Dear fellow history buffs.

I read a book on the Soviet Army that is called, unsurprisingly, Inside the Soviet Army. Its author, Viktor Suvorov — not to be confused with the famous General Alexander Suvorov of the 18th century — mentions how Soviet doctrine of attack/envelopment came from Russian doctrine which was adopted from the one the Mongols used in the 12th century. Seemed like a long time ago, so I started looking into Russian engagements from the past (by that I mean country of Russia post say 1300) and saw a lot of instances when that tactic was used against them (Finland WWII, Germany WWI, Swedes in 1700s, French in 1800s).

However, if Suvorov is correct, then there must be at least one example of the Russians employing these tactics successfully against somebody over the past 700 or so years, otherwise, why would it be doctrine? Looking back, I haven't found anything that would indicate the Russians employed this strategy prior to WWII.

Were the Russians themselves ever successful enough in using a Mongol-style envelopment to crush their enemy (pre-WWII presumably with cavalry) such that such a tactic would become doctrine?

  • Start with Suvorov himself. Aug 29, 2020 at 17:52
  • I'm not sure Suvorov ever had the cavalry to do this as you suggest, but at the same time I don't think that should be the criterion? What specifically is the aspect of a "Russian battle" you are asking us to find tactical solutions to? Is it clear that someone in the 9th century can solve a problem one way, and that someone solves the same problem similarly five centuries after doesn't necessarily mean the same tactical doctrine is being followed?
    – gktscrk
    Aug 29, 2020 at 18:23
  • No Suvorov, never had cavalry, lol! He made it seem like this was longstanding doctrine but I couldn't find any evidence it had been employed successfully prior to WWII. Will edit the question for clarity.
    – Prof Kev
    Aug 29, 2020 at 18:59
  • I'm sure Suvorov occasionally commanded cavalry units.
    – Tomas By
    Aug 29, 2020 at 19:05
  • 2
    Correct @TomasBy, the Suvorov I am talking about was the author: Viktor Suvorov, not the general Alexander. Sorry for the confusion.
    – Prof Kev
    Aug 29, 2020 at 19:10

2 Answers 2


Interesting question but I have some misconceptions about what you're exactly asking:

Envelopment tactics were not used, for example, by the French against Russians in 1800 (except for Austerlitz), unless you considered a rather large definition of envelopment.

If this large definition is OK, then one of the first employment by Russian Army is the battle of Berezina: this battle saw multiple Russian columns converging to block the French army, and this partially succeded since the French army had to fight on all directions but managed to escape the envelopment.


An example by Suvorov himself:

At 16.00 hours Russian reinforcements approached and Suvorov repeated his attack, after releasing Cossacks to attack around the left flank of the enemy over the shoals and into their rear. This attack was successful, and Turks were forced out from the trenches and forced against the coast, forcing the fleet to cease fire in order not to hit its own troops.

The Turks suffered at least 20 times as many casualties as the Russians

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