Experts Analyze Five Causes of Russian Military “Struggles” in First Month and a Half of War | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Experts Analyze Five Causes of Russian Military “Struggles” in First Month and a Half of War

Military Journalist Fumitaro Kuroi Reports

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Before the war began, Russia had boldly stated that “Ukraine will fall in two days. However, the fierce fighting has continued for a month and a half, with no end in sight. Analyzing the current state of this war Photo courtesy of Ukraine Navy/EyePress News/REX/Afro

Russian forces invading Ukraine appear to have changed their strategy.

They are withdrawing the troops that were attacking the capital city of Kiev and are trying to regain their posture. It is believed that part of the forces will be transferred to the eastern front. There are also indications that some of the troops attacking Halkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, from the northeast are headed for the Donbass region in the east.

The Russian military has publicly stated that it will intensify its operations in eastern Ukraine in the future, and intelligence transmissions from the Ukrainian authorities suggest that the Ukrainian military believes that this will indeed be the case. If that is what the Ukrainian military assumes from its analysis of various types of information, it is extremely likely that the Russian military will in fact launch a major offensive in the Donbass region in the near future.

A fierce battle is about to begin.

The Russian military initially underestimated the Ukrainian forces, and the Russian invasion campaign was a crude one. By April 9, a new commander-in-chief was finally appointed to oversee operations in Ukraine. From now on, the Russian offensive is expected to be quite fierce, and fierce fighting is expected with the Ukrainian forces that will intercept them.

Factors contributing to the failure of the Russian forces are

So where did the initial Russian military operation fail? Let us summarize the main factors.

(1) Failure to secure air superiority (air superiority)

The orthodox strategy for an invasion is to neutralize the opponent’s air defense system and air bases to gain “air superiority,” then launch a large-scale air strike to knock out the opponent’s ground forces before the ground forces advance.

In fact, on the first day of the invasion, the Russian military announced that it had “destroyed the Ukrainian air defense system and air bases” by initially launching missile attacks. In reality, however, little was destroyed and the Ukrainian air defense systems survived. As a result, a series of Russian aircraft were shot down in the following days.

This was probably because Ukrainian military air defense units were taking measures to avoid Russian military attacks, but even so, the scale of the Russian military attacks was small, plus the results of the war have not been confirmed. The half-heartedness of the Russian attack was conspicuous.

(2) Expanding the front easily

The biggest factor in the failure of the Russian forces in the ground war was that they extended their front too far. The total number of Russian troops deployed around Ukraine was about 190,000, most of which probably invaded into Ukrainian territory. That would be at least 150,000 or more.

However, that size of force is not at all sufficient to overrun Ukraine, a country 1.6 times the size of Japan with a population of more than 40 million people. In particular, in terms of military strength, Ukraine has been working to strengthen its military forces since the Russian invasion of the Crimean Peninsula and the Donbass region in 2014, with about 200,000 regular troops, about 60,000 members of the Interior Ministry’s National Guard with heavy equipment similar to regular troops, and another 60,000 troops under the command of regular troops. The Territorial Defense Force, a reserve mobilization force that has been incorporated into the country’s military forces, has been deployed on an extremely large scale in response to the recent invasion. In other words, the Ukrainian side has the advantage in terms of troop strength. Moreover, they have a good knowledge of the land.

Even if Russian forces with inadequate military strength expand their area of control, it will be impossible for them to defend that area. The Russian army’s domination will not be in terms of surface domination, but in terms of lines, such as major cities, key points, and the trunk roads connecting them. Then, even if they control the area, the Ukrainian army can attack the supply routes from the sides. Conversely, the Russians would have difficulty defending their extended supply routes.

(iii) Unpreparedness due to underestimating the Ukrainian army

In the first place, Russia underestimated the Ukrainian military too much. Therefore, it launched the invasion without a precise plan. It is believed that the units were only informed that the invasion was an exercise in order to conceal their intention to invade.

For this reason, the units gathered from all over Russia moved haphazardly and disparately under the command of their respective military district commands, without a unified command post. There was no coordination between ground forces, let alone between land, sea, and air forces.

(4) The Ukrainian army was caught in its own tricks.

The Ukrainian military, probably with the cooperation of the United States and Britain, had analyzed these weaknesses of the Russian army and had taken appropriate countermeasures. For example, NATO supplied a large number of small anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to be carried by infantrymen, and they had received training in advance from U.S. and British special forces.

For example, Russian troops advancing from the northeast to the east of Kiev were almost unharmed along the main road to the outskirts of Kiev when they were targeted by anti-tank missiles and artillery fire from the surrounding areas, inflicting tremendous damage. The Ukrainian side probably intentionally drew them in and ambushed them.

Based on such advance preparations by the Ukrainian side, the Russian side should have studied their counterattack methods and applied countermeasures, but the Russian military underestimated its opponent and did not give sufficient consideration.

(5) Defeat in cyber and electronic warfare

As was the case in the ambush attack described above, the Ukrainian side was using drones to accurately determine the location of the Russian troops. Once the exact location of the opponent is known, the battle becomes much more advantageous.

The author initially assumed that the Russians would use cyberwarfare and electronic warfare to destroy or sabotage the Ukrainian side’s electronic systems in the invasion. I also thought that remote-controlled drones would likely be disabled by electronic warfare, and that if they were used, the location of the operator would be determined, which would be dangerous.

In reality, however, the Ukrainian military is using drones in all directions. The Russian military must use electronic warfare to disrupt drone operations, but they have been completely unable to do so.

Moreover, the drone’s reconnaissance information was shared with the Ukrainian military via the “Starlink” satellite link of the U.S.-based SpaceX, and used in offensive operations.

Furthermore, the Internet and cellular phones are also in regular use, which are fully utilized by the Ukrainian military in their operations. In other words, the Russian military has not been effective in the field of electronic warfare.

On the contrary, they are being beaten by electronic warfare. It seems that a sufficient number of military communication devices were not deployed to the frontline units, but there are many signs that even these communications were either jammed and unusable or intercepted and deciphered. This may be due to the fact that the Russian military’s technological capabilities were lagging behind, but it is also likely that they underestimated the Ukrainian military’s capabilities and did not adequately prepare for electronic warfare protection in advance.

However, the author suspects that the U.S. and U.K. probably cooperated with the Ukrainian side considerably beforehand in the areas of cyber and electronic warfare, and increased their capabilities in this area. The role of the aforementioned “Starlink” and other ostensible stories have been reported, but perhaps there are other possibilities that U.S. and British state agencies were secretly assisting the Ukrainian side.

The Tremendous Losses of Russian Forces and the Future of the War

These are some of the factors that have caused the Russian military to “struggle” for a month and a half. Of course, these are not the only reasons for the Russian army’s difficulties, but these five points are particularly significant.

In the first month and a half since the war began, the Russian forces participating in the operation are estimated to have lost almost 20% of their strength. This is a tremendous loss, but it is reported that the Russian government has begun to call up reserve units, and it is likely that they will regroup and try to regain their footing in the future. The Russian army will limit its front lines and concentrate its limited forces on those lines. In other words, they have returned to the orthodox form of warfare.

The offensive and defense that will take place in the eastern part of the country over the next few weeks will likely determine the direction of the situation.

  • Interview and text Fumitaro Kuroi Photo courtesy of Ukraine Navy/EyePress News/REX/Afro

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