Russia insists on reducing the goals in Ukraine, despite being denied an easy win

There are many signs that Ukraine defeated Vladimir Putin's hopes of a quick victory and that Russia's military was far from ready to fight.

Russia insists on reducing the goals in Ukraine, despite being denied an easy win

Russian troops were in a truck that crashed, with its doors being blown open by a rocket propelled grenade. Russian command posts are attacked by drones supplied from abroad. In defiance of Russian captors, Orthodox priests wearing trailing vestments display Ukraine's flag and blue flag in Berdyansk.

Russia has lost hundreds upon hundreds of tanks. Many of them were left abandoned or charred along the roads. The death toll continues to exceed that of its previous military campaigns.

Three weeks after the start of the war, Putin's original goal to bring about regime change in Ukraine is no longer a possibility. Russia's military has an advantage. Russian forces, with their greater might, and stockpiles of city-flattening munition, can fight for whatever Russian president plans next, regardless of whether they are leveraging a settlement or brute destruction.

Despite the determination of the Ukrainian people, the losses of Russia's forces and the mistakes of Russia's leaders there is still no sign of an end to the war. Putin will continue to punish the people and cities of Ukraine even if he loses control.

Michael Clarke, ex-head of the British-based Royal United Services Institute (a defense think tank), said that his instinct was to always double down.

He said, "And I don’t believe it’s in his nature to try to retrieve those, except by continuing, going forward."

Russia's largest and most complex combined military operation since the 1945 invasion of Berlin is being waged by Putin's Ukrainian forces. He stated that his initial goal was to "demilitarize Ukraine" and "save its people from the "neo Nazis," a false description for Ukraine's government.

Putin was wrong to underestimate the pride and battlefield abilities that Ukrainians have accumulated over the past eight-years of fighting Russian-backed separatists at the country's eastern.

Russians believed that they would establish a pro-Russian government, call it a day, and declare victory at the beginning," stated Dmitry Gorenburg of the CNA think tank, Virginia. "That was their Plan A. As far as we know, they didn’t have a plan B."

Russia's initial plan to attack Ukrainian military targets and then make a quick getaway to Kyiv failed instantly. It was stopped by the Ukrainian defenses and the many organizational mistakes and failures of a Russian force, which had been told that it was only used for military drills.

Clarke, a British researcher, shared accounts of Russian troops selling fuel and communication equipment to locals while they waited at Ukraine's border for weeks.

Russian forces were not welcomed by any friendly population so they reverted back to their previous offensives in Syria or Chechnya, dropping bombs and missiles into towns and cities, sending millions of people, women, and children fleeing.

Putin's forces are poised to seize Mariupol, the city that is under siege. According to Michael Kofman (expert on Russian military and CNA program director), Russians seem to be fighting for three goals now: to surround Kyiv and to encircle spread out Ukrainian fighters to the east.

Kofman warns that a lot of information about the war comes from the Ukrainians or their American allies. This makes it difficult to get a complete picture.

On Friday, a senior U.S. defense officer stated that the Russians had launched more than 1,080 rockets since the beginning of the war. However, they are still largely stalled in the country. According to the official, they still have about 90% of their combat power that they had in place around Ukraine at the beginning of the war.

According to the U.S., they believe that Ukraine's airspace is still contested. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss military assessments. Ukrainian air forces continue to fly planes and use air and missile defense.

John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, said that "just look at the map and you'll see how little progress Russia has made."

Putin may be disadvantaged by the math of military conquests or occupation.

There are many estimates of Russian deaths. Even so, conservative estimates are in the thousands. This is a faster pace than previous Russian offensives and it threatens support for the war by ordinary Russians. During its 2008 war against Georgia, Russia lost 64 people in just five days. Over the past 10 years, it lost approximately 15,000 Afghans and more than 11,000 in Chechnya.

Gorenburg stated that Russia's death toll in Ukraine has reached 10%, which is the threshold for diminished combat effectiveness. He said that the reported deaths of four Russian generals in battle -- among an estimated twenty -- indicate impaired command.

Only those Russian equipment losses that were recorded or photographed by video cameras have been identified as Russian. They claim Russia has lost over 1,500 tanks, trucks and mounted equipment. Two-thirds of them were captured or abandoned, indicating the failures of the Russian troops who allowed them to go.

Military analysts suggest that Russia should limit its use smart, long-range rockets to avoid being involved in a larger conflict with NATO.

Analysts say that Russia has a 5-to-1 advantage over the United States in urban fighting when it comes to the difficult task of capturing and holding city cities. Clarke points out that the rule of thumb for governing a territory in conflict with armed opposition is 20 fighters per 1,000 people. This is equivalent to 800,000 Russian troops for Ukraine's 40 million citizens. This is almost the same number as Russia's active-duty army of 900,000.

This means that to control a substantial portion of Ukraine's territory over the long-term, it would require more resources than Russia could reasonably commit.

There are other options available to Russia, including a negotiated solution. Moscow demands that Ukraine formalize its neutrality and renounce any alliance with NATO. It also requires that Ukraine recognize the sovereignty of Russia over Crimea and the independence of separatist regions to the east.

Russia has other options, including an unrelenting air campaign that bombs and depopulates urban areas like it did in Syria and Chechnya. Officials from the United States warn about the possibility of Russian chemical attack and the danger of an escalation into nuclear war.

Clarke stated that unless the Russians are intent to be totally genocidal -- they could flatten the major cities and the Ukrainians will rise up against Russian occupation -- if Russian troops remain, there will be only constant guerrilla warfare.


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