The spirit and experience of fighting with Western weapons are two factors that aid Ukraine in posing numerous challenges to Russian forces’ operations.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told the US Senate on April 7 that the Ukrainian military had succeeded in the first phase of the operation, but warned that the conflict would continue. The length and conclusion are both extremely difficult to predict.
In a month and a half of fighting, Sébastien Roblin, a journalist specialising in military and international security issues for Forbes, NBC News, and the National Interest, told Military Cognizance that Ukraine took advantage of many favourable factors to hold back Russian forces, causing Moscow to abandon its plan to attack Kiev’s capital in favour of focusing on the eastern front.
The first factor mentioned by Roblin is the Ukrainian army’s resistance spirit and combat experience against a much stronger opponent.
When Russia launched its military campaign with a force of approximately 150,000 troops and overwhelming advantages in air, armoured vehicles, and long-range missiles in all three attack directions, Ukrainian military units did not panic and disintegrate.
The US intelligence community did not believe the Ukrainian army could hold off Russian forces for more than a week, prompting President Volodymyr Zelensky to be evacuated. Mr. Zelensky, on the other hand, flatly refused and frequently appeared on television and social media to encourage soldiers and civilians to fight. According to Roblin, this is an important driving force in strengthening Ukraine’s resistance.
After years of fighting separatist forces in the east, the Ukrainian government army gained valuable combat experience and learned to use asymmetric warfare to its advantage.
They didn’t try to stop Russia’s superior force from crossing the border; instead, they used the vast terrain to stretch the enemy’s formation, then launched active counterattacks, ambushing the armoured formation. Enemy forces harassed logistics lines, stranding a 64-kilometer-long Russian military convoy in Kiev suburbs for weeks.
Kiev also abandoned the defenceless empty areas in order to focus on protecting strategically important densely populated cities. In besieged cities like Chernihiv and Mariupol, they were able to hold out and resist for weeks despite intense pressure.
Instead of forming large formations, the Ukrainian infantry divided into squads to avoid being surrounded and suppressed, and then launched rapid attacks to retreat quickly into the enemy’s formation.
However, Roblin cautioned that unless the Ukrainian army is bolstered with a variety of modern weapons supplied by the West, this strategy is unlikely to succeed.
Since Russia launched a military campaign in Ukraine at the end of February, about 20 countries, the majority of which are NATO members and members of the European Union (EU), have poured weapons, primarily anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), into the country. During the campaign, Western intelligence discovered that Moscow had mobilised 75% of battalion-level tactical units (BTGs), mostly mechanised formations with heavy firepower to quickly crush the opponent’s ability to resist. BTG, on the other hand, is extremely vulnerable to modern Western ATGMs, which have extremely high precision and power against tanks and armour. The Javelin, NLAW missiles developed by the United States and the United Kingdom are considered the world’s most dangerous “tank killers,” capable of defeating many modern Russian and other major power tanks.
Faced with Russian long-range missile superiority, Ukraine sought to disperse its aircraft to field bases in order to avoid being wiped out in a pre-emptive strike. This aids the Ukrainian Air Force in maintaining the ability to attack Russian infantry units and implementing tactics to lure enemy aircraft into the range of anti-aircraft fire.
Kiev also benefits from investments in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), particularly the Bayraktar TB2 series of Turkish-made UAVs. They are difficult to detect by enemy air defences due to their small size and radar cross-section, and each aircraft carries a large number of light surface-to-surface missiles, allowing them to strike key Russian targets such as launch vehicles. technical logistics vehicles, anti-aircraft missiles
UAVs are important for monitoring the battlefield situation, pointing out targets, and correcting artillery ballistics. This demonstrates how the Ukrainian military has combined Soviet-era capabilities like artillery and armoured vehicles with Western advantages like intelligence and reconnaissance. “The developments on the Ukrainian battlefield can provide NATO with a wealth of information. The military situation demonstrates how a weaker country can hold off a stronger opponent “emphasised Roblin