Five Ways How Ukraine Has Defended Itself Against Russian Invasion So Far

Ukraine has so far defended itself because of a great resolve to fight, Western support in form of weapons and training, and poor Russian war efforts.

Ukrainian fighters in the ongoing war

The Russians were supposed to have taken control of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv within 48 hours of invading the country. 

Now more than a month later, the Russian military has changed its objectives and has redeployed away from the region surrounding Kyiv and the country’s north. The Russians are now focusing on liberating Eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. 

Nearly all predictions at the onset of the war gave the Russians an edge, but the Ukrainians have so far stopped the Russians from accomplishing any of their major objectives – the capital Kyiv is in Ukrainian capital, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in charge of the country, and Ukraine’s military capabilities have not been exhausted.

Here are five reasons that explain how Ukraine has managed this. 

Ukrainians were prepared for the invasion

Ukraine had been in a state of conflict since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea and kindled a separatist movement in the country’s east. 

The country had since been preparing for a larger conflict with Russia by expanding its military, improving soldiers’ training with Western support, acquiring more weapons, and strengthening intelligence-sharing with US and NATO.

So when the Russians invaded, Ukrainians knew what to do. They had foreseen the moment and had worked for it.

Everyone underestimated the Ukrainian resolve

The Russians believed the disgruntlement among Ukrainians against their government would make their job easier. That was a miscalculation.

There have been numerous stories of common Ukrainians contributing to war efforts, either by taking up arms to join the fight or to help with logistics of war operations. 

A senior US defence official said, “It’s their own skill and bravery and courage and their willingness and ability to adapt in real-time to Russian tactics. I mean, they are skilled and courageous fighters, and you just can't take that away from them.”

Western training and supplies played a pivotal role

The senior US official cited above was quoted as saying by Washington Examiner that the Ukrainian military’s training over the years with the US and UK militaries has played a “pivotal” role in the success so far. 

The billions of dollars of military aid Ukraine has received from over 30 countries, including $1.7 billion from US – with further $800 million approved, has also had a “profound impact” on the war efforts, according to this official.

Russians deployed poor war strategies and battle tactics

The Russians have been criticised through the war for poor planning and execution, which has ranged from broader war strategies to battle tactics in particular situations.

At the onset, a synergy between various elements of the Russian offensive was lacking. 

AFP reported military analysts as saying that Russia made a mistake by sending in too few ground troops in the initial phase and failing to get ground and air forces working in tandem.

The Russian reliance on conventional armoured formations also led to failures. As Outlook earlier reported, closely-packed tanks’ frontal assaults by Russia became soft targets for Ukrainian drones, resulting in the loss of 10 per cent of all Russian tanks pressed into the invasion of Ukraine by late March. 

Russians also encountered logistical problems that stalled their advance into Ukraine. A several kilometres-long Russian convoy moving towards Kyiv was stalled on the outskirts of the capital for several days before redeploying away from the region. Experts at the time attributed it to supply line issues. 

There have also been reports of morale issues among Russian soldiers, leading to poor execution of strategies and tactics. According to a section of experts, this made senior officials more active in the offensive, resulting in a higher death toll among them. Up to seven general-ranking Russian officers have been killed so far, according to Western officials. 

Unprecedented Western support to Ukraine war efforts

The Western countries are providing money, weapons, and real-time intelligence to the Ukrainian government to help their war efforts.

Not just Western governments but private companies and individuals have also helped Ukraine. Billionaire Elon Musk has provided Ukraine with thousands of Starlink terminals, which are portable devices to connect with the internet beamed to Earth by Musk’s SpaceX satellites. 

The Ukrainians have not only used Musk’s terminals to stay connected in the war when conventional internet connectivity has been hit, but have also used it in their war efforts. Ukrainian drone teams are operating drones connected through Starlink’s internet to stealthily hit Russian military targets. 

While the war is still ongoing and Ukraine has not yet emerged victorious, the country has so far managed to defend itself well — particularly considering the odds stacked against it. Only time will tell how this finally ends.