Observations on Ukraine – Emerging Explanations for Unexpected Performance

Not much time today, so just two articles that give an insight into why things are going the way they are going. When I asked my Ukrainian colleagues on the day the invasion started how they were doing, many said: “Scared, but we trust our army to defend us.” It turns out those weren’t just empty words.

Remains of a Russian Plane in a house in Kharkiv, 7 March 2022, Globe and Mail.

First, the case for Ukraine’s surprising performance. This aligns with my thinking. Prior to the war starting, I was wondering how a Ukrainian army that was being trained over years by advisors from top western military, while fighting a low-level war in the Donbass, would perform. My expectation was that it would do much better than what we saw in 2014, and this has been borne out. Nevertheless, I was expecting a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful defense, imposing a higher cost on the invading forces than expected, but not being able to hold them back. Instead, thus far the Ukrainians are standing up to the supposed Russian juggernaut, and with every day they continue to do so, they come a day closer to defeating this inhumane aggression on their country.

https://theconversation.com/in-2014-the-decrepit-ukrainian-army-hit-the-refresh-button-eight-years-later-its-paying-off-177881?

Second, the case against the Russian air force. Another solid piece by Justin Bronk, who is clearly thinking about why the Russian air force (the VKS) is not making much of an appearance. On this topic, I must admit I had drunk from the Kool-Aid fountain of conventional analysis, and I expected the VKS to deliver Shock-and-Awe, overwhelming Ukrainian defenses.

https://www.rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/rusi-defence-systems/russian-air-force-actually-incapable-complex-air-operations

Now, if someone could take this analytical axe to the myth of the Battalion Tactical Group, I’d be delighted.

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