The general belief among the Western military was that Russia intended to seize the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, but failed to do so. The Russians lost more than 500 tanks and more than 300 armoured vehicles in two months. It seems that anti-Russian resistance in Ukraine, the possibility of continued Western support, and the prolongation of the war have imposed high costs on Moscow’s military and Vladimir Putin regime.
Russia’s Military Miscalculation
Military experts and analysts have been shocked by Russia’s unpreparedness for a military invasion of Ukraine in the first two months of the Ukraine war. Despite Russia’s initial multilateral attacks on Ukraine, Moscow failed to have the upper hand in the air war, sending tank columns into Ukraine without cover or coordination and dramatically underestimating the strong resistance of the Ukrainians.
“The Russians completely underestimated the balance of power in this war of attrition. The only part of which can be considered a war operation is an attack on the airport,” said Vincent Tourret, a senior researcher at the Strategic Research Foundation. The hotel was on the outskirts of Kyiv in an attempt to overthrow Ukraine. Other Russian forces entered the territory with excessive aims to capture it, where they were dispersed.
Russia made a big mistake by sending ground troops into Ukraine before gaining air dominance in Ukraine. Despite having 500 fighter jets, it shipped 150,000 troops to Kyiv from three axes: north, east and south. In modern warfare, gaining air superiority in war is essential; the Russians had to destroy Ukrainian fighters, radars, and ground-to-air systems.
The Russian airborne unit arrived at the Hostel airport on the outskirts of Kyiv without air cover. Uncoated tank columns entered Ukrainian territory, vulnerable to Ukrainian air and ground attacks using Turkish Bayraktar tactical drones.
The Russians lost more than 500 tanks and more than 300 armoured vehicles in two months. By engaging in road battles, Ukrainian forces have complicated the war for the Russians and the supply of their troops, and they are superior to the Russians in this regard.
Failure in Kyiv and War of Attrition
All the evidence suggests that the Ukraine war has turned into a war of attrition. The initial idea, even the idea of the United States and Europe, was that Ukraine would collapse in a few days. Based on this premise, even the United States had offered to expel Ukrainian President Zelensky at the beginning of the attack.
After Russia failed to seize Kyiv and significant Ukrainian cities and overthrow the Ukrainian government in a short period, and military action on four axes caused the dispersal of Russian forces and their heavy casualties, Moscow had no choice but to change its strategy. The official announcement of the withdrawal from Kyiv on March 29 and the focus on occupying more territory in eastern and southern Ukraine have been the most crucial turning point in the two-and-a-half-month war. This change of strategy can be considered the starting point of the battle of attrition in Ukraine. It is not clear that Russia could quickly achieve rapid victories on the eastern and southern fronts.
A Big Slam on Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin cannot easily accept defeat in Ukraine because now his entire political and even physical existence depends on the outcome on this front. Gradually, the biggest fear of the Russian president is coming true. Now countries that were once passive in joining NATO are showing more interest in doing so; NATO is stepping up its presence in Eastern Europe. Germany is considering increasing defence spending and wants to reconsider its dependence on Russian energy. Western observers believe that Russian forces are not moving enough. The Ukrainian forces have taken advantage of this immobility of the Russian troops and inflicted heavy damage on them.
Who is the winner of this war of attrition?
This is a situation from which both sides will suffer humanely. However, if we consider the factor of sanctions against Russia and Western aid to Ukraine, the continuation and prolongation of the war may put pressure on Vladimir Putin regime and impose high costs on Moscow. While the situation in Russia is not comparable to the economic situation in the West, and so far, China has not shown a willingness to take effective action in this crisis, the prolongation of the problem will put severe pressure on Russia. The West has so far provided Ukraine mainly with defence weapons. These weapons are enough to prevent Russia from advancing in eastern and southern Ukraine.
The West must now decide whether to arm Ukraine to win the war. How the West responds to Ukraine’s request for weapons of mass destruction can help understand the West’s ultimate policy. The West is likely to seize this opportunity to weaken Russia as a serious rival, deprive China of a strategy, and move toward shaping its desired international order.
Is Nuclear War Helpful?
The rationale for nuclear war has existed since the advent of atomic weapons. If we assume that the rulers of the world are wise, the use of nuclear weapons is not in the interest of any country because it will destroy itself, and the damage it causes is uncontrollable. Therefore, anyone who leads a large nation like Russia is rational enough not to resort to the use of nuclear weapons.
Russia made an analytical mistake in attacking Ukraine. Vladimir Putin assumed that Russian Troops could capture Kyiv and achieve whatever it wanted in a short-term operation. Still, the resistance of the Ukrainian army and people and the problems that Russia found with the occupation of different parts of Ukraine put Russia in a position of weakness.
The West seeks to erode the Ukraine war. The West has sought to pressure Russia’s infrastructure and economic power for decades to keep it from becoming the world’s financial hub. The West will not miss this golden opportunity. As dangerous as a military confrontation with Russia is, an economic war with Russia will benefit the West because Russia’s Achilles heel is economical.