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.

37 thoughts on “Russian Military Has Not Fixed Failures Seen 30 Years Ago”

  1. I keep hearing conflicting reports of if Russia is winning or losing, what caused the war, and whether or not Russia is playing it stupid.
    The US Media is definitely ready to send someone else's sons into war. This much is clear.
    Russia's geostrategic goal is to invade Romania and Poland. These are NATO countries, and have nothing to do with the Donbass region or Ukrainian biolabs that may or may not exist.
    The minute they invade a NATO country, we need to be prepared to act decisively.
    Everything else seems to be fluid speculation. We should concentrate on what involves us directly.

  2. I think the degree that Western intelligence was able to penetrate Russia at the highest level is also a factor that gives Xi pause. Because the structure that contributed to the penetration is also very similar to what China has.

  3. putinhead's tactics: Send your troops in with no water, food or fuel for a return trip and tell them to conquer the country or die. Send the grunts and junk in first to be sacrificed for putinhead’s oligarchs. 
    There is no way for the Ukrainian people to win this. Either live under Putin’s thumb or see their country turned to rubble. Putinhead has both the strategic and tactical advantage as Ukraine is bordered by putinland. 
    What putinhead wants is total control of the Black Sea. Turkey is on putinhead’s radar. Black Sea liquid natural gas terminals are being planned that could supply eastern Europe with more western natural gas. 
    This was all a done deal between Adolph putinhead and agolf twitler the treasonous traitor while they were in Finland together for their secret meeting. putinhead is gaming Wall Street again and making his short positions good. adolph putinhead might end up with the Ukraine and their natural resources as well. Putinhead gamed the world’s capitalists again by borrowing money at high interest rates and then hoping to repudiate his debt by being removed from the SWIFT system. You deal with a criminal you get burned by the criminal. Capitalists rarely make a long-term bet.

  4. I think it is easy to get distracted by both Ukraine’s military professionalism and Russia’s many, MANY problems. 

    Imagine a 20 foot tall ogre. He’s half blind, he has the IQ of 70. He has the grace and fighting prowess of a drunken toddler. But he is still a 20 foot tall ogre.

    He still has lots of capability to do damage as you can see in the videos of Ukrainian cities being given the Syria treatment. In his mind it will be the Ukrainians’ fault for making him do this (standard mental gymnastics for his type). Like Syria, we hear a lot about his failures and how it will end badly for Russia but Assad is still there. Chechnya is still part of Russia, Georgia is partly dismembered. Putin still has lot’s of supporters and people willing to pretend to be his supporters out of fear—it doesn’t matter how many of each there are.

    I want Putin to fail and Ukraine to come out of this intact and with as little further damage as possible. But the most successful propaganda is the kind that tells you what you want to hear. I don’t think this is near over.

  5. This comment is purposeful misunderstanding. Mailed out ballots with unsupervised drop boxes facilitate illegal ballot harvesting. Mail-in balloting facilitates other kinds of vote fraud. Are you a perpetrator of vote fraud? Your comment that the previous comments are dead wrong are dead wrong.

  6. With sophisticated arms constantly flowing into the Ukraine, the Russians are simply outnumbered on the ground. In theory, you could say that a few hundred thousands Russian troops are now facing 20 million Ukrainian men now being armed by NATO.

    So its pretty much impossible for Russia to hold the ground. All Russia can do is to launch missiles from Russian territory to terrorize Ukrainian cities.

    Putin could withdraw troops from the Ukraine while continuing to launch missiles against Ukrainian cities. But the Ukraine cannot launch rockets into Russian territory without galvanizing the Russian population against the Ukraine. The Russian population would view such an attack as an act of war and many might volunteer to serve.

    So NATO has no choice, IMO, but to immediately make the Ukraine an EU member and a NATO member, at least on a temporary basis, in order to for NATO forces to enter the Ukraine and to finally stop the war.

  7. Seems we're on the same page. The demands of empire and the demands of a free and prosperous society are just too different. We can only return to being a free and prosperous society by rejecting empire.

  8. I feel the main reason for all of this happening is that the American nation and America's founding national institutions are being eroded and replaced with instruments of Empire. The needs of an American nation and an American empire are fundamentally different. The US constitution was created for the benefit of the American nation, and has helped it to grow and flourish. However, with that success has come power, and with power comes corruption, as well as the ambition for Empire. Those who lean towards an American empire will naturally find the US constitution to be inconvenient and constraining against the needs and activities of Empire, and therefore they'll be inclined toward removing that constitution by re-writing it. In doing so, they will effectively be destroying America as a nation. The American nation and the American empire are both competing to exist within the same space, and ultimately only one will prevail.

