• Philip Ammerman


Like so many others, I’ve been tied to the news about Ukraine. I’ve worked there between 1999 and 2018, mainly on investment projects, and have actually visited most of the cities we hear about in the current fighting.

The invasion is obviously unjust and deserves condemnation by everyone. The idea that Ukraine requires “denazification” or disarmament are both sick jokes. Or vile propaganda.

The idea that there is a genocide against the two Donbas statelets is despicable: no such event is taking place, while the conflict that does exist is purely at the instigation of Russia.

Some observations on the current conflict:

1. The strategy of dividing up the forces into battalion-sized mobile groups is interesting but probably not deep enough to take and hold ground. Given the distances, weather and road conditions involved in Ukraine, it is difficult to see how this strategy is going to work. The core Soviet strategy of an armored column attack in mass appears to have been abandoned or downsized.

2. Such units are better suited to mobile “gun runs”, not taking and holding territory. The fact that they are still being held up around Sumy (a relatively small city) and Kharkiv (a much larger one) shows that they aren’t ready to take on entrenched adversaries. Again, given urban warfare and the long distances and conditions in Ukraine, it is difficult to see how this will work unless you get 10-12 such units working in unison. So far, they are not. There appear to be only single-unit pushes in specific areas (like the Obolon District of Kyiv) last night.

3. The fact that Russia still doesn’t control the air by day 3 is a dramatic failure. Especially given the relatively low airframe quality of the Ukrainian airforce, compared with the Russian Air Force (at least on paper).

4. Russian supply lines appear to be strung out and are thus highly vulnerable. There appear to be major logistics failures with stranded troops and equipment left along highways.

5. The use of small, unsupported paratroop units in an urban environment with a large civil defense and a hostile population is incomprehensible. It’s doomed to failure.

6. The total force Russia has mustered is nowhere near enough to take and hold all Ukraine. It is barely enough to take a single city the size and location of Kyiv. Moreover, my understanding is that only about half has actually deployed from its starting bases by day 3, based on press reports.

7. The very real danger is that Russia will now use heavy weaponry in an attempt to take or neutralise urban targets. Civilian casualties will increase dramatically if this is the case.

Looking forward, I can’t imagine that this invasion will end well for Russia.

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