Is Russia Losing in Ukraine According to the Principles of War?


A month has passed since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine. The operation (name unknown!) has been seen for a while, it is clear that it did not go as planned by Russia. Even though the Russian troops were still on certain pieces of land in the south, east and north, the Russians could not achieve military results that could be shown in accordance with the war principles. There are very important problems, it would not be wrong to say that it is not compatible with the art of military service. There is still no result that gives the impression of being captured, won, accomplished in a certain way. Why so? What is the military explanation for this?


Let me first give you an analysis of the principles of warfare. What are the Principles of Warfare? Target, Offensive, Safety, Maneuver, Center of Weight, Conservation of Force, Simplicity, Command-Control, Raid. Look now:

  • Target: Initially, the target of the operation was chosen by Russia as the capital Kyiv. It stayed like that for a while. However, there were comments that it changed later. What mattered was what Russia was planning. If the city of Kyiv was the target of the operation, this was wrong. If you chose Kyiv as your target, the first two days should not be left untouched here, especially if you have a doctrine like Russia that puts Hard Power first.
  • Offensive: Russia was the attacker. But offensive planning is important. With (at least) 3 times more force on the defense, it was necessary to start the attack from the right timing and position and expand the operation from there. There were problems in the application of this principle.
  • Safety: Weather conditions, logistics, operation areas chosen by the opponent, lines of defense, troops and weapons are well studied. These ensure the safety of the troops as a whole. What did we see? Armored and motorized units sunk into muddy terrain, long convoys, many critical weapon systems destroyed by small arms…
  • Maneuver: Tactical, operative and strategic maneuvers are made in the operation. In this operation, when and what the field commander did could not be selected. The maneuvers must have had an effect, it couldn’t be seen. The main reason for this can be counted as the disintegration of the troops, the unsuitable weather conditions, the loss of time in urban conflicts, the weakness of the command.
  • Weight Center: This is the principle that I see as the most important thing that has been kept out of the limelight in this Ukrainian operation. Because, in my opinion, the weight center principle has never been taken into account or understood. The weight center chosen by the Russian commanders (if it was so chosen) should not, in my opinion, be in an extended area from the Belarusian border to Odessa in the Black Sea. If Kyiv was the target, the weight center should have focused there. If it was Dobnass, the campaign should have been expandable from there. However, the center of gravity is not selected according to the targeted location in an operation. It seems that there is a problem in understanding this concept. Weight center is a principle that is considered according to the entire operation.
  • Conservation of Force: Russia should have been able to produce more effect with less force, taking into account the weather conditions, logistics and all other principles. First they massed (at least) 100,000 people into the area, and then they drove them all over the area. Because the area was large, the force was dispersed.
  • Simplicity: What was the plan? Does it have a name? Was there a simple explanation? If it’s like take Kyiv and go to conclusion, it’s simple, acceptable. Only then would it have been acceptable if it had been to land in Kyiv from the north with two armies and then encircle the city. What happened? The troops approached, stopped and retreated, then tried to advance again, then stopped again, that’s not going to happen! Then it was asked whether the plan should be east-Ukraine. Have you seen such a development?
  • Command-Control: The second is a notable issue. It seems that there is a problem with the command. There are issues such as the formation of armies from a kind of collection units from very different parts of the country, the many logistics and intelligence problems, the problems in the joint use of strategic forces and tactical and operative units, the inability to act quickly and in a controlled manner from the D day on, and the loss of more than expected. How processes developed between them and the Kremlin is also a weakness that needs to be taken into account.
  • Raid: A plan of action; The attack must create a dominant effect with its aim, center of gravity and maneuver principles, and this must inflict heavy losses on the opposing side from the very beginning. The opponent must be stunned and helpless. He should not be able to stop and think, everything should be as if it was too late. Even if support is received, it must be said that it is too late now. What did we see in this plan of action?

Let’s continue our assessment. Ukraine’s way of resistance, weapons, intelligence, media and information power, good use of the land, tactics are definitely effective; After all, it’s a mutual war. There are important factors such as weather conditions, commanders should know these anyway, if the time and account are not kept, then it is much worse. The Russians have logistical problems, more old-style weapon systems, the fact that they are operating with an army gathered from the depths of the country, lack of training, command and control problems and intelligence weakness are important shortcomings.

If he could not achieve the targeted points in the first few days, this result directly affects the psychological balance of the war. The impact of psychology is as important as logistics; If it is good, it creates a constant situational superiority, if it is bad, it grows like a snowball and covers the army in an avalanche.

Perhaps another issue that is most effective in favor of Ukraine is the shoulder-mounted guided anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns provided by the West, as well as the ability to conduct drone operations. When it comes to anti-tank, Javelin and NLAW come to mind, when it comes to anti-aircraft Stinger, and when it comes to drone, TB2s come to mind. We are in an operation where sniper rifles are also used extensively. And of course, there is the Molotov cocktail. If the Ukrainians will win the war, the history books will write that they defeated the Russian army with this. To Kiev, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Sumy, Chernihiv, etc. If you want to enter, and each of these cities is very far from each other, you cannot succeed, but if you do, the time will really take longer.

Ukraine does not have an umbrella over its head to protect its air power, defense and this aspect of its country.

Now let’s look at the projection on the field from the perspective of the Russian operation. If you are going to carry out a wide-ranging operation in a country like Ukraine, at this point, I can say that the Russian operation plans are problematic. Because they did not comply with the principles of warfare!

From the very beginning, it was clear what should have happened, supported by the principles of war: Even when the operation started, the road that descended from the Russian province Belgorod in the north to the Crimea and passed through Dnipro was captured in 1-2 weeks, without delay, using air and land power intensively. should have passed. He should have brought his two armies into this intermediate line. The highway should have been essential. The sea area in the south from Odessa to Azov, centered in Crimea, should have supported each other from here. He should have achieved to dominate 1/3 of the country from the beginning. He should then move on to other operational targets. This must have been the shocking blow. It was necessary to cut the umbilical cord of the Ukrainian troops concentrated in the eastern part of this highway, facing Donbass, and the ones in the west.

I mean militarily: the situation would be very different now if the main units were to be inserted between the east-west of the Belgorod-Crimea highway, which should be chosen as the first target of the operation, and if the destruction of the troops in the east-Ukraine were considered. Russia would then continue to advance towards its following military objectives.

What did Russia do? It was very scattered all around. This created a great need for logistics and defense, but most importantly, it created a questionable situation in terms of war principles. The expected progress did not materialize when Ukrainian troops hit the Russian logistics lines and hunted down many defenseless armored and motorized units in the area, including serious weapons containing important systems, with small arms and traps.


If you have air and sea dominance, you will use it in the best way from the beginning. If you have a large land power, you will first know its problems and, taking into account a maneuver accordingly, you will launch an attack based on the center of gravity and raid and security, the target of this attack will create a raid and make the other side incapacitated! Where is such a Russian plan? There is a smell of historical defeat here.

NOTE: Due to intellectual property rights, you can use this information by reference.

Gursel Tokmakoglu

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