Since the start of the Russian war on Ukraine on February 24, Western experts and personnel have been monitoring the developments of the war day after day through traditional channels such as intelligence and satellite images, and also through many available sources such as social networks;
After three months of violent conflict, a number of lessons are beginning to unfold for these observers.
With this introduction, the French newspaper Le Monde opened a lengthy article by Elise Vincent and Cedric Pettralonga, in which they extracted 10 lessons from the Russian war on Ukraine for Western observers:
The relative imbalance of power between the Russians and the Ukrainians
By analyzing the balance of power on the ground between the Russians and the Ukrainians, a number of military experts believe that the Ukrainian forces - contrary to popular belief - were not much inferior to the Russian forces, as a French military source says that "the balance of power on the human level is somewhat balanced." The 145,000 active Ukrainian troops face the roughly 160,000 Russian troops who have been sent in since the start of the war, according to most estimates.
The Ukrainians also have a reserve army of 240,000 men, and it was mobilized very quickly immediately after the outbreak of the war, which prevented the fall of Kyiv, especially since most of the Ukrainian regular forces were mobilized in the Donbass, and the Ukrainians also hired thousands of foreign volunteers, but despite all that the confrontation remains asymmetric on the The material level, as the Ukrainians do not have an air force, navy, tanks and cruise missiles comparable to those of Moscow.
Human casualties are a sensitive issue
Among the sensitive issues in the war, the number of dead or wounded, which remained a great secret in the first three months of the war - as the authors say - despite the circulation of many estimates regarding the number of dead and wounded on the Russian side, without saying anything about the condition of the Ukrainian forces, Because the Western camp - which has no interest in undermining the morale of the Ukrainian forces - partially conceals the reality of the war.
This mystery may also be the result of an information blackout on the part of Kyiv in the context of the information conflict that it has been waging since early, as the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky - according to the authors - provides only fragmentary information to its allies about the state of its forces, although French military sources estimate the number of The dead on the Ukrainian side numbered at least 15,000 men, which is roughly the same number of dead on the Russian side.
Intensive training is a critical factor
The authors pointed out that the element that is an advantage for the Ukrainian forces is their entry into the war on the Donbass front several years ago, and they have been facing the Russian auxiliary forces since 2014, which gave the opportunity for most of them to become more solid, unlike the Russian army, which is mostly made up of contractors, who did not have access to many They have the opportunity to enter the theater of military operations.
And if Russia is accustomed to large military exercises - as the authors say - these exercises are often an occasion to show strength rather than an opportunity for real training in violent confrontations, while 10 thousand Ukrainian soldiers have been receiving training every year since 2014 in one of the member countries of the NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), according to the American Wall Street Journal.
It is this training that explains - according to military experts - the ease with which the Ukrainians deal with standard NATO weapons handed over to them by the West, while their arsenal consists mainly of equipment of Soviet origin.
Central Operations Command
Although most of the western pillars are relatively central, the Ukrainian theater showed the flaws of this leadership method and demonstrated the interest in organizing a more flexible leadership. The authoritarian regime taught Russia a harsh lesson during the first three months of the war, as well as the mistrust between the hierarchical levels and the legacy of the Soviet tradition.
And while the Russian centralization seemed very effective at the beginning of the war, in the so-called “strategic” stage, it deprived the units of the initiative in the face of changing terrain, while the Ukrainian central command retained control over the dissemination of intelligence and directives to change the main efforts, so that the battalions enjoyed great independence in areas specific.
The first weeks of the conflict also showed the importance of non-commissioned officers who are almost non-existent within the Russian army, while the Ukrainian army was distinguished by a high percentage of non-commissioned officers, and this explains - according to specialists - the failure of the Kyiv invasion, as the Russian forces were paralyzed waiting for orders through the chain hierarchical, while Ukrainian soldiers were more mobile and constantly adapting to local constraints.
