To say that on the 7th day of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the operations did not go as expected by the Russian General Staff, is obviously an understatement, to the point that now, Moscow is restructuring its offensives to respect a much more classic strategy based on the extraordinary firepower of Russian artillery and bomber aircraft. However, these first days of combat allowed, through numerous observations widely analyzed by the OSINT community, to identify several critical shortcomings affecting the Russian forces engaged in this operation. Surprisingly, some of these failures precisely affect reputed areas of excellence of the Russian army, and in fact raise questions about the reality of the conventional military effectiveness of the Moscow armies as anticipated prior to this conflict.
The accuracy of missile strikes
Following the example of the American and now Western doctrine, the Russian forces began the conflict with a shower of cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles against critical infrastructure for Ukrainian Defence. For a time, this initial strike was interpreted as effective, and it appeared to have effectively neutralized the air bases, anti-aircraft defenses and fuel and ammunition depots of the Ukrainian army. Very quickly, however, it became clear that despite these massive strikes, today there is talk of 450 ballistic and cruise missiles fired by Russian and Belarusian forces against Ukrainian targets since the start of the conflict, problems of Effectiveness had affected these strikes, fighter aircraft like the Ukrainian long-range anti-aircraft defense having clearly retained response capabilities.
The publication of a satellite photo of the Ukrainian air base of Chuhuiv south of Kharkiv after the strikes, for example, showed impacts of very questionable precision. Thus, if the fuel depots were indeed destroyed, the taxiways and the main runway remained intact, effectively allowing Ukrainian combat planes and drones to take to the air and land, and thus to support the resistance against the Russian attack. This flagrant lack of precision contrasts with that observed concerning recent Western strikes, against Syrian chemical installations in 2018 for example, but also by other nations deemed to be less technologically advanced, such as Iranian ballistic missile strikes on Iraqi bases in Al Asad and Idlib which surprised by their precision, to the point that the hypothesis of Russian technological assistance was mentioned.
This lack of effectiveness and precision of the initial Russian strikes played a decisive role in the ability of the Ukrainian air and anti-aircraft forces to impede air movements and the close support that Russian fighter planes and helicopters had to provide to the forces. attack, and engendered losses reported, but essentially unconfirmed, such as that of 2 Il-76 transport planes supposed to carry out an airborne assault south of Kyiv, greatly handicapping the chances of success of the plan of initial assault by Russian forces.
Short range anti-aircraft defense
With a theoretical fleet of 2000 short- and medium-range self-propelled anti-aircraft systems, the Russian ground forces were reputed to be the best equipped in this field on the planet, including against the United States. While a large part of these systems were supposed to be old or even obsolete, more than 250 very short-range Tunguska, 300 short-range TOR systems, 500 Buk-M and the approximately 400 S-300 systems arming the Russian anti-aircraft brigades, helped of the 25 air force regiments armed with very long-range S-400s protected by more than 200 Pantsir close protection systems, should logically be able to create a bubble impenetrable to Ukrainian planes and drones.
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