Just how good is the Russian military, really?

Just how good is the Russian military, really? By Allahpundit.

Warning — two graphic clips:

Watch these to grasp that Ukrainian civilians are now in the crosshairs.

Cousins who want to join Russia? So Putin bombs them? Illogical.

What makes this significant is Kharkiv’s Russian identity. The city is located close to the Russian border in northeastern Ukraine. A majority of its residents speak Russian. It’s Exhibit A in Putin’s argument that Ukrainians are Russians at heart, one people united.

And now here he is dropping cluster bombs on them to subdue the city.

The fact that the city still needs to be subdued is also significant. If the Russians might have expected to be “greeted as liberators” anywhere in Ukraine, it’s Kharkiv. Instead the city has held out, a glaring rebuke to Putin’s theory that Russian-speaking Ukrainians would leap at the chance to be reintegrated back into the homeland.

Ukraine won’t submit. It can only be bombed into submission. …

The Russian military is not living up to its reputation — it’s proving mildly incompetent. It was the same in WWI and WWII as well. But as the Russians joke, “we have a special quality called quantity.”

Why can’t the fearsome Russian military subdue a city located right on their border? … Why are blunt instruments like aerial bombing needed to weaken the locals’ resolve?

To put that differently: Just how good is the Russian military, really?

Surveying the army’s difficulties over the past week, experts are split on that question.

Some warn that we shouldn’t assume Russia’s troubles against Ukraine would translate into similar troubles against NATO. For one thing, Putin is fighting Ukraine with restraint so far, aware that a bloodbath could turn Russian public opinion against him decisively. One third of the Russian troops stationed at the Ukrainian border have yet to advance. A U.S. defense official told Bloomberg that Russia has used only 50 percent of its available firepower so far. A Russian official claimed that their timeline for a successful operation was one to two weeks and that they’ve deliberately avoided sending infantry into cities for fear of the carnage that would result. To some extent, Putin is pulling his punches. …

Other experts note, though, that the punches he’s throwing often aren’t landing — to a shocking degree. WaPo surveys the scene: …

Russia has proved unable to secure air superiority over the tiny Ukrainian air force — despite having the second-largest air force in the world, Pentagon officials say. Its troops have yet to take control of any significant city or meaningful chunk of territory, a senior U.S. defense official said Sunday.

It’s inconceivable that Putin approached this war with so much restraint that he would deny himself immediate air superiority. That’s a case of Russia failing to execute its battle plan, not the military holding back.

There are stunning tactical failures too. Mark Antonio Wright explained a few days ago that when the U.S. military attempts an armored advance, it sends mechanized infantry to escort the tanks. When the enemy’s anti-tank units engage, the infantry liquidate them. Russia, however, seems to be advancing without the infantry component, Wright marveled, turning its armor into sitting ducks for Ukrainian troops armed with Javelins. That’s not “restraint,” it’s incompetence.

Other analysts are also arriving at the conclusion that the Russian military just isn’t as good as it’s cracked to be. It’s lethal, yes, in the same way that any army that commands huge amounts of firepower can rack up a body count. But it hasn’t behaved in Ukraine with the sort of tactical discipline you’d expect from a top-tier force …

“Russia is actually showing the world they are not as strong as we thought they were. This is bolstering NATO’s confidence,” said one specialist in urban warfare at West Point’s Modern War Institute to WaPo. “It’s not showing a superpower military, that’s for sure. It’s showing major weakness.”…

Maybe Putin was gambling on a quick surrender after shock and awe from kindly big brother. Didn’t happen:

Glenn Reynolds:

I’ve been wondering why the invasion didn’t start out with an air-superiority campaign. Now I’m wondering if they didn’t do that because they couldn’t — not enough working planes, not enough logistical/mechanical capability to support the needed sortie rate, etc.

Russia hasn’t fought a war against a peer or near-peer since 1945. There’s a lot of corruption in their system, and a lot of bogus good news passed up the command chain. (Where did the term “Potemkin village” come from?)

I know some people wondering when Putin’s going to send in the A team, and it’s beginning to look like this is the A-team. Between this and the United States’ Afghanistan debacle, can anybody here play this game?

Stuck in the mud of Ukraine (which has the deepest and richest soils in the world):