Failures in “military planning”, “logistical problems”, “poor combat preparation” and underestimation of the enemy. These are the reasons why Russia failed to carry out its “lightning war” to take Ukraine and behead its government.
A report of Seth G. Jonesof Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS, for its acronym in English), provides striking details of military shortcomings. The document takes as its axis the first three months of the invasion, and is based on a compilation of different military and intelligence sources, on satellite maps and on interviews with experts.
He maintains that Russian air, ground, cyber and maritime operations were affected by Surprising military mistakes for an Army of the size of the Russian. Also contributing was the strong Ukrainian military resistance and the arms supply provided by Western countries.
A Russian tank destroyed by Ukrainian forces in Chernihiv. (Reuters)
The fact that the Kremlin was unable to overthrow the government of Volodymyr Zelensky quickly, as it intended, nor to seize and hold a large territory, led to “the suspension or dismissal of several high-ranking military officers”, says the report.
He cites, among them, Lieutenant Generals Serhiy Kisel and Vlaislav Yershov, in charge of the offensive against Kharkov, who were displaced due to “negligence”.
Or Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, commander of the Black Sea Fleet, due to the sinking of the flagship cruiser Moskva. In addition, about a dozen Russian generals were killed on the battlefield, shot by Ukrainian snipers.
Both facts, he points out, “could have exacerbated command and control problems that the Russian army already had.
The main flaws
There were three serious blunders made by the Russian Army in the first phase of the invasion.
The first had to do with logistics: “Without access to rail transport and with roads clogged with Russian vehicles, Russian ground forces were unable to move fuel, ammunition, spare parts and other material quickly and efficiently to forward-deployed units,” the document details.
Numerous Russian vehicles broke down and had to be abandoned due to lack of spare parts and mechanics. “In short, the Russian military failed to secure its critical lines of communication.”
Ukrainian gunners prepare to fire a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher near Izyum. (AFP)
The second problem, linked to the first, was the poor assessment of the reaction of the Ukrainian forces -Moscow thought they were going to surrender quickly-, from the local population who never supported the Russians, and from the Western powers who acted in a united way to supply arms and funds to kyiv.
“Taking and holding the territory was one of the main political goals of Russian policymakers. But control of territory in a foreign country with a hostile Ukrainian population proved very problematic for the Russian military, especially since the conflict began to resemble a ‘people’s war’”, the CSIS report states.
Russian forces used the main routes to gain access from the north, avoiding swampy areas and forests. But they did not give enough protection to their military and supply columns. Despite their numerical superiority, suffered heavy casualties due to Ukrainian “anti-tank ambushes”.
Civilians provided information on the location of armor and troops, and the Ukrainian services gave the coordinates to the artillery. “Russian mechanized formations in the north of Ukraine were targeted by the deadly Ukrainian light infantryarmed with modern weapon systems, such as the Javelin anti-tank missile system, the New Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAW), and the Stugna-P guided missile system,” he says.
The Russians did not take into account the reaction of the Ukrainian population, who decided to arm themselves to defend the country. (EFE)
To this is added the great number of russian conscripts deployed, which were inefficient and low morale.
Compulsory service usually lasts a year in Russia, a short time to train them properly. In addition, “they were given very little notice that they were going to invade Ukraine, which affected the preparation.”
The third problem, he clarifies, had to do with the cyber operations Russian offensives and electronic warfare, which “they failed to blind the command” or “threaten critical infrastructure for a prolonged period”.
“Ukraine could counter most of the effects of these cyberattacks through aggressive cyber defensewith the help of private companies, Western governments and other state and non-state actors”, he points out.
The failed air control
At the start of the invasion, the Russian high command tried to eliminate Ukrainian air defense with ballistic and cruise missiles. He also sought to destroy the country’s military infrastructure, fuel facilities, bridges and weapons shipments from the West.
A Ukrainian soldier demonstrates the operation of an antidrone system. (EFE)
In the first 70 days of war, Russia launched more than 2,100 missiles.
But he was unable to assert his superiority because the ukrainians demonstrated great reactivity when using the stinger man-portable air defense systemsthe S-300 surface-to-air missiles and others provided by the West.
“The success of the Ukrainian air defenses prevented Russian planes from operating freely over most of the territory controlled by Ukraine,” he says.
This forced them to resort to cruise missiles launched from Russian territoryBelarus and from ships in the Black Sea.
Nevertheless, after three weeks of war they ran out of precision ammunition “such as laser-guided and satellite-guided bombs”. That’s why they ended up using artillery, rockets and unguided missiles.
Corpses of Russian soldiers in the village of Vilkhivka, near the eastern city of Kharkov. (AFP)
On the other hand, the Ukrainian forces managed to shoot down dozens of Russian drones or interfere with them, thus nullifying that possibility of attack.
The Russian arms industry, hit by the economic situation and its own production limits, could not replace drones with the speed that was needed.
The report concludes that, despite everything, “there is little chance that Vladimir Putin will stop now”, and that therefore the war in Ukraine will inevitably be prolonged.