Once ignored predictions by military expert now become realities for Russian military in Ukraine
    He said "there will be no easy walk"

    REGION  06 October 2022 - 16:35

    Just three weeks before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 of this year, there was a man with a strong military background that predicted dire outcomes for Russia and the Russian army of such an offensive campaign. He was Mikhail Khodarenok, a colonel in reserve of the Russian Armed Forces, who today appears on TV and radio channels as a military expert.

    Khodarenok was quite courageous to warn Moscow of thinking twice before invading the borders of Ukraine in an explainer published on the Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a Moscow-based media organisation that was blocked by the government just days after the Russian military made headlines with its "special operation" in Ukraine. His pre-war predictions were quite close to current realities on the battlefields - exhausted army, depleted stockpile, strong resistance, miscalculations, gargantuan Western aid and more.

    Even though Khodarenok is today following a quite distinctive course from what he wrote in early February - ardently supports the operations of the Russian army in Ukraine, his body language and facial expressions could tell a different story to those who manage to draw parallels between his outer and inner voices. The army man is still worried about the fate of the Russian troops no matter how he "believes" in their ultimate success.

    Caliber.Az presents below the explainer (translated from Russian) by Khodrenok published on Nezavisimaya Gazeta on February 3, 2022:

    Some Russian politicians now claim that Russia would be able to inflict a crushing defeat on Ukraine in a matter of hours (shorter terms are mentioned) if a military conflict were to break out. Let us examine whether such claims are true.

    In the expert community of Russia, the opinion has recently taken root quite strongly that it will not even be necessary to introduce troops into the territory of Ukraine, since its troops are in a deplorable state.

    Some political analysts stress that a powerful Russian fire strike will destroy practically all surveillance and communication systems, artillery, and tank formations. Moreover, some experts conclude that even a single Russian smashing blow would be enough to end such a war.

    Some analysts emphasise that no one in Ukraine will defend the "Kyiv regime".


    Let's start with the last one. To claim that no one in Ukraine will defend the regime is in practice a complete ignorance of the military and political situation and the mood of the broad masses of people in the neighbouring state. Moreover, the degree of hatred (which is known to be the most effective fuel for armed struggle) in the neighbouring republic in relation to Moscow is frankly underestimated. No one will welcome the Russian army with bread, salt, and flowers in Ukraine.

    It seems that no one has learned any lessons from the events in the southeast of Ukraine in 2014. At that time, they also expected that the entire left-bank Ukraine would turn to Novorossiya in a single movement and in a matter of seconds. They were already drawing maps, estimating the staffing of future city and regional administrations, and designing state flags.

    But even the Russian-speaking population of this part of Ukraine (including cities such as Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, and Mariupol) did not support such plans among their vast majority. The Novorossiya project somehow quietly deflated and died.

    In a nutshell, the liberation campaign in 2022 on the model and likeness of 1939 will not work in any way. In this case, the words of Arkady Gaidar, a classic of Soviet literature, are more true than ever: "It seems we will not have an easy fight now but an uphill battle."


    Now let's speak about the "powerful Russian fire strike", which will allegedly destroy "practically all observation and communication systems, artillery and tank formations of the AFU (Armed Forces of Ukraine)".

    This expression alone shows that only political officers could say this. For the record: in the course of hypothetical military operations on the scale of military rehearsals, strikes are carried out against priority targets and massive fire strikes. It should be noted that the epithets as "powerful" (as well as "medium", "weak", etc.) are not used in operational and strategic planning.

    Military science emphasizes that strikes can be strategic (this mostly applies to strategic nuclear forces), operational and tactical. Regarding the number of forces and targets involved, strikes can be a massive, group, or single. Other concepts, even in essays of a political science nature, are still better not to be introduced or used.

    Strikes on priority targets and massive fire strikes can be carried out as part of a front (fronts on Russia's western borders have not yet been formed) or the main command of the armed forces on a battleground (no such command has yet been established in the Southwestern strategic direction, either). Anything less than that is no longer a massive strike.

    What, for example, is a massive fire strike (MFS) of the front? To begin with, let us note that the maximum number of combat-ready air, missile, artillery and EW assets available to the commander of the front (the operational and strategic alliance) is engaged in a massive fire strike. MFS is one massive aircraft flight, two or three launches of MLRS and TR rocket systems, and several artillery fire strikes. It is good if the degree of fire destruction of the enemy is 60-70%.

    What is the most important thing about this issue in relation to the conflict with Ukraine? Undoubtedly, MFS will inflict heavy casualties on the probable enemy. But to expect just one such strike to crush the armed forces of an entire nation is to be unbridledly optimistic in the planning and execution of combat operations. In the course of hypothetical strategic operations on a battlefield, it would be necessary to inflict not one or two but many more such strikes.

