Putin's Senior Military Leaders are Expendables for Putin's Cause
It's terrifying how many Russian officers are being killed in the line of Putin's Ukrainian personal conflict. Vladimir Putin's desperation knows no bounds.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, it has reportedly suffered the loss of at least one hundred senior commanders, according to some calculations. It is a catastrophic milestone for Moscow, and it is only the latest indicator that Vladimir Putin's military campaign in Ukraine is becoming less effective.
Colonel Vitaly Tsikul of Russia's 90th Tank Division is said to be the 100th Russian senior officer to perish in the conflict. He was reported to be the third senior Russian officer to be killed in the past two days
This week, a British intelligence assessment that was made public indicated that at least ten Russian generals had been killed on the battlefield since February. This conclusion was reached despite the fact that precise counts of Russian deaths may be difficult to ascertain.
However, the Russian armed forces are frustrated by more than simply the loss of life. Russia has been reducing its leadership ranks in other ways, including simply dismissing people from their positions. According to reports from British intelligence, General-Colonel Aleksandr Chayko, who had previously served as head of the Eastern Military District, was relieved of his duties in May. It seems possible that Russia has moved General-Lieutenant Vladimir Kochetkov into the role of commanding the Western Military District, taking over from General-Colonel Aleksandr Zhuravlev. According to recent reports, General Aleksandr Dvornikov, who was in charge of the operation in Ukraine, has also been relieved of his duties.
According to Glen Howard, the president of the Jamestown Foundation, the string of executions and firings might be a hint that almost six months into the conflict, Russia's troops are still being mishandled from the inside out. This is the opinion of Glen Howard.
"I believe a lot of that was just kind of their own incompetence and sloppy generalship," said Howard, who had previously served at the United States Embassy in Moscow. "I see a lot of it was just kind of their own negligence."
The string of firings most likely reflects Moscow's efforts to develop a strategy that is effective for the conflict in Ukraine; yet, the ongoing hemorrhage indicates that President Putin probably hasn't found out how to win the war in Ukraine just yet.
According to Howard, "Putin is most certainly implementing a plan in an attempt to locate a combat general who will be successful." "And to our good fortune, he hasn't managed to find one as of yet."
Since the beginning of the conflict, the Russian military has had a difficult time accomplishing its primary goals. In the early stages of the conflict, Russian forces could not successfully capture Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Instead, they had a string of logistical setbacks that caused them to stall outside of the city. Putin intended to install an administration in Ukraine supported by Moscow and take complete control of the nation, but none of these things have happened. In addition, according to information obtained by Ukrainian intelligence, soldiers have been desertion equipment in addition to destroying it.
According to the Pentagon, Putin's strategy of learning through trial and error has been prominent throughout the entire war. This is in part due to the fact that Ukrainian forces have been so resistant to the invasion, applying pressure on the Russian troops to such an extent that they are forced to adapt their plans to meet Ukraine's fight.
"They have made some incremental gains in the east, although not very much in the last couple of weeks," Colin Kahl, Biden's undersecretary of defense for policy, said in a Monday briefing. "But that has come at an extraordinary cost to the Russian military because of how well the Ukrainian military has performed and all the assistance that the Ukrainian military has gotten," Kahl added. "That has come at a tremendous cost to the Russian military because of how well the Ukrainian military has performed and all the assistance that the Ukrainian military. "And I think that now, conditions in the east have basically stabilized, and the focus is really shifting to the south," the author says. "And I think that this is partly because the Ukrainians are starting to put some pressure down south, and the Russians have been forced to redeploy their forces down there."
According to British intelligence, the shortcomings of Russia's military in the battle have undoubtedly led to a series of dismissals of the Russian leadership. All of this subpar work is also making its way into leadership circles.
According to a report compiled by the intelligence community, "the poor performance of Russia's armed forces during its invasion of Ukraine has been costly for Russia's military leadership, and it is highly likely that the poor performance has resulted in the dismissal of at least six Russian commanders since the beginning of hostilities in February 2022."
As a result of all of these casualties, Russia's combat power is becoming gradually less spectacular, which may indicate that Russia is in store for a difficult war in the future.
"The conflict is taking a toll on them," Howard added. "It's affecting them negatively." "We competed against their 'A team,' and as a result, they no longer had any reserves. The very best of what they offer? We went head to head with them and emerged victorious. We are now competing against the "B Team." Because of this, while they battle the 'B team,' they are now transitioning into the 'C Team.' The overall level of quality is just declining.
As important Western countries, particularly the United States, continue to offer essential military assistance to Ukraine, the deteriorating state of Russia's troops will be positive news for both the Ukrainian people and western nations. In a battle of attrition, both sides want to outlive the other for as long as possible, hence their armies are concentrating on wearing out the other side's forces to the point when they give up and surrender.
The massive losses that Russia is incurring might impose an increasing amount of pressure on Putin to either call it quits in Ukraine or lean towards leaning into kicking off a stronger mobilization. Both of these options are possible given the circumstances. To this point, Vladimir Putin has only revealed to Russian citizens that Russia is conducting a "special military operation" in Ukraine and not a full-scale war in the country. He has been hesitant to initiate a more widespread deployment of Russian forces.
And despite the fact that the Russian forces have attempted to recover from their early defeats in the conflict by changing their strategy and engaging in a series of regroupings, the men and leadership are still enduring some of the price of those defeats.
According to an assessment that was provided by the Department of Defense on Monday, it is estimated that Russia has incurred between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties since February.
The diminishing numbers are "quite astounding given that the Russians have accomplished none of Vladimir Putin's goals at the outset of the conflict," according to Kahl. "It's very astonishing," Kahl added.
When compared to previous evaluations made by the United States government during the past several weeks, this is a considerable increase. A statement made by CIA Director Bill Burns just a month ago estimated that the Russian side had lost around 60,000 deaths.
Howard said, "We are still in the meat grinder." Even now, a significant number of innocent individuals are losing their lives.
And despite the fact that Putin's troops are crumbling due to resignations and deaths, this does not necessarily mean that the battle is over or that Russia has lost. According to the Department of Defense's assessment, as of Monday, it's not possible to say "with a high degree of certainty" at this stage how long Russia can sustain these levels of losses.
"A lot of it would depend, I think, on the political decisions that Vladimir Putin will make ultimately about whether he can continue to recruit and send additional forces to the front, whether he was at some point… willing to engage in national mobilization or some other effort," Kahl said.
And just this week, Putin has already been the subject of several unflattering reports. Explosions tore through a Russian air base on Tuesday in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014. According to The New York Times, a Ukrainian military official claimed responsibility for the damage, suggesting that a long-range Ukrainian weapons system was used to launch the attack.