One month after Russia’s invasion, “dynamics are reversing”

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From a correspondent in the United States

Ukraine’s Vladimir Putin is not proceeding as planned. According to the CIA, the Russian president was convinced that his “special military operation” could occupy Kyiv in 48 hours and defeat the Ukrainian government. But a month after the Russian invasion began, Ukrainian troops are doing more than resisting. For two days, they have made sporadic counterattacks around the capital. And even if Volodymyr Zelensky didn’t win anything, he presumes that “dynamics are reversed.” 20 minutes Retired Vice Admiral Ben Hodges, former US Army Commander. Looking back on the four-week dispute.

February 24-March 4: Shock and awe

On February 24, Vladimir Putin bet on a blitzkrieg. At the end of the night, a flood of bombs and cruise missiles fell into 15 Ukrainian cities, including Lviv near the Polish border. From the first few hours, an important battle to control Antonov Airport has been fought in Hostmel, on the northwestern outskirts of Kyiv. Russian helicopters and Spetsnaz special forces first control it in the morning.

According to Ukrainian intelligence, Moscow is about to launch 18 IL-76 military transport aircraft capable of carrying a total of 2,000 paratroopers. After that, who could participate in the attack on Kyiv, 30 km away? However, the 4th Rapid Reaction Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine arrives as reinforcements for artillery units.And Moscow can resist enough to abandon the project, says The Wall Street Journal.. If Russian troops decide to secure an airport after 48 hours, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine guarantees that the runway will be too damaged to use Moscow for airlift.

In the rest of the country, Russian troops are heading mainly in the east, Donbus, and south. The port city of Kherson will fall on March 2. However, Kharkov in the north resists. On the night of the 3rd and 4th, a Russian gun battle struck the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia. International leaders are being strengthened.

March 5-21: Mariupol’s stall and siege

After less than two weeks of conflict, Russian machines are beginning to show their limits. The siege of Kyiv, which was announced to be imminent, never ends. A huge 60km long military convoy has been paralyzed by logistics and supply problems and has remained blocked for over a week. Ben Hodges, who praises Ukraine’s resistance, defeats Putin. Russia is far from having the human resources and capabilities to achieve that goal. »»

Jean-Yves Le Drian, head of French diplomacy, is completely stalemate and fears that “the worst thing is with a siege war (…) like Aleppo and Grozny.” .. Or in Mariupol. Humanitarian conditions are deteriorating in this strategic port of Azov’s surrounded mothers, with more than 200,000 civilians awaiting evacuation. Despite Russia’s violations, about half will pass through the humanitarian corridor. According to Kyiv, a Russian strike struck an obstetrics ward on March 9, killing three people and injuring 17 others. A week later, the Municipal Theater was partially destroyed.

A pregnant woman injured in a Russian bombardment at Mariupol's Maternity Hospital escaped from the scene.
A pregnant woman injured in a Russian bombardment at Mariupol’s Maternity Hospital escaped from the scene. -Evgeniy Maloletka / AP / SIPA

Currently, Russian ships stationed in the Sea of ​​Azov are participating in the strike. Melinda Haring, Deputy Director of the Eurasian Center of the Atlantic Council, an influential American think tank, recalls Mariupol’s strategic importance. By conquering the city, it becomes possible to “connect the occupied Donbus and southern Ukraine”. Enough to provide Moscow with a “direct overpass between Russia and Crimea”.

After the bombardment in Mariupol.
After the bombardment in Mariupol. -Mikhail Andronic / Sputnik / SIPA

March 22-24: Ukraine Counterattack

For 48 hours, Ukrainian troops claim to have hijacked several towns and strategic suburbs. If the mayor rejects the complete reconquest of Malakiv, west of Kiev, Russian troops retreated 30 km on Wednesday, east of Kyiv, the Pentagon said. According to everyone, Russia has “drilled down and established a defensive position” to protect its interests.

On the western side of Kiev, retired General Ben Hodges analyzes that “you can see the Russian army surrounded and it will be a big victory” for Kiev. This reminds us that it is important to keep supply routes open to provide humanitarian, especially military assistance from the West.

Sequel: Attrition Warfare and Unknown Putin

Ben Hodges warns: “Ukrainian citizens will continue to be killed.” Retired American generals, like Berlin in 1948, demanded “real airlift” to deliver the promised equipment as soon as possible. The US Kamikaze Drone, Stingerman Portable Surface-to-Air Missile, Javelin Anti-Tank Missile Launcher, and kyiv’s claimed Soviet S-300 long-range anti-tank missile system.

Russia needs to deal with climatic conditions such as the flooding of the Irpin’ River near Kyiv, as well as the thaw and sludge seasons. As for the Pentagon, we are now in a possible “attrition warfare”. how long ? Everything depends when Vladimir Putin decides that the conflict has become too economically expensive in the face of Western sanctions, and in the face of Russia’s losses. Volodymyr Zelensky said he was ready to compromise NATO’s status by abandoning NATO membership in exchange for “true security”, subject to submission to a referendum.

Faced with these variables, Melinda Herring does not rule out a war that lasts “a few months.” With fear of chemical attacks or the use of “tactical nuclear weapons” by Putin, expressed by Joe Biden. Atlantic council experts believe in the first, not the second.according to New York TimesHowever, Joe Biden has formed a special team called the “Tiger Team”. Its role is to prepare the American reaction to the worst-case scenario. In a question that hasn’t been answered so far: What is the red line, except for an attack on one of the member states that justifies NATO’s entry into the conflict?

Russian Loss: Up to 40,000 Soldiers Killed, Injured, or Captured

According to NATO officials, 7,000 to 15,000 members of the Russian army have died since the invasion began. In total, the Atlantic Alliance estimates that 30,000 to 40,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, injured, captured and missing. This represents 15-20% of the troops deployed by Moscow – 150,000 troops and 40,000 separatists from Donbus. On Tuesday, the Pentagon proposed a (lower) estimate of a 10% reduction in combat personnel.

In the super-centralized army, Russian generals seem to be decimated. Kyiv claims to have killed five generals from Moscow, which is almost a quarter of the generals in Ukraine, with the addition of twelve commanders.

At CNN, General Petraeus, a former U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, describes this Russian blunder as follows: Their secure communication is not working. Ukrainians are interfering with them. They (generals) are called and intercepted by Ukrainian citizens with their smartphones. When the column stops, no one can make a decision, so the general will see what’s going on. And Ukrainians have very good snipers to knock them out. »»

For that attack, Moscow is using Wagner mercenaries and is appealing to Syria. But so far, the Pentagon has not seen large-scale deliveries of reinforcements. In Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has been postponed, and Ben Hodges believes that it is “unlikely” that thousands of additional foreign soldiers can “change the game.”