Ukrainian forces no match for Russia in manpower, equipment and experience
Missiles hit Ukrainian towns on Thursday and Ukraine reported columns of troops crossing its borders from Russia and Belarus and landing on its Black Sea and Sea of Azov coasts.
Russia’s objective remained unclear but the capital Kyiv was clearly a primary target, with President Vladimir Putin saying he intended to “fight for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine”.
“The Russian military command will want to act very quickly, in particular to isolate and then take control of Kiev, to prevent the formation of a coherent Ukrainian defense and, if it can, to disrupt the movement of Ukrainian reserves,” Ben Barry said. , principal researcher. for Land Warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
A Ukrainian presidential adviser said the airfield at Hostomel, northwest of the capital, had been captured by Russian forces – which Barry said would allow them to fly with additional equipment, including armored vehicles light, to intensify the assault.
Russian advances along the Sea of Azov coast and near Kharkiv in the northeast also suggested an attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces in the east of the country, he said.
The United States estimated that Russia had more than 150,000 troops massed around Ukraine’s borders on the eve of the invasion, as well as tens of thousands of Russian-backed fighters in breakaway regions of east of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s total active armed forces stand at 196,600, according to the authoritative IISS Military Balance report released last week.
But although highly motivated to defend the country and newly equipped with Turkish drones and US and British anti-tank missiles, analysts say they are extremely vulnerable, especially to air and missile attacks. The Ukrainian Navy is limited to one major warship and a dozen patrol boats, against the might of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
MOBILE VS STATIC
Ukraine’s eight-year experience of fighting with separatist forces in the east has been dominated by World War I-style static trench warfare.
In contrast, Russian forces have shown in Syria, where they intervened alongside President Bashar al-Assad, that they are capable of moving quickly over great distances, of assembling pontoon bridges to cross rivers and of synchronize ground maneuvers with aerial and drone attacks.
The Russian Air Force has carried out tens of thousands of airstrikes, killing thousands of civilians, according to the Syrian opposition. Tens of thousands of Russian servicemen have served in Syria, and senior land, air and special operations (Spetsnaz) personnel have served on duty tours, according to Barry.
Russian soldiers have gained extensive experience in urban warfare alongside Assad’s Lebanese Hezbollah allies, which could prove invaluable if battles ensue for major Ukrainian cities.
Analysts at Janes, a defense intelligence provider, said Russia also used the Syrian intervention to test new upgraded air, ground and naval equipment, including next-generation Su-57 fighter jets and missiles. Kalibr cruise ship.
“To prevail against Russia, Ukrainian forces are going to have to demonstrate a very high level of tactics, be very bold and resolute and have a campaign plan superior to Russia’s,” Barry said.
“The only advantage Ukrainians have is that they are fighting for their own country on their soil. Secondly, it seems that a large number of civilians are volunteering to fight alongside the armed forces, which could make any Russian attack on urban areas more difficult.”
(Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
By Mark Trevelian