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Russia invades Ukraine

Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, mere four days after Beijing Winter Olympics closed. In the beginning everyone sort of expected a quick conquer and swift victory. Ruble fells against dollar to $0.012.

But it has been more than a month and it’s anything but. 速战速决? Definitely not, and the chance that Russia can get out of this in one piece, is slim. By April 3, war crime becomes the topic of the day.

A few posts on the war

  • 5.15, Fareed interviews Tony Blair no way out
  • 4.13, Controversy over Steinmeier visit sparks debate in Germany
  • 4.08, CNN calling out Obama‘s stunning blind spot on Russia
  • 3.30, How China complicated the world’s response to Ukraine
  • 3.29, Russian commander kills himself
  • 3.25, Mutinous Russian troops ran over their own commander
  • 3.11, trucks tyres falling apart bec they’re cheap Chinese copies…


Below is many posts I’ve read lately. One of the points the author wrote, “So for example, all the trucks tyres falling apart because they are cheap Chinese copies of Russian tyres was something I think nobody expected.” ⇓

What about the 2022 Russia-Ukraine war has defied expectations and conventional wisdom about warfare?

British Telly producer – covered 2 wars &  got PTSD
Answered Mar 11, 2022 · Upvoted by A.M. Wilkinson, M.A. International Relations, University of Sydney (2005) and Andrew Steiner, Hopefully a J.D. Law & Politics, Homeschooling (2025) · Author has 139 answers and 4.1M answer views

As someone who has been in a couple of wars and is advising on reporting it for the BBC, my hot take is that I really don’t really know what’s happening in Ukraine on the Russian side.

There’s just not enough verifiable information. For what it’s worth I doubt Putin knows either, behind the wall of yes men and lies; but basically you are just not seeing anything from the Russian advances.

In terms of performance, topline is it’s very difficult to gauge what level of mobilisation has occurred or what the EXACT given objectives were, so it’s very hard to really analyse.

But, stepping out of the professional take for a second, my gut feeling is I think in seeking to assert Russian strength, Putin has exposed key Russian weaknesses, where they have a lot of exciting weapons on paper, and not a lot of boring capacity to project that power, maintain equipment or even crew it well. I mean we sort of knew this but it’s much worse than even the most optimistic western analysts predicted.

Key parts of this:

Russia can’t do logistics for shit because of corruption

So – it looks like the Russian military was a lot worse than everyone assumed, with predictable factors like low morale, poor and overconfident leadership and lots of corruption, maybe even more than the level of corruption Russians in the know suspected.

So for example, all the trucks tyres falling apart because they are cheap Chinese copies of Russian tyres was something I think nobody expected.

The logistics problems they are suffering are very real. They don’t seem to be able to get fuel, food or ammunition forward and must be running short of heavy electric batteries too.

I think the airforce readiness rate, in terms of what hi-tech equipment is working must be appalling. Zooming in and looking at the stores on the planes and it’s all 500lb dumb bombs, so all the planes are basically hitting like it’s WW2, making a lot of noise but little impact.

The last 2 weeks or so we haven’t seen any choppers or planes engaged by Ukrainian missiles firing chaff or flares, which suggests they’ve run out.

But – they aren’t flying that much, and to be honest the most effective way to set up a no fly zone seems to be to just leave it to the Russian Air Force, who seem pretty incapable of mounting major operations anyway.

The whole western conversation about no fly zones seems to miss the fact that most of the damage is being done by tube artillery and rocket barrages.

And the Russians are still going forward, albeit slowly. Ultimately if Putin wants to take Kiev, he can, he just has to kill a lot of Russians, a LOT of Ukrainians and level the city to do it.

Historically, I think the Winter War is the best comparison – shiny much feared Russian army actual has to fight rather than parade and all the weaknesses concealed by parades, sales brochures and useful idiots/Quora fans come out. But obviously the Russians did eventually win that one….

Russian AAA is much, much weaker than anticipated

Almost every western analyst has been surprised by the fact Russian SAMs and SHORAD aren’t completely dominating the sky. In particular the surprising success of the low-speed Bayraktar drone seems to suggest either the Russian missile brochures are completely bullshit, the radars are much worse than anticipated or the operators are barely trained.

One of the persistent questions about western vs Russian weapons design has been “why can the Russians build self propelled AAA systems much better than we can?” and the answer seems to be, they can’t, they just exist in a system where everyone happily lies about the results, tests and effectiveness so they can sell this kit to despots in the Middle East.

This might be a purely tactical problem (eg the AAA is not deployed properly because it’s tires have fallen off and the crew have run away) but it’s definitely going to be hard to sell this stuff for a couple of decades.

Even the most modern Russian tanks are much more vulnerable to missiles than anyone suspected

The story re: Russian built armour in iraq getting humiliated has always been “ah yes, armour in iraq/Syria got destroyed because the T72M was the export version, the actual Russian, T72 with Refleks, T80/90 with Kontakt5, Arena and Shtora are basically immune to missiles” but Ukraine has shown that’s a complete nonsense and you now have Russian crews welding “cope cages” on top of their tanks to try to stop Javelin & NLAW (without any success it must be said).

In particular the Arena APS & Shtora jammers have been shown to be near-worthless (in contrast with the Israeli trophy system, which seems to work pretty well).

The other important thing to note is that tank technology has been shown up as basically 30 years out of date. In the early 90s there were all sorts of crazy next gen tank plans of which very few have manifested because there has been no point and budgets were slashed. And that’s in the West. Its doubly more so for Russia, who only started serious new development about 10 years ago meaning almost none of the new systems are close to operational, yet alone being ready for widespread deployment.

So in some ways its not surprising that the infantry missiles that were specifically designed to defeat current tanks….defeat current tanks, because tanks haven’t changed in ages. Its sort of a panzerfaust from 1945 is really good against a WW1 tank…because it is 30 years more advanced.
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Willard Foxton
British Telly producer – covered 2 wars & got PTSD
Works at The Telegraph
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