Though Ukraine’s long-anticipated spring offensive was slow in coming, and throughout the summer failed to achieve the success many likely expected – Russia remains on the defensive. Kyiv’s forces have only in recent weeks begun to breach the Kremlin’s fortified positions and are still unlikely to see a major breakthrough before the arrival of colder weather.
As a result, it appears that the war in Ukraine, which began in February 2022 when Russia launched its unprovoked invasion, will continue at least until next year.
A number of factors still hang in the balance – can Ukraine continue to receive the necessary support from the West given that its offensive failed to make significant progress? Without Western aid, Ukraine likely can’t win. Yet, even if the Western aid diminishes, it does appear that Russia has been so weakened that it would be hard-pressed to mount another major offensive of its own.
According to recent Ukrainian estimates released on Tuesday – which may be at least slightly inflated – the Kremlin has lost nearly 275,000 troops killed or wounded, and seen 4,628 tanks destroyed along with another 8,851 armored combat vehicles.
Ukraine Can Still Win – Russia Can’t
The common assessment from many military analysts is that Ukraine can likely drive out the Russian invaders with continued Western support. At most Russia is believed to be able to maintain its position in Ukraine for two more years at the current intensity.
Though it has vast numbers of people, Russia lacks trained reserves and more importantly modern equipment to send into the fight. It squandered its best soldiers in the opening stages of the war and is simply unable to replace those lost tanks and other vehicles.
Instead, it sent in antiquated platforms from the Cold War that proved to be ill-suited to a modern battlefield. The T-62 and even older T-54/55 series tanks bolstered the Kremlin’s strength on paper but were a paper tiger in the field – essentially little more than steel coffins for the crews to mix metaphors.
Who Trains the Trainers?
Though Moscow at least had those older tanks to send, it simply lacked any fresh troops. It can ill afford to utilize its combat veterans in training roles and instead is essentially deploying green troops with few veterans to even lead them. That will greatly impact the situation on the front line, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated in its recent intelligence update on the war in Ukraine on Thursday.
“The absence of regular unit rotations out of combat duty is highly likely one of the most important factors contributing to low Russian morale, and the Russian Army’s failure to conduct higher-level training since the invasion. The lack of such training is highly likely contributing to Russia’s difficulties in conducting successful complex offensive operations,” @DefenceHQ noted in its post to X – the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Lesson From History
Throughout its centuries-long existence, the Kremlin has shown that it is able to take on massive losses and keep fighting, at least for a while. However, the First World War could serve as a reminder that Russia can only fight for so long.
In the opening weeks of the First World War, in August 1914, Russia saw the near destruction of its First and Second Armies at the Battle of Tannenberg – losing upwards of 170,000 men. Though Russia was able to fight on for nearly three years, it never truly recovered from the defeat. Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is on track to be just as ruinous for Russia.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.