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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Putin Has a Problem: The Russian Military Is Struggling in Ukraine

Russian T-90 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Russian T-90 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

On the third day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, fighting across the country rages on as Russian forces are struggling to meet their objectives.

Fighting in Kyiv 

The bulk of the Russian forces invading from the north is approximately 20 miles from the center of the Ukrainian capital. But their advance has been stalled by the fierce Ukrainian resistance.

“[The invasion line] towards Kyiv, we assess is going slower than the Russians had anticipated it going. They’re meeting more resistance than they expected, but I don’t—I can’t give you an exact geographic location of where they are, but they are not moving on Kyiv as fast as what we believe they anticipated they would be able to do. That said, they continue to try to move on Kyiv,” a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday.

Moscow stated that Russian forces have resumed their advance after alleged negotiation efforts with the Ukrainian government failed. But according to Pentagon, Russian forces didn’t seem to halt their advances on Friday, suggesting that the slow Russian advance wasn’t intentional.

The slow Russian advance might be explained by the lack of robust supply lines. The Kremlin and Russian military leadership obviously expected a quick victory. But as the Ukrainians are putting up a fierce resistance, Russian forces haven’t had the opportunity to establish support zones that could use to refuel the fight at the front. And without fuel and ammo, even the most advanced tanks won’t fight for long.

The Kremlin said that the Ukrainian government rejected the offer for talks, but Ukraine contradicted that statement.

Fighting in Three Fronts 

The fighting continues to the East in Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, and the South, where Russian forces invading from Crimea have captured territory.

The U.S. assesses that most of the 150,000 Russian forces that had gathered on the borders with Ukraine have been committed to the invasion. In the first two days of the Russian invasion, only one-third of those forces (approximately 60 battalion tactical groups) had deployed inside Ukraine.

On Saturday morning, the British Ministry of Defense stated that Russian formations are bypassing major Ukrainian population centers but leaving forces behind to encircle and isolate them. That is a bold move that could backfire should the bypassing forces fail to achieve their goals and have to fall back in contested areas.


A Ukrainian Soldier assigned to 1st Battalion, 80th Airmobile Brigade prepares to shoot an AK-47 during a live-fire training exercise, Nov. 12, at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center. Soldiers assigned to 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division is deployed in support of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine. JMTG-U is focused on direct training of Ukrainian ground forces in the near term while helping to build an enduring and sustainable training capacity for the future. (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr)


Ukrainian OTR-21 Tochka TELs during the Independence Day parade in Kiev, Ukraine in 2008.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that Ukrainian air defenses shot down two Ilyushin IL-76 transport aircraft carrying Russian paratroopers. The IL-76 is a rough equivalent of the American C-17 Globemaster.

The Russian military has failed to achieve crucial air superiority over Ukraine and has suffered several downed aircraft by Ukrainian air defenses and fighter jets.

Reports about Russian military strikes against civilian targets have also been surfacing. A high story building in Kyiv was bombed. And the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported the deaths of two Greek nationals and the wounding of six, including a child, near the village of Sartana in southern Ukraine.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.