Why is Ukraine so successful in attacking key Russian military facilities?


Military analyst Sean Bell, along with other Sky experts, has been answering readers’ most pressing questions daily about the war in Ukraine.

Today, reader DenissM asked why Ukraine is so successful in attacking key Russian military installations.

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In the Sky News Ukraine blog, Sean Bell says:

Notwithstanding Ukraine‘s relative success at halting Russia’s illegal invasion and then pushing the occupiers back out of 50% of the territory once held, Ukraine remains a significantly smaller country than Russia.

It therefore has to be very careful to avoid getting trapped into a grinding war of attrition with Russia – which would favour Russia’s mass.

Western high-tech precision weapons have given Ukraine the ability to combat Russia’s 20th-century war-fighting tactics with modern, Western-style 21st-century combat power, which has provided Ukraine with an asymmetric advantage.

Russia clearly did not expect the war with Ukraine to extend beyond more than a few days – Moscow expected Ukraine to submit, and swiftly.

From a military perspective, Russia would have known that Ukraine’s limited navy would have been no match for the Black Sea fleet, and that Russia’s air force would dominate any air war.

Russia also had a significant advantage on the ground, which is why Vladimir Putin always characterised this conflict as a “special military operation”.

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Each attack demonstrates to Russia they have a fight on their hands

However, as the war has developed, and Western confidence in Ukraine’s military capabilities has increased, so has the range of weapons available to Ukraine been expanded.

This has enabled Ukraine to conduct a raft of focused attacks on key Russian military installations.

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Ukraine retakes village near Bakhmut

Not all these attacks have been successful, and most will be nothing more than an “irritation” to the Russians rather than prove decisive in military terms; however, each of these attacks is a clear demonstration to Russia that they have a fight on their hands.

The longer the war goes on, the more Russia’s core military capability is weakened.

By striking key Russian military facilities, Ukraine is forcing Russia to re-prioritise its military forces and capability.

Russia would never have expected to be so vulnerable to Ukrainian attack, so is now having to use limited supplies of air defence weapons, soldiers and other military capability in a defensive role rather than on offence.

This might not prove decisive but it does increase Ukraine’s prospects of a breakthrough of the frontlines and erodes Russia’s ability to prevent any breakthrough becoming catastrophic.

So, Ukraine’s success at striking key Russian infrastructure is due to a combination of factors; however, it is unlikely to be able to deliver a decisive blow to Russia’s military capability.

Sean and Sky’s other military analysts and foreign correspondents have been providing their insight into the biggest issues raised by readers every day at 12.30pm. You can submit a question of your own here.

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