By ANATOLE V. BAIKALOFF
Every competent observer seems to agree that the military operations on the Russo-German front have entered into a critical phase.
Although the Germans had to pay a high price in men and material for their strategical successes and although, thanks to the stubbornness of the Russian resistance, their advance was very considerably slowed down, if not
altogether checked, in the most important direction, in the region of Smolensk, the thrusts towards Leningrad, and, especially, in the Ukraine, towards Kiev and Odessa, arc assuming rather serious proportions. ' Naturally, a series of anxious questions arises: Will the Red High Command be he able to stem the German onslaught before it reaches vital industrial and administrative centres of Russia? For how long the Russian armies will withstand the tergable moral and physical strain of a continuous retreat and of strenuous rearguard actions'?
air. Alistair Cooke, a well-known American CO1nMen t at or , writing in the ." Daily herald " on August 9. says that "the best Washington military opinion still believes the Russian army may be a shambles before the middle of September."
This view is, perhaps, unduly pessimistic. On the other hand, it cannot be dismissed as a malicious nonsense.
The Americans, in view of the recent developments in the Far East, are too much concerned with the ability of the Soviets to continue the war to allow themselves to indulge in gloomy pessimism without some weighty reasons, and they must he well informed on the Russian conditions.
There are also indications that the British responsible circles are not inclined to overestimate the possibilities of the RussoGerman war. Mr. Attlee, speaking in the House of Commons on the war situation, thought it necessary to warn the country against " dangerous optimism."
AS A RUSSIAN PATRIOT I AM PROUD
There is undoubtedly a marked tendency amongst the British people to dismiss lightly the difficulties with which the Russians are faced.
As a Russian patriot, I am proud of the splendid fight which my countrymen, Russian peasants and workers, are putting up against the German aggressor. But there is no substantial reason for supposing that the German offensive is near collapse. On the contrary, almost every day the Soviet communiques record fighting in the regions further and further East.
The chief Russian difficulty is the bringing of the supplies to the front. The railways have always been the Cinderella of the Soviet economic planning, and, according to the most reliable evidence, they are in a very had condition indeedM. Malenkov, the member of the Soviet War Cabinet, bitterly complained on the shortcomings in the work of the railway transport as recently as in February last in his speech delivered at the 18th Communist Party conference.
However brave and enduring the Russian soldiers may be, they cannot fight without food, and the best weapons are useless if there is no ammunition for them. I know how badly the supply services were organised in pre-revolutionary Russia. aks far as my information goes, they are much worse under the Soviets.
It seems that the best for which the Russians may hope is to hold the Germarts at bay until the winter. When frost and snow Immobilises both the Russian and German armies, the Soviet Government must be advised to use the interval in fighting for a thorough overhaul of their political and economic system which breeds so much discontent and chaos.
Should they fail to make peace with the Russian people and improve the conditions in the country, then the renewal of the campaign in the spring might bring very disastrous results.