Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

How Ukraine’s military has so far opposed Russia

Eric Schmidt, Helen Cooper and Julian E. written by barnes

Ukrainian soldiers blew up bridges to prevent Russian ground troops from advancing. Its pilots and air defenses have prevented Russian fighter jets from conquering the skies.

And a band of knowledgeable Ukrainian cyber-warriors are still defeating Moscow in an information war, Motivational support at home and abroad.

To the surprise of many military analysts, Ukraine’s military is putting up a stronger-than-expected resistance Battle lines up and down across a country the size of Texas for the Russian military, Fighting with a resourcefulness and creativity US analysts said Russian troops could visit for weeks or months to come.

Ukrainians are also Taking advantage of the ghastly start of an all-out attack by Russia.

Armed with shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons, they ambushed a mile-long Russian armored convoy, impacting the capital Kyiv, helping to halt an advance plagued by a shortage of fuel and food, and Pulling off a march in which a handful were expected to run. Possibly days to weeks.

Volunteer fighters preparing weapons in Kyiv last week. (Credit: Lynsey Addario for The New York Times)

To be sure, Russia’s invasion is only a week old. The strategic southern city of Kherson fell on Wednesday; Kremlin forces intensify bombing of Kyiv and other cities; And, despite an influx of fresh weapons from the West, Ukrainian leaders say they desperately need more weapons to destroy Russian tanks and Russian warplanes.

And while the Ukrainian government publicized its victories and Russian attacks that killed civilians, it said little about the battlefield losses of its mechanized units.

For their part, Russian officials are unwilling to present the operation as a war, and therefore have not disclosed the engagements won by their forces.

The result, in these early days of the invasion, is that the Ukrainians are counterattacking the Russians in an information campaign.

On the battlefield, the Ukrainian military is conducting a highly effective and mobile defense, using its knowledge of its home turf to deter Russian forces on multiple fronts, General Mark A Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday.

A Russian tank burns next to the body of an unidentified soldier during a fight with the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sunday. (Credit: Sergei Bobok/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images)

Milley said some of the tactics employed by Ukrainian troops included using mobile weapon systems to push the Russians wherever they could. Ukraine’s forces, he told reporters traveling with him in Europe, “are fighting with extraordinary skill and courage against Russian forces.”

US officials have been impressed by the combat skills of the Ukrainians, but their assessment that Russia has a superior military has not changed.

Ukraine has succeeded in slowing Russian progress, but has not been able to stop it, nor is the resistance strong enough to transfer the war objectives of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the long term, US officials said, it will be difficult for Ukraine to continue to frustrate the Russian advance.

In the meantime, however, the Ukrainians are turning into a nation in arms. “In war, it’s always different than you think, and the side that learns fast and adapts fast will win,” said Frederick B. Hodges, a former top US military commander in Europe. For European policy analysis. “As of now, Ukraine is learning and rapidly adapting.”

Members of the Territorial Defense Force stand guard at a check point, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, at Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine, March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Ukraine has the largest army in Europe, with 170,000 active-duty soldiers, 100,000 reservists and regional defense forces including at least 100,000 ex-servicemen. Thousands of citizens are also getting admitted now.

Ukrainian forces have been training for further Russian incursions since Ukraine’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and began supporting separatists in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.

Many veterans of Ukraine fought in those battles, so there is a subset of the population that is trained and knows how to fight the Russians.

The US Special Operations Forces also trains Ukrainian military forces. Leaders in Kyiv then assigned those soldiers to conventional units, allowing them to train a large part of the army.

US analysts say training on the battlefield has made a difference.

The United States has provided more than $3 billion in weapons, equipment, and other supplies to Ukraine’s armed forces since 2014. In those eight years, US military advisers, including Army Green Berets and National Guard soldiers, have trained more than 27,000 Ukrainian soldiers. Yvoryev Combat Training Center near Lviv in western Ukraine.

In Brussels on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Ukrainian military was “performing and resisting more than most experts expected, and certainly more than Russia expected.”

“They are there to defend their land,” Stoltenberg told reporters traveling with Milley.

Indeed, Michael Carpenter, the US representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in a remark in Vienna on Thursday, praised a Ukrainian sailor, Vitaly Skakun.

Volunteers dig a trench as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Mykola Tymchenko

The Ukrainian military said the Marines blew themselves up on a bridge in the southern Kherson region to prevent a line of Russian tanks from crossing.

Since the early hours of the invasion, Ukraine’s underdog army has sought to flip the script on the Russian army of over 150,000 largely on its borders.

For example, Ukrainian troops repulsed a Russian air and special forces attack on a major airfield north of Kyiv last Thursday in the early hours of the war, a Russian attempt to open a major air bridge on the outskirts of the capital. failed.

“In defense of the city and in the skirmishes on the outskirts of the cities, the Ukrainian military is doing quite well,” said Michael Kaufman, director of studies for Russia at the Defense Research Institute CNA. “The shameful nature of the Russian war effort undoubtedly helped.”

As the Russians approached Kyiv and Kharkiv, the Ukrainians were able to move their forces to critical locations faster than the invading forces. Not only have the Ukrainians moved more deftly, they have also made good choices about where to focus the firepower.

“The art of mechanized maneuver warfare is being able to concentrate enormous combat power on pivotal sections of the front, the locations of your choice,” said Frederick W. Kagan, a military strategist who has advised US commands in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The Russians, surprisingly, failed to do so. But the Ukrainians have taken advantage of their ability to rapidly move reinforcements and counterattack.”

Thomas Bullock, an open-source analyst at defense intelligence firm Jens, said Russian forces made tactical errors that Ukrainians were able to exploit.

“The Ukrainians seem to have been the most successful in ambushing Russian troops,” Bullock said.

The Russians are “stuck on the main roads so that they can move quickly and not risk getting stuck in the mud. But they are moving on winding roads and their banks and supply routes are heavily affected by Ukrainian attacks. And that’s where he got the most success.”

In Kyiv, Ukrainian counterattacks have pushed Russian troops west and forced them to call in reinforcements as they try to surround the city, said Kagan, an expert in the Russian military who works at the American Enterprise Institute on Critical Threat. Lead the project.

Ukrainian security forces guard Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine on March 2, 2022. (Linsey Addario/The New York Times)

Although often easier to defend than attack, especially in a complex multi-front offensive, Ukrainians took advantage of the Russian decision to use too little force, sometimes only two battalions, to take critical points. Is.

“They should have been more evenly matched at the tactical level, as the Russians were operating well,” Kagan said. “Ukrainians have been much smarter about this than the Russians.”

Ukrainians have been far more successful in the north, defending the country’s second largest cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv, than in the south, where better-trained Russian forces in Crimea have had more success.

“In the south, on the Crimean front, when Ukrainians are engaged in mechanized warfare they are losing,” Bullock said.

US government officials believe Putin may double down on his attack.

But some analysts say an increase in Russian casualties, growing economic disruption in Russia as a result of sanctions and the prospect of a permanent Ukrainian insurgency could push that strategy forward.