The resistance by Ukraine to the Russian invasion has been pretty epic… and has decidedly defied the experts on how everything was going to go. Just wow.
What helps is the apparent ineptness of the Russian effort, their piss-poor logistics and the outright unexpected poor performance of their ground & air forces across the board.
As things moved(?) along, there has been much written within the Media and as much or more talked about behind the scenes as to what drove this invasion. And no one has a sure concrete answer… though there have been some major findings and developments no one expected.
The following is my takes on all of it. I am by no means an expert on ANY of this.
What I am, though, is someone who does pay attention, reads up on situations/subjects and tries to have it make sense… An Informed opinion, as it were. And some of my observations made early on have been far more accurate than *I* expected in some cases. I really didn’t expect to be this right on some things. And even where I was wrong, I was not wrong by much. Wow moment for me, lemme tell you.
Early on, discussion with friends who are and were in the Analysis Biz has debated on that question… One of the theories is a desire for a return to the Cold War…. Because traditionally, the Russian mindset and people unite around the concept of “Everyone Is Against Us” otherwise known as Siege Mentality. Its fact that Putin’s hold on the country has been slipping and a rise of a questioning of his position has reared itself in Russia- and using a real or imagined belief in Us Versus Them can strengthen one’s rule.
Can. Not always…. But it can.
Some may disagree as to how prevalent it is… but with all the poisoning of Opposition Leaders and or Critics of his regime, there is strong support for the notion that he’s not as secure as he may have been.
So, it was my thought that he was combining both his Known Desire to re-establish the Glory Days of Russia with a return to a Cold War mentality along with using the inherent Nationalism of the Russian to rally around the flag. It was also thought that this invasion would help splinter the West even more, so skittish as they are about pain/personal suffering and the possible amplification of its internal divisions.
Instead…. What this invasion as done is pretty much the opposite.
It galvanized the West into working together truly for the first time instead of splintering them. I mean, The Germans, considered the weak link in NATO due to the Pipelines and their reliance on Russian Gas; declared they would take the pain in order to help stop Russia. They also have reversed major policies on Defense Spending and shipment of Lethal Aid… This is pretty damn huge for anyone who paid attention to their self-disarming semi-pacifism of the early part of this century. The Germans had a proud military tradition once. And Vlad’s shenanigans have reawakened something in the Krauts.
Another unexpected event is in that it’s had traditional Neutrals pick a side. My god… the SWISS have not picked a side in any major European Conflict since the 1500’s… That’s FIVE HUNDRED YEARS. The Finns and the Swedes are looking at Nato membership; while a big deal, its not as big as Switzerland no longer remaining its traditional Neutrality and picking a side in all this.
Might be a sign y’all messed up huge if they are against you.
The only countries who seem to be on his side… are places with dictators (Syria) or who pretty much are puppets (Belarus). And even among the Dictator Set, there are not terribly many supporting this invasion.
No one knows what really is driving this. Whatever the true reason, it is costing Russia far more than what he and his advisors likely expected.
Vlad’s military has shown that it apparently ISN’T all that as many thought- and may be less able then believed. It has me a touch surprised about things I never expected to be surprised at.
Remember, so many experts thought 200k troops would roll over the Ukrainian army like they weren’t there…. And that three to five days would be enough to take the entire country. I disagreed vociferously against my analyst friends on this… I didn’t see it, as this was not the Ukrainian military of 2014 and their will/morale/desire to resist was far higher than experts were thinking. The Ukies were not going to roll over… and in my opinion, were going to do far better than anyone expected them to.
To say I was a minority opinion on this would be an understatement.
As events have shown, despite being outgunned, the Ukrainians have not only given the idea of Russian Might a black eye, but you could also say they have utterly wrecked it. Again, Russian errors have helped in this matter…. But as the saying goes- Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics. Based on what I am seeing, its is very much Amateur Hour in the Russian High Command. And this is surprising as hell to me- at least initially.
Further thought…. Did not lessen the surprise but it did allow me to clarify the WHY it happened.
Analysis/discussion of their tactics show them using methodology that was Doctrine from the mid 70’s to 80’s for a European War… so you are talking about war plans that were considered adequate or good for enemies and equipment then. This war has shown their shortcomings…. And really solidified the shortcomings of Soviet Era Equipment. And I say Soviet Era because for the most part, the armor and gear in use dates to the heyday of the Soviet Army which was (drum roll, please)… 1960-1985.
