The accumulation of strong Russian troops on the Russian-Ukrainian border raises questions about European security and the consequences of a possible Russian attack. A more worrying scenario would be Russia’s attack on a NATO member. In addition, Russia will certainly want to undermine the security of the Baltic states and / or Poland. The question is whether and to what extent a large-scale Russian invasion of these countries is possible.
Russian Military Logistics
It is becoming increasingly difficult to decipher Russia’s intentions. The accumulation of its military forces on the border with Ukraine indicates preparation for an invasion or another round of forced diplomacy. But looking at the capabilities of Russia’s military intelligence, we could get an idea of what Russia is capable of doing and how NATO would respond, depending on the scenario.
The Russian army has the power to achieve the goals of early occupation of a large area by causing an accomplished event, but its military logistics do not have the necessary logistical forces to achieve this scenario with a single advance without a stable and continuous supply. to maintain the same degree of power.
Russian air forces and attack helicopters can also receive full support to reduce the consumption of artillery munitions.
NATO military planners should develop plans that focus on exploiting the Russian military’s logistics and constraints rather than trying to bridge the gap in its combat power. In this case, NATO should leave as a point the advance of the Russian army deep into NATO territory with the aim of maximizing the Russian supply lines, relentlessly hitting the logistics and transport infrastructure such as trucks, railways and pipelines.
The Russian military formations have only 3/4 of the number of combat vehicles from their US counterparts, but at the same time they have twice the size of artillery compared to their US counterparts.
The Russian brigades have two artillery battalions, one missile battalion, two air defense battalions. In contrast, the respective US brigades have a single artillery battalion. Due to this structure, Russia’s additional artillery and air defense battalions require a much greater degree of logistical support than their US counterparts to maintain their firepower.
The Russian army makes the most of the railways for its supply. Poland has only one large-scale railway line that runs from the Krakow region to Ukraine and cannot be used by Russian forces without first occupying Ukraine. There are no major railway lines from Belarus to Warsaw.
All this shows that the ability of the Russian army to maintain the railway lines is limited to the borders of the former USSR. Any attempt to supply the Russian army beyond the Russian railway network would force them to use their trucks mainly, until the railway troops could build new railway network extensions.
The Russian military does not have enough trucks to meet its logistical needs, more than 90 miles beyond Russia’s borders. To extend its range to 180 miles, the Russian military would have to double the division of trucks to 400 trucks for each of its logistics brigades.
The scenario of Russia’s invasion of the Baltic countries
An accomplishment on Russia’s part in the Baltic states means that Russian forces will have to cross the Baltic states and eliminate any resistance in less than 96 hours before NATO can strengthen military friendships in the region.
The problem for the Russian military is the logistics that limit it to achieve such an accomplished event. NATO cruise missiles fired from German territory can destroy key railway bridges in the Narva, Pskov and Velikie Lugi regions, interrupting Baltic railways for days until these bridges are repaired.
At the same time Poland can assemble 4 divisions, launching a direct counterattack, targeting the Russian army in the Baltic.
The point is that the Baltic states’ military forces, until reinforced by NATO troops, do not give Russia the time it needs to build a rail supply network, forcing the Russian army to depend on its supplies from trucks.
The Russian army can occupy the Baltic states but not in a short time in order to create an accomplished event. The conquest of a full-fledged NATO member cannot be materially supported by the Russian military.
The scenario of Russia’s invasion of Poland
In the case of Poland, the time limits for the Russian army are shorter, but the difficulties greater due to the relative distances and the lack of large-scale railways that end at the border with Belarus.
Kaliningrad cannot be supplied by air, land and sea due to its siege by NATO.
To occupy Warsaw, the Russian army can occupy it but must first remodel / repair the railway and build regular pipelines and front line depots. Instead of pausing for a few days in the Baltic scenario, the Polish scenario will take weeks. This gives NATO time to drastically increase its combat power.
The scenario of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
The best way to decipher Russian intentions is to monitor the accumulation of logistics forces and supply dumps, rather than counting regular battalion groups that have moved to the border. The size and scale of the logistics tell us exactly how far and deep the Russian army plans to go.
Russia can take troops from the Central and Eastern Commands and strengthen the Western Command.
A strong point of the Russian army in a war scenario important in the Baltic or in Poland, would be its ability to mobilize reservists and civilian trucks.
We conclude that Russia has a structured Armed Forces, capable of fighting in the Russian hinterland or near its borders and hitting deep with long-range fire. However, the Russian Armed Forces are not capable of a continuous steady ground attack beyond the Russian railways, without engaging in a major logistical disruption or mass mobilization of reserves.