Lessons from the one year war


One year has passed since the invasion of Europe by tanks, planes and soldiers of the Russian army. It was the largest ground offensive in Europe since World War II. Unlike the invasion of Poland in 1939, Ukraine did not surrender within weeks. From the power equation in Russia, it can be inferred that the nature and scale of the war must have been the choice of its top leadership i.e. President Vladimir Putin. If his decision and this war did not go according to plan then there must have been some lapses in decision making which have to be flagged. If we can mark them, there is definitely something to be learned. A partial list is as follows:

Consult as much as possible. As the Financial Times published this week, even Russia’s foreign minister did not know until hours before the attack. The President informed top political and economic leaders of the decision after the attack.

The more unusual the decision, the more consultation there should be. Some moves, for example this attack or demonetisation in India, are unexpected because few observers consider them a sensible option. If such decisions are taken without extensive deliberations, then that is the basic reason why they are ill-conceived.

Be sure of your execution ability. Russia’s military inefficiency came as a shock not only to global observers but to many in the Russian establishment itself. If Russia had assessed this weakness earlier, it might not have attacked Ukraine at all. The quality of weapons, their maintenance was also ignored. Some weapons were only on paper.

Examine whether your decision is driven by wisdom or not. Perhaps Russia was overconfident that it would destroy Ukraine, its government and its national identity with just a little bit of force. This assumption failed and this thing gave a big blow to Russia. Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian oligarch and politician living in Ukraine, had the same notion. But when the tanks crossed the border, his party also said it was with Ukraine.

History is an unreliable guide. According to the Financial Times, Russia’s foreign minister told elites a year ago that his president had only three advisers: “Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and Catherine the Great.” These three rulers expanded the limits of the then Russia but at that time the situation was not like today’s Russia. Today’s Russia also remembers World War II, which it calls the Great Patriotic War, and according to which it teaches that victory can be won alone against the world. This may be true for the Soviet Union but not for Russia.

Imagine that your opponent will be stationary. When Russia occupied a part of Ukraine, the Ukrainian army was weak and unprepared. Things were not like this in 2022. In the past year, Ukraine has not only shown that it is learning, but has also used different types of weapons and platforms. This has made the task of the Russian army increasingly difficult. Meanwhile, the European energy sector, the main source of providing money to Russia, has also distanced itself from Russia.

Individual choice should be related to capability and not cover for policy change. The reasons for the change at the command level in the Russian army are very unclear. But in many cases, it is clearly visible that due to bureaucratic and political infighting, the situation has worsened and the strategy of fighting quietly has been changed.

When Sergei Surovikin was put in charge in October, it was believed to be a defense of a strategy to involve the private sector in military planning. When he was replaced by Valery Gerasimov in January, it was perhaps a sign that Ukrainian territory would be invaded and private military activity reduced. Both didn’t work Both didn’t work because of opacity and lack of transparency.n Don’t expect equal partnership from countries bigger than you. As the war drags on, Europe becomes more and more free from Russian energy. Russia’s army will be getting weaker day by day. Its dependence on China will increase. This is not the 1950s when the Soviet Union was the senior partner in the Korean War. Will Russia remain as China’s junior? A few days ago news came that China’s Ministry of Natural Resources has issued new rules regarding maps, under which eight places bordering Russia, such as Vladivostok and Sakhalin etc., will be given old Chinese names in addition to the official Russian names.

Do not play big bets without ability. The worst phase of the war for the Russian leadership was the retreat from the south, especially from the city of Kherson, which had formally annexed Kherson and its province only a few weeks earlier. Before the occupation, withdrawal from there was considered a strategic policy, but doing so later meant handing over your land to the enemy. I do not believe that if the Russian leadership had an idea of ​​this situation a year ago, it would have even thought of attacking. It is also a matter to think that what will be the status of Russia in the world system due to this.

Lastly, let’s talk about the other side. Can any lessons be learned from this extraordinary resistance of Ukraine? I take a big lesson from this.

demand weapons. If Ukraine did not collapse early in the war, it was because its leadership was determined and confident. Remember how after the war started there was a video of the President of Ukraine, his ministers and advisers from the streets of Kiev saying they were there. The performance of the leadership of both the countries is an example of the shape this war has taken in the last year.


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