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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Russia Has No Way to Win the Ukraine War

Ukraine Russia
Russian military 305th Artillery Brigade's exercise. 2S5 self-propelled cannon.

It’s no news to anyone that the Russian military is losing in Ukraine. In almost 10 months of war, the Russian military hasn’t achieved any of its primary objectives, despite revising them halfway through the war. 

Only a few months ago, Russian leadership had a very poor picture of the situation on the ground. Russian President Vladimir Putin was fed poor intelligence by his defense and intelligence advisers. 

However, now that seems to be changing, according to the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Putin Is Growing Wiser in Ukraine

In a recent talk at a defense forum, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines talked about the war in Ukraine and how the Kremlin is adjusting to the realities on the ground. The chief U.S. intelligence official said Putin is growing wiser and has a better understanding of the shortcomings of his forces. 

Haines said that Putin is “becoming more informed of the challenges that the military faces,” though it is still not clear if Putin “has a full picture of at this stage of just how challenged they are.”

When the war began on Feb. 24, the Russian leadership was not aware of its shortcomings. Indeed, Putin’s poor understanding of the capabilities of the Russian military is one of the major reasons why the war started.

If the Russian leader knew that his forces couldn’t sustain a long-term fight against a dedicated Ukrainian resistance, the war might not have started at all. The corrupt and ingratiating chain of command in the Russian security services and the military gave Putin the wrong picture. 

There are reasons to believe Russian leadership is learning. The evacuation from the western bank of the Dnipro River and Kherson City shows that the Kremlin is willing to pull back from impossible positions and won’t lose forces for no reason. That had certainly not been the case in previous months.

For example, the Russian military lost thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks and armored personnel carriers in an attempt to capture Severodonetsk during the summer. 

Russia Still Can’t Win the War

There are still some examples of poor decision-making likely based on poor intelligence. The situation around Bakhmut is the best example of that. 

For more than four months, Russian forces have been trying to breach the Ukrainian defenses around Bakhmut, in the south of the Donbas. Russia has failed to take the city despite losing thousands of men and hundreds of tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, artillery pieces, and other weapon systems. 

For their troubles, the Russian forces, which are mostly a mixture of Wagner Group mercenaries and mobilized reservists, have advanced only a few miles toward the city.

Recently there have been some more aggressive advances in the south and north of Bakhmut, but Russian forces are still a long way away from encircling the city.

And if they did, the Russian military doesn’t have the numbers and weapons to effectively besiege a city, especially when the Ukrainians can strike at their logistical bases with long-range weaponry. 

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive 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. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). 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.



  1. Friend

    December 6, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    Your attempts to incite rage are almost as bad as that Gypsy Vlach moron’s

  2. Friend

    December 6, 2022 at 6:14 pm

    nope, your data’s inaccurate.
    By Aug 24 in the fist six months including the attack on Severodentsk, Russiar lost 48 thousand men, while they lost another 40 thousand in just the next three. And no, they haven’t advanced a few miles towards Bakhmut.

  3. Big Crow

    December 6, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    counting those chickens again.

  4. Whodunnit

    December 6, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    The West appears to have vastly overestimated the capabilities of the Russian armed forces just about as much as Putin has.

  5. mcswell

    December 6, 2022 at 10:33 pm

    Give those Russians a break: they’re the second best army–in Ukraine. (Although someone remarked that if the Salvation Army went to Ukraine, the Russian army would then be third best.)

  6. Pitosga

    December 7, 2022 at 6:46 am

    Surrounding Bakhmut would even be a tactic that would work on paper, but in reality trying to do so is useless because the siege would itself be surrounded, since it would have Ukrainian troops in front (Bakhmut) and behind (Ukraine), they could be attacked from two sides and any movement or action they took could be seen from one side exposing the positions to artillery. I don’t know who plans these things but it’s obviously not going to work. Are they going to insist on this, only to find out after it has been implemented that it doesn’t work?
    This would be like occupying snake island. What’s the use of occupying a position where the enemy is always watching you, and can hit you with artillery? The result would be the same – abandoning the positions.

  7. Jacksonian Libertarian

    December 7, 2022 at 9:53 am

    The Russians believed the Western military industrial complex’s exaggerated worst case estimates of Russian military prowess, designed to sell more weapons to Western politicians.

    Anyone that has ever studied the qualitative differences between Western militaries and Authoritarian militaries, knows Western militaries are several times more lethal. Even Ukrainians out gunned 3 to 1 by the Russians, can easily make up the difference and win with limited numbers and types of Western smart weapons. If Ukraine was armed and trained as NATO forces, they would have already won the war, and many lives would have been saved.

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