  9. I mean, the materiel left by Biden in Afghanistan is probably mostly good for selling. That level of equipment requires too much maintenance, it's unrealistic for a mostly agrarian economy to keep all that equipment maintained.

    Ukraine, on the other hand, has a much more similar level of technology than Russia and could probably put Russian materiel to reasonably good use in the medium term. Unless some particularly enterprising Russian tank/lorry crews make it a habit of booby-trapping their vehicles before abandoning them…

  10. Naturally, the idea of the military being obsolete or ineffective is a bit of an exaggeration. If Ukraine did not have a military of its own, even a brave people would find themselves overwhelmed.

  11. Nevermind the fact that Russia is traveling by land to invade a neighbor and has combat experience. China will be trying to take over an island 100 miles away that has a very updated military that is dug in like ticks.

  12. I actually agree that we are on the same general path as Russia, albeit far, far behind them. Maintaining competitive industry requires a high trust society, and we're rapidly losing that.

  13. (cont'd from previous)

    There are increasing moves to attack Voter ID laws, and to increasingly promote mail-in balloting, which can facilitate ballot-harvesting. The system is being corroded at all levels. America's southern border is now a joke.

    The trend towards winner-take-all politics will be increasingly destabilizing. Consider that the previous presidency of the United States was nearly unseated and severely undermined in unprecedented ways during its term in office by contrived charges of "Russia Collusion". Any future candidates for president will likely be targeted with similar charges. The media across the country increasingly march in lockstep, all parroting identical talking points while frowning upon deviation, or dissent, or diversity of thought. People are ever increasingly being told what to think, instead of being allowed to decide on their own.

  14. Space in general has never been a serious money-earner for anybody. Hence Elon Musk's re-statement of the old aphorism that "If you want to make a small fortune in the space industry, start with a large one." And that's why SpaceX is always privately held, and never publicly traded.

    Russia's power structure means there's significant corruption, as well as a Soviet-era legacy with expectations of a welfare state, both of which make it harder for entrepreneurialism to flower.

    Before smirking at Russia's decline, consider that America is on a similar path to decline in its own way. It's becoming harder and harder to run a small business in America. The latest threshold of govt-issued checks to stay at home and not work marks a new low for America. The cost of education and of home-ownership are increasingly out of reach for many Americans. There is a rising toxic soup of racial and ethnic balkanization. There are increasingly egregious attempts to subvert the basic pillars of constitutional governance. Harry Reid decided to remove the two-thirds requirement for approving federal judges, and Mitch McConnell responded by removing it for Supreme Court appointments. The latest addition to SCOTUS has no distinguishing qualifications whatsoever, other than being a puppet for political masters. So the judiciary as a separate independent branch of govt is being reduced to a figleaf. There are attempts to federalize election laws, putting them all under centralized control. (cont'd)

  15. Well, I am not sure that we share the same definitions of success then (and I am not being snarky, I mean it, we probably see things very differently). Although weakened and banished from many regions the Islamic State is still active in Iraq and the dissolution of whatever was built in Afghanistan in a matter of weeks to me means that most of Afghanistan was not actually occupied and controlled.
    What I was trying to say is that without deep paradigm shifts in the mind of the people, having boots on the ground is expensive and useless.
    Immediately after WWII, all western Europe was pacified and you could visit even the most remote locations without risks for your safety (even in Italy and Germany that were part of the Axis). This is absolutely not the case for rural Iraq and Afghanistan.
    I know that new military tech is cool, but I am really wondering if it is useful. Certainly, the economic sanctions dealt a catastrophic blow to Russia and I imagine that the more connected is the world the more singling out and isolating an opponent from the world market is impactful.

  16. Spent some years as a war planner when I was in the Air Force. Maintaining a modern military is expensive, difficult, requires being able to accept reality, expensive, complicated, requires constant practice between conflicts, and did I mention it is expensive?

    There is also an axiom that there is no such thing as second place in an air war. But that appears to only be true if one or both sides has a modern air force.

    A country with an economy smaller than Italy and overweighed with enormous corruption on top of that, is going to fail at maintaining a modern air force, let alone when it is anywhere near the size that Russia is supposed to have, on paper. Just keeping military aircraft mission capable on a day to day basis is expensive and difficult.

    Then add to that a supreme leader with zero military experience who is willing to overrule everyone and order what he thinks should be done (while padding his own pockets with 200+ billion USD) and you can begin to see the problems even before considering his penchant for poisoning people who say things he does not like.

