WASHINGTON – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a shocking strategic and tactical blunder, with food and fuel shortages, abandoned armored vehicles, aircraft losses, and troop deaths.
However, missteps in the early days, such as significantly underestimating Ukrainians’ determination to fight back, might as a result of which a dissatisfied Moscow decides to unleash all of its force and indiscriminately destroy big swaths of Ukraine, according to US experts.
US experts who study the Russian military say they have been astounded by the campaign’s mishandling, which has seen invading columns stopped, hundreds of Russian armored vehicles reportedly lost, and the Ukrainians blocking the Kremlin’s air force from commanding the sky.
“If you were going to screw it up two or three weeks in, I might understand,” Scott Boston, a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corporation, said.
“However, if you tripped over the doorframe on your way inside the house, you have a different problem,” he explained.
The Pentagon and private sector specialists predicted that President Vladimir Putin’s army would soon undermine Ukraine’s ability to fight back, eroding command and control of the 200,000-strong Ukrainian military, eliminating its missile defenses, and destroying Kyiv’s air force.
Nothing of the sort has occurred in the first six days. And while there are no credible estimates of the number of Russian troops killed, injured, or taken, the figures appear to be significantly greater than what would have been expected.
According to an assessment by military analysts at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Centre, the Russians’ critical inability to immediately seize and hold an airfield just outside Kyiv.
According to them, the airport was likely too damaged to be used in the planned invasion of Kyiv as a result of the war over it.
Furthermore, they said that “Russian aircraft and helicopter losses have been unusually significant and unsustainable,” owing to the fact that they did not destroy Ukraine’s air defenses.
Electronic warfare deployment is restricted or ineffectual weaponry, which most observers expected to play a large role in destroying the Ukrainians’ capacity to communicate, was also surprising.
“If the Russians were able to cut off Ukrainian military leaders from those they command… Ukrainian air and air-defense units would have been compelled to fight in a disorganized fashion, rendering them less lethal and more vulnerable to assault,” according to the Scowcroft Centre assessment.
Boston noted that the Ukrainians have continued to damage Russian armor with their Turkish-made Bayraktar drones. “It’s okay if they got attacked by Turkish drones once or twice,” he remarked.
According to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, the Russians did not appear to have well-coordinated their large and diversified capabilities, nor did they handle the logistics for the invasion.
“We’re getting early indicators that, while they have sophisticated combined weaponry capabilities, they’re not necessarily fully integrated,” he said.
Their logistical flaws were as startling. “We see abandoned autos. “We’re witnessing sustainability issues not just in gasoline, but also in food,” he stated on Wednesday.