Mehring, you gotta picket the whole Axis line, man, and make them think twice about those narrow penetrations. ZOC the whole thing, one unit every 3 hexes, keep in contact with the enemy at all times. Yes it's expensive and you'll lose the units more often than not, but there it is. If they ignore your picket line you can cause them a ton of headaches.
I don't see it in 1.06 Flavius. Sure, a picket would have slowed the southward drive a bit, a division or two actually did, but that 40+ MP division he's saved for the final drive will usually get through, just like the turn before, it got through my main line and countless pickets in front of Kharkov, as well as the garrison, to take the city. That's always been the case, and it's good play. But I'm highlighting a shift in play balance which makes the Russians phenomenally weak in 1941 in stead of making them stronger, which when playing German, I thought they needed.
The Russians can barely move and attack and they can barely move through enemy controlled ground, let alone through ZOC. You need 5 or 6 Russian divisions to hit one German regiment, and that's starting to look like an army, not a picket. So unless the Axis railnet is within a hex or two of the front, what headaches can the Russians cause these days? A smart Axis player will ignore a Russian picket and be thankful for the handfull less divisions between him and the Russian industry.
I agree that the fighting power but not the MP of at least the beginning Russian units should be higher. Maybe keep the NM and morale the same (movement is tied to morale I thing) but increase the Experience? That should make them tougher but fragile.