Russian offensive in Ukraine — military notes

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The Soviet Army faced initial setbacks when fighting off the German offensive in World War II as part of the formidable Operation BARBAROSSA (1941-45). However, he quickly recovered, and his counter-offensives not only pushed German forces out of the then Soviet Union, but were also able to capture half of Germany in the process.

According to Western propaganda (there is no longer an independent source), the Russian offensive in Ukraine has gone wrong and the Russian army is forced to retreat, given the tenacity of the resistance Ukraine, its will to fight and the weapons provided by the United States and NATO. war material. An experienced staff like the Russian armed forces would not launch military operations on unsustainable assumptions, in a tight supply situation and an unexpected political situation. President Putin is a seasoned statesman, and there is no reason to believe that he ignored the international reaction, especially the indirect involvement of the United States and NATO in the dispute.

Russia launched the multi-pronged invasion of Ukraine using the launch pads in northern, northeast, eastern and southern Ukraine on February 24, 2022 after an extended build-up of its forces in freezing conditions, having failed to impose neutrality on Ukraine. Using the Black Sea Fleet and some 150,000 troops on the ground, the Russian offensive targeted major Ukrainian cities in missile and artillery barrages after a swift and successful SEAD (enemy air defense suppression) operation. Russian troops invested/attempted to invest major cities and marched virtually unopposed towards Kyiv from the north.

Russia’s ‘ostensible’ goal was regime change or ‘regime acquiescence’ in Kyiv, keeping the threat of using ground troops as a last option, as any sane military planner would know the dangers of fighting. in built-up areas (cities/villages); the higher troop-to-ground ratio it needs due to high attrition and the time it takes. The possible non-capitulation of Ukraine unlike Georgia (2008) must have been a war game and the physical occupation of a country as large as Ukraine had to be analyzed but abandoned, because Russia did not never had enough strength, regardless of Western propaganda. Thus, with the exception of Mariopul, Kherson and the northern suburbs of kyiv, Russian ground troops would not have participated aggressively in combat.

As a narrow goal of regime change, Russian commanders logically had to discuss plan B, i.e. the extension of the Crimean land bridge to the northern Black Sea by incorporating the ports of Mariupol, Odessa extending it further west towards the Russian-speaking enclave of Transnistria in Moldova. , in addition to consolidating in the eastern region of Donbass in Ukraine.

During the almost two months of fighting, no one could discern any large-scale maneuvers worthwhile in themselves. Currently, in the 25 oblasts (counties) of Ukraine, more than 70 towns/villages, including the city of Mariupol, Melitopol and Kherson, are in Russian hands. About 13 towns/villages are disputed, including Kharkiv. Russian forces north of kyiv were repositioned to the east to achieve the cited reduced objective. Ukrainian towns and villages and the Ukrainian countryside remain littered with large-scale destruction and Russian armored carcasses, largely due to the ineffective Russian deployment and effective use of Stingers/Javelin anti-tank missiles and tactical “killer” drones. » Turkish Bayraktar by Ukrainian troops (fighting in small squads), local militias and foreign legionnaires.

Russia announced that its “special military operation” (no invasion) is entering a new phase after achieving its main objective, signaling the quoted reduction. Russian Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi, Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff, reportedly said that Russia was focused on “the main goal, the liberation of Donbass”. To the east/southeast, Russia already has the bridgeheads of Donetsk and Luhansk, with the Crimea/Sea of ​​Azov protecting its southern flank. This operation is therefore likely to be relatively successful. Terrian favors the attacker. Russia is obviously not serious about pursuing the ceasefire due to its stronger position on the battlefield, despite the serious and urgent call from the United States and NATO.

So far, Western officials report the deaths of 7 Russian generals during the war, including Lieutenant General Yakov Rezanstev, the commander of the Russian 49th Combined Arms Group, and General Magomed Tushaev of the Chechen Special Forces. The commander of the Russian army, General Vlaslav Yershov, was reportedly fired due to the heavy Russian losses.

The reckless advance and deployment of Russian forces without air cover, poor coordination, ineffective tactical/operational communications, poor intelligence, and overloaded supply lines are cited as other reasons affecting Russian performance. The Western military staff unanimously points to the failure of President Putin’s initial objective of decapitating the Ukrainian forces during a lightning operation. Some experts cite the apparent disappointment of the Russians at not having been welcomed as liberators by the Ukrainians (and therefore the lackluster continuation of operations). However, such iterations betray cold military logic.

On the ground, experts say, Russia appears to have neglected at least “local air superiority” in critical battles despite deploying more than 500 aircraft and a relatively successful initial SEAD operation. Recovered Ukrainian combat aircraft, radars, ground-to-air systems and airstrips continue to operate. In one case, elite units were parachuted into the airport (Hostomel) without air cover. Long/vulnerable armored columns advancing without air cover resulted in the destruction of over 500 tanks and over 300 armored vehicles. The armor also apparently lacked artillery and infantry support during critical urban warfare.

The US government estimates that only 50% of Russian cruise missiles hit their targets. Most civilians in/around the Ukrainian town of Bucha were killed by small metal arrows (Darts) during World War I fragmentation shells fired by Russian artillery in an anti-personnel role. Anti-tank weapons supplied by the United States and NATO, in the hands of the Ukrainians, on the other hand, proved to be more deadly. The terrain north of kyiv dotted with rivers and forests was more favorable to the Ukrainian defenders, winning the “Battle of the Roads”.

It is fair to assume that Russia must have led the anticipated US-European reaction. However, aside from the toughest sanctions, the form and format of US military aid to Ukraine may come as a surprise. Secretaries Austin and Blinken recently announced $713 million in foreign military funding for Ukraine ($322 million for Kyiv) and 15 allied/NATO countries. This is not a donation from US stocks, but cash to enable these countries to make the necessary purchases. This is in addition to $165 million for non-US ammunition, compatible with Soviet-era Ukrainian weapons. This brings total US military aid to $3.7 billion. New artillery guns, including howitzers, are quickly transferred to Ukraine, whose army is trained accordingly in neighboring countries.

Ukrainian civilians in the occupied areas reinforced by foreigners are organized into volunteer militias to resist the occupation. The war has forced nearly 5.2 million Ukrainians to flee; and internally displaced more than 7.7 million people.

More next week.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 28and2022.

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