“The world saw this last summer east of Kharkiv, when Ukraine smashed through a thinly guarded line of Russian troops and rushed east, gobbling up ground as Moscow’s retreat turned into a rout.
There is every chance that could happen again, if heavy tanks such as Challenger II and perhaps German-built Leopard II gifted by Poland and Finland could be combined with the armoured infantry fighting vehicles recently promised by the US, France and Germany.
These vehicles were designed for the Cold War, when they were expected to fight against the exact same kit Ukraine faces today.
That kit – in particular the T-72 tank, albeit in service with the Iraqi army – was decimated by the US Bradley infantry vehicle in Operation Desert Storm of 1991. Washington is sending 50 Bradleys to Ukraine.
The Western vehicles have been upgraded many times over since then, with better optics, protection and weapons. The same cannot be said for the Russian kit.
Comment: IMO The emergence of a well-integrated Ukrainian armored force of good tanks, IFVs, armored infantry to go with them, and heavy supporting artillery would be the doom of the Russian “army” and its riff-raff allies. pl
How Britain’s Challenger II tanks could alter the battlefield in Ukraine (telegraph.co.uk)
Pat I certainly hope you are right. BUT, if Ukraine really is losing 100 soldiers/wk and casualties 400 p/wk how can it sustain against Russia. Isn’t it just math at this point. I think you will comment on quality of troops, training, leadership, equipment, and motivation. I’m with you; arithmetic is not. This brings me to a thought about Russians. The Slavic side of my family occasionally uses a perjorative … a dumb bullack. It’s not nice and connotes more than just intelligence. It suggests a willingness to get pushed into a calamity b/c well “your just a dumb bullack”. I read recently that Russia’s next manpower draw will include St Petersburg and Moscow. Do young Russians agree that Ukraine must be subdued and will they passionately risk life to do so? Or are Russians just a bunch of dumb bullacks who will do what they are told? By February and the Ides of March. The answer will out.
We have been conditioned by our SWA wars to low casualties. Those casualty rates probably aren’t a lot worse than our casualties in Viet Nam. That casualty rate is sustainable for quite some time, especially in a war for national survival. The Russians can sustain their casualties as well. The question is which national army will break first. Ukraine’s strategy is to break the Russian Army, not kill them all. They are bleeding them logistically and can best strike once Russian logistics are sufficiently bled. My money is on Ukraine prevailing.
If the situation was reversed and NATO/Ukraine invaded Russia, I would expect Russia and the Russian people to outlast the invaders. The dumb bullacks are tough, can endure great hardship and can be extremely stubborn, especially in defense of their families and homes. Those are characteristics that they share with the Ukrainians.
The numbers, 100 killed and 250 wounded, are not very different than Stars n Stripes would report on Saturday mornings (I think) during ’68-70. But the US had many more troops than Ukr. and a universal draft. Word I got a year ago out of St Petersburg was Putin was held in high esteem. If Russia drafts Gennady, Michael, Denis, and Boris from St Petersburgh, Moscow, Novosibersk, etc., we will learn how committed young Russia is to empire and how esteemed Putin remains.
Interesting article on how the average Russian sees the war.
Opinion Researcher Lev Gudkov: “Russians Have Little Compassion for the Ukrainians” (DER SPIEGEL)
It will be very interesting to see how they are used. My understanding is that Western tanks are optimized for long-range fighting from a hull-down position to take advantage of their targeting/networking systems and better protection while negating their size and mobility disadvantage.
So the situation has many parallels to the Yom Kippur War with Centurions vs. T55 and T62. I’ll be interested to how Ukrainians deploy them. My guess would be that they’ll be in a defensive role to maximize their strengths, releasing Soviet-type tanks for offensive operations.
Tanks are not mobile guns. That’s what self-propelled artillery like the M-109 and the PzH-2000 are. Tanks are optimized for maneuver warfare in conjunction with self-propelled artillery and IFV mounted infantry.
It appears this new batch of western armored vehicles and other weapons will not arrive on the battlefront until Summer.
How do you see the Winter & Spring battles shaping up with both sides using what gear they have now?
It will take a while for the newly promised western armored vehicles to reach the battlefield. But other equipment is already in the pipeline. The Czech Republic has started sending radically upgraded T-72s to Ukraine. A total of 90 were being upgraded with the cost picked up by the Us and the Netherlands beginning last November. A trainload was already spotted heading to Ukraine. That 90 upgraded t-72s are enough for an armored brigade or three mech brigades.
Attritional war in which the Ukrainians sap Russia’s strength both physically and morally and Russia seeks to apply the principles of strategic bombardment to sap Ukrainian civilian will to fight. Real mobile war is likely to recur after the ground firms up in the Spring.
“ Russia seeks to apply the principles of strategic bombardment to sap Ukrainian civilian will to fight.”
I don’t think that’s what trying to do. The bombing campaign is designed to disrupt their logistics network. The vast majority of Ukraine’s rail engines are electric. The disruptions hamper their ability to keep supplies moving, and it means they’re forced to use a large number of generators, be it for civilian or military purposes, which means they need to move a lot of fuel all over the country.
Challenger II MBTs at 75 tonnes are going to be useless in the Ukraine. There are no bridges that will take that weight and if they arrive before summer, they will sink in the Spring rasputitsa.
Leopard 2 might be better than Challengers? But I have no background in armor.
From what I have read though: The upgraded T-72s that Ukraine has are a hundred times better than the Iraqi T-72s from 30 years ago. New engines, better fire control, new slat armor plus high quality explosive reactive armor appliques, etc. Ukrainian tankers have been training on them for years and have used them in combat successfully. And Ukrainian mechanics know every nut and bolt in them like the back of their hand. The same for the upgraded T-64BVs, which Ukraine has hundreds of and are said to have better mobility than the T-72s.
Upgraded Ukrainian T-64s, T72s and T80s were used during the Kharkiv counter-offensive a few months ago . They backed up Ukrainian special forces, air assault brigades, a mech brigade, and territorial units. And the Ukrainian Army sends infantry along with tanks, unlike what the Iraqis did in 91 or like some Russian armored units did early in this current war.
For what it’s worth my guess is it’ll all be over about 34 days from now.
And, hopefully, all the Burisma audits were blown to smithereens along with last February 24th anniversary jubilations t cornpone.
Hope springs eternal.
If the Pommies are going to send Challenger tanks to change the dynamics of the battlefield, they’d better either STFU or send several thousand of them.