Saturday 19 March 2022

Justin Bronk of Chatham House: The Russian army is seriously running out of momentum


"Given that Mariupol continues to hold out despite being surrounded, bombarded and starved without supplies for three weeks, and Russian forces have been unable to take Sumy, Chernihiv or Kharkiv, it seems highly unlikely at this point that Russia can muster sufficient forces to attempt a serious assault on Kyiv in the coming weeks.

"....Ukraine has mobilised hundreds of thousands of reservists and civilian volunteers, and is receiving huge supplies of weaponry and other key aid to equip these new forces in the relatively secure western half of the country..... As a result, Ukraine has an ever-increasing advantage over the Russian invasion forces in sheer numbers, but committing these newly mobilised forces to operations en masse will result in extremely heavy casualties and limited effectiveness due to lack of training and experience.

"But the longer this war continues, the worse position Russian forces will find themselves in and the larger and more capable the Ukrainian reserve and volunteer forces will become. If Ukraine can sustain the current pace of combat without overcommitting its inexperienced new forces, it can deny the overstretched Russian forces an opportunity to consolidate their current positions and may be able to force them to retreat in other areas as their supply lines and staging areas become indefensible. However, if Russia manages to force a ceasefire that leaves its forces in place, then it is likely to use that pause to reinforce its frontlines, get logistics support to its beleaguered units and renew its ability to sustain offensive momentum."

Many people said that as Russian victory was certain it would be best if Ukraine surrender. I did not agree and now it seems as if Russia is stalling.

I had wanted a peace based on Finlandisation as soon as possible, but is that different from surrender? It's inevitably going to happen, whether or not it is surrender.

The Russian slow advance and failure as yet to besiege, let alone take, Kiev changes things. A ceasefire will help them reinforce their troops.

But do they want to take Kiev, which they might be well advised not to try to do?

In other words, I am confused.

Still God save us from an endless war that goes on for a long time, like the Spanish Civil War.

No-one expected Finland to fight so effectively when Bolshevik Russia invaded in 1939 but she did, finally made peace in 1940, invaded Russia in 1941 alongside Germany and ended up being the one Soviet ally that was free, independent, democratic and capitalist. So independent that everyone thought she was neutral. 

Charles XII expected to defeat Peter the Great but the Battle of Poltava made Russia the great power she still is and Sweden the powerless country she remains.

I have tended to skip accounts of warfare when reading history but I shan’t from now on. War is history in the raw. It's unpredictable because it is decided by the decisions of millions of people, as Tolstoy teaches in the last chapter of War and Peace. 


  1. 'The Russian army is seriously running out of momentum'

    It is not:

  2. Thank you very much. Scott Ritter is fascinating, very clever and very good on radio. As he says he is not an expert though very well informed. Some military experts like Sir Lawrence Freedman are much less convinced that that things are going to plan for Russia. Russia, I am sure, expected to capture Kiev Airport and from there the city. But beyond that it's hard to know what's happening. There are lots of lies from both camps, naturally.