By ANATOLE V. BAIKAEOFF The perils menacing Russia are many. The German strategical position in Russia was always favourable for them, and it is tepidly growing more so. They managed throughout to hold almost all important strategical points which they had conquered during the last autumn, and the advantage to them of this is now being demonstrated.
The Germans have had considerable freedom of movement owing to the fact that there is. comparatively speaking, a thick net of railways in their rear. They can use three lateral lines, while the Soviets have only one --the Moscow-Rasterrailway, now cut by the latest advance.
GERMAN ARMY'S STRENGTH In spite of grievous setbacks and considerable losses, the German Army is still very strong. There is no doubt that the quality of this army is lower in comparison with the army which blasted its way to the heart of Russia last year. The battles of Kharkov, Ketch and Sebastopol have proved, however, that it would be wrong to put too much hope on that. The Germans are lighting exceedingly well.
On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that the flower of the Red Army has already perished in the sanguinary battles which had raged along the huge Russian front during the last twelve morlths. The Russians have had to surrender the initiative, which they had during the winter, to the Germans once again,
Then there is a big question of weapons and supplies. Russian munition industry, half destroyed, is ex
periencing tremendous difficulties. Them is an acute shortage of machine tools. spare parts, raw materials, fuel
and labour. The " leap-frog " system of evacuation of factories has not justified itself, for only a few of the evacuated factories were successfully replanted in new localities.
Chaos and dislocation are the predominant features of the Soviet industrial system at present. The things are made worse owing to the rigid overcentralisation of management and the bad organisation of labour.
WEAPON RESERVES USED UP There is reason to believe that during the winter campaign the Soviets were using up some of the reserves of weapons and munitions which were accumulated on the bases east of the Volga. For the summer campaign the Soviet High Command has had to rely heavily on current production and on American and British supplies. These sources are scarcely adequate to meet the requirements which conditions at modern warfare impose on a belligerent country.
The critical state of the Soviet industry is reflected in the fact that the Soviets are asking now America and Britain to deliver finished articles and not raw materials and tools, as had been stipulated in previous agreements.
As far as weapons, munitions and supplies are concerned, Germany is undoubtedly in a far better position. Her industries have been working, and continue to work, at full speed, and there appears to be no serious shortage of raw materials and fuel in Germany. The shortage of labour is met by mobilising the woman-power and by importation of slaves from occupied and conquered countries.
Undoubtedly, the Germans still have many difficulties to overcome and many thorny problems to solve. But these difficulties are not so great, and the problems not so pressing. as those with which Soviet Russia is faced. The most urgent of these problems is the question of transport. The railways on which Russia depends to such a great extent were terribly overloaded even in peacetime. Now they are able to cope only with a portion of the work required from I hem.
The morale of the Russian people and of the army so far remains astonishingly high. But of all other military factors the psychological factor is notoriously unstable and uncertain.
Can the miracle be continued indefinitely? One must hope and pray that it will be so.