Over a month after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian war machine has been significantly slowed by well-coordinated Ukrainian resistance, giving strength to any hope for the country’s survival.
The full-scale invasion of Ukraine was not without warning. By late 2021, it was clear that Russia was massing troops on its border with Ukraine for some kind of military incursion into the country. It was unclear at the time the scale of the possible military action. However, this attack was not like the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 but more similar to that of the Blitzkrieg attack on Poland in the Second World War.
Oles Spodin ‘24 is a Hun boarding student from Ukraine’s capital of Kiev. His mother was able to leave the country before the invasion, but his father was unable to leave, as no men from 18- 60 may leave the country. Mr. Spodin has left Kiev for safer areas nearer to the European Union and is in constant communication with his family.
With Ukrainian forces doing significantly better than predicted by US Intelligence, Oles has an optimistic view. “They didn’t get their goals as fast as they wanted to… they are weakening and they are changing their approach.”
US intelligence did report that they expected Ukraine to fall much more quickly than it did. Early estimates claimed the capital of Kiev would be in Russian control in under a week, but it has held out and is now pushing back against the siege.
Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, “…questioned their will to fight. That was a bad assessment on my part because they have fought bravely and honorably…”. It is also clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin had underestimated Ukrainian’s love for their homeland and ability to protect it.
In contrast with the strong fighting spirit of Ukraine, Russia has sent unmotivated, unprepared, and under-supported troops into foreign territory. Since the early days of the invasion, it was not uncommon for Russian tanks and trucks to run out of fuel on the side of the road.
“No one [In Russia] was prepared for the war, people were not told they were going to war,” Oles explains. This is clear by the mass arrests of protestors in many Russian cities. Now there are reports from the field that Russian soldiers are ignoring orders or being uncooperative.
A poorly executed attack is an attack nonetheless, and nowhere is that more evident than in Mariupol, Ukraine. Missile attacks on civilian populations have leveled city blocks and killed hundreds.
Oles believes that more US and NATO support is crucial. “If you can’t give us the men, give us the financial and military support.” With attacks on civilians and hospitals, as well as the manner of execution of this attack, Oles believes “Putin is getting really close [to becoming] Hitler.”