The update on the war in Ukraine: the mistakes of the Russians and the objectives of the attacks, even in the west

Of Andrea Marinelli

The Russians continue to hit military targets in western Ukraine, mainly to block weapons supplies from the west. But Moscow has made strategic mistakes

The Russians continue to hit military targets in western Ukraine to block supplies, as Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov announced on Saturday, calling the convoys of weapons arriving from the West “legitimate targets”. At dawn on Sunday, 8 missiles were fired at the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security in Yavoriv, between Lviv and the Polish bordercausing at least 35 deaths and 134 injuries, and bombed the civilian and military airport of Ivano-Frankivsk, already hit on Friday: in the Yavoriv base, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Oleksii Reznikov specified, foreign instructors of NATO partners also work. On Saturday, Vladimir Putin’s army also attacked another military hub south of Kiev, that of Vasylkiv, destroying the runway, a fuel depot and an ammunition depot, which exploded. The Russians – but the numbers are not verifiable – claim to have destroyed 3,687 Ukrainian military buildings since the beginning of the conflict, in addition to 99 aircraft, 1,194 tanks or armored vehicles, 443 pieces of artillery.

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In the last few hours, Putin’s men therefore intensified the air campaign, lacking in the first phase of the war, when it was supposed to destroy the Ukrainians’ air capacity: a miscalculation – the Russians probably thought they were being hailed as liberators – that prevented the Moscow army from taking control of the skies, making al at the same time vulnerable troops on the ground. In addition to the strategic mistake, experts note, the difficulties in obtaining air control could also be due to a training problem, a hypothesis based on historical experiences. During the Cold War, the Western Bloc had set the standard for declaring a combat-ready, combat-ready, 180-hour-a-year pilot, deemed intensive training. From what has been deduced from the documents collected at the end of the Cold War, the standard of the Soviet bloc fluctuated instead between 70 and 90 hours per year: an activity not sufficient to learn refined fighting techniques. According to military analysts, the trend would not have improved significantly with the end of the Cold War.

During the campaign in Georgia in August 2008, for example, only a small group of pilots were able to operate, mostly those of the experimental departments of the Russian Air Force. To this lack of training, a logistical type had been added at the time: more than 50 percent of the bombs dropped by airplanes did not explode due to lack of maintenance of the flaps, ”explained the data collected and consolidated by Western intelligence. This logistical superficiality would be the same that led to the formation of the convoy of vehicles 60 kilometers long which for days was blocked at the gates of Kiev, before scattering in the forests in the last hours, or the abandonment of tanks and armored vehicles along the road because they had run out of petrol.

In the meantime, on the field Russian forces are trying to encircle Kharkiv in the eastthe second largest city in the country, and at the same time pushing westward: they would stay bypassing Mykolaiv to go towards Odessathe large port in the southwest, in what appears to be the main operation at the moment. In Kiev, Putin’s troops are mostly stalled: there is limited fighting in the suburbs, especially in the northwest, but according to the Ukrainian general staff the activity is mostly reconnaissance. The Russians are probably planning the offensive, expected for days now, and do not want to be caught unprepared by the Ukrainian resistance, which meanwhile continues to hit the Russian columns with light attacks but capable of causing enormous damage and great losses. A new offensive in Sumy is expectedin the northeast and Chernihiv in the north and Mariupol in the south remain under siege.

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