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Why Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Was a Colossal Failure

Ukraine Donbas
Russian Army tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Almost five weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces into Ukraine for what he believed to be a quick campaign to topple the defiant Ukrainian government and once and for all stop Kyiv’s shift to the West.

Since then, more than 16,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, while the Russian military has lost more than 3,000 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, and other military vehicles, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

A Faltering Campaign 

“What we assess is that they [Russia] are looking for a chance to break out, they are looking for a chance to gain some momentum, not even re-gain momentum, because they never really had it, and that’s what’s so frustrating for them,” a senior U.S. defense official stated last week.

“When you look at the map, you can count literally on one hand the number of population centers that we assess are in Russian control right now,” the American defense official stated, adding that the Russian forces “haven’t achieved anything” with respect to what the Pentagon has assessed to be Moscow’s objectives in Ukraine.

A few hours after that U.S. assessment, the Russian Ministry of Defense did a televised update on Putin’s “special military operation.” Russian defense officials stated that the war was going according to plan and that it had entered its second phase.

What went so wrong? How did the Russian military—considered a near-peer adversary to the U.S. military before the war—end up failing to achieve all of its primary objectives in Ukraine?

Hubris, Logistics, and Heart 

“From my read of the battlefield, [Russia’s] plan was filled with hubris, lacked combined arms operations, and was dysfunctional in logistical support. [Ukraine’s] plan was to fight [the Russian forces] by ‘holding on to their belt-buckles,’ prioritizing targets, & destroying their killers & logistics. [Russia] used 4 axis of advance for a grand plan of a battle of annihilation. [Ukraine] always wanted to conduct a campaign of attrition. Both of these kinds of fights result in massive amount of battlefield casualties,” Retired U.S. Army General Mark Hertling, a former commander of the U.S. European Command, said on Twitter.

Russian launched the invasion with approximately 190,000 troops, while the Ukrainian military fielded about 250,000 men. This was a conventional war. Not a counterinsurgency campaign like the one in Chechnya or limited air support campaign like the one in Syria. Although technologically inferior, the Ukrainian military could field a number of high-tech tanks and aircraft; U.S. and NATO assistance added potent anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to the Ukrainian arsenal, further increasing its capabilities.

“This illegal RU [Russian] invasion of UKR [Ukraine] is very different. It’s a ‘force-on-force’ fight between a ‘technologically advanced army’ (RU) vs an army [with] less equipment, but with more heart (UKR),” General Hertling added.

Moscow underestimated Ukraine’s military capabilities and will to fight. And now the Russian troops in Ukraine are reaping the results of Putin’s hubris.

“One last thing; Casualties in war are gory. Deaths affect soldiers & units in ways most can’t imagine. Combat deaths are ugly. Those killed are mostly 18-24 [year old] who had an entire life in front of them. Their bodies are savaged or burned beyond recognition. That’s why most soldiers who have seen war never want to see it again. And why some professional soldiers do all they can to prevent wars in the future, with an understanding of what is at stake. And why Putin’s illegal & criminal war in Ukraine is such an abomination,” Hertling added.

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.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Commentar

    March 27, 2022 at 4:56 pm

    This article is an assinine piece of crap or typical american goebbellian propaganda.

    Russia crossed into ukraine after seeing west and especially US not only unwilling to do anything to stop the genocide in donbass and the increasing stench of banderistism in kyiv, BUT actually encouraging the uncivilised fascist-nazist behavior in eastern europe.

    Western media have actively ensured the overall news coverage of the fighting is skewed to one side, regurgitating without checking hair raising claims of success by the kyiv banderites and blocking events of russian advance on the ground.

    Russian forces have successfully inflicted the desired severe damage on ukraine in reprisal for its crazy aim to join NATO, and azov nazists in donbass region will now surely see their days numbered as russian forces wheel in their direction. No escape for them even if NATO units intervene in the conflict.

    Russia’s thrust into ukraine to stop the fascist forces has been VERY perfectly timed, because right now, the chief of the fascist forces (US) has still been unable to produce hypersonic weaponry.

    Imagine in a few years from now, US with hypersonic weapins, and basing them at russia’s doorstep, russia would truly find it impossible to punish kyiv for its fascist ambitions. No way.

