If Ryan’s analysis is to be believed, Russia’s army will soon have major problems in eastern Ukraine as well. Putin is currently concentrating his efforts in the Donbass. But here, too, Russia “still has problems making great progress,” analyzes Ryan on Twitter.
Due to the continuing arms deliveries from the West, Russian losses and the successes of the Ukrainian army, Ryan assumes that the capacities for offensive actions by the Russians will no longer be sufficient “in the coming months”.
That doesn’t mean that Russia has been defeated or is withdrawing from Ukraine. But Putin would have to change his strategy: away from an offensive to a defensive one.
However, this would create new difficulties for Putin’s soldiers. Ryan sees four problems:
The first is the then lack of initiative. The Russian army would be in a purely reactive mode. “The Ukrainians could decide where and when to attack the Russians,” Ryan said. This would give the Ukrainian side a high degree of flexibility in planning counterattacks and recapturing territory.
The second challenge, according to Ryan, is that instead of fighting, the Russian soldiers would then have to become “stewards”. So they would have to take on civil-administrative tasks in the areas that Russia still holds. “It takes skills that military personnel don’t typically have,” Ryan said. In addition, such civil administration is “extremely expensive”.
The third problem is that such a strategy by Russia threatens to strengthen resistance movements. The uprisings in the southern and eastern Ukrainian areas under Russian occupation would increase, Ryan believes: “And the Russians know that these uprisings would be well supported by the West”.
As the fourth and last point, the Australian ex-general sees the “lack of morale.” So far, Russia has not really taken good care of its soldiers – for example because corpses are not transferred or families of soldiers are supported. All of these problems would only be compounded with a long-term occupation. And Putin would need significantly more soldiers than he is now sending into the war.
The capture of the Azov steelworks was a small victory for Russia. But because the offensive in the east is faltering at the same time, Putin “inevitably” has to change his strategy. “The Russian army will face a new set of difficult challenges,” Ryan concludes his analysis.