    Reminds me of how Lyndon B. Johnson would pick out which targets in Viet Nam that he wanted bombed that day. Insane levels of hubris.

    In fact, the parallels to Putin, while not the same, are still rather frightening.

    “Now we’re off to bombing these people. We’re over that hurdle. I don’t think anything is going to be as bad as losing, and I don’t see any way of winning.” — LBJ, 1965

  17. Some US politicians are calling for an Afghan-style resistance war against the Russian occupation, without considering potential destabilizing effects on the rest of Europe, just as Afghanistan had on its surrounding region, culminating in the 9-11 attacks. The Afghan War against the Soviet occupation drew in radicals from around the world, such as AlQaeda, who naturally acquired weapons and combat experience. Likewise so too could a prolonged resistance war in Ukraine against the Russians do the same for certain kinds of extremists from around the region. This will create spillover effects across Europe and the Western world, and it will be much bigger and more violent than BLM.

  18. One is less likely to join a neurotic loser than a proud, self humiliating *winner* power addict. If one is a proud, self humiliating power addict. Such as China.

  19. Well theres in invasion, and then the occupation. The invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq were both amazing successes. We've still not got to the occupation part of Ukraine yet. And we might not.
    And, at least this far, at great expense, and with a peculiar definition of success, the Iraq occupation is working after 20 years of effort.

  20. Imagine how much money Russia could have made off all of that equipment instead of giving it away to Ukraine.

  21. Precisely what I thought.
    Ukraine is a much bigger area to defend and is passable by land AND right next door. Russia has SOME combat experience recently.
    China as virtually none and wants to attack an island 100 miles away with defenders that are dug in like ticks.

  22. I think that the main problem here is to assume that an invasion is somehow feasible in the first place.
    Is the Russian army obsolete? Sure. Was it unprepared? Again, sure.
    But I think the general paradigm of warfare in a foreign land has been catastrophic for decades.
    The U.S. has the most powerful military in the world, spends the most, has precision weapons, air superiority, etc, but still performed poorly. Vietnam was a catastrophe, and both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan did not stabilize nor pacify the region.
    I think that generals tend to claim that it all boils down to military spending and training (which is again military spending), but when you are facing millions of potential enemies that see you as an invader and you are outnumbered (which you will always be in a foreign land) the only thing that can make you win are either WMD (that will make clear that you will not be outnumbered for long) or investing for decades in a cultural change (which is not a military operation so it is not favored by generals).
    I am no historian, but I don't remember any significant successful land occupation in recent decades (maybe the Turkish occupation of northern Syria, but again I am not sure).
    Despite the fact that fighter jets and air carriers look cool, it might very well be that M.A.D. and defensive infrastructures aside, the military is an obsolete and ineffective tool that is fighting to justify its own survival.

  23. The original Russian successes seemed to encourage the Chinese that they might be able to take Taiwan. Now, Russia getting bogged down in transport and supply, is probably making the Chinese rethink.

  24. This circles back to the blunt fact that Russia doesn't come out of this on top. Nor, if they continue to be party to Putin's (not the Russian people, Putin) hegemonic aspirations, will China.

  25. "has a few modern Turkish drones, 17000 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 2500 Stinger anti-air missiles. "
    I think that China invading any country that had that amount of effective equipment would be stalled as well. It would have been a stalled disaster for us (USA) in Iraq or Afghanistan, unless we have since developed effective counters. Obviously the Russians have not.

    Roaming kill on sight drones would be effective, posted as picket sentries. Solar powered, gps located, ISR sensors programmed to investigate any intrusions. Sniper rifle to cover open areas, grenade launcher for areas with cover.

  26. To be sure, this won't be forever. But the laws of thermodynamics rule here: Tearing down is easy, climbing back up hard. They're going to have to hit rock bottom, to the point where they can't even pretend it's somebody else's fault, before the rebuilding starts.

  27. Any place that has censorship has a real problem that money will not solve. Direct evidence of neurotic self destructive power addiction too. Once understood, the System must be destroyed. Some now understand. Others are following.

  28. True. But even great civilizations like India or China suffer hard times. No reason to believe the problems will stay with Russia forever.

  29. Not so sure that's true. It's not like somebody waved a magic wand, and the money just disappeared. The money went away because the competence to earn it went away. Even Russia's space industry, a serious money earner and source of pride, was suffering.

    Throw money at them, and that won't restore the competence. They broke their society somehow.

  30. Not fixed but improved a lot. Their real problem is money. If they have enough money, things will be fixed for sure

  31. *had, not have. People *had* the misconception. Everyone's seen the burnt out tanks in the fields with styrofoam where the reactive armour should be.

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