26 December 2022 11: 00
Headings: Opinions News Policy

The Great War is Back: 5 Lessons from Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

Both sides are exhausted by the fighting, and the Russian Federation is changing its strategy in the course of the war.

Financial Times
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The Great War is Back: 5 Lessons from Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has become more difficult for Russia than the war in Afghanistan, and a number of strategically important conclusions can already be drawn from it. About it пишет Financial Times.

The opinion of the author may not coincide with the opinion of the editors.

In the dead of winter, Moscow deployed several hundred paratroopers to the neighboring country's main airfield with orders to seize the capital, assassinate the president, and establish its own regime. As tanks crossed the border, the Kremlin expected the country to fall quickly. This was Moscow's plan for the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Four decades later, the President of Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin used the same plan for his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, where he similarly envisioned a quick capture of Kyiv followed by a national surrender.

Russian forces failed to take the capital city of Kyiv and have since been driven out by Ukrainian forces from more than half of the territory they originally captured. Nevertheless, Moscow does not seem to be bothered by this: Ukraine has repeatedly warned that Russia is planning another attempt to take the capital.

What other lessons can be learned from the Ukrainian conflict and how can it develop in 2023? According to military officials and analysts, one of the key findings is that "the big war is back", and with it, the need for countries to have the industrial capacity and vast stockpiles of weapons to sustain intense fighting.

“The key question for 2023 is how much military support the West will continue to provide to Ukraine”, - said Domitilla Sagramoso, a Russian security expert from King's College London.

The third lesson for Moscow is that quality is more important than quantity. Good logistics, a large number of troops and appropriate military equipment - be it drones or tanks - «are worthless if there is an intelligence guide do not work properly», - said Ben Barry, a former brigadier general in the British Army, now a think tank at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Trying to fix it, Putin in October appointed general Sergei Surovikin commander of Russian troops in Ukraine. Surovikin, veteran of the war in Syria, "probably the most competent commander that Russia could put in this position", - said Dara Massicot, a military expert on Russia at the Rand Corporation think tank.

Surovikin fortified the Russian front line with recruits drawn from the recent call for about 300 thousand soldiers. He also organized a successful withdrawal from the strategically important southern city of Khersonwhere the Russian troops were in danger of being captured.

Stronger Russian defensive positions reduce the chances of a successful Ukrainian winter counteroffensive.

The fourth lesson is the importance of civil society in supporting the war effort. Ukrainian programmers have developed apps to help their troops attack Russian positions, cooks prepare meals for Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines, and volunteers continue to raise funds to buy military equipment such as first aid kits and night vision goggles.

On the other hand, between June and November Popular support for the war in Russia has halved, to 27%, according to an unconfirmed internal Kremlin poll reported by the exile news agency Meduza.

The fifth and perhaps the most important lesson of the war is that it is fought on several fronts, and not only with the help of tanks, missiles and guns. Putin launched a wave of missile and drone attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure in an attempt to break the national will and release a wave of refugees into Europe. He has threatened further cuts in gas supplies to the West as winter sets in, and while Ukraine ships grain in a grain deal, the Russian navy still controls the Black Sea, threatening many of Ukraine's food export routes.

“Putin’s message seems to be that the shelling will be repeated, and he will continue this for as long as he wants., — said the British political scientist Mark Galeotti. - This is a political strategy designed to alienate Ukraine from the West. The way this war is going is not only about military equipment.”.

Even both sides, war-wearyagree to a ceasefire next year, Putin's aggression against Ukraine can still continue through these other means. “The nature of modern warfare may change, but so does the nature of the world., added Galeotti. — This is something the West needs to think about."

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