Retired U.S Lieutenant General Ben Hodges has stated that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has exposed their military shortcomings. Russian Armed Forces are considered among the best on the planet. Still, Hodges, a former General for the U.S Army in Europe, stated that the weaknesses manifested in terrible maintenance, logistics, and the lack of sergeants to instill discipline. President Putin underestimated the Ukrainian army, viewing them as easy and weak targets, but the results were different. The bravery of Ukrainians who have the heart and never-ending will to defend their country has surprised even a brutal dictator like Putin.
Earlier in March, Retired Lt. General Hodges and 27 foreign policy experts had written an open letter supporting a no-fly zone over all human corridors in Ukraine. They stated that the no-fly zone was needed to protect civilians. On orders from President Vladimir Putin, Russian forces have inflicted on massive pain and destruction on Ukraine since the country's invasion on February 24 but have found Ukrainian resistance to be quite forceful. According to NATO official, the morale among Russian troops is relatively low, who has estimated the number of soldiers killed in the conflict to be between 7500 and 15,000.
Ukraine Triumph and Russian Dysfunctional military
Though the war is not yet over, Ukraine's victory in the battle of Kyiv against the Kremlin has been an epic victory for ages. Russian troops were faced with withdrawal from the outskirts of the capital Kyiv which is not a small feat against a powerful military. A manifold of deficiencies was exposed during the unprovoked attacks and invasion of Ukraine. The deficiencies include low morale, faulty logistics, poor intelligence, poor coordination, corruption, low morale, and over-centralization. An 1854 article in Economist explained that Russia early defeats in Crimean War are similar to the Russian current military travails.
Conflict commentator Stephen Douglas tweeted excerpts from an Economist article from 1854 and noted that the Russian military is experiencing the same problems still plaguing it today. The Ukrainian Army, an outgrowth of the Red Army, was initially hobbled by many difficulties similar to the ones Russians are experiencing. In 2015, the Ukrainian military and the state reformed themselves along democratic and western lines. Though Ukraine has a small army compared to its adversary Russia, it has a superior military culture.
The Pentagon reported that Russian forces had completely withdrawn from Kyiv and Chernihiv regions and refitted to Russia and Belarus. According to a senior Pentagon official, Ukraine was reported hitting the Russians as they were retreating, further depleting them. Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby noted that Moscow had achieved zero of the strategic goals and Ukraine could win the war.
Robert Burns, a writer at The Associated Press, noted that the failure to capture Kyiv remains of the Russian military failures of ages, arguing that Kyiv was the main prize. Kremlin's failure will be long remembered for defying prewar expectations and exposing surprising weaknesses in a military considered one of the strongest in the world. Frederick Kagan, a military history expert for the Institute for the Study of War that called Russia failed to take over Kyiv as stunning. Moscow announced a special military operation in Ukraine, but the ultimate goal was to take over Ukraine's capital which failed. Australian retired Maj. Gen. Mick Ryan assessed that Ukraine is proving difficult for Kremlin, and they are witnessing some of the most significant defeats since the Afghanistan war.
Retired Army Colonel and Military history professor Peter Mansoor at Ohio State University noted that capturing a country's capital is difficult. Prof. Mansoor notes that Moscow has proven to be wholly incapable of conducting modern armored warfare. Russia left horrific scenes of destruction and death in retreat, and Ukraine says it cleaned up Russian unexploded ordnance and mines. Kyiv is under threat, according to Pentagon, and should be protected. But Russia will probably surround and crush Ukraine's battle-hardened forces in the Donbas region, and Ukraine should continue to put a brave fight.
According to Military Strength Ranking, the Russian military offensive in Ukraine has exposed that it is less organized than in the Soviet Union era. Russia attempted to transform the military under the leadership of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukob, who wanted to make the Kremlin military compact with a core emphasis on professionalism. However, after the dismissal in 2012, the reform was abandoned, and the salaries of contracted companies were reduced. The current troops sent to Ukraine included conscripts later recalled, which affected combat capability.
In reconnaissance of targets, Moscow has revealed a significant weakness as analysts concluded that the goals were set using an old data set probably developed in 2014. In one instance, a Russian missile was fired at a place where there was a military facility that was long gone. The missiles were used powerful and were used irrationally. Target reconnaissance is one of the most potent tools, and every powerful military should be able to carry out effective reconnaissance.
Ukraine resistance, ground attacks, and urban warfare from Ukrainian soldiers are causing Putin and the Russian military to change their strategy. Kremlin changed its initial strategy of invading and taking over to a more brutal war of attrition. They have resulted in destroying everything and every municipality, town, and city in order to create a problematic humanitarian situation that they can use to weaponize, putting pressure on Zelensky and European governments. Washington Post writer Max Boot argues that the Russian military ruthlessness does not make it any less dysfunctional. Boot argues that Russian military history is one of dysfunction.
Despite the success in holding the capital city Kyiv, the Ukraine crisis still poses an immediate and severe threat to the security and prosperity of Europe. Lord Stirrup, a former Chief of Defence Staff, the priority must be an immediate challenge with addressing exposed strategic weaknesses. Even though the security risks to Europe are not obvious, and the unbounded capacity in the future unpleasant ways. More weapons should be given to Ukraine to assist in defeating the invaders. Russian military strength has been exposed, and threats from Moscow should not deter the military assistance being offered to Kyiv.
Geofrey Robert is an experienced freelance researcher and writer with over five years of experience. He holds a Bachelor of law. His research interests are: International law, Peace & Security, Conflict, humanitarian issues, and climate change. He worked as a peace and security news writer for Peacehumanity.org. and also contributed to their periodic PEACE MONITOR MAGAZINE as a peace researcher and writer focusing on the Israel-Palestine conflict.