This is not to say the equipment isn’t capable; it is but the strategies and battlefield plans/doctrine being used has proven not to be in the CURRENT Era. Things in a modern western army that are down at the troop level (night vision!!) and squad level (reliable communication) are NOT found in the Russian forces attacking Ukraine. Hell, as hodgepodge as the Ukrainian resistance is with gear, there is decent reliable comms along with some Night Vision capability among them… And these items are proving to be giant advantages against the Russians.
The strategy and doctrine might have worked in the 1980’s (and I emphasize MIGHT…) but given all that has been learned about the old Soviet Doctrines, the equipment being used and adjustments to Western Fighting styles, Putin’s Generals thinking they were going to use Tried and True to stomp on Ukraine was fantasy.
Some of these strategies were used in Hungary and Czechoslovakia back in the day. But you also had a bit more pliable populous in those countries… especially compared to Modern Ukraine.
Change is Scary. And to the Russian High Command, it would seem any deviation from Doctrine or attempt to Make New Doctrine was ignored or stomped out. The current Defense Minister- Sergi Shoigu- is/was supposed to be a lead figure in the modernizing of the Russian Army and its Doctrinal Thinking… but right now, either all the money that was spent to do so went into the hands of those other than enacting modernization or it was all a sham.
What is being shown in terms of plans/procedures… is what may have been current 40 years ago. Hardly modern, if you ask me. If I recall correctly, the US Military has undergone at least two doctrinal changes as to how it fights wars… and is in the middle of a third (more like a reversion to a modified earlier version but still, change)
Some of what I have read via media (non US media- American sources are far too biased in odd directions) is that Putin was told by his Generals that the Army was Ready and Able to meet the expected timetables (taking of Kyiv within three to five days) and from what was predicted by them, the expected capitulation of Ukraine not long after.
Events have proven that they sold him a bill of goods. Sergi’s still alive so far… so Vlad, a purported Stalinist, has not gone Uncle Joe on him. Yet. Time will tell.
Another aspect of the Military Analysis is the sheer unreliability of the forces being used.
Granted, its 3rd hand reporting in some cases, but according to the Human Intelligence (HUMINT) experts, morale among the Russian forces is pretty low. Reports of many not even knowing they were going to war are rampant and there are many stories of troops being told they were on a three day maneuver on the border as a show of force.
Some of the higher officers knew, of course- though (according to reports) the orders to cross the border were given mere hours before.
As such, reports of desertions are plentiful. And the Ukrainians have been able to make some hay out of those units that Surrendered to *them*. Denials by Moscow, of course… but the evidence is absolutely there. It also explains WHY, to some degree, they didn’t have the supplies for more than three days of operations. No one trusted those below a certain level with plans for the op, which is indicative of how much Russia trusts its smaller commands.
Which, to me, says not at all.
This is not my strongest area and I had to do more than a bit of reading to understand a few items. But the potential effects on Russia of all the sanctions was understandable. To say that Vlad’s country is in danger of insolvency is an accurate statement and potentially an understatement.
Russia has been cut off from Export Revenue of its products, is having Sovereign Assets frozen in international banks and the Energy Sector is now getting moved on. They have lost the ability to perform international money transactions and secure funding due to being booted from SWIFT… and their elites are rapidly finding all their assets being seized all over the world. Based on my reading of various economist articles and the informed opinion of one of my analyst friends, Russia’s economy is d-o-n-e done by next week.
Default on loans, inability to pay for goods/services and a lack of ability to GENERATE revenue via international means… will destroy their economy and potentially collapse their government. There is many schools of thought on who really holds power in Russia- Putin/the Party or the Oligarchs, those very rich men/families who provide a large amount of support to the Government via patronage. Money Talks- especially over there.
With the Oligarchs being threatened with loss of assets, it threatens their positions and their power. None of them are going to like it much and I believe that they fully are aware of the threat to their lifestyle, assets and power stems from the actions of one man. And if he doesn’t come up with a means to arrest the freefall of their situations (along with the country’s- some of them are loyal Sons of Russia), they may act.
