Russia’s chaotic and confusing invasion of Ukraine is baffling military analysts



One week into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and military analysts are united on one front, at least: Russia’s invasion has not gone entirely to plan, looking disorganized, uncoordinated and sluggish to observers.

Russian tanks move across the town of Armyansk in northern Crimea on Feb. 24, 2022.

Analysts believe Russia had expected to make far more gains and, crucially, to face far less resistance from Ukrainian forces and volunteer fighters as they attacked various towns and cities in the north, east and south of the country.

Russian forces have so far claimed one major city — Kherson — having heavily shelled and surrounded the port in the last several days.

Meanwhile, fighting continues around the other major cities of Kharkiv, Mariupol and Kyiv, although a huge column of Russian military vehicles which has been snaking its way to the capital this week has appeared to have stalled in recent days amid unconfirmed reports of logistical problems and food and fuel shortages.

Summing up Russia’s challenges, senior military fellows at the Atlantic Council think tank said in an online post Wednesday that Russia had made key strategic errors in its first week of combat, particularly in its failure to establish air superiority and thus provide air support to its ground forces.

“During the first week of the war, Russian ground forces have become bogged down outside of the northern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv and Kyiv due to their failure to establish air superiority (which has resulted in significant aircraft and helicopter losses), too few troops to execute three simultaneous thrusts (toward Kyiv and Kharkiv, and north from Crimea), poor coordination of fires and maneuver, significant logistical issues, and stronger than expected Ukrainian resistance,” they said in an assessment published by the think tank.

Destroyed Russian military vehicles are seen on a street in the settlement of Borodyanka, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 3, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. 

The military experts acknowledged, however, that “Russia’s naval superiority in the Black Sea has contributed to success in its southern area of operations, with Russian forces breaking out from the Crimean Peninsula and taking territory in southern Ukraine,” the seizing of the port city of Kherson being its most major victory so far during the invasion.

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