The Russian Army in Search of Military Success – International

After failing to make rapid advances early in the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military is making little headway in the face of still-fighting Ukrainian forces and continues to look for military successes that can be turned into political gains, experts said.

In the opinion of many Western observers, the Russians failed to enter the war, believing in weak resistance from their opponent and a quick victory, and neglecting their logistical needs. “The inefficiency of the Russian combat power and the strength of the Ukrainian military resistance are a real surprise,” they stress Philippe Gros and Vincent Tourret in a statement from the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS). Having failed to establish air superiority in the Ukrainian skies, the Russians have not undertaken any major operation since early March and are encountering brisk Ukrainian defenses, including around the capital Kyiv. “The Russian invasion is at a standstill on all fronts,” the British Ministry of Defense said in a situation report on Thursday.

Although the Russians have begun sieges of several cities in the north-east (Sumy, Kharkiv) and south-east (Mariupol) and cut off their supplies, the battle for Kyiv has not yet begun, despite regular bombardments aimed at the capital. The Russian army has not completed its encirclement maneuver. And capturing this city of 2.8 million “would probably require a troop volume of 150 to 200,000 men,” the FRS experts estimate, recalling the need for an overwhelming balance of power to fight in the center where the advantage is always with the defender.

But despite the difficulties encountered on the ground, “Russia’s military superiority is not in question,” a Western military source points out. “The operational pause we are observing is allowing the Russian armed forces to regenerate, mobilize reinforcements to restart, and begin a second phase.”

Heavy casualties and seeking reinforcements

According to the Pentagon, all 150,000 Russian soldiers mobilized for this conflict are engaged in the Ukrainian theater of war. And the losses are high. According to US intelligence estimates quoted by the New York Times, Moscow would have lost 7,000 men in three weeks, equivalent to more than 300 battlefield deaths per day.

If one is to be careful with these numbers, the fact remains that the Russian army, deployed since February 24, needs to regenerate to be sustainable. Moscow, which has promised its people not to resort to conscripts, is mobilizing its reservists in search of recruits and has recently launched a recruiting campaign among Syrians.

“Russian generals are running out of ammunition and troops. According to the Pentagon, 50% of Russia’s combat capabilities are allocated to Ukraine. 29% and it has been very difficult to maintain,” said retired American General Ben Hodges of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington. That’s why “the next 10 days are crucial,” he says, and calls on the West to “accelerate and intensify the support we’re giving Ukraine.”

Possible short-term scenarios

In this regard, what are the most likely tactical hypotheses on the Russian side in the coming weeks? According to French military historian Michel Goya, “Two possible short-term points of discharge: opposite Mariupol and opposite the Ukrainian army of Donbass”.

According to the French General Staff, the Russians could also try to encircle the 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers stationed on the Eastern Front by capturing the city of Dnipro, which represents “a strategic transition point between West and East” and where “one senses a converging movement of Russian troops”. “It would be possible to split the Ukrainian army, it makes perfect sense on a military level” either “to bring about its collapse or to be in a position of strength in the negotiations,” argues Colonel Pascal Ianni.

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The other hypothesis concerns Mariupol. The strategic port city on the Sea of ​​Azov has been under constant siege and shelling for more than two weeks. Despite the evacuation of 20,000 civilians earlier this week, around 300,000 people are still trapped without electricity and running water. Taking control of Mariupol would allow the Russians to establish geographic continuity between the pro-Russian separatist areas of Donbass and the Crimean peninsula annexed in 2014.

Ukrainians challenged to hold out

Ukrainian forces are also claiming casualties, but so far have inflicted significant material and human losses on the Russians, thanks in particular to an effective anti-aircraft defense. President Zelenskyy’s army also benefits from a large stockpile of anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft missiles from several NATO countries. In this context, it is crucial for the Ukrainian army to maintain its supply routes from the west. But Moscow has launched three strikes in western Ukraine in recent days, which have so far been relatively unscathed. One of these attacks targeted the Yaroviv military base, 20 km from the Polish border, where some equipment donated by Westerners to the Ukrainian armed forces is transported.

In the opinion of many Western observers, the Russians failed to enter the war, believing in weak resistance from their opponent and a quick victory, and neglecting their logistical needs. “The ineffectiveness of the Russian combat power and the strength of the Ukrainian military resistance come as a real surprise,” said Philippe Gros and Vincent Tourret in a statement from the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS). Having failed to establish air superiority in the Ukrainian skies, the Russians have not undertaken any major operation since early March and are encountering brisk Ukrainian defenses, including around the capital Kyiv. “The Russian invasion is at a standstill on all fronts,” said the British Ministry of Defense in a situation report on Thursday Battle for Kyiv has not started despite regular bombing of the capital. The Russian army has not completed its encirclement maneuver. And capturing this city of 2.8 million “would probably require a force of 150 to 200,000 men,” estimate the FRS Experts and remind of the need for an overwhelming balance of power to fight in the center, where the advantage is always there with the defender. However, despite the difficulties on the ground, “Russian military superiority is not in question,” emphasizes a Western military source “The operational pause we are observing allows the Russian dispute forces to regenerate, mobilize reinforcements to restart, and begin a second phase.” According to the Pentagon, all 150,000 Russian troops mobilized for this conflict are serving in the Ukrainian theater of war. And the losses are high. According to estimates by American intelligence quoted by the New York Times, Moscow would have lost 7,000 men in three weeks, which is more than 300 deaths a day on the battlefield. The fact remains that the Russian army, which since February 24 is in use, must regenerate. Moscow, which has promised its people not to resort to conscripts, is mobilizing its reservists in search of recruits and has recently launched a recruiting campaign among Syrians. “Russian generals are running out of ammunition and troops. According to the Pentagon, 50% of Russia’s combat capabilities are allocated to Ukraine. 29% and it has been very difficult to maintain,” said retired American General Ben Hodges of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington. Therefore, “the next 10 days are crucial,” he judges, and calls on the West to “speed up and intensify the support we are giving to Ukraine.” In this context, what are the most likely tactical hypotheses about the Russians in the Future? weeks? According to French military historian Michel Goya, “Two possible short-term points of discharge: opposite Mariupol and opposite the Ukrainian army of Donbass”. According to the French General Staff, the Russians could also try to encircle the 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers stationed on the Eastern Front by capturing the city of Dnipro, which represents “a strategic transition point between West and East” and where “one senses a converging movement of Russian troops”. “With this it would be possible to split the Ukrainian army, it makes perfect sense on a military level”, either “to bring about its collapse, or to be in a position of strength in the negotiations”, argues Colonel Pascal Ianni Hypothesis refers to Mariupol. The strategic port city on the Sea of ​​Azov has been under constant siege and shelling for more than two weeks. Despite the evacuation of 20,000 civilians earlier this week, around 300,000 people are still trapped without electricity and running water. Taking control of Mariupol would allow the Russians to establish geographic continuity between the pro-Russian separatist areas of Donbass and the Crimean peninsula annexed in 2014. The Ukrainian armed forces are also suffering losses, but so far they have been able to inflict material losses and important human resources on the Russians, thanks in particular to an efficient anti-aircraft defense system. President Zelenskyy’s army also benefits from a large stockpile of anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft missiles from several NATO countries. In this context, it is crucial for the Ukrainian army to maintain its supply routes from the west. But Moscow has launched three strikes in western Ukraine in recent days, which have so far been relatively unscathed. One of these attacks targeted the Yaroviv military base, 20 km from the Polish border, where some equipment donated by Westerners to the Ukrainian armed forces is transported.

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