The situation maps showing Russian troops in Ukraine are also misleading. Ukraine is a big country and the Russian forces are spread over a large area. Russians don’t control much territory as they concentrate on maintaining control of a few roads using roadblocks, check points and armed escorts for some supply convoys.
Most of the time the roads are available to any civilian vehicles. This enables the Ukrainian ambush teams to reach a portion of a road suitable for an ambush, conceal themselves and their vehicles and wait for the approaching convoy.
These battles mean Russian troops deeper inside Ukraine are usually short of fuel, ammunition, medical supplies, food and reinforcements. That accounts for the poor morale among the Russian forces and their lackluster performance.
Another problem is that many of the 100,000 Russian troops inside Ukraine are conscripts doing their one year of service and banned, by law, from serving in a combat zone unless there is a national emergency.
Ukraine has about 200,000 soldiers and reservists as well as over 100,000 armed volunteers defending Ukraine. These defenders have the support of nearly all Ukrainians while the invaders do not.
All these errors and poor decisions by Russian military and political leaders don’t guarantee a Ukrainian victory, but they make such a win a possibility. …
The poor performance of the Russian military was a surprise, even to the Ukrainians.
One of those surprises was the Russian inability to gain air superiority. The Russian air force has dominated the skies over Syria for years. But in Ukraine Russian helicopters (transports and gunships) as well as large transports were more often seen, and shot down, than Russian jet fighters and ground attack aircraft. The Russian helicopters still operate inside Ukraine, but have to do so carefully because the Ukrainians have received over 10,000 modern portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, which were distributed to hundreds of small teams of twenty or so soldiers and local volunteers who know the local terrain and secondary roads better than the Russians. These teams are directed to roads used by Russian convoys or areas where combat vehicles are concentrated and carry out surprise attacks. Local civilians report Russian activity and this is passed on to the attack teams.
The initial airstrikes on Ukrainian military bases, using hundreds of ballistic and cruise missiles, was also a failure because the Ukrainians received a warning from a reliable source a few hours before the attack and were able to disperse most of their troops and aircraft before the missiles hit.
Russian fighters and ground attack aircraft were not used, even though both of these aircraft types have been used regularly in Syria. The most likely reason for the absence of the jets in Ukraine was the lack of smart (GPS guided) bombs and laser guided missiles for these aircraft. Russian was seen using these bombs and missiles, briefly, in Syria. The reason was that, while Russia had developed these guided weapons at greats expense, it could not afford to buy many of them. Those used in Syria simply verified the guided weapons worked. Some had problems and Russia used the Syria experience to fix that. If Russia does have a small stockpile of these weapons, they are reserved for national emergencies. The Ukrainian invasion was, according to captured Russian planning documents, supposed to be over in fifteen days with a new pro-Russia government installed in the capital Kyiv. That was not considered a national emergency but an internal security operation.
The war reporting by the non-military types in the media has been poor and confused.