Rameez Ansari talks about an intricate conflict of Ukraine under duress
Matters are getting worse in Ukraine under duress as the conflict is dragging on with atrocities reported widely in international media. Russia’s chaotic and confusing invasion of Ukraine has baffled military analysts and the considered opinion is that Russia’s invasion has not gone entirely to plan. It was expected that Russia would make far more gains and, crucially, to face far less resistance from Ukrainian forces and volunteer fighters. Despite Russian forces attacking various towns and cities in the north, east and south of the country the Russian forces have claimed taking over one major city, Kherson. Meanwhile, fighting continues around the other major cities of Kharkiv, Mariupol and Kyiv, although a huge column of Russian military vehicles which has been snaking its way to the capital has appeared to have stalled in recent days amid unconfirmed reports of logistical problems and food and fuel shortages.
It is now emerging that Russia had made key strategic errors in its first week of combat, particularly in its failure to establish air superiority and thus provide air support to its ground forces. The military experts acknowledged, however, that Russia’s naval superiority in the Black Sea has contributed to success in its southern area of operations, with Russian forces breaking out from the Crimean Peninsula and taking territory in southern Ukraine, the seizing of the port city of Kherson being its most major victory so far during the invasion. They noted that although Ukraine has fought well and disrupted plans for a quick and decisive Russian victory, the situation is still perilous. Russia is moving to encircle Kyiv and Kharkiv and appears to have switched to indiscriminate long-range fires — resulting in significant collateral damage in residential areas— and is making significant progress in the south.
Various Ukraine under duress intelligence sources point out that Russian invasion is behind schedule frustrating Putin and they warn that Putin may see his only option as doubling down on the violence Russia unleashes against the country and a number of analysts have questioned Putin’s rationality when it comes to Ukraine. Without access to Putin’s inner circle, Russia’s schedule for its Ukraine invasion is largely guesswork though Putin insisted that everything is going to plan stating that all objectives that were set are being resolved or achieved successfully. However, Ukraine under duress military experts differ from Putin pointing out that Russia was stretched beyond its logistical and mechanical capabilities and that its troops (some of whom are less-experienced conscripts) are likely to be extremely tired and inexperienced in the face of a determined opponent, as Ukraine is proving to be.
While Ukraine’s forces and volunteer fighters appear determined to confront Russian troops approaching Kyiv in a huge military convoy, over a million people are now deemed to have fled the country. Civilian casualties in Ukraine have prompted some western officials, like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to accuse Putin of war crimes. Accurate data on casualties and the injured, as well as the loss of military hardware, are hard to come by in war, with both sides having a vested interest in aggrandizing their own victories and accomplishments and belittling those of the opponent. Crucially, both sides have an interest in minimising their losses too as they strive to maintain the morale of troops and their respective publics, alike. Russia took several days to even acknowledge, and concede, that some of its personnel had been killed and wounded.
Many believe that Russia had underestimated the tenacity of ordinary Ukrainian people as Russia has not been able to swiftly achieve its military objectives because the Russians are not nearly as well trained as they think they are or as we thought they were, they are not nearly as well equipped.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO, so the Western military alliance is not obliged to defend it, although a number of Western countries have sent weapons to Ukraine to help it defend itself. Despite a resistance that has won hearts and minds around the world, though, the bigger picture does not look good for Ukraine as it needs more Western help if it is to stop Russia’s slow but destructive and demoralising advance.
Looking further ahead it is agreed that even if Russia wins in Ukraine, that will be the easy part but holding the country — whose population predominantly has a pro-Western attitude and will be even more anti-Russian after the invasion — will be much harder. This is indeed a potent question that how will Russia — indefinitely — occupy, control and administer a very large country of 40 million overwhelmingly hostile people, with a ruined economy, a need for major reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and probably a serious humanitarian crisis. Even if Russia was able to find Ukrainians willing to constitute a new administration, it is questioned whether civil servants, the police and other public officials would be willing to take orders from such people. In wake of these considerations a Russian military victory would be the start and not the end of Putin’s problems. TW
Rameez Ansari is an entrepreneur