RIGA - Russia's forces in the war with Ukraine have made some progress, and it now appears that Russia's authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, will continue to pursue his plan to gain territory in the south and east of Ukraine, Colonel Didzis Nestro, Deputy Chief off Staff Operations/Chief of Land Component at the National Armed Forces, told LETA.
According to publicly available information, despite failures in the first days of the war, some progress has been made by Russian forces, but it has now come to a halt. Russia seems to have made a commitment to unite troops in the South and East. This would provide supplies in the direction of Crimea and allow the Ukrainian forces there to be cut off, Nestro said.
It seems strange at the moment that Russia has not used its full aviation potential to conquer its neighbor. "If Russia had a commitment to quickly defeat Ukraine's resistance, airspace control and air strikes are important. Despite the losses, Ukraine's air and air defense capacity has been maintained and some air operations are being conducted with some success," the colonel explained.
The stockpiles of ammunition available in Russia's western territories could have been heavily spent in the first days of the invasion, and are now being saved.
It should also be noted that in order to win any war, the air force's cooperation with the ground forces must be very synchronized, but the Russians are shooting randomly into Ukrainian territory, including civilian targets, Nestro said.
Although the public is often of the opinion that armed warfare is not necessary today, as it is only necessary to carry out effective cyber attacks on the enemy's infrastructure, the military expert pointed out that the methods used in previous conflicts are mostly being used in this conflict.
"Apparently, the Ukrainians have defended their information and digital space. The Ukrainians are free to use the information space, significant cyber-attacks are not visible, and the suppression of communications is not so effective as to completely paralyze the Ukrainian command leadership, or Russia is not reaching its full potential," the colonel said.
One week after the Russian invasion, both sides obviously need a moment of respite, but it is felt that the Russians are already using a different tactic and trying to expand their forces in a different way, namely to reduce the damage being caused by the Ukrainians.
"Negotiations with Russia and Ukraine are likely to give both sides time to recover and reorganize. It seems that now is the time for the situation to change for one side or the other," Nestro said.
The colonel does not deny that Russia has concentrated a large group of troops around Ukraine, but this is not enough to fully occupy and subjugate the whole of Ukraine. "More forces are needed, so there are already rumors of mobilization in Russia and greater involvement of Belarus or Kazakhstan," Nestro added.
He also highlighted the ability of the Ukrainian army to mobilize quickly and secure popular resistance, as morality to defend one's homeland is paramount in any conflict.
Speaking about the supply of Western anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, Nestro pointed out that the control of Ukrainian airspace and radar systems are not working properly, so their anti-air weapon systems cannot work effectively. They are mainly used as separate weapons.
At the same time, Western weapons are showing results, as evidenced by the videos distributed by the Ukrainians with the destroyed Russian equipment. "For example, the Turkish-made Bayraktar drones have proven to be very effective, but the question is how many such systems the Ukrainians have, how they can operate and how many aerodromes the Ukrainians have. It is certainly not a decisive weapon, but it is an important one," the colonel stressed.
Nestro also pointed out that Russia is violating internationally accepted laws of war in this armed conflict. Although Putin declared at the beginning of the conflict that the army would target only Ukrainian forces and military facilities, it is clear that heavy fires have been targeted at residential areas since the beginning of the war, and that intensity continues to rise.
There is no convincing information about what is happening at the tactical level of the "ground" units, but observing the behavior of Russian forces in other armed conflicts, it is not excluded that there have been violations of the laws of war and even war crimes, the colonel said. "In any case, the total loss of civilians is a sign of things happening that should not be happening," he added.
Commenting on France's concerns on Thursday that the worst phase of Russia's war against Ukraine was yet to begin, the expert explained that now everything depends on what Putin wants to achieve after Russia's current losses, and whether Russia's internal problems would not have an impact.
"At the moment, it looks like he will continue to implement his plan, even if he acquires territories in the south and east of Ukraine. At the moment, there do not seem to be any signs of the Russians gaining territory in Western Ukraine. This war may last for only 24 hours and may last for weeks. There are many factors that could lead to the end of the war," Nestro said.
Although Russian forces are on the outskirts of Kyiv and it is possible to storm Kyiv, such a military operation requires enormous military resources to destroy and subjugate such a large city, the colonel said.
Nestro also recalled the example of World War II, when, despite the destruction of Stalingrad by the Germans, Soviet troops were able to continue to resist and fight for every house.
The storm of such a huge city is a long-term process if weapons of mass destruction are not used, the expert said, noting that existing conventional methods of warfare usually try to bypass or isolate such cities, otherwise huge damage to the attacking army would inevitably result.
Commenting on the fact that Russia has always stood out in its propaganda with seemingly modern techniques, but the videos distributed by the Ukrainians show the opposite, including demoralized soldiers, Nestro pointed out that Russia's defense budget is large, but either not sufficient for the widespread introduction of some modern weapons or these new systems still have technical shortcomings, such as the T-14 Armata.
"If we compare the tanks in Russia's armaments with Western equipment, the difference is huge. Regarding the soldiers captured, it can be seen that a large percentage of Russian forces are soldiers of compulsory military service, who encountered Ukrainian resistance in the initial clashes. Airborne divisions have also suffered losses," added Nestro.