Vlad knows this… and may preemptively act to remove a potential threat to HIS position. The Oligarchs know this could be a thing. And in my mind, this could cause a Civil War there of the likes not seen since 1918.
Every Day that Ukraine holds out and fails to give up, its another day of damage to Russia and added impetus to remove the Architect of this War who is also the reason the West has completely turned on Russia- which in turn increases the possibility of Insurrection in Russia.
There is no Political “Out” for Putin from this invasion. The West has solidified its nerve and its stance, reinforcing it all the time with additional measures designed to make Russia (and its power base) cry “uncle”. And that day is closer than one might think- though how close no one really knows.
Militarily, there are two options that are available to Vlad. The first… is adding more troops to the effort. A large amount more. Yes, the efforts in the South of the Country have been more successful in their objectives than the North and East. Still not incredibly successful as it took too long to capture certain places, Like Kherson, but moreso than in the North/North East.
And in that vein, that some locations STILL have not fallen in the South is incredible. As of this writing, Mariupol is still not taken. Surrounded, battered extensively but not taken.
How much longer they can hold out… is a big question.
North and East, Some important cities have been surrounded but again, not taken. And every day they don’t fall… it’s a morale boost for Ukrainian resistance.
More troops would help Russian Efforts…. But as far as I can determine (public source- not the most reliable but major movements show up there), no more Russian troops have been earmarked for the invasion. Which is mixed news- the Russians seemingly cannot support properly what’s in play NOW, so more would make it that much harder to do. The thought of Belarus committing troops looked probable a few days ago and their being committed would increase pressure on Ukraine.
But it would seem that the desertion and morale issues that has affected the Russian Effort has also hit Belarus’s military- and a lot harder. There are reports of mass desertions (ten to fifteen percent or more) in the units earmarked for use, as well as a general resistance to being committed against a country that was a friend until a few months ago. So the More Troops angle has some major hurdles to enact.
The second option is the big unthinkable one- and it’s a Military as well as a Political Decision to boot.
Deciding to Use a Weapons of Mass Destruction on a Civilian Target to try and force the West to back off their measures… and make Ukraine surrender is absolutely not a good idea. Doing so is an act of Desperation. It is an Unthinkable Act.
There are many who think he’d never do it, never use Gas or a Nuke. But then, there were many who thought he’d never invade Ukraine at all, many who thought he’d never go for more than the eastern third of the country (I was one of these) so the thought of the use of WMD is on the table where he’d concerned.
I brought up the prospect he might a few days ago in a roundtable discussion…. Was told I was nuts. Then about a day ago, Putin raised the spectre of their being used….
To my mind, they are only gonna get used if he can’t break the Ukrainians through standard means.
Right here, right now, the Ukrainian Resistance is showing the world that they will not fold, they will not break…. And the recent striking of a Children and Maternity Hospital via artillery along with the breaking of Humanitarian Cease Fires… is only strengthening resolve to not give in.
Using a WMD on them, in my opinion, will not achieve the cracking of their resolve that Vlad needs… if anything, it will likely strengthen it. Putin already said a great many things pertaining to his belief Ukrainians are not who they are and are really Russian. That’s not the way to win friends and influence the populous to come to your side…
It also may absolutely be the Red Line that brings the West into this war on a physical troop level. NATO and the West have held their hands so far for political reasons… But gassing Civilians would be a step too far and be the Political Cover needed to Do Something more than what they have.
Oh sure, Russia will claim it was the Ukrainians. But there will be far too much evidence otherwise that would debunk Putin’s assertions- as hiding such an act is a lot harder here than in Syria. Add in Ukraine doesn’t have any makes such a claim even more absurd.
No… I well and truly think the longer Ukraine holds out, the higher likelihood of a Desperate Act…. And an act that would get NATO to intervene, causing the war to widen.
By all the Gods in existence, I well and truly hope it doesn’t happen… that the sanctions cause an upheaval there and ends this. But it needs to happen soon as the prospect of World War Three is very much a possibility…
No one knows what is driving Putin to do this. Lots of theories… from Mania to Glory Days to some sort of Mad Prophecy to him having some sort of malady that is killing him and he wants to take everyone with him (sounds crazy but its possible!)…. But whatever the reason, something has to give before this gets worse in a way everyone loses.