Russia seems to have some tough logistics issues along with problems getting the proper amount of fuel or food for its troops: On day eight of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the war has taken a grimmer outlook as Russian forces are adjusting their strategy and attacking Ukrainian urban centers.
Thus far, the Kremlin was careful not to inflict civilian casualties and abstained from targeting urban centers. In Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion pitch, after all, the Russian troops were “liberating” the Ukrainian people.
Kherson Falls To The Russians
On Wednesday, Kherson became the first major Ukrainian city to fall to the invading Russian forces. Located south close to Crimea, Kherson was surrounded and seriously bombarded before it was captured by the Russians. The possession of the city was fiercely contested, and both sides claimed control of it at various stages.
A relatively short distance from Crimea, Kherson was within easy reach of the invading Russian forces. Their supply lines were short, and they had the opportunity to pill up materiel for a long time. And yet it still took them eight days to capture it.
“We can count more than 450 missile launches by the Russians—and again, all stripes and sizes: short-range, medium-range, surface-to-air missiles, cruise missiles. It’s the full menu that they have. And they’ve launched, now, 450 since the beginning of this operation,” a senior U.S. defense official said in a background press briefing on Wednesday.
Logistics, Logistics, Logistics: Russia Has a Problem
According to U.S. officials, Moscow has deployed more than 100,000 troops inside Ukraine, which amounts to approximately 70 percent of its prepositioned force. However, the invading Russian forces are facing serious logistical issues. Footage from the ground shows Russian soldiers looting Ukrainian supermarkets so they can eat. In other instances, Russian tanks and armored vehicles have been abandoned because they ran out of fuel.
“We still assess that they are experiencing logistical and sustainment issues much in as what we saw yesterday, both in terms of fuel and food. We don’t believe that that has been alleviated by the Russians. We obviously have indications that they are certainly aware that they have these problems, and they are trying to overcome them. But our assessment is today that they continue to be bedeviled by these logistical and sustainment issues,” the senior U.S. defense official added.
Moreover, much has been said about the 40-mile long Russian convoy that is slowly approaching Kyiv from the north. Satellite imagery shows that Russian wheeled and even trucked vehicles are hesitant to go off-road. Footage from the ground has shown abandoned Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers in the fields of Ukraine. This suggests poor maintenance on the part of the Russians for military vehicles need to be operated frequently as a way of proactive maintenance. Put simply, the more you drive it, the less you need to repair it.
As a result, Russian commanders are hesitant to put their vehicles off-road, thereby creating traffic jams on Ukrainian roads and inviting disaster as a handful of Ukrainians armed with anti-tank weapons can stop or delay even a convoy with hundreds of vehicles.
Furthermore, the Russian forces have lost hundreds of tanks and vehicles. The heavy sanctions placed on Russia will make it harder for the Russian military to replenish these losses. And if this war turns into an insurgency, the Russian forces are in for a world of hurt.
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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.