The Russian invasion of Ukraine was brutal and attritional and shocked the majority of the “civilized” world.
Russia’s apparent disregard for collateral damage and casualties in pursuit of victory is quite different from the West’s approach towards warfare. This has profound implications for both the war in Ukraine and wider West defence planning assumptions.
Two world wars, wars of attrition that resulted in massive casualties, left a legacy and prompted the West to rethink its military doctrine.
Although wars are fought between soldiers, they are fought between leaders. Inflictive destruction is not conducive for achieving post-conflict peace.
Manoeuvre warfare is a form of warfare that uses high-tech weapons to defeat the enemy’s will.
Russia and Ukraine share a lot of their history, heritage, and traditions.
Medieval wars were fought in a brutal battle to death between combatants – with few tactics and a strong focus on hand-to–hand combat.
Innovative weapons were often viewed with suspicion. The medieval crossbow was a prime example of this. The introduction of firearms hundreds of years later was also controversial.
The bravest, strongest, and most powerful prevailed.
Continue reading: “I want Putin to Die” – Anger and shock after Russian missiles struck Kyiv
“Barbaric” Russian missile and drone strikes
Bakhmut shows who is winning, but at what price?
Russia’s Goliath wants to engage Ukraine’s David in a war against attrition, which it would be certain it would win.
Ukraine must find a way of leveraging high-tech weapons from Western countries to gain its military advantage.
Culturally, this poses a challenge for Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zeleskyy. He must either fight Russia in a traditional gladiatorial fashion or adapt to survival.
This clash of cultures was exposed by the long and bloody Battle for Bakhmut.
Bakhmut isn’t a major military objective, but it has become highly symbolic.
The US military favors a strategic withdrawal in order to preserve limited Ukrainian warfighting capabilities for the future battles. This is a manoeuvrist approach.
However, President Zelenskyy decided to strengthen the city and is thus being drawn into a war for attrition, which risks favoring Russia.
Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, once stated that “War doesn’t determine who is right. Only who is left.”
This war will not be won by one side, but neither can afford to lose.
Ukraine is aware that the supply of Western technology cannot be unlimited. Therefore, Ukraine’s ultimate priority is survival.
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Mr Zelenskyy has to make difficult decisions.
He might instinctively engage in gladiatorial wars of attrition. However, Ukraine must maintain its limited resources and erode Russia’s will to fight. Then rebuild.
Technology has proved to be a decisive military force in the West’s conflict. However, assumptions about stockpiles of costly weapons have been woefully inadequate.
Manoeuvrist warfare can save lives, protect infrastructure, and be decisive. But “vision without funding” is hallucination. Is it possible for the West to afford adequate resources?