90 Days of Atrocities and Mistakes
When Russia invaded Ukraine, on 24 February, the units attacking Kyiv expected to achieve victory within 10 days, after which they would begin mopping up “scattered units” of resistance fighters. That’s according to a significant new report from RUSI, co-authored by two of the Institute’s own experts and two senior Ukrainian national security officials.
How the Russian attack was thwarted holds wider lessons for the West — both in the way we support Ukraine in the future, and for the ongoing redesign of NATO armed forces, including in the UK.
In this long-read, I summarise the report (it’s 67 pages and aimed at a specialist audience) for a general political audience and translate some of its specialist terms into everyday language. There’s a wider discussion to be had once it’s been absorbed and critiqued. All references are to page numbers in the original.
Status and sources
The report, entitled Preliminary Lessons in Conventional Warfighting from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: February–July 2022, is self-admittedly “problematic”. It’s been drawn from unpublished and unverifiable Ukrainian military data provided via the two serving national security officials who authored it, and refuses to disclose for example the scale of Ukrainian casualties.
This is understandable but means all judgements about the contents have to be provisional. The Ukrainian authors will, also understandably, be trying to shape the wider Western narrative about the nature of future weaponry and supplies, and tellingly make no reference to any level of co-operation with Western military and intelligence forces.
It covers five subjects, drawing on captured Russian documentation, unreferences Ukraininan data and in-country observations by the UK-based authors: the Russian invasion plan; Ukraine’s plan; the course of the fighting first 90 days of action, an assessment of the Russian armed forces; and lessons for the UK.
These latter points will be relevant to politics: the Integrated Review is being revised, while final decisions on the MoD budget will be taken on the basis of the revision.