The rot runs deep in the Russian war machine. Ukraine is exposing it for all to see | CNN

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For Russia, the numbers are catastrophic.


From Wednesday to Sunday, Vladimir Putin’s military forces saw at least 338 pieces of critical military hardware — from fighter jets to tanks to trucks — destroyed, damaged or captured, according to numbers from the open source intelligence website Oryx, as reported. That Ukraine’s military has through bolted Russian-occupied territory into an offensive that has stunned the Russians with its speed and breadth.

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Ukraine’s top military commander claimed on Sunday that his country’s military had retaken more than 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 sq mi) of territory since early September. And just for more perspective, “since Wednesday, Ukraine has occupied territory at least twice the size of Greater London,” the British Defense Ministry said on Monday.

Ukrainian reports say Putin’s soldiers are rushing east to the Russian border to collect cars from civilian populations in areas they have occupied since the start of the war in February.

In their wake they leave hundreds of pieces of the Russian war machine, which, since Putin’s so-called “Special Military Operations” began, has not come close to pre-war billing as one of the world’s great powers.

These Russian losses are the accumulation of a multitude of existing problems that are now colliding head-on with a Ukrainian army that is patient, methodical and tainted with billions of dollars of Western military equipment that Russia cannot combat.

Analysts say that without Putin’s harsh and potentially unorthodox intervention, Ukrainian victories are likely to accelerate.

Many of Russia’s problems – poor and inflexible leadership, poor military morale, inadequate logistics and hardware beset by maintenance issues – are evident from the early stages of the war more than seven months ago.

The Russian military’s hollow corps – consisting of tanks that were easy prey for Ukrainian ground troops and trucks that didn’t have the right tires to traverse Ukraine’s landscape – was quickly exposed by blitzkrieg tactics suited to Putin’s plan was.

Remember that 64-kilometer (40-mile) convoy that stopped on its way to the capital of Kyiv and was cut down by Ukrainian defenders?

As that convoy stopped, reports filtered in that Russian troops had significant morale problems – some didn’t even know they were in Ukraine, or if they did, why they were there. As the fighting intensified, Ukrainian forces targeted the Russian leadership, killing generals and colonels who were expected to rally the Russian army.

And the Russians certainly needed a strong leadership if the accounts of the army’s difficulties are to be believed.

Pavel Filatyaev, a Russian paratrooper who fought his army’s capture of the Ukrainian city of Kherson earlier in the war, told CNN last month that his unit didn’t even have the basics during that operation.

“After several days we besieged Kherson, many of us did not have food, water or sacks of gold,” he said. “Because it was very cold at night, we could not even sleep. We’ll get some rubbish, some rags, just to wrap ourselves around to keep warm.”

And their weapons were substandard, he said.

“All of our weapons date back to the time of Afghanistan,” he said, where Russian forces fought from 1979 to 1989.

Meanwhile, Western weapons have flown into Ukraine, among them powerful advanced artillery systems such as HIMARS, or High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

WHEELED HIMARS American manufacturer Lockheed Marshans call “shoot and scout capability” – they can fire highly accurate rockets at targets about 70 to 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) away and then rapidly forward to avoid any counter-attacks. can increase.

Ukraine has used them with disastrous effect on Russian supply lines, ammunition dumps and command posts.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in a blog post on Sunday, “The Ukrainian Armed Forces employing HIMARS and other western systems to attack Russian ground lines of communication in Kharkiv and Kherson Oblasts, in this operation conditions for its success. ,

According to Western analysts, the rapid movement by Ukrainian deployed HIMARS on Russian supply lines has been sustained.

Britain’s defense ministry said on Monday that “Ukrainian long-range artillery may now be hitting the Dniepro (river) crossing so often that Russia cannot repair damaged road bridges.”

Trent Telenko, a former quality control auditor for the US Defense Contract Management Agency who has studied Russian logistics, said Ukrainian forces used precision rockets fired from HIMAR batteries to hit major Russian weapons depots near rail lines. Had to remove the back of the front rows well. ,

This meant that Russia had to use trucks to disperse artillery pieces and ammunition to smaller depots, which made it more difficult to deliver, Telenko said. He said that when Ukraine launched a lightning strike, Russia could not bring suitable firepower to blunt the Ukrainian advance because its artillery was so scattered.

But HIMARS and other powerful Western artillery systems should not get all the credit, ISW said. They were coupled with Ukrainian feints and ingenuity.

