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Superior tactics leave Ukraine’s supply chain vulnerable but Russians frustrated

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It’s tough to have a neutral perspective on the war. The Pentagon is likely basing its daily briefings on the massive intelligence machinery at its disposal. Both nation, however, supports Ukraine and is reasonably cautious in overall assessments of Ukrainian soldiers and tactics.

Meanwhile, both Moscow and Kyiv are involved in a “narrative battle.” Observing the conflict from the outside is like watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster via a drinking straw. Military specialists can, however, sift through the data to get a general picture of how the battle is evolving.

Smart equations

The Ukrainian military has fought back with surprising tenacity and effectiveness. The northern city of Kharkiv and the capital, Kyiv, are still under Ukrainian control. Poor tactics, leadership, and logistics have hampered Russian advances, with forward units running out of ammunition, fuel, food, and water. Russia has yet to acquire air superiority, which is a crucial component of success. The ability of the Ukrainian military to command and control its forces appears to be unaffected.

At this point, both sides are trying to punish and hurt each other, hoping to thwart the opponent’s plans and turn military victory into bargaining power in the peace talks.

The statement by Moscow’s military command that efforts would focus on securing those sections of the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk not already occupied by pro-Moscow rebels demonstrated that Russia’s approach has been adjusted. It is likely that it will spend ammunition and fuel on forces battling Ukrainian brigades defending Donbas. Strikes with artillery and long-range missiles are anticipated to increase in this region.

The Ukrainian army has upgraded its defensive positions in Donbas over the last five years, including massive trench systems and armored vehicles in fortified revetments. Attacking this zone successfully will necessitate powerful artillery and armored vehicles, as well as tough, aggressive troops, all directed by capable tactical commanders. Success would require Russian officers to demonstrate greater leadership and tactical acumen than they have in northern Ukraine.

In the south, Russian forces have had more success. This could be due to improved logistics, such as the deployment of a fuel and ammunition stockpile in Crimea, or the deployment of more capable military formations. Because the terrain is less wooded, it is better suited to armoured forces.

These Russian southern forces may attack northwards, threatening to encircle Ukrainian soldiers in Donbas. If the siege of Mariupol is successful, the besieging forces may be redirected northwards. In addition, Russian troops are attacking Donbas from the north, near the town of Izyum. If these threats materialize, the Ukrainian general staff will be forced to make a difficult decision: to fight and risk being besieged or to retreat to the west. It would be tough to disengage.

Russia also stated that it would tone down its attacks around Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv, with its forces adopting a more defensive stance. However, the Russian army will almost certainly continue to strike these locations, relying on the weapons and rocket launchers it still has to weaken counterattacks. Strikes like these could make redeploying Ukrainian forces to Donbas more difficult.

We should anticipate the Ukrainian army to undertake small counterattacks in places where the Russian advance has run out of steam in order to push back the enemy, preserve their offensive edge, and lower Russian morale. Due to Ukraine’s need to keep its troops and equipment in Donbas, these are likely to be restricted.

The other conflicts

Diplomacy, information, intelligence, economic sanctions, and military equipment supply are all part of a worldwide battle to prevent a Russian victory.

The United States and the United Kingdom appear to be leading an informal coalition sending guns and ammunition to Kyiv. This is contingent on a successful transfer, most likely along the western border. According to reports, Ukrainian planes are collecting supplies all throughout Europe. Russia is likely employing a combination of signals intelligence, reconnaissance satellites, long-range drones, special troops, agents, and informers to detect and sabotage this activity. Recent missile assaults on barracks, ammo bunkers, and fuel sites in eastern Ukraine were most likely motivated by these factors.

Air supremacy is frequently regarded as critical to the success of a military battle. It is a tremendous feat that the Ukrainian air force fighters and missile defenses have denied Russia air superiority, indicating a better degree of leadership, confidence, and tactical expertise.

The Russian air force appears to be boosting the number of radar surveillance planes on the ground. If the Ukrainian air force is overrun, Russian fighters, bombers, and assault helicopters will have far greater freedom of operation. A portion of the funds would be used to support Russia’s efforts in Donbas. In the west, however, Russia would be able to send more surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike aircraft. This would provide it a better understanding of how supplies enter Ukraine and flow to the front lines, allowing it to assault supply convoys and storage areas.

Russia acquiring air superiority might tip the battlefield’s balance, both directly and indirectly, by hurting Ukraine’s logistics, particularly its stockpiles of advanced western weapons like the US Javelin and British NLAW missiles.

Vulnerability and asset

Kyiv’s military strategy is defensive, with diplomacy and a sophisticated communications campaign as part of it. President Zelensky is Ukraine’s single most valuable asset in this regard. He has mixed Churchillian hyperbole and social media exploitation with video addresses to national legislatures, which are frequently expertly aimed at the political dynamics of those nations.

Russia is unlikely to try to cut off all video connections to Kyiv. To undertake peace negotiations requires at least one channel. But no one should believe that Russia would turn down the chance to assassinate Zelensky. A loss of this magnitude might be devastating to Ukraine’s diplomacy and morale.

Ukraine has so far thwarted all of Russia’s strategic objectives, but analysts who anticipate a Ukrainian win may be overly optimistic. Ukraine’s ability to win on land is dependent on the vulnerability of its supply lines, according to Brigadier Ben Barry (retired) a senior fellow for land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies and author of Blood, Metal and Dust: How Victory Turned into Defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq

Image Credit: Getty

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