Video Above: Pentagon Sends Critical MLRS Multiple Launch Rocket Systems to Ukraine
Ukrainians are now fighting “house-by-house” to protect their ground in Severodonetsk, a city which Pentagon leaders say is now “three quarters taken” by the Russians.
Russia and Ukraine
Major urban warfare is now underway, and the key question is why Russian progress is so slow and challenged given their overwhelming numerical advantage?
Speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels Belgium, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley was clear that Ukrainians have a chance, telling an audience “there are no inevitabilities in war.”
To a certain extent, it would seem that urban, dismounted warfare might favor the Ukrainians given their tactical success thus far. Ukrainians also know the terrain and building structures which they could use to their advantage, and they have demonstrated tactical proficiency using dispersed units to stage ambushes, hit-and-run attacks and decentralized attack operations.
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The question is, can this Ukrainian warfighting advantage, fortified by a fighting spirit unique to those fighting for their homeland, manage to hold off and prevail against a much larger Russian force.
“I would say that the numbers clearly favor the Russians. In terms of artillery, they do outnumber, they out-gun and out-range. You've heard that many, many times -- and they do have enough forces. But there's -- the Russians have run into a lot of problems,” Milley explained.
Milley seemed clear that, although Russia is gaining ground and does have a massive numerical advantage, there is much fighting still to be done and many questions which remain unanswered.
“In Severodonetsk, the city is probably three-quarters taken by Russian forces, but the Ukrainians are fighting them street-by-street, house-by-house, and it's not a done deal,” he added.
One area where a distinct size advantage can be impactful is simply the question of “holding territory.” For example, should the Ukrainians be able to push back Russian forces or “retake” ground once occupied by the invaders, they may be challenged to maintain a “hold” on that ground. Ukraine’s force may not have enough soldiers to occupy and defend areas they have won or taken back.
This could present problems, because once and area is cleared of Russian troops, there will be a need to maintain a hold on that territory with a continued presence. This may be one reason why Russians are reportedly making slow gains. Perhaps it is simply because they repeatedly retake the same areas after being pushed back successfully by Ukrainians who are unable to hold the ground.
Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization and the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.