The Amazing Ukrainians

The ability of a determined modern army to overcome overwhelming odds and come out on top

If you had told me the Ukrainians would have been the winner in a war with Russia, at the start of the war, I would said you were crazy. As I watched key landmarks being met like (the early seizure of the airport near Kyiv). I remember saying to my wife that “despite the Ukrainians’ best efforts the pundits are correct, this would end in a week”. After the first month, I quickly noticed there was a significant difference in modern combined arms warfare. I was amazed again and again. I saw a short interview with a Ukrainian soldier who stayed behind as the Russians took the airport and called in accurate fires. He had destroyed the enemy at great risk to his own life. He and his small band of just a few men allowed the Ukrainians to take back that airport.

The ability of the Ukrainians to improvise, adapt and overcome has been legendary. Zelenskyy himself did something, rarely, if ever, done, becoming the tail that wagged the dog. He used his extensive knowledge of television media and messaging to appeal directly, live, to world leaders, in public addresses. The appeal was and is simple, to paraphrase “we are a free democratic nation being invaded by a neighbor, superior in number, with overwhelming odds against us. We will fight to the last man to remain free. We will resist whether or not you help us, we are prepared to die for our freedom. If you don’t stand with Ukraine against this Russian occupation, we will surely lose. However if you help us you will be living up to everything you promised when we established our country in the Budapest accords. NATO said it would protect us against aggression, if we gave up our nuclear capability. We lived up to our bargain, will you? Implicitly suggesting that you either stand up for democracy and sovereignty or you implicitly endorse this illegal behavior. Behaviors that include: violence against civilians and a host of other verified war crimes.”

Members of the European Parliament applaud Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who appears on a screen as he speaks in a video conference during a special plenary session of the European Parliament focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on March 01, 2022. – The European Commission has opened the door for Ukraine to join the EU, but this is not for tomorrow, despite Kiev’s request for a special procedure to integrate the country “without delay”. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

It probably seems like we acted slowly but I would argue that the worlds largest body of western countries and all the nations of the EU, let alone America, rarely agree on anything. To agree to offer man pad rockets to keep Russia from achieving air supremacy was a key in keeping Russia fighting the last war. To fight and win in modern combined arms maneuver warfare is based on achieving air superiority, then air supremacy to support war fighters on the ground and to offer greater ability to maneuver and to take ground. With each new donation of weapons the Ukrainians used their ability to iterate applications, software, technology and consumer drones, to give them a distinct advantage directing fires. While the Ukrainians do not possess a large air force the ability to direct fires with drones showed their resourcefulness to adapt to changing circumstances in real time on the ground.

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Zelenskyy Addressing US Congress

With each weapon system given the Ukrainians made good use of opsec, and maneuver to overcome returning fires from the Russians. As the Russians lost so many of their modern fleet of weaponry the Ukrainians so theirs at a much slower rate. Even though the Russians are still superior in number some of the most elite units have been neutralized. The ability to fight this war and win would require something like 90% (according to some analyst) of their fighting forces, to sustain and rotate, their army to keep morale high and win decisive battles.

Sending warm bodies that are not professional soldiers will be very hard in terms of attrition. The Ukrainians are fighting to stay Ukrainian, they are fighting for their homes and families. A Russian conscript has no real motivation to fight besides the basic will to defend his country. In this case they are not defending, they are attacking, with shifting rationales for why Russia is in Ukraine at all. They’re sleeping outside in winter, while the Ukrainians can seek shelter in any number of places, in their own country. While the front lines of the Russians are backfilled with more and more inexperienced fighting they are dying at an alarming rate compared to their Ukrainian counterparts.

The Ukrainian ability to use OSINT (open source intelligence) HUMINT (human intel assets) and the technology of their NATO, American and EU partners supporting them in this proxy war. They have been effective at discovering the enemies routes of entrance and egress and to cut of their lines of re-supply. Most likely the Ukrainians mount a major offensive as they had in Kherson, as soon as the ground freezes to allow passage of men and heavy equipment to maneuver. When this happens the lines of re-supply will be destroyed and any attempts to support the army will be thwarted (IMHO). By Spring the Russian Army should culminate this round of fighting with an inability to sustain their fighting positions.

If the Ukrainians breakthrough the result will be a long retreat to the next lines of defense and surrendering more of their gains. If the Ukrainians use momentum to continue to gain advantage, it is conceivable by Spring they could cut the Russian forces into two pieces then force a surrender or retreat of the Crimean peninsula. If they achieve victories like these they will disrupt the Russian hold on the Black Sea and the Sea ports and transport of grain to the free market.

As the Ukrainians hone their abilities at combined arms fighting and using technology and fighting will they will be nearly impossible to displace. The Russians are fighting for the abstract concept of security by fiat by force of arms for a hollow victory while the Ukrainians are fighting to have an ethnic identity, they are literally righting to remain Ukrainians. The Ukrainians are fighting for their rights both as a sovereign nation and as an ethnic group. They are fighting to protect their own homes and families and to avenge all the Ukrainians whom have laid down their lives.

Ukrainian Soldier in Trench 2022

The Ukrainians have been nothing short of amazing from the start of this war. However its not over yet. As the Winter or Spring offensive approaches the fighting spirit and resilience of the Ukrainian people will prevail. Arbitrary acts of terror cannot dictate how the rest of the world responds, the free world must prevail in this war or these acts of aggression will only continue to destabilize the world. I stand with Ukraine, glory to their people and glory to the heroes.

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