The longer the war in Ukraine lasts, the more obvious it becomes that the Russian attackers are using the wrong tactics. A military expert has now analyzed what that is and what the Ukrainians are doing so much better.

After Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February, many international observers agreed that it was only a matter of days, maybe weeks, before Putin’s troops conquered the neighboring country. After all, Russia’s army is one of the largest and, it is believed, one of the most powerful in the world. At first it looked like the attackers would win quickly, as the Russians quickly advanced to just outside the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and conquered large areas of land in the south and east of the country.

But that was only a flash in the pan, the Russians soon had to withdraw from the capital Kyiv. The Ukrainian defenders then gradually went on the offensive and again drove their opponent out of many places.

But what are the Russians doing wrong on the offensive and what are the Ukrainians doing right when it comes to recapturing enemy-held areas?

Volodymyr Dacenko, military columnist for the Ukrainian edition of the renowned Forbes magazine, has now explained in detail via Twitter what the crucial differences in the offensive tactics of the two opposing armies are.

From the very beginning, Russia aimed to gradually attack the population centers of Ukraine, using the main arteries. The reason, according to Dacenko: the aggressors mainly use heavy equipment. Right at the beginning of the war, this led to a kilometer-long traffic jam in the direction of Kyiv. Moreover, since Moscow’s strategists largely avoided air, infantry, or artillery support, the Panzer Serpents became an easy target for the Ukrainian defenders.

After this debacle, the Russians changed their tactics, at least gradually, as the Forbes columnist analyses. With their artillery they fired from all barrels in May and June, tens of thousands of shells rained down on the Ukrainian positions and cities every day. It is true that Putin’s soldiers were actually able to record successes. But, according to military analyst Dacenko, the basic tactics remained the same: conquering one city after the other via main traffic routes. This method has three disadvantages: 1) high losses. 2) high dependence on artillery, and with it the need to have functioning logistics and bulging weapons stores. 3) a slow advance as the same method is used over and over again in succession.

As a result, the Russian offensive almost came to a standstill in the summer and since then, Putin’s army has had hardly any notable successes.

The Ukrainian defenders, who in many places gradually became the aggressors against the Russians who invaded in violation of international law, rely on other methods. Their much more mobile, lighter units move on roads, but also on smaller paths through forests or fields, writes Dacenko. This allows them to squeeze between the Russian units, interrupt supply lines and encircle the enemy locally. At the same time they attack the Russian positions from different directions. According to Dacenko, such a strategy requires very good communication in order to know where enemy and friendly units are at all times. Ukrainians have this and know that communication is a major shortcoming of Russians. Their commanders are often unable to assess the situation well, receive important information too late and therefore make the wrong decisions, writes Dacenko. “Often the Russian military retreats when it should charge into battle. And vice versa – they continue the fight when they should retreat. This leads to high military casualties during the retreat.”

True, Russia has enormous advantages due to its large artillery and its many armored vehicles. But that leads to a heavy reliance on good logistics and a steady supply of ammunition and fuel, Dacenko said. So the Russian army is very sluggish, poor communication and poor training of many soldiers make the situation worse.

The Ukrainian military is much more agile and organized and can rely on good information about the situation on the battlefield. But the Ukrainians are particularly vulnerable on the offensive because they lack armored vehicles, Dacenko explains.