The War Between Russia and Ukraine: Why the Russian Army is Suffering Heavy Losses and What Will Happen Next

Ukrainian military experts have analysed military actions from the Russian side. The military analyst Viktor Kevlyuk said that Russian troops entered Ukraine in one echelon with allocation of reserves. The bet was on a breakthrough and rapid advance. Thus, columns of units moved without observing elementary combat support measures – there were no main and side roadblocks, the columns were not guarded, and there was no air cover. Communication in the column was also unstable, and there were problems with navigation. At the same time, the analysts noted that such actions were similar to Chechnya in 1994 – the Russian Armed Forces acted in a similar way.

Viktor Kevlyuk explains that there are logistical difficulties, with combat units separated from the rear. He wonders whether in such a situation the Russian military tried to seize landing strips closer to Kiev, losing a significant number of troops in the process.

“The minus can be given to the Russian commanders for their tactical prowess, for their formulaic woodenness in decisions,” the expert says.

At the moment large-scale movement has stopped. At the same time it can be observed that the enemy tries to move frequently, as in the Mykolaiv region, but still when the columns gather the Ukrainians hit them with GRADs. Separately, it is worth saying it is moving in the direction of Kiev – the action of the Russian troops is criminal in nature – mass shooting of residential areas and dropping banned aerial bombs, such as the FAB-500 near Chernihiv. Apparently, the Russian army is pursuing a scorched earth tactic, destroying the civilians.

The Russian missile and aviation forces acted in the same way. The strikes were ineffective, inaccurate, scattered, efforts were not concentrated anywhere, and targets were hit which the AFU could easily do without. Thus, the author witnessed at least 20 missile strikes on the Kiev CHP-6 on the outskirts of the city. Ukrainian air defences worked well and the missiles were shot down. At the time when I was writing this article, on 6 March the Russian forces had used nearly all of the 200 Kalibr missiles, which they call high-precision missiles. By the way, 20 such missiles are produced per year. However, about 75 per cent of the Iskander missiles remain in the Russian arsenal.

The Russian aviation also acted in a traditional way, flying single aircraft or in pairs or links. Not once has there been a squadron in full formation. Experts say there is no total dominance in the air, there is control over certain areas at certain moments in the battle. At the same time, the analysts claim that the air force is not trained to act jointly (except for a few cases), it is not possible to direct its fighters at our air targets (great distance, no forward guidance posts and air gunners).

An example is an amphibious landing at Kiev’s Gostemel airport – then the enemy sent transport planes with paratroopers, without having air superiority, and without creating a safe passage corridor. As a result, the IL-76 planes with all the personnel of the landing troops were shot down. Several such landing force aircrafts were shot down.

The military analysts also refer to the personnel of the Russian Armed Forces. Among them there are several categories: conscript soldiers, contract soldiers and officers. Viktor Kevlyuk goes on saying that the conscripts are a pitiful sight both outwardly and in terms of their moral and psychological state. Particularly striking is their unhygienic appearance and fierce confusion. Soldiers have been isolated for a long time from information in the areas of the “exercise”, where they were under systematic ideological influence. Communication equipment has been taken away from the personnel, indicating a lack of trust in them.

“It can be assumed with high probability that the core of the invasion force is made up of servicemen mostly from socially vulnerable backgrounds, with a primitive education, a lack of outlook, and huge gaps in knowledge. For example, the war prisoner could not find an answer to the question “In whose honour is the Russian city of Vladimir, where you live, named? This is a sign of the crisis phenomena of manning the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In other words, people join the army either by force or out of despair,” Viktor Kevlyuk told.

The shortage of professional soldiers (who are valuable in the content) is compensated with conscripts and reservists called up for a “training meeting” a few weeks before the invasion. Elementary mistakes, such as inability to orient themselves in the environment, absence of derivative guards on the march, and the untimely deployment to pre-combat and combat positions, indicate poor tactical training of the officers. There are few motivated and professional ones out there.

An interesting fact is that entire divisions of the occupants are being killed. For example, the Latvian Colonel Andrey Arkhipov’s 25th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade of the Red Banner of Sevastopol (25th MLRB) – and Andrey Arkhipov himself died. The brigade consisted of 2,100 men, around 150-200 of whom were military officers.

The deaths indicate that the old Soviet principle of “the commander is ahead on a dashing horse” is alive and well in the troops. The analysts put it simply: the officers are acting “out of inertia” – the mechanisms built up during training have been triggered, their actions are ordinary and machine-like. In general, the personnel involved in the invasion of Ukraine are poorly prepared psychologically, unprepared for casualties, for seeing corpses and torn bodies, unable to operate in smoke and flames, rapidly lose their combat effectiveness, and are unprepared to fight in encirclement and isolation.

Speaking about military reserves, experts believe that the total number of ground troops of the Russian Armed Forces is about 280,000. These troops are organized into 10 divisions, 118 brigades and four military bases. More than half of them (60%) are scattered along the borders and Russian regions. Approximately 65,000 Russian soldiers have invaded Ukraine. Discarding 4 academies, 8 military high schools, 4 military bases abroad, headquarters and institutions of the rear; then about 20-25 thousand soldiers remain in the Russian Army reserves.

The same can be said in terms of armaments: the availability of military units should be 75%-80%, 80%-90% of which are serviceable. On the territory of Ukraine the Russian Federation has deployed up to half of the tank fleet, the fleet of armoured combat vehicles, somewhere in the same range of SAUs and MLRS. In other words, the Russians still have about 400-450 tanks and about 13,000 ACVs in reserve.

“But again there is a “but”: all divisions of the Russian Armed Forces are already sent to Ukraine, most have suffered losses and some battalion task groups formed by them have been defeated to the point where it is impossible to restore combat readiness. The Russian Armed Forces are still capable of generating new forces, but it will not be a better trained and combat-ready force,” Viktor  Kevlyuk told.

At the same time, the losses of Russian troops are enormous – more than 11,000 men according to the data of 6 March. It is important that almost all the personnel were lost by the elite troops of Russia – the Kantemirovskaya division and the Tamanskaya division.

Speaking of the future, military experts are unanimous. The northern direction, as the shortest route to Kiev, remains the most threatening. Efforts will be stepped up on the Sumy direction as the easiest from a logistical point of view. In the Kharkiv direction, Russian troops are practically not attacking the city, but are massively bombing residential areas. At the moment there is military action on the Volnovakha and Mariupol line, which is a strategic point in eastern Ukraine. So far, the enemy also has unsuccessfully tried to enter Nikolaev to bypass Odessa from the north, but has not achieved its objectives and is now directing its efforts towards the South Ukrainian nuclear power plant. A sea landing in Odessa is also expected, but so far there have been unfavourable weather conditions and Russian ships approaching the coast have suffered damage.

Maxim Butchenko


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