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Ukraine Brief Update Part III

Ukraine - Russia War - Thumb
Thumb - Ukraine Russia War 2022

Before I do the update on Ukraine, some points.

A happy face is accidental: as a military, geo-strategical, and intelligence analyst, I am never happy or unhappy. That is definitely a key requirement for the job.

1. Tom Cooper says it’s nonsense that the Russians are not advancing:1 and 2 Armies (Kiev sector) are advancing and are not stalled; 58 Army (south) has not made progress in the last couple of days, but it has made considerable advances.

Kiev Front Battle Map 2022
Russian advance on Kiev

2. Ivan Bajlo reminds me that its traditional Cold War to fight through proxies, in other words, West is following a low cost strategy by not getting directly involved. Also in other words, Ivan is telling me not to get emotional about the West prolonging this war, perhaps for years.

3. The convoy that has been stalled almost since the beginning of the war north of Kiev: its a supply convoy, so that’s why it isn’t fighting its way out – it can’t! It follows that the convoy itself is not in trouble, because there is plenty to eat and drink. It’s the combat elements that are suffering, not the convoy.

Political Cartoon Russia Ukraine War 2022
Political Cartoon – Russia invades Ukraine

4. (with input of Tom Cooper) Shades of Germany 1941! The road network in Eastern Ukraine is sparse. Rains and the famous Ukraine mud prevent major movement off road. The roads are 2-lane, and the large scale military movement, especially tracked vehicles, will have torn them up. Russia does not have the engineer units needed to keep the roads repaired. This is all very well as a military explanation, but it doesn’t help Russia who were trained and equipped for a very quick, short war. Blame US in Gulf 1991 for putting these ideas in people’s heads.

5. Russia has committed 100% of its invasion force. Since that is 11 of its 12 armies. To continue the war, Russia has to scrape up units that are not ready, fully equipped, and trained. It will take a minimum of 6 months to bring up to some kind of standard. But remember, this is Russia. Putin will use whatever he has, ready or not, and whether the units can be supported or not. Remember, each Russian Army (corps sized) has just one engineer brigade of 1000 troops.

Russian MBT knocked out
Russian Tank turret blown off. Ukraine 2022

6. Naturally there is apprehension among Indian military analysts at the poor performance of even the T-90, which is the primary Indian MBT. (a) The T-90 is no M-1 or Leopard 7, but it is a solid piece of work and in any case, all that India can afford. (b) the flaw is because of the operator, not the MBT. (c) Pakistan long ago proliferated ATGMs across the front, and has combat UAVs. The Indian Army will have to learn to handle the new reality of armored warfare, but it has been very much aware of the changed situation, if not its dimensions. This is not a crisis, but India will have to accelerate changes to its weapons and tactics.

7. Why is Russian armor taking such a beating? it is, of course, facing the latest western ATGMs. More than that, the infantry needs to make the advance and protect the flanks against enemy infantry in conjunction with artillery. I suspect Russian infantry is not overly keen on dismounting and getting in the weeds. No mechanized infantry is, but usually they do what has to be done. Russian forces don’t have enough infantry to do the worst job in the army, the very high risk, slow, and dirty job of clearing out adversary ATGMs against very determined guerrilla and semi-guerilla troops.

Russian Tank Burning
Russian Federation Army Tank burning Ukraine-Russian War 2022

8. Why all the fuss about Chechen and Wagner Group mercenaries and not about the Ukraine “Foreign Legion” pouring in? Simple. Think of the Spanish Civil War. The International Brigades (Republicans) fighting Franco’s nationalist forces were volunteers  supporting  a moral cause. The Chechens and Wagner are mercenaries for hire supporting an immoral cause.

Its important to realize that there are no two sides to the Ukraine War, and so we cannot assume an equivalence. Ukraine is a democracy fighting what Putin hoped was the final part of his salami tactics against Ukraine. Putin is fighting a war of conquest. So what if Ukraine was part of Russia for 400-years. It was granted independence by the then Soviet Union, and historically the Ukrainians have ruled parts of Russia. That would not give an Alternate Universe strong Ukraine an excuse for attacking a weak Russia.

Also, Indians in particular need to be very careful about supporting this line of argument. That’s playing right into China’s hands.

I understand that much of the non-Western world is bitterly opposed to the US in Ukraine because of US interventions all over the world post-1945. Many of these interventions were wrong. But lets not do a false equivalence: the Soviets went on a 45 year expansionist spree and busily intervened all over the word. 

But modern Russia gave up that path and decided to follow a moral road. Putin is a revanchist: an anti-democracy autocrat seeking to restore the lost Soviet empire.  Anti-Americans need to see that while many US interventions post 1945 (largely in reaction to Soviet expansionism – permissible –  and then in the 22 year war on global terror (impermissible in many respects) are to abhorred, that doesn’t make what Russia is doing right.



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Ravi Rikhye
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