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The Mistakes that Made the War

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By Immanuelle, Cdjp1, Bacon Noodles, & Physeters – Own work derived from File:2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.svg, originally by ViewsridgeItself derivate of Russo-Ukraine Conflict (2014-present).svg by Rr016Missile attacks source: BNO NewsTerritorial control source: ISW & Template:Russo-Ukrainian War detailed map, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=119220795

Excellent longread on many of the mistakes that doomed Russia’s early war effort.

For Russian troops on the ground, it was a disaster.

Without air cover, they were suddenly far more vulnerable, throwing their troubled march toward Kyiv and other large cities further into disarray.

Though tens of thousands of them had amassed along Ukraine’s borders, hovering menacingly as if eager to strike, many never thought they were actually going to war. Like most of Russia, they figured it was just for show, to extract concessions from the West.

Interviews with Russian soldiers show how stunned they were when the orders came to invade. Cpl. Nikita Chibrin, a 27-year-old soldier in a motorized infantry brigade, said he had spent the month before in Belarus on what he and his fellow soldiers were told was a training exercise. On Feb. 23, he said, he and his unit were at their camp celebrating the Defender of the Fatherland holiday, snacking on candy they had been given for the occasion, when their commander approached.

“Tomorrow you are going to Ukraine to fuck up some shit,” he said the commander told them. There was no further explanation.

I think that there’s some contrast here with the RUSI report that describes the attack on Kyiv as a nearer thing than we’d like to think. I also think it’s worth noting that the quality of Russian forces and Russian leadership has improved somewhat since the beginning of the war, and thus we can’t expect the same kind of spectacular mistakes that we’ve seen thus far. Still, great piece with a number of excellent, hard-to-get interviews. And I do hope that the emerging picture of Russia’s war aims in the first week of the conflict are sufficient to put paid to the idea that we need to have “cognitive empathy” for Russia’s “deep insecurity.” Russia launched this war in an effort to conquer Ukraine and rule it permanently, if not through annexation then through the establishment of a puppet regime.

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