    We must certainly add to the above-mentioned that the Russian Armed Forces' stockpile of advanced and high-precision weapons is not limitless in any way. There are no hypersonic rockets of the "Zircon" type in service yet. The number of Kalibers (sea-launched cruise missiles), Kinjals, Kh-101 (air-launched cruise missiles), and Iskander missiles are measured in hundreds (tens in the case of Kinjals) at the very best. This arsenal is not at all sufficient to wipe out a country the size of France and with a population of more than 40 million people.


    Sometimes it is claimed in the Russian expert community (by admirers of the Due doctrine) that since the hypothetical hostilities in Ukraine will take place in conditions of complete air superiority of Russian aviation, the war will be extremely short-lived and will end in the shortest possible time.

    It is somehow forgotten that during the 1979-1989 conflict the Afghan opposition armed formations did not have a single plane or a single combat helicopter. However, the war in that country dragged on for a full 10 years. Chechen fighters did not have a single aircraft either. The fight against them lasted several years and was very bloody and costly for the federal forces.

    The Ukrainian Armed Forces do have some sort of combat aviation. As well as means of anti-aircraft defence.

    By the way, the Ukrainian contingents of anti-aircraft missile forces (not Georgian at all) considerably damaged the Russian air force during the 2008 conflict. After the first day of combat operations, the leadership of the Russian Air Force was in outright shock at the losses incurred. And this should not be forgotten.


    Now let's consider the thesis "The Armed Forces of Ukraine are in a deplorable state". There is no doubt that the AFU has problems with aviation and modern means of air defence. But we must also admit to the following. If before 2014 the AFU was a fragment of the Soviet army, over the past seven years Ukraine has created a qualitatively different army, on a completely different ideological basis and largely based on NATO standards. And very modern weapons and equipment are now and continue to come to Ukraine from many countries of the North Atlantic Alliance.

    As for the weakest point of the AFU - the Air Force. It cannot be ruled out that the collective West can rather quickly supply Kyiv with fighters, as they say, out of the armed forces stock - simply put, second-hand. However, this second-hand aircraft will be quite comparable to the majority of Russian aircraft in terms of their tactical and technical characteristics.

    Undoubtedly, today the AFU is considerably inferior to the RF Armed Forces in its combat and operational capabilities. No one doubts this - neither in the East nor in the West.

    But no one should underestimate this army. In this regard we should always remember the precept of Alexander Suvorov: "Never despise your enemy, do not consider him foolish and weaker than you."

    Now, as for the statement that Western countries will not send a single soldier to die for Ukraine.

    It should be noted that this is likely to be the case. However, this by no means excludes, in the event of a Russian invasion, massive assistance to the AFU by the collective West with a variety of weaponry and military equipment and bulk supplies of all sorts of material. In this regard, the West has already shown an unprecedented consolidated position so far, which does not seem to have been foreseen in Moscow.

    There is no doubt that a reincarnation of lend-lease on the model and likeness of World War II will begin on the part of the US and NATO countries. The influx of volunteers from the West is not excluded.


    The last word will be devoted to the duration of the hypothetical campaign. In the Russian expert community, they call it several hours, sometimes even several tens of minutes. It is somehow forgotten that we have already gone through all this. The phrase "to take the city with one paratrooper regiment in two hours" has already become a classic of the genre.

    It is also worth recalling that the mighty Stalinist NKVD and the Soviet army of millions fought the nationalist underground in western Ukraine for more than 10 years. And now there is a possibility that the whole of Ukraine could easily go into partisanship. Moreover, these formations could easily start operating in Russia as well.

    Armed struggle in large Ukrainian cities is difficult to predict. It is well known that a big city is the best battleground for the weaker and less technically advanced side of an armed conflict.

    Profound experts stress that in a megalopolis, it is possible not only to concentrate a group of thousands or even tens of thousands of fighters but also to shelter it from the superior firepower of the enemy and also to provide it with supplies for a long time and to make up for losses manpower and equipment. Neither mountains, forests, nor jungles offer such an opportunity today.

    Experts are convinced that urban environments help defenders, slow down the movement of attackers, make it possible to accommodate a record number of combatants per unit area and make up for lagging manpower and technology. And Ukraine has more than enough big cities, including those with a population of millions. So the Russian army in a hypothetical war with Ukraine could face far more than just Stalingrad and Grozny.


    All in all, there will be no Ukrainian blitzkrieg. The statements of some experts such as "The Russian army will defeat most of the AFU units in 30-40 minutes", "Russia is capable of defeating Ukraine in 10 minutes in case of a full-scale war", "Russia will defeat Ukraine in eight minutes" have no reasonable basis in fact.

    Finally, and most importantly. An armed conflict with Ukraine is currently fundamentally not in Russia's national interest. Therefore, some over-excited Russian experts had better forget about their victorious fantasies. And in order to prevent further reputational losses, never mention them again.


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