a higher speed will normally win the war. Clausewitz called it the exhaustion of the adversary.

Most everyone was expecting Ukraine to use a Blitzkrieg counteroffensive against Russia, but Ukraine has not changed their extremely successful ‘War of Attrition’ tactics since Russia’s reinvasion of Ukraine started on 2/24/2022.

‘Starve, Stretch and Strike’

When Ukraine started their counteroffensive, in early June 2023, most everyone was expecting a Blitzkrieg, and it took almost 4-weeks before some recognized Ukraine’s tactics and started calling it a ‘Starve, Stretch and Strike’ counteroffensive.

Now – most everyone understands Ukraine’s slow and methodical counteroffensive tactics.

Signs of a ‘Brittle’ Russian defense

1) Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin: he had been complaining about Russia’s Top Military Commanders for sometime before he finally became ‘Brittle’ enough to break and launch the brief Wagner Group rebellion.

2) Major General Ivan Popov“Spartak” (Spartacus) and his Gladiators: dismissed by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu after warning about lack of troop rotations, supply and logistical shortages hindering the Russian army, lack of Russian counter-battery warfare capabilities, absence of artillery reconnaissance stations, and high Russian troops death rates.

Major General Ivan Popov

Translation of Popov’s speech:

Good morning, my dearest gladiators, my boys, my family!

I had to sit and collect my thoughts — so much has happened in the last two days — but I can now speak about it confidently. I was taken into custody and dismissed from my post. Lieutenant General Lyamin arrived and took command of the army. I await what comes next in my military fate, how it changes, and any offer to continue my service further.

From the very start, I was honest with you, and I was forthright with you. I closed the gap between all the army’s gladiators, from the soldier to the marshal. In our case, it went all the way to the chief of staff, Major General Medvedev, because we die alike, we fight alike, we fear alike, and we suffer alike. I made absolutely no distinctions between you, and I was always as honest as possible with you from the first day you showed up in our army.

And so I tell you honestly that a difficult situation came up with the senior command where I either had to remain silent and take the coward’s way out, saying what they wanted to hear, or I could say it like it is. Speaking in your name and in the name of all our dead brothers in arms, I didn’t have the right to lie, and so I laid out all the problem areas with provisions that plague our combat work in the army today. I didn’t sugarcoat it. I pinpointed the main tragedy of today’s warfare: the lack of counterbattery fire, the lack of artillery reconnaissance stations, and the mass death and mutilation of all our brothers by enemy artillery.

I raised several other issues, too, speaking at the highest level and as frankly and harshly as possible. As a result, it seems the senior commanders perceived me to be some kind of danger and promptly — before the Sun had even set — threw together an order from the defense minister, removed me from my post, and got rid of me. As many regiment commanders in the division today have said, the soldiers of the Ukrainian armed forces couldn’t break through our lines — our own senior command hit us from behind, treacherously and back-stabbingly decapitating the army at the most difficult and grueling moment.

But I remain constantly available to all soldiers and sergeants, all army warrant officers, for absolutely everyone, 24/7, whatever the problems, whether it’s something at home, something with your families, something logistical, combat-related, or anything at all. We’ll keep the work going in the group. I am always available to you. It’s an honor for me to serve alongside you. It brings me pride, I cherish it, and I’ll do everything in my power and even beyond to ensure that it’s easier for you to fight and that as many of our comrades as possible come home alive.

I continue to carry out the combat mission, especially in the name of those who will never return from the battlefield. In the name of their memory, and in the name of the blood shed in Zaporizhia by soldiers and officers, it is our duty to annihilate the enemy, to turn back his offensive, and to create the conditions for our next actions. And that’s how we honor the memory of our fallen comrades.

Always with you and always here for you, your Spartak.

Popov is/was a well respected Military Commander—‘who had wide support of his troops.

The increasingly fragile Russian chain of command may prompt a critical command and control crisis in the future, in which field commanders’ support for the Russian military command could become increasingly hollow.

Popov’s dismissal over the issue of Russian casualties and reported complaints about lack of force rotations further supports ISW’s assessment that Russian defenses in Ukraine are likely brittle.


Ukraine is now slowly chipping away at Russia’s defenses, after halting Russia’s offense.

No frontal Blitzkrieg into a chainsaw—that’s a Russian failed tactic.

Attacking rear supply areas. Destroying Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC).

Russia now lacks any capable reinforcement troops, so front-line troops can’t be rotated out for breaks or rebuilding.

High Russian death rates are being hidden from the Russian people.

Russia’s ‘Chain of Command’ has been broken.

July 13, 2023:

Prominent Russian milblogger and former Russian officer Igor Girkin cynically claimed that Russian forces are only one major military defeat away from conventional Russian forces conducting their own march on Moscow.


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