Some terrific reporting from many sources on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This includes @KofmanMichael @maxseddon @IAPonomarenko @RALee85 @shashj @DanLamothe @ikhurshudyan @McFaul. My initial thoughts, noting the current lack of clarity & abundance of ambiguity, follow. 1/19
2/19 It is too soon for any definitive conclusions or lessons. In due course we will need to turn to this process. For example, the US Army studies of the Arab-Israeli wars informed the development of how the US Army reformed itself after Vietnam and won the 1991 Gulf War.
3/19 No responsible military institution will be able to ignore the lessons that will emerge from Ukraine. But, as we know, some will! Fortunately, there is a small cadre in the profession of arms who have dedicated their lives to such study. We must listen to them in due course.
4/19 However, some observations are useful at this initial stage of the Russian invasion. Please note that every military conflict, while a clash of human wills, is also unique in where, how, & with what tools it is fought. Some observations may not be relevant to other wars.
5/19 That said, the courageous Ukrainians appear to be fighting hard for their land, their people and the idea of a free and democratic society. This is important. It is not clear that the Russian soldiers fighting in #Ukraine have a similarly compelling sense of purpose.
6/19 The Russian invasion is not a fait accompli. There is unlikely to be a rapid collapse similar to Afghanistan in 2021. The Ukrainian military, with 245K active military and 200K reserves, is a significant force to overcome. Especially when it is fighting on home turf.
7/19 I am not convinced that 190K Russians is sufficient for what Putin wants them to do. The old rule of a 3 to 1 force ratio for invaders still holds, even in the information age. Both sides have access to information and advanced technologies.
8/19 We are seeing now what is likely to be the 1st echelon of Russian forces. Russian operational theory emphasises assaulting in depth with multiple echelons. We will see more combat forces committed based on key objectives, location of main effort & breakthrough locations.
9/19 This is a fight that will be won by those who can secure victory on two fronts. The 1st battle is on the ground where the people are, and where Putin (in his mind) needs to rule.
10/19 The 2nd is the strategic influence front. Both sides will be fighting to ensure their narrative is dominant around the world.
11/19 That said, the Russians have several options for how much of Ukraine they eventually seize. These range from just the land east of the Dnieper River, to the construction of a land bridge to Crimea, or all of Ukraine.
12/19 I am not confident the Russians can pull any of these off without massive destruction and bloodshed. And if they have to win this way, they cannot win.
13/19 As such, I do not see a viable Theory of Victory for Putin in anything other than in the short term. Blitzkrieg operations only work when backed up with viable strategy. History is full of a desire for rapid operations that turn into long wars.
14/19 Not sure Putin has a realistic strategy here – instead, he appears to have a dream of a new Russian empire. Dreams are not good strategy.
15/19 But as I write in #WarTransformed – “Russian operations in Ukraine demonstrate that war remains an attractive option for political leaders to achieve their strategic objectives."
16/19 "But it is a different form of war…the Russian development & operational testing of new ideas & tactics provide important insights for future conflicts.” #WarTransformed
17/19 Democrats & dictators are watching. There will be a profusion of articles and discussions on this in the coming hours and days and weeks. That is good. In democracies, our ability to debate a full range of different ideas is our strategic advantage in the 21st century.
18/19 The situation will remain uncertain for some time, and we will be bombarded with different reporting and messages from both sides (as well as Russian apologists) to shape our perceptions.
19/19 Now, more than ever, the value of rigorous, professional journalism (and the observations of citizens online) to bring light to the darkest moments of war is vital. I thank them & wish these dedicated souls who are bringing us this ‘first version of history’ safe travels.

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More from @WarintheFuture

Feb 26
Three days since the invasion began. In the past 24 hours, we have seen Russian advances in the north, south and east. Ground gained in the north has been particularly costly for Russian forces. My 3rd set of observations, noting the ongoing abundance of ambiguity. 1/24 Image
2/24 Superb reporting continues from many sources on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This includes @KofmanMichael @maxseddon @IAPonomarenko @RALee85 @shashj @DanLamothe @ikhurshudyan @McFaul @DefenceHQ @TheStudyofWar among many others.
3/24 The Russian campaign so far has been unimaginative and plodding. They are clearly seeking a low-cost victory, partly because they know they need to govern Ukraine if they are successful.
Read 24 tweets
Feb 26
Hard to believe it is only 2 days since the invasion began. In the past 24 hours, we have seen Russian advances in the north, south & east. These have been costly but will not deter Putin. My 2nd thread of observations, noting the ongoing lack of clarity & abundance of ambiguity. Image
2/20 Superb reporting continues from many sources on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This includes @KofmanMichael @maxseddon @IAPonomarenko @RALee85 @shashj @DanLamothe @ikhurshudyan @McFaul @DefenceHQ @TheStudyofWar among many others.
3/20 As others have already noted, the Russians appear to have exercised a degree of restraint in the use of maximum force. But given the initial lightening, light-weight invasion approach has not gone as well as may have been planned, this may change.
Read 20 tweets

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