Odds and Ends
16 5, 12:45pm
Russian has done more for urging Finland and Sweden to join NATO, than any other past diplomatic attempts... in their, mostly failed, attempt to conquer Ukraine.
I guess it's always easy to see how bad decisions are, after time has shown that they were indeed bad. I don't remember anyone laughing at the Russian military tactics on day 1 or day 2.
Actually, when I think of it, quite a few things do initially indicate, that such blitzkrieg tactics would work. Because 2 weeks prior to the invasion, the world was different. Let's look at it from a neutral standpoint:
- Ukrainian support for joining NATO has historically been low among the populace. Although a positive relationship has existed between Ukraine and NATO since 1992 and a formal frame agreement since 1994, only 28% were in favor of joining NATO, according to a questionnaire in 2012.
- And then the Yatsenuik-government rose to power as an interim government in February 2014. They almost destroyed almost 20 years of work to get Ukraine to join NATO, with their rhetorics and politics. Only after the Russians took Krim later that year, in October 2014, did the government and population change their minds.
- Speaking of Krim, 2 things come to mind:
-- 1) The Russians met only a light military resistance
-- 2) The rest of the world, including EU and NATO, did mostly nothing. Yeah there were condemnations and some sanctions - but nothing heavy handed that couldn't be dealt with.
The Russians were also supposed to produce some of the world's most advanced military tanks. I speak of course of the T-14 Armata. The Russian military had ordered 2,300 of those to be delivered between 2010 and 2020. Remember when I used the past term "were"? Yeah, they changed the schedule to begin delivering those tanks in 2022 - last year, and whether some of them have been delivered or not, is hard to find good sources on. We still haven't seen any in action to my knowledge.
But anyway - based on all the aforementioned things, it would indeed be tempting to think that a fast invasion of Ukraine would be possible for the military strong Russia, wouldn't you agree? Because Ukraine didn't show a great military interest in defending Krim, and the rest of the world didn't drum up the incident too much...
And thus, the Russians invaded Ukraine fully... and met a much larger military resistance than they'd hoped they would. They didn't even manage to fully conquer the important airspace: Why is anyone's guess, but rumors (good rumors) have it that the Russians are short on advanced long-distance missiles, which is why the Ukrainian truck-mounted ground-to-air missile launchers can hold the Russian airforces at bay. Ukraine originally had around 100 of those S-300 antiair missile launchers, and combined they shot down 30 planes + 31 helicopters in the first month of the war, according to the best numbers I could find. Now, thanks to weapon deliveries from sympathizing countries, they have much more and much better anti-air equipment.
Ukraine's military also has a bunch of Turkish TB2 drones, which have successfully destroyed a number of Russian targets - among those fuel tanks and antiair missile launchers - which has also aided in stalling the Russian advance.
And last but certainly not least: The Ukrainian people and their President, have all shown a high level of expertise and tenacity to defend their country, so some Russians were probably surprised, as the idea of them being liberators rather than barbaric invaders, was quickly disillusioned.
However, I also won't say that the Russian strategists are not at fault - because of course they are. Even if a fast victory seems certain, it's no reason to be sloppy and least of all stupid.
The southern invasion originating from Krim, quickly split into 3 forces: West, North and East - and those 3 forces have not shown any signs of cooperating at all. Yes, autonomy can be a good thing - to a certain level, and in certain situations. However, as an invading force, working in unity and coordinated is, of course, what pays off the best.
Not unironically, Hitler made the exact same mistake in World War II, after having failed in taking and besieging Moscow. The nazi troops were sent south, and as one big unit, the Russians couldn't do too much about them. Right up until they split up. Then the German troops were decimated, and by then they didn't get supplies - and they couldn't raid any either due to the Russian "scorched earth" strategy.
In 2022, the Russian strategists made that same error as the 1945 Germans - and while I understand how top-controlled Russia is in general, it's still very surprising to me, that a more competent strategy wasn't recognized.
Even now, in the middle of May 2023, weird and bad decisions are still being taken by the Russian military. For example, they dearly wish to conquer Bakhmut - but have provided little to no ammunition for the Wagner group figthing there, causing Prigozjin to lash out against Putin in unprecedented ways - and now, Ukraine is well on their way to retake Bakhmut, having just secured areas north and south of the city, being within 0.5km from the city's north-western outskirts.
I kind of feel that if nuclear weapons weren't invented, there's a chance that Poland and Finland would've just marched in from the west and taken Moscow. Putin has no worthwhile allies that could've prevented that; Belarus are extremely poor and militarily uncapable, while China really mostly cares about flow of money.
Slava Ukraini, heroyam slava!