Russian Strategy Relied On Technology: It Appears Inadequate – Forbes

Last week, many political and military experts predicted that the Russians would be successful in their invasion of Ukraine.  However, the war is clearly not going as the Kremlin planned. Their gains have been small, and they have been met with fierce resistance. As the conflict continues, they are also losing on the world stage. Although initial reports from the war are filled with disinformation and propaganda, it appears that the culprit for the Russian failure is their technology.
A Russian tank rolls during military drills at Molkino training ground in the Krasnodar region, … [+] Russia, Dec. 14.
At the culmination of the war, the Russians assembled a force of approximately 200,000 troops along the Ukrainian border. This force may seem formidable, but by most military doctrine, it was somewhat small. The Ukrainian military has approximately 360,000 troops. Doctrine holds that an offensive operation should have a 3-to-1 advantage in manpower, which would require the Russians to have a much larger force. The United States and its coalition partners overcame a similar manpower deficiency in the invasion of Iraq through their use of technology overmatch. Technology overmatch, especially air power, allows a small military force to achieve the combat power of a much larger force. Presumably, the Russian military had planned something similar.
While the exact doctrine being followed by the Russians is unclear, they appear to have adopted a multi-domain approach heavily leveraging technology. The Russians started with cyberattacks aimed at disrupting Ukraine’s financial sector and command zones. They then launched a multi-prong offensive with a strong push to capture Kiev. The ground forces are supported by the Russian Air Force and Navy. Their overall goal was to destabilize the Ukrainian defense, put them on their heels, and then quickly rout them. However, the Russian offensive stalled and the military was not able to make the gains that they had planned. 
A Ukrainian army soldier watches the enemy from his position on the Niu York frontline, February 22 … [+] in Niu York, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.
The underlying issue is their defense industrial base, which has significant weaknesses, according to a recent Rand Corporation report. Russia can develop sophisticated systems, but it lacks the “manufacturing capability, funding, and political will” to produce them in large quantities, the report states. As such, the defense industry has focused primarily on foreign arms sales and retrofitting legacy Soviet equipment. Note that the Soviet Union collapsed 30 years ago.
In this conflict, the struggling defense industrial base is reflected in the Russians’ inability so far to achieve air superiority. The Russian strategy for air superiority likely followed what worked for them in their 2014 incursion into Ukraine: heavy use of drones to identify and destroy Ukrainian assets. However, this time Russia’s drones appear to have not been as effective, likely because they have not kept up with advances in counter-drone technology. Without air superiority, the Russian strategy starts to rapidly unravel.
An armored personnel carrier burns and damaged light utility vehicles stand abandoned after fighting … [+] in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. The city authorities said that Ukrainian forces engaged in fighting with Russian troops that entered the country’s second-largest city on Sunday. (AP Photo/Marienko Andrew)
The Russians had also planned to use cyber weaponry to destabilize the country, as evidenced through the cyberattacks on Ukrainian financial and military websites on the day prior to the attack. However, systems have become more resilient to cyberattacks in recent years. The impact of the cyberattack were not as destabilizing as expected. Meanwhile, there are reports of independent hackers having performed similar cyberattacks on the Kremlin, Russian media and a Belarusian defense company.
A destroyed Russian military multiple rocket launcher vehicle on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine … [+] on Friday.
Additionally, Russian armor is somewhat outdated. Many of the tanks seen in the fighting are the older T-72 models as opposed to the cutting-edge T-14 tanks that were prominently displayed in recent Moscow military parades. Indeed, much of the Russian equipment caught on social media appear to be relics from the Cold War with some minor modifications. Moreover, much of the equipment appears to have been poorly maintained, and there are reports of broken-down Russian equipment on the side of the road.
The strategy itself is also fundamentally flawed, since technology becomes a moot point when fighting in an urban environment, as evident in the Global War on Terror.  Military technology is made to maximize standoff between a fighter and their adversary. Urban environments shrink this standoff and limits the effectiveness of military technology. Additionally, tanks and armored vehicles do not have freedom to maneuver and are easy targets. Although the efficacy of the technology has already been lacking, it will become even more evident if the fighting enters the major cities.
It is no longer a foregone conclusion that Russia will win this war. If they lose, the primary culprit will be that their strategy over-leveraged technology and that technology simply was not good enough. Without technology overmatch, the Russian invasion force does not have the combat power necessary for a decisive win.

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