The authors believe that the accumulated disappointments in Russia since the beginning of the war are mainly due to the poor management of the flow of supplies, or the so-called rear front or “train” in military parlance, a despised part of the army, but the Ukrainian theater showed its importance in any long conflict, but Russia She gave him little importance in her conviction that the war would be short, leaving her convoys unprotected, while the Ukrainians relied on decentralized logistics.
And the Westerners were not wrong - as a French expert says - when their last shipments of heavy equipment to Ukraine were armored vehicles, personnel carriers and helicopters capable of transporting men and equipment, because "the important thing today is the Ukrainians' ability to provide this effort; it is a logistical and humanitarian challenge." According to the French expert.
Conventional weapons..a necessary return
In recent years, the acceleration of strategic competition between military powers has led to the acquisition of increasingly sophisticated equipment, but the Ukrainian conflict shows that wars are conducted during land battles with classic equipment, and in the face of heavy Russian means, the American (Javelin) portable missile launchers and the British-Swedish Enlo - For example - causing significant damage to the Russian forces.
"Initial analysis shows - although it is too early to draw conclusions - that more basic military equipment such as anti-tank guided munitions and MANPADS have been incredibly effective for the Ukrainians," says Edward Arnold, a researcher at the British Research Institute.
Therefore, some believe that the Westerners will have no choice but to review their weapons, because the war "consumes" the equipment.
An expert in the French army says that "if France is to lead a conflict, as is the case in Ukraine, it will use 40% of its stocks within two weeks."
The blitzkrieg is a fantasy that must be buried forever
It became a given - according to the authors - the failure of the war in Ukraine to remain a "special operation" aimed at overthrowing the Kyiv regime within a few days, as is the case in operations rife with military history;
any operations that take longer than expected;
Thus, "we can see in Ukraine that the principle of blitzkrieg or 'quick and cheap' is an exception in the history of war," according to French military sources.
It seemed that "what was prepared to implement the Russian military plan was not enough, especially since the Russians did not invest much in laser-guided precision bombs in recent years, and quickly exhausted their stocks," according to the same sources.
Special space towers..a new actor on the battlefield
Some experts believe that the shipment of several thousand Starlink stations that provide Internet via satellites belonging to SpaceX founder Elon Musk to Ukraine in mid-March;
It was a real game-changer for the military, because it allowed Ukrainians to no longer rely on the traditional telephone, the Internet, or any other state means that might necessarily be limited and exposed, and Musk opened a breach in the traditional solidity of secure communications in theaters of war and gave Ukrainians surprising agility.
Accordingly, an army officer predicts that “one can imagine in the future a kit for soldiers consisting of a gun and a secure smartphone,” because these special satellite towers give a lot of flexibility in theaters of war.
Satellites are small enough to burn up completely in the atmosphere (SpaceX)
The S-400s did not guarantee air superiority
Until the start of the war, Russia's air superiority over Ukraine was a matter of course for specialists, and they saw that the S-400, one of the best anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems in the world, would give the Russian military control of the skies.
However, 3 months of war made the effectiveness of the S-400 or the ability of Russian soldiers to use it in the best way into question, and therefore the Ukrainian planes became accustomed to carrying out their operations by flying very low above the ground to avoid them, so that the Russians deployed Pantsir systems to protect themselves From attacks at low or medium altitudes.
Control of the sea is a complex strategy
Since the Ukrainian fleet was almost completely destroyed in 2014 during the annexation of Crimea, there was no real confrontation between the combat ships during the first three months of the war, even if Ukraine claimed the destruction of 13 Russian ships since the beginning of the war, because the Ukrainians had only a few Patrol boats and a frigate were sunk on the first day of the war so that they would not fall into the hands of the Russians.
Although, as an officer in the French Navy said, "the shortcomings of Russian tactics at sea, especially the lack of training, were found."
The Russians at this point retain the advantage of naval control, after anticipating this dimension of conflict for so long and gradually strengthening their presence around Crimea in the weeks leading up to the war. Denying it access to the sea to export its products.Keywords: