“The Russian Army did not bring enough fuel or food for the operation (invasion)” – we are told, today ‘confirmed’ by the Pentagon (for what that is worth). This has been a running theory in much of the OSINT community, as an explanation as to why Russia did not “bring everyone’ across the border and moved in ways that were not the total war blitzkrieg that these same analysts and the Pentagon predicted.
I could perhaps claim that I was right, it was not Russia’s intention to occupy all of Ukraine and use the fuel situation as proof. But that assumes within the menu of potential operations they prepared for (and a full invasion was certainly one option no matter their preferred COA) that the Russian General Staff is incompetent, and their logisticians fools – I am not ready to accept that as so many now are.
The “proof” of Russian Soldiers not having enough food centers essentially of a video of two soldiers running out of a store with two bags – OSINters claimed they were ‘foraging’. It looked a lot more like two ‘Joes” on a poggey-bait run to me. Their NCO probably chapped their behinds when they showed up with those bags filled with sodas, cigarettes and candy (and then made them share). Human nature is always true and ‘Joes’ at all times in all armies do the same stupid stuff. This is what we are dealing with, short videos, with reasonable and plausible explanations ignored and taken way out of context to provide the most complex analysis.
We have been told repeatedly, for years, that Russia is a gas station that is also a country. Russia moved 200,000 troops thousands of miles in good order. It has recent experience in urban warfare. The Russian army has genetic memory of how to plan an operation such as this – they brought enough fuel or I am a monkey’s uncle. If someone uses evidence of them bringing more, this only proves they have a supply line. These are not hard concepts, and yet, people that claim to be experts are screwing it all up and telling absurdities.
It is hard to tell the objective of this information operation but it is easy to see that the narrative between Ukraine and the US is synchronized. This fuel story feeds that narrative. There are much better explanations.
The account posting this image has been reliable in the past. I cannot find an old instance of this photo and regardless, it shows what urban warfare looks like. The defender has no choice but to locate assets near non-military structures and the attacker has no choice but to engage them, sometimes damaging adjacent structures. Choosing to defend a city is choosing to accept that cost, just the same as the decision process of an attacker, accepting this reality.
Russia is now, it would seem, moving much of the remainder of its forward deployed forces into Ukraine. The fact that up to 50% remained in reserve tells us something of what Russia planned and hoped for and perhaps what it wanted to avoid. They are in for a penny and in for a pound now and there is no avoiding the requirement to crack the nut of the capital - perhaps. There certainly is no time for a siege, they cannot wait until the voices of escalation build in the west. It seems, we are told, they will go in and it will be, plainly stated – awful. Putin has no real choice at this point – we are told. Zelensky cannot negotiate with him, or the Nazis will kill or arrest him, Putin cannot draw it out or the West will get involved. It is ironic, all things considered, the actions and counter actions that forced this to a specific conclusion.
The fighting in Kyiv (Kiev if you are old school like me) would provide many opportunities for pictures of collateral damage, and a lot of talking points to claim Russian atrocities. No modern Army can fight in urban terrain without these sorts of accidents and consequences.
That scenario sounds like a lose-lose proposition, and it is…so is Putin really this reckless, stupid and desperate?
There is possibly another scenario. Considering how things have played out, and acknowledging that the West seemed intent on holding a hard line and playing a part in forcing the issue to this point and recognizing that Kiev is a major urban center and all that entails (also, considering NATO would possibly get involved anyway if Russia assaults the city after the cries of a humanitarian crisis) -- the smartest thing Russia might do at this point is to not take the city at all. Perhaps they are moving their reserves into Ukraine to fortify positions east of the Dnieper, and to do a soft encirclement of Kiev – hoping maybe internal division sunders Ukrainian resolve? All things considered, that would be my move. I would fortify positions east of the city and throughout the east in general. I would dig in and emplace my artillery and air defense assets and use special operations and hybrid forces to pressure the Ukrainian government in the west. If NATO decides to intervene in a couple of weeks and establish a no-fly zone, they certainly at that point would not seriously consider extending that over an ADA mesh in the eastern sections of Ukraine.
That is what I would do and what I would recommend if I were on the Russian General Staff and it is perhaps the biggest fear (or hope) of planners in the West. It certainly would create a nice neat demarcation line for a new cold war…and an excuse for a lot of spending and chest-thumping.
Of course, nobody ever saw fit to promote this old mustang to general officer rank, they were smart not to do that, so what do I know – take it all with a grain of salt.