    But right now, russia is in there, and US & NATO can only rattle sabres and gurgle and hurl out goebbellian cries, cuz russian military has kinzhals at its disposal.

    Kinzhals can strike right through to the enemy’s backyard in the kyiv battlefield with conventional or nuclear warheads and thus represent the trump card or the ‘mover’ element of the fight. US ? It only keeps talking about f-35s and supply of missiles and dollars.

    Zelensky is crazily crying, begging and even shouting for planes and tanks, and denouncing western nations for being afraid to part with a tiny amount of their 20,000 NATO tanks.

    By screaming at the west, he has inadvertently revealed what actually happened to the invincible ukrainian armor and air force. Finished by russia in clashes.

    Most importantly, russia’s foray into ukraine has jolted biden’s plan to start his war at russia’s border. Instead, any crusade by biden will now have to roll first in the deep mud of western ukraine, not anywhere near to russia.

  2. Alex

    March 27, 2022 at 5:23 pm

    May I know where is the failure? The offensive of the Russian troops continues, the bandit formations of Bandera Nazis are completely destroyed.
    If the author has not woken up or is on a drinking binge, please look at the raised flag of the Russian Republic of Chechnya over the Administration of Mariupol. But you won’t talk about that, will you? 🙂

  3. Greekman

    March 27, 2022 at 6:40 pm

    Mr Atlamazoglou, is making propaganda! I thought you were serious site but i was mistaken🤔
    How does he know that 16000 russian soldiers are dead? 3000 tanks??
    No,no,no! There is no discussion under these circumstances. I’m not American hick like mr Atla..may thinks! I’m Greek…
    This is not journalism. Its NSA or CIA office!!!
    I’m very sorry,

  4. G.P.

    March 28, 2022 at 1:13 am

    From a military point of view, 2014 was the perfect time for the attack.

    Kissinger’s position on this issue was Ukraine should not join NATO.

    About the writer of this article, nothing good I have to say. Waste of time.

  5. Anderw M Winter

    March 28, 2022 at 10:23 am

    Just recently found you folks online. Great resource, really appreciate your ability to focus on the year 1945 as the year the world changed.

    What is amazing is that you have posted a picture of a Russian tank up there, and apparently have no idea of the significance of what you are looking at.

    Here’s the question: “How bad is Mud Season in Ukraine?”.
    So bad that Russian Tanks are carrying logs to negotiate muddy terrain. This was a World War II trick. Shermans carried them for the same reason in muddy weather, which was every June.

    Each Tank carries one, possibly more. Russian Tank companies will have to halt at the edge of some soupy mess, and lay each log out by hand . Then they pick them up again. Look at that one on that tank. That critter has been used more than once.

    Mud is Russia’s enemy, and according to a Russian YOUTUBER specializing in wilderness skills in cold climates, Mud Season came early, but is likely to be long. MUD. My Gawd MUD. It swallowed whole armored units of the Wehrmacht as they advanced through this very terrain on their way to Stalingrad.

  6. Jacksonian Libertarian

    March 28, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    It really is a colossal failure. It is easier to talk about what the Russians have done right, than what they have done wrong. Because I cannot think of a single thing they’ve done right.

    Pathetically incompetent

  7. TrustbutVerify

    March 28, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    To Mr. Winter…great thought, but the picture is of a tank on a firing range, not in the field in Ukraine. You are correct about the mud, though.

    Also amazing how many Russian trolls linger trying to push a Russian narrative that all is going according to plan.

  8. Michael Veritas

    March 28, 2022 at 10:08 pm

    This Ukrainian propaganda via 1945 is hilarious. The Russians will wind up with all of eastern Ukrainian. Mariupol is lost and that will connect Crimea to Russia. Kiev will be lucky to have one port on Black Sea. They’re worst case scenario will leave them landlocked. So, who’s the winner in this conflict? Certainly not Ukraine!

  9. Alexander Matrosov

    March 28, 2022 at 10:50 pm

    Yeah right. Back to 1962, caribbean crisis, when US failed miserably. Mr. Khrushchev let Jacksonian Libertarian – or his/her grandparents – live. Was it a colossal failure or just one of those things that Russians have done wrong?

  10. Alex

    March 29, 2022 at 12:02 pm

    Flag of Chechnya over the administration of Mariupol. Another “failure” of Russia 🙂

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