The Other McCain

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Why Ukraine Is Winning (So Far)

Posted on | March 7, 2022 | Comments Off on Why Ukraine Is Winning (So Far)

Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, surnamed Cunctator (c. 280 – 203 BC), was a Roman statesman and general of the third century BC. . . . His agnomen, Cunctator, usually translated as “the delayer”, refers to the strategy that he employed against Hannibal’s forces during the Second Punic War. Facing an outstanding commander with superior numbers, he pursued a then-novel strategy of targeting the enemy’s supply lines, and accepting only smaller engagements on favourable ground, rather than risking his entire army on direct confrontation with Hannibal himself. As a result, he is regarded as the originator of many tactics used in guerrilla warfare.

The so-called Fabian strategy of avoiding pitched battle while attacking the enemy’s supply lines has proven its value in Ukraine, where the defenders are inflicting real damage on the Russian invaders:

The remains of a Russian Tigr fighting vehicle sat smoldering on the side of the road, as Ukrainian troops lounged outside their trenches smoking cigarettes. Nearby, a group of local villagers was tinkering with a captured T-90 tank, trying to get it running again so that the Ukrainian Army might put it to use.
For three days, Russian forces had fought to take Mykolaiv, but by Sunday, Ukrainian troops had driven them back from the city limits and retaken the airport, halting the Russian advance along the Black Sea, at least temporarily. By Monday morning Russian forces had resumed their attack.
“Few expected such strength from our people because, when you haven’t slept for three days, and when you only have one dry ration because the rest burned up, when it’s negative temperature out and there is nothing to warm you, and when you are constantly in the fight, believe me, it is physically very difficult,” an exhausted Col. Sviatoslav Stetsenko, of the Ukrainian Army’s 59th Brigade, said in an interview. “But our people endured this.”
Taking Mykolaiv remains a key objective for Russian forces, and the thwomp of artillery in the distance on Sunday suggested that the Ukrainians had not pushed them back that far. But the unexpected Ukrainian success of defending this critical port, about 65 miles from Odessa, underscores two emerging trends in the war.
Russia’s failure to seize Mykolaiv and other cities quickly, as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia appears to have intended, is largely a function of its military’s faltering performance. Russian forces have suffered from logistical snafus, baffling tactical decisions and low morale. . . .

You can read the whole thing, but it is Russia’s “logistical snafus” that are crucial to understanding why Ukraine is winning. Russia doesn’t have enough trucks to supply its army, the tires on their trucks are crap, and their entire supply line is vulnerable to attack. Using small forces to strike the Russian supply columns in hit-and-run attacks, the Ukrainians can prevent Russia’s assault forces from being able to bring their full strength to bear in attempting to capture Ukrainian cities. When the Russian invasion began, many experts expected Kyiv to capitulate within four days. We’re now in Day 11, and Kyiv is still hanging on:

Andriy Zagorodnyuk, a former defense minister now at a Kyiv think tank, said the Ukrainian special forces, Pentagon-funded and -trained since 2015, had engaged in efforts to demoralize the enemy, assaulting Russian convoys and striking Russian camps at night. “They attack when they’re least expected,” he said.
Ukrainian special forces also have been instrumental in holding off Russian advances north of Kyiv, and in counterattacks that have prevented Russia from consolidating gains.
“Going deep into our territory, Russian troops are stretched and lose contact with their command,” said Yurii Kochevenko, an officer with Ukraine’s 95th Airborne Assault Brigade. “Their logistics are disrupted. They have great difficulties with the supply of fuel, with the delivery of ammunition. They abandon their equipment and scatter in all directions.”

An army cannot fight if it cannot be supplied. The odds against Ukraine are still formidable, but every day that they can delay Russian victory works in their favor and against Putin. Here is a 20-minute video further explaining Russia’s logistics problem in Ukraine:


(Hat-tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)



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