Russian Military Has Not Fixed Failures Seen 30 Years Ago

Many people have a mistaken notion that Russia has a superpower class military that is a match for the United States. Russia has not fixed problems that were revealed nearly thirty years ago in Chechnya and seen again 14 years ago in Georgia. Russia has not created a fully modern air capability and has not mastered precision warfare. Ukraine has a few modern Turkish drones, 17000 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 2500 Stinger anti-air missiles. This relatively small supply of military gear and a motivated army is proving enough to stalemate the Russian army in Ukraine. Ukraine has a population of 44 million and Russia has a population of 144 million.

Russians underestimated the will of the Chechens to fight and Putin has underestimated the will of Ukrainians to fight. Major problems with logistics, troop morale and airpower failure remain.

There is an assessment that the Russian army in the North (perhaps 70,000) is poorly supplied right because most of their supply trucks are stuck in the long convoy outside of Kyiv.

Chechnya had a population of about 1.5 million people. In 1994, President Yeltsin ordered the attack of Russian units into Chechnya. The initial results were a disaster. The list of tactical and operational blunders were indicative of “an overall lack of competence” among the Russian forces which improved only marginally during the course of the war. As the war progressed, some units fought well and with valor. There was a failure to apply the principles of war and problems within the senior leadership. This was assessed in some detail in this 25 page report. Russian forces left after two years of poor performance. Putin was named Prime Minister three years later and a month later started the second Chechnya campaign. It was more brutal and was effective in defeating the rebels. There was a ten-year insurgency.

In August 2008, the Russian military fought Georgian troops in a brief five-day war. Georgia has a population of about 3.7 million. Russia defeated the Georgian forces, but the war revealed profound deficiencies in the Russian armed forces. Russia’s air force performed badly. The different services could not work together. Russia won in Georgia, but it was clear the Russian military simply was not set up to fight a modern war, even against a smaller neighbor, much less a peer competitor.

In 2008, a lot of equipment broke down as armored units drove hundreds of kilometers to get to that battlefield.

Russian reconnaissance was quite poor, and updated intelligence unavailable to the ground or air force.

The Russian air force still lacks precision-guided munitions in sufficient quantities.