The military situation in Ukraine has been relatively stable for several days now, with Russian troops expected to advance very slowly instead of advancing. Why is Russia failing to win convincingly in Ukraine? “They just changed their minds on three important things, “ says military and security analyst Lukáš Visingr.
How would you describe the current situation in Ukraine from Russia’s point of view?
It’s a strategic debacle, a total strategic disaster. From the start, the Russians had a plan, but it was completely unrealistic. From their point of view, the whole thing had to be done in two or three days, which did not happen and could not happen. They imagined something like 1968. That they will simply enter Ukraine and suppress any local resistance as much as possible. They anticipated the imminent collapse of the Ukrainian army and the fact that Zelensky would flee or surrender. Apparently, it was supposed to be like 2014 in Crimea. And it is quite possible that in this year 2014 they achieved something like this. But now it’s nonsense.
Why aren’t the Russians achieving their goals?
The Russians made three fundamental mistakes. The first is that they attacked Ukraine in their imagination in 2014. But in those 8 years Ukraine has changed dramatically. Its military capabilities are completely different, its army, but also its territorial defense units are doing well and this has had a huge impact on the whole world. So that was the first Russian mistake, a big understatement of Ukraine. They did not count on such a great will to fight and with such courage and determination.
– military security analyst and publicist
– contributor to ATM and the magazine Střelecké
– author of a book on military technology
What was the second error?
Reassessment of his own army. The Russian army makes huge mistakes at the tactical level, we see the amateur and amateurish leadership of operations, they do not manage it at all logistically and they are not at all able to supply units. They are also unable to conduct large air operations and therefore support their units from the air. Their air defense is obviously failing and unable to cope, especially with Bayraktar drones. Much of the Russian technology came to a halt because it ran out of fuel and ammunition. The soldiers have expired food, they don’t have secure walkie-talkies, so they use civilian walkie-talkies or cell phones. The sad look is on vehicles that are obviously not maintained, are in a sorry state. The Russians bought a lot of cheap Chinese tires, and now we see cars with deflated or punctured wheels, because those tires couldn’t handle the load.
So the problems are in the technology?
There are many other reasons for this. This is also a consequence, for example, that the Russians had nowhere to gain combat experience with large operations. There were small contingents in the Donbass and in Syria, with 200,000 inexperienced soldiers. They can’t do it, it’s chaos and it’s run by amateurs. As they expected no resistance, they sent the founders there, who also cruelly suppressed them. There is also huge corruption in the army. Money for modern military equipment was apparently used to build villas or buy yachts. It is likely that the fuel was sold under your hands. Add to that the traditional slender Russian. Some things cough, as is the case with vehicle maintenance. If no one is watching, why would we do this?
Don’t we forget what the third mistake was?
Underestimating the will of the West and the world to unite and help Ukraine. Nobody, including me, I confess, probably expected such crushing and liquidating sanctions. This is an economic disaster for Russia. These three mistakes already make the whole enterprise a strategic defeat for Russia. Russia has already lost the war strategically.
But the Russians are outwardly full of optimism, how and when can all this end?
The end will come soon, as the Russians only have a few weeks of supplies to conduct combat operations. Some things, like guided munitions, are completely gone. If the Russians want to achieve a military victory, there are still a few options that can occur. If they managed to occupy a big city, like Kharkov or Odessa, they could demand something at the meeting. The biggest victory for them would undoubtedly be if they managed to encircle the core of the Ukrainian army. It is located in the east of the country. Few people notice, but many experts rightly ask where is the Ukrainian army? We only see something like an asymmetrical struggle carried out by small units. They surprise the Russians and destroy their columns and their supplies. But where are the large armored unions and mechanized units of the Ukrainian army? We don’t see you much because they hold positions in the Donbass. That’s why the queue doesn’t move much there. So if the Russians managed to shut down these units and surround them in the cauldron and destroy them, it would be a great success.
And can this happen?
We must realize that Ukraine is a huge country. Not everyone in Moscow noticed. Russian troops are not able to go more than a few tens of kilometers beyond the borders of Ukraine, so a large-scale coordinated siege operation can hardly be expected. It’s unlikely. Moreover, everything takes time, and the Russians absolutely do not have it. In a week or two, they’ll run out of supplies and won’t be able to wage war. Also, Russia will go bankrupt in a month or two, so that’s another problem.
Do the Russians have reservations?
Everything they had at the border had already been sent there. Even in some areas, a secret mobilization is taking place, sending second-rate troops somewhere in the Far East. They pull the equipment somewhere from the warehouses, which is not in very good condition. And even if they have those other forces there, it won’t help them because they can’t supply them. Half of the Russian maneuver forces are deployed. The Russian army has 800,000 people, and there were 200,000 on the border, but it’s not a quarter, because there are various support and office forces in the rest, only half of the army whole is simply a combat-ready force. In Iraq, the Americans deployed only about a fifth of their forces. Moreover, when we talk about Iraq, we see something else interesting there.
The Americans there then had a main direction, which was Baghdad, and a supporting attack on Basra. Elsewhere there was a static front where no progress was made. In Ukraine, the Russians attack from four different directions. Hitler attacked from all three directions in the attack on the Soviet Union, so they have now defeated him. The coordination of the four offensive directions is at its freezing point. Between Mariupol and Odessa, which is a front, there are 500 kilometers. After all, the Russians do not keep anything there, only roads and a few villages, it certainly cannot be said that they control the territory. The entire Russian army would be needed to occupy Ukraine. This is all completely wrong and it’s a strategic loss right now.
Could the no-fly zone be that many are calling for help?
Very little. The Russian Air Force is unable to conduct large-scale air operations, most damage and casualties are caused by artillery. It is said that the only occasion for the Russians to send dozens of planes into the air at the same time are military parades. The no-fly zone would be a symbolic step, but also a risk of conflict with Russia. Fighters are something else, especially Polish MiGs. You would help a lot. Not just planes, but I believe that if the machines were already there, there would be a lot of Polish pilots who would like to choose a vacation and fly to Ukraine. The Russians invented it, so it would be nice to give it back.
Do you think Putin will press the nuclear button? Or is there not just a “small” tactical nuclear warhead attack?
What use would that be to him? It wouldn’t help him in any way, it would only make the situation worse. Even then, the Ukrainians would not give up, and the fallout would affect Russian soldiers as well. It’s nonsense, but I still can’t say it won’t happen, because this whole war is nonsense. Most experts were wrong and said that there would be no war in Ukraine, because objectively it just doesn’t make sense. And it happened anyway. We have not been able to predict that Russia will make such a suicidal fool. So that also cannot be ruled out with these nuclear weapons.
Is Putin crazy?
Putin is not crazy. He is a very intelligent man who succumbed to his own propaganda. He made several fatal mistakes and found himself in a situation from which there is no good way out. But that doesn’t drive him crazy. For Putin, this is the beginning of the end anyway. I consider it a fairly likely scenario that it will be removed. The general will conclude that this is no longer the case. Twice in the 20th century, the Russian regime fell because of a small lost war, which was supposed to be quick and trouble-free. Once upon a time, it was the tsarist regime that began to decline drastically due to its defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. After that, the regime weakened, and in 1917 it was just agony, the main turning point was the lost Russian-Japanese war. The Soviet Union fell for the second time after losing the war in Afghanistan. Twice short wars, the Russians twice became big ugly wars, and the regime fell because of them. Most likely, he is waiting for them for the third time.
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