Why are Russian forces easily ambushed by Ukraine? Strategic loopholes

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The fighting on the eastern outskirts of Kiev shows how close Russian forces have come, but also reveals strategic gaps.

According to the New York Times, Brovary is only about 14km from downtown Kiev and the fighting on the M01 highway on March 9 showed how close Russian forces have come as they continue to tighten the “noose” ” into the capital of Ukraine. Russian forces on Monday continued to seek to close in on Kiev, with fighting in the northwest and east, mostly fierce battles for control of small towns and roads.

A Russian BTR-82 was left in a forest in Ukraine
A Russian BTR-82 was left in a forest in Ukraine

But the Ukrainian military offensive in Brovary has also exposed strategic challenges – and strategic missteps – that have left Russian forces ambushed and so far unable to gain control of most of the country major cities to date.

Why was the Russian army easily ambushed?

Although the Russian forces are much larger and more advanced than the Ukrainian army, it is this size and the need to use large roads in combat that make them less mobile and vulnerable to ambushes.  The fact is that the Ukrainian army can shell from a distance of several kilometers along with ambushes.

“Urban warfare is never easy. And neither is it with the Russian military. I don’t think they have much strategy at the moment,” –  NY Times quoted Tor Bukkvol, a senior researcher, senior at the Norwegian Agency for Defense Research, said.

Ukrainian officials have released videos showing weapons and equipment of Russian forces such as tanks or armored vehicles being ambushed and attacked by the country’s air force outside the capital Kyiv on March 9.

The video released on March 10, shortly after the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine met in Antalya, Turkey, shows a convoy of 30 tanks and support units, as well as a TOS rocket artillery system. -1 state-of-the-art “swept in fire”.

When the Russian tank convoy was moving towards the suburb of Brovary, located about 35 km from Kiev, it was shelled by Ukrainian forces relentlessly. Explosions could be seen both on the road and fields in the distance (Check featured image).

Two tanks were seen on the side of the road, while others further inside the suburbs were trapped causing traffic jams, as they were shelled.

Illia Berezenko – a Ukrainian soldier who witnessed the ambush of the Russian military convoy from a distance – said that the Ukrainian side targeted the first and last vehicle in the convoy in the hope of trapping the rest of the vehicle in the middle.

However, the ambush was only partially successful. Drone video of the ambush showed that while some vehicles were on fire, others were still driving away.

From a soldier’s perspective, Mr. Berezenko said that the ambush showed Russia’s miscalculation that made their convoy an easy target to attack.

“The artillery went first, then the tanks. The whole tactical scenario was strange and confusing ,” Mr. Berezenko said. “I don’t know why they did it. Maybe they have other calculations. Maybe they want to confuse us. Who knows?”

Due to “poor tactics”?

Defense experts pointed out a “weak tactics” of the Russian military after the video appeared.

russia ukraine war
A Ukrainian checkpoint along a highway in Brovary after heavy fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops.

” This is not the Russian army that we train to fight ,” a former British army commander told the Daily Telegraph.

Expert Franz-Stefan Gady of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), said, “Urban warfare is never easy. This war shows the danger of not guaranteeing urban terrain full of sufficient infantry and reconnaissance capabilities when forces are constantly ambushed.”

Analysis of the video released by the Austrian army’s R&D department shows that the convoy is part of Russia’s largest Combat Tactical Group (BTG).

The force includes the Russian BMP-1 (Soviet amphibious vehicle), the Soviet-era T-72 tank, the most modern BTR-82 armored personnel carrier of the Russian Armed Forces, and the TOS -1 thermobaric launchers.

All of thevehicles were stuck in a tight corridor making them the target of Ukrainian artillery.

A convoy of Russian military vehicles catches fire after being ambushed in the early days of the fighting in Ukraine.
A convoy of Russian military vehicles catches fire after being ambushed in the early days of the fighting in Ukraine.

“It’s possible that the Russian forces thought they were going through a safe area, or maybe they were going through a safe zone,” Ben Barry, a former British Army tank commander and ground warfare expert at the IISS, told the Guardian. Maybe they’re not well-trained, or they’re moving quickly to fulfill some other request.”

Based on the observed nature of the explosions, according to Barry, Russian tanks and other armored vehicles could have been hit with artillery or mortars.

Two vehicles were destroyed in the fighting, but analysts say others may have been damaged by the air strikes.

“It is not unusual to deploy troops in this way, ” said Remi Landry, a retired lieutenant colonel with the Royal 22E Regiment and a professor at the University of Sherbrooke, in an interview with TVA Nouvelles.

He also explained that the Javelin man-portable missile provided by NATO, which is being used by Ukrainian soldiers and resistance fighters, has worked very effectively in Russia’s strategy of shooting down aircraft and weapons.

In addition, Mr. Landry wondered why the Russian army launched attacks on many cities at the same time because urban warfare is very difficult and requires a large number of troops.

“In my experience and in all of military history, urban warfare is probably the most difficult operation for an assault force,” Landry stressed.

“It is for this reason that military experts wonder why the Russian army is attacking several cities at once.”

The full scale of the damage suffered by Russian and Ukrainian forces is not yet clear.

Meanwhile, according to data from monitoring site Oryx (which tracks losses using photographic or video evidence), Russia has lost 1091 vehicles compared to Ukraine’s 294.

Oryx said that for Russian armored fighting vehicles, the number is 102. And Ukraine has lost 47 tanks and 39 armored fighting vehicles.

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