Abandoned Russian weapons lie in a village on the outskirts of Izium, Ukraine, on Sunday.

Last week Russia redeployed forces to the south to consolidate its ranks ahead of a looted Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Kherson region, according to footage of Ukrainian officials and equipment moving through Crimea.

This opened the door for Ukrainian forces to the north.

“The prolonged discussion of Kyiv and then the announcement of a retaliatory action aimed at Kherson Oblast drove Russian troops away from areas that Ukrainian forces have launched decisive attacks over the past several days,” the ISW said.

Once those Russian forces were gone, the Ukrainian military examined weak points in the Russian lines, said Mark Hartling, a CNN analyst and former US Army general.

Hartling said, “What they are able to do is conduct reconnaissance with a small force to detect it by pushing tanks and artillery through holes in the Russian front and then into areas of the Russian rear.” have to enter.”

Telenko said the quick Russian withdrawal would enable Ukraine to capture Russian arms, ammunition, fuel and supplies in those rear areas, adding that adding trucks and trains to the Ukrainian inventory would help Kyiv advance his advances. will be allowed to “supercharge”.

Analysts have also noted the lack of Russian air support.

Richard Hooker Jr., a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said last month that Ukraine had already combined a force of outdated antiaircraft systems into its inventory with supplies of US and German equipment and “largely Russian Air power has been sidelined.”

“Ukraine has been outstandingly successful in denying Russia’s air supremacy with extremely effective air defense and ‘air denial’ tactics,” Hopper said. Written on the Atlantic Council’s “Ukraine Alert” blog,

A Ukrainian soldier rests to rest in a free zone in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine on Monday.

And the Russian setbacks are fuel for even more trouble ahead, a spiral of defeat that may be beyond Moscow’s ability to stop.

Mick Ryan, an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former General of the Australian Army, called it a “cascading failure” in a Twitter post. “Defeat and withdrawal on every battlefield leads to failure ahead,” he said.

As options dwindle, so will Russian morale.

As the retreating forces retreat, they will bring their stories of return with them. It would be impossible for the Kremlin to stop those stories from spreading within its military and even to its relatives back home.

Russia lost territory it occupied in Ukraine in seven months, at the cost of thousands of Russian casualties, in one week.

And the generals of Russia have no immediate answer.

Even as Putin’s forces were advancing, those progress were slow and grinding. And before that in the war, the defenders of Ukraine have never fled the way Russian troops did in the previous week.

“The already limited confidence of soldiers deployed under Russia’s senior military leadership is likely to deteriorate further,” the British Defense Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry report said that Ukraine’s attacks made it difficult for Russia to move replacement troops to the front lines.

The big question is whether Russia has the newly trained troops to advance.

In July, CNN reported that calls had gone out across Russia for more than 30,000 volunteers to join the war effort in Ukraine. Greed was the big cash bonus and no experience required.

But Katarina Stepanenko, a Russian researcher at ISW, said those new recruits would be of little help on the battlefield because they would not have enough time to train.

For example, training a tank crew can take at least several months and sometimes more than a year, experts say.

“Volunteers with no prior experience are unlikely to turn into effective soldiers in any unit without short-term training,” Stepanenko said.

And it won’t be easy to replace the more than 300 Russian pieces of hardware destroyed, damaged or left on the battlefield over the past several days.

A Ukrainian soldier stands on top of an abandoned Russian tank near a village on the outskirts of Izium, Ukraine, on Sunday.

Russian industry has been affected by Western sanctions. Russian weapons depots have already been raided to replace the earlier losses. And while a large number of weapons may reside in those depots, they are old and in need of repair or refurbishment, said Jacob Janowski, a military analyst who contributes to the Oryx blog.

“In practice the replacements are often very old vehicles – likely to suffer reliability problems and with reduced effectiveness in combat,” he said.

Janowski said Moscow retains manufacturing capacity, but it lacks the best components.

“Restrictions may cause them to replace sensors and electronics with substandard alternatives – and the amount they may generate in the near term is a fraction of the amount they lose. Those physical losses … are not sustainable,” he Told.

So take advantage of Ukraine, at least in the near term.

But former Australian General Ryan remains cautious.

“It is too early to speak in overly triumphant words. Russia still has the capacity to respond. The south and east are still occupied by the Russians. Ukrainians have achieved an important victory, but there is still a war to be won,” he tweeted.

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