A Masterclass on How Not To Fight A War
March 20, 2022
The Russian invasion of Ukraine will go down as one of the worst planned and executed invasions in history. The Russians have failed to achieve air superiority. Russia’s air force is over 15 times the size of Ukraine’s, but the Russians have been unable to defeat the Ukrainians, and have failed to destroy a majority of the Ukrainian air force.
The Russian military has failed to take Kharkiv, a city only ten miles into Ukraine, and have finally taken Kherson only after a long bombardment. Russians have stalled near Kyiv, and have only just surrounded Mariupol. The army of any other major country would have achieved air superiority in a few hours, and would have taken most major cities after a week. So why have the Russians failed at this?
The Ukrainians have shown extraordinary bravery and resilience in defending against the Russian Invasion. With the anti-tank weapons that the US, EU, and other countries have provided, the Ukrainians will be able to destroy mass numbers of Russian tanks, but they may not need to destroy the tanks. The Russians are abandoning their tanks and other vehicles because they are running out of gas and food. Meanwhile, the Ukrainians are receiving a huge donation of these abandoned tanks to supplement their army.
The Russians have been failing at almost every test they have been given. The Russian army was supposedly one of the best and most feared armies in the world. Instead, Russian soldiers have stalled because they were selling their fuel for Vodka. This would be a huge problem by itself, but it is made even worse by the fact that these vehicles are part of a large convoy whose job is to destroy Kyiv. Spring has come to Ukraine, and the ground is muddy. The muddy ground means that tanks have to go on roads, because they get stuck in the mud if they don’t. Going on a road means that only one or two tanks can go in the front, and if those are destroyed, the whole convoy must wait for those tanks to be removed.
One of the most, if not the most important aspect of a military is the supply chain: how you get food, weapons, ammunition, and everything else an army needs. The Russians have shown the weakness of their supplies. As I said earlier, the Russian soldiers were selling their gasoline for Vodka, something no army should contemplate doing. The Russians are using civilian walkie-talkies to communicate and coordinate attacks. There are many other instances of the supply problems plaguing the Russian army.
Modern militaries use multiple types of weaponry, and multiple types of soldiers in what is called combined arms. For example, to take a city, first you launch an air attack, then use artillery on a specific target, then send in the tanks and infantry to attack multiple points. If you attack multiple points the enemy is spread out, and is weak everywhere. Then, if you face fierce opposition, you call in an air strike to stop the opposition. Preferably all of these forces work in concert, helping one another and using each other's strengths. The Russians have failed utterly at this. The Russians have not coordinated artillery and infantry, planes and infantry, or anything. The lack of coordination comes down to the lack of resolve to win. Most of the Russian soldiers are draftees who have no motivation.
Why is a major superpower unable to organize what should be the basic components of a functioning military? Because of two reasons. The first is corruption. The Russian government is giving contracts for supplies to someone's uncle or nephew, meaning that they are not choosing competent people for the job. The second reason is that their army's primary job is not to be competent at fighting an enemy, but rather to put down internal strife and protests. The Russian army’s job is to stop the Russian people from protesting. The Russian army will show up at a protest, look scary, start shooting people, and the protest is over. But, when it comes to actually fighting another country, they are incompetent.
Another reason is that Putin has been in his bunker a little too long, and is surrounded by Yes-Men. He thought he would walk in, and the Ukrainians would welcome him as he overthrew their ‘Nazi’ leader (who happens to be a Jew). Instead, the Ukrainians are rallying around their leader in mutual hatred of Russia and Putin. Even if Putin does take the main cities, he doesn't have enough troops to control Ukraine. He knows he cannot win, and that is why he is launching missile attacks against Ukrainian cities. Attacking apartment complexes has no strategic purpose; the only reason is to kill Ukrainians.
If the Russians cannot organize a modern army to fight a foe whose air force is a 15th of Russia's size, and whose army is almost ten times smaller, then the Russians will have lost their status as a major power. The Russian claim to power was their feared army. The Russian economy is tiny (less than New York state’s, and about the size of Texas’s, though probably a lot smaller now), they are not particularly advanced scientifically, and they have no major cultural impact. If Ukraine wins, which I think is a distinct possibility, then Russia will slowly disappear from the world's stage.
For Putin, the consequences are a little more dire. To take Ukraine he will have to take a large number of casualties, and to hold Ukraine it will take even more. With these casualties, Russian mothers will turn against Putin, and, just like in the Soviet Union, when you lose support of the mothers, you will soon lose control of the country. By gaining all of these sanctions from the West, the Oligarchs will soon turn against Putin. If Putin can no longer fill the pockets of the Oligarchs so they can live in luxury in the West, they will no longer support him. His army and staff only work because they are afraid of him, as do the Russian people, and they harbor no love for Putin. By threatening nuclear war he makes all of these parties angry.
Putin has forced himself into a corner by showing his army’s incompetence, and he is already facing the consequences. If he continues, the price will only continue to increase on his people and himself.