Russo-Ukrainian War 6/5/22

A 2S3 ‘Akatsiya’ self-propelled artillery in service with Ukraine (Image via Ukrainian Ministry of Defense)

After failing to secure their original strategic objectives, Russian military leadership has continued to face an excessive casualty rate among high-ranking generals and commanders. The loss of several Russian generals in early fighting near Kyiv contradicts incredulous claims by Moscow of the Kyiv offensive being a ‘feint.’

Russia has also lost a key demographic in its military: junior leaders. The United Kingdom assessed that exorbitant losses in Russia’s younger military leadership could lead to stagnancy and a lack of modernization in the long run.

As Russian forces now face staunch Ukrainian resistance in Sievierodonetsk, analysts have called into question how much remains of Russia’s combat power and whether Russia’s remaining military command can wisely use its resources to secure a victory in the Donbas. With Russian forces controlling ~20% of Ukraine and almost all of the Donbas, the battle of Sievierodonetsk has become a critical moment; if Russia chooses to pursue Ukraine further, it could end up overextending itself, and should Ukraine’s resistance stall the Russian offensive, Ukraine could use Russia’s lack of momentum and entrenchment to conduct counteroffensives across the line of contact.

For Russia to exploit the weary Ukrainian position in the Luhansk pocket, Russia must fundamentally change its leadership. Though Russia has seemingly been ready to do so, with the infamous Aleksandr Dvornikov being allegedly relieved of command in the Donbas, it is unlikely that his replacement nor any of Russia’s top brass will be able to reorganize the Russian offensive significantly.

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