Historical story

Putin:How much he himself plans the battles in Ukraine - The strategic defeats

Last updated:2022-07-25

Is the war in Ukraine, after all, a largely personal war of Vladimir Putin? As the Guardian reports, this is not far from the truth, according to the estimates of Western military analysts.

So according to the Western sources, Putin not only personally made the decision to invade, but he participates in decision-making on the battlefield, having a more than active role at least as far as the developments in Donbas are concerned.

As the Guardian's Dan Sabbagh analyzes, Putin's behavior as commander-in-chief, especially if things go "wrong" more for the Russian troops, it is considered more than expected. As he typically writes, "authoritarian regimes tend not to favor military decentralization", with all that this implies. However, this implies that military failures should also be blamed on Putin himself. Last week an attempt by the Russians to encircle Ukrainian forces in the east resulted in the killing of 500 Russian soldiers and the destruction of more than 70 armored vehicles. The attempt of the Russians was to cross the river Seversky Donets , and indeed not at night but in broad daylight, near the settlement of Bilohorivka.

If Western claims are to be believed, the above operation could have been planned by Putin himself. Decision-making at the Colonel level would mean orders to an entire brigade, or to two or more battalions, involving 1,500 or more enlisted men. This is the size of the force that failed to cross the strategic river at the point of the Ukrainian counterattack.

Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman from King's College London, estimates:"Putin "ran" his military operation by rushing it, with minimal warning of what he was going to do, betting on quick victories and surprise. But that was the big of the problem in the second phase of the war, in the region of Donbas". Putin himself no longer resembles a leader who has patience or trusts his generals, but instead recalls the downfall of Adolf Hitler, who in the latter stages of the second world war, as described by biographer Ian Kershaw, refused to follow generals' calls for orderly retreats in the east and the Ardennes, and insisted on over-optimistic counter-attacks in the winter of 1944/5.

However, there are other examples as well. In the early stages of the Vietnam War , US President Lyndon Johnson and his administration launched a multiple bombing offensive against communist North Vietnam in 1965, codenamed Rolling Thunder. In this attack, they "locked" targets of specific interest only that were estimated by the US administration to involve Russia and China. The US wanted to weaken Hanoi from the air but proved ill-prepared for what it would encounter on the ground. It was the first stage in an escalating war that the US would eventually lose.

Also, according to Foreign Affairs, in view of the final outcome of the war in Iraq, by his personal decision Saddam Hussein decided that the country's air force should play no part in the war. The decision that the Iraqi Air Force should be saved for a post-war future was fatal.

Freedman states that military decisions during war are always "intensely political" and that it is up to political leaders to "set goals, push senior commanders, ask questions".

But the concern, Freedman argues, should be to ensure that there is a "dialogue between politicians and soldiers" and that leaders don't sidestep objections or try to micromanage battle plans at a time when they should be focusing on broader diplomatic or political strategies.

For Putin, as the war in Ukraine approaches its twelfth week, the question is whether he has the time to focus on everything in front of him, even if he is personally involved with developments in the Donbass. All this will have a big impact on possible further military failures. A popular Russian blogger using the pseudonym Vladlen Tatarzky wrote on Telegram: "We must find out the name of the 'military genius' who planned the operation by the river in broad daylight, and then reform the army." It is more than clear that the blogger is referring to the President of Russia himself and the role he plays.

We remind you that Russia took Mariupol, however it shows that it is having particular difficulty in maintaining the lands of Donbass, despite the recognition of the region's independence. Russian President Vladimir Putin may soon be called upon to decide whether to send more troops and equipment to replenish his dramatically weakened invasion force as an influx of modern Western weaponry bolsters Ukraine's resistance.

Huge Russian losses

According to Reuters, time is not on Russia's side, as the equipment runs out, despite assurances from Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov that everything is proceeding "as planned".

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in a failed attempt to capture the capital, Kyiv. He then retired to focus on a "second phase", announced in late March, to seize the south and all of Donbas, part of which has been controlled by Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.

Russia has maintained its land corridor in southern Ukraine, but was thwarted by Ukrainian troops who held out against massive shelling for 82 days at Mariupol's Azovstal steelworks before ending their resistance and surrendering on Tuesday.

About a third of Donbas was controlled by pro-Russian separatists before the invasion. Moscow now controls about 90% of Luhansk Oblast, but has failed to make major incursions and advances into the main cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in Donetsk in order to extend its control over the entire region.

In the north of the Donbass, the Ukrainians have launched a counterattack in Kharkiv, with which they have expelled the Russian forces from the second largest city of the country while reaching the Russian border.

On Tuesday, the High Representative of the E.U. Josep Borel said that if the numbers in the reports are true, the Russian military has suffered "impressive losses" in the Ukraine war.

"If it is true that Russia has lost 15% of its troops since the start of the war, that is a world record for losses for any army that has invaded a country," Borrell told reporters in Brussels after the conclusion of the meeting of the EU Defense Ministers Russia's key failures include, of course, the cruiser Moskva, which sank a month ago after a Ukrainian strike in the Black Sea.

The above has caused justified reactions and inside the country.

It is worth noting that Russia released its latest casualty figures in late March, when it admitted that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed and 3,825 wounded in the first month of the war. The government has not released more information on casualties over the past month and a half, other than to say they were "significant". Western estimates have been 10 or even 20 times higher, with some suggesting that Russia has lost more than 30,000 troops since the start of the war.

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