1. A thread (speculative) on what is the most important/least discussed strategic concept of the invasion so far: Ukrainian strategy. What the Ukrainians have done seems systematic, well-planned and very effective. This is an attempt to systematize it as a non Ukrainian.
2. One of the real problems so far is that the pre and post-invasion analysis has been dominated by Russian strategy people, who never bothered to look much at the Ukrainians as a serious force, which is why they expected, w/o evidence, that the Ukrainians would collapse quickly
3. What the Ukrainians have done is seemingly put in place a plan of action that has stymied a much larger war machine and inflicted the kinds of losses on the invaders that is rendering them ineffective. Here is what their plan might be.
4. Ukr started with denying Rus air superiority. This defense plan used some fixed wing aircraft with a range of different anti-air systems to keep Rus from controlling the air and leading to a very large number of Rus aircraft losses. wsj.com/articles/ukrai…
5. Rus can fly over Ukraine and drop bombs, but the Ukr have made it too difficult to maintain constant control, and forced the Rus to fly in a way that makes their attacks much less effective. This has allowed the Ukr to maintain mobility on the land and to use UAVs themselves
6. Having denied Russians air dominance, the Ukr were able to put into place a ground defense plan that has exposed brutal inefficiencies in Russian logistics, training, equipment and morale. To summarise this plan was:
7. Deny Rus easy land mobility by holding all the cities with their road networks and rail hubs. By holding places like Cherniv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Mariupol, (see below), Ukr significantly slowed Rus advance from the very start, until it stopped almost entirely.
8. They also forced the Rus army to deploy forces to surround these cities and attrited the Rus army by forcing it to fight in a static environment. Also dared the Rus to come into the cities to fight, which is not great for Rus morale. This is why Ukr will not surrender Mariupol
9. Having denied Rus mobility through the cities, the Ukr seemed to Rus forces advance down certain roads to extend their supply lines and string them out. This is most famously the 40-mile column, but also the attack from Sumy to Kyiv.
10. By letting the columns deploy down roads, the Ukr strung them out so that when they finally did blunt the Rus forward movement, the Ukr could start chopping into the supply elements behind using SF, UAV, etc. Here is a good map of this.
11. These attacks on columns have led to high truck wastage for the Rus, which has led to serious logistical collapses all up and down there lines. Which is why their army has retreated more than advanced the last week. People just didnt get this earlier. theguardian.com/world/2022/mar…
12. This column strategy has forced the Russians supply system to collapse around Kyiv in places, causing large retreats. Here is the most recent UK MOD update.
13. This combined Ukr strategy of forcing the Rus outside of cities, attacking their columns and hitting their supplies has also seemed to significantly hit Russian morale while causing major losses that have culminated in unprecedented casualties. businessinsider.com/nato-official-…
14. The effect of all this be seen by Ukr making significant advances in the last few days. Here is a great map of this.
15. So a summary of Ukr strategy could be. 1) deny Russian air supremacy. 2) Hold cities with road network and rail junctions. 3) Force Rus to surround the cities or dare them to advance in. 4) Allow Rus to head down roads to stretch out their columns.
16. 5) once that has happened cut into the rear/middle of the columns to cut supply, damage support, cause chaos. 6) Wait for this to sap Rus morale and effectiveness and then counterattack.
17) looked at in this analytical framework, we are seeing an overall Ukrainian, defensive strategy of the highest order
18) Quick follow up. Some people have asked about NATO aid to Ukr. Undoubtedly that helped--but this is Ukr's show. They have had to devise this strategy and put it into action so effectively (all while NATO is saying Ukr will not be admitted). Its Ukraine that stands out.

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More from @PhillipsPOBrien

Mar 26
1) Ukraine Strategy Thread--day 2. How we can tell it was pre-planned and thought out. Some people have asked how we know that Ukraine had such a thought out strategic plan. We cant be 100% sure, but there is pretty good evidence that they did. And we should start with airfields.
2) At the very start of the campaign the Russians undertook a military operation as if they were in a Sylvester Stallone film. In broad daylight they choppered in some of their best troops to seize Hostomel airfield, just outside Kyiv. nytimes.com/2022/02/24/wor…
3) If this attack had succeeded, it would have been hugely advantageous to the Russians. Given them a forward staging post on Kyiv's doorstep. And had the Ukrainians not prepared well, it might have succeeded.
Read 10 tweets
Mar 25
If true, this is an extraordinary rate of failure.
Here is another link. Really extreme failure fate.
Indeed, if true we should stop calling them precision guided munitions, and just call them malfunctioning projectiles
Read 5 tweets
Mar 24
Building a new thread on this, Ukraine and the long-war and why a peace deal, even a very messy one, would be the best solution even if it gives Putin an off ramp (in other words, be careful before you push for maximalist Ukrainian demands)
As someone who has been very critical of Russian military performance and complimentary of the way the Ukrainians have defended themselves, I do think we need to be careful arguing that Ukraine can somehow easily take on a long war or make extreme demands in a peace treaty.
If a long war will tax Russia tremendously (first thread) it is not easy for Ukraine. The fighting is on Ukrainian soil and the civilians being brutalized are Ukrainian. The fact also remains that Ukraine cannot conquer Russia, so whatever happens, there will have to be a deal.
Read 14 tweets
Mar 23
Thanks for this. I’m getting lots of comments from people saying it’s no good criticising the Russian military in hindsight. I agree. Though if I can say, I wrote a piece a month before the invasion saying Russia was too weak and would struggle with complex operations
And that Ukraine would fight. Article was in @TheCriticMag . Here is a screenshot of what I was arguing. Image
Here’s a link to the whole article. thecritic.co.uk/the-new-appeas…
Read 8 tweets
Mar 23
@JackDetsch producing a number of really interesting tweets from the US DoD briefing about what the Russians are trying to do. Seems like a little of everything; reorganise to take Kyiv, make a flanking manoeuvre to take Odessa and surround Ukrainian forces in the Donbas.
Cannot see how they would have the force for all of this, unless Ukrainian forces are far weaker than they seem to be. Wonder if Moscow is just barking out orders that the Russian Army can’t fulfill?
Again, if this is true, instead of massing to attack Kyiv, Russian forces seem to be in a bit of a mess to both the east and west of the city.
Read 5 tweets
Mar 23
A very quick thread on those talking about Russia settling in for a long war and mobilising it’s resources for an extended campaign. Could they do it: possibly, but it would be a very different war with major societal implications.
The Russian Army is actually not that large. It’s around 900,000, which sounds big (though for a country of Russia’s size it’s very thinly spread) but about a third is conscript and many of the ‘professionals’ are on 12 month contracts. csis.org/blogs/post-sov…
We have pretty good intelligence that the Russians have deployed 75% of their best fighting formations to Ukraine (these are the ones wasting away now). Maybe they send the other 25%, but even that won’t make much of a difference in the short term.
Read 9 tweets

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