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Władimir Putin, zbrodniarz wojenny /fot. obserwatormiedzynarodowy.pl
Władimir Putin, zbrodniarz wojenny /fot. obserwatormiedzynarodowy.pl

What Ukrainian’s military strategy should be to defeat Russia

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Executive summary

The policy paper discusses the future vision of the Ukrainian military strategy for defeating the Russian military, police, and untraditional forces and Russia country in general. Launched in February 2022, an aggressive attempt by Russia to expand its territory by annexing neighbouring countries turned back forgotten policy, which was last century, for broad using Armed Forces in all branches and all aspects as Nazi German 1939-1945. The text analysed three policies on Ukraine’s vision to defeat Russia: solid military forces and tied relationships with democratic allies with their support.

Background 

Analysed military strategy generally means achieving total control of the enemy to avoid future conflicts. According to the definition by Carl von Clausewitz: «strategy is the doctrine of the use of individual battles for war» (Clausewitz, 2016). A military strategy to defeat the enemy includes military power and external politics, which are bases for protecting national interests. The military strategy includes military resources, such as workforce, equipment, and intelligence data about the enemy to decrease his combat capabilities and fighting ability (Headquartes., 2008). As Clausewitz mentioned, a successful military strategy could be meant to achieve the end, but it is not an end by itself. (Clausewitz, 2021)(Headquartes., 2008). As Clausewitz mentioned, a successful military strategy could be meant to achieve the end, but it is not the end itself. (Clausewitz, 2021).

The Ukrainian fight for independence is continuing for approximately 300 years with different types of successes and failures in history. After the Ukrainian declaration of independence on 24 August 1991, Moscow played a vital role in Europe’s east region and Ukraine generally. Ukraine plays a significant role for Russia due to its geographical location (convenient access to Europe and the Black Sea, crossroad east-west and north-south), food, energy, and resources. All these factors were significant for Moscow and losing Ukraine from personal area of influence mean lose regional and world power.

Kyiv and Moscow’s relationship were not all time hostile. In the 90th years last century, it was a period of close partnership because of the unstable period governed by President B. Yeltsin. This period was characterised by many crises and conflicts in Russia, such as the Chechnya war in two campaigns (Augustyn., 2022), economic default in 1998 (Rayment, 1998) and the resignation of Boris Yeltsin as the head of the country in 1999 (Bohlen, 2000). In that period, Russia focused on domestic politics, caused by economic, security and food problems. Countries’ relationships were generally characterized by a peaceful manner with respect and deep economic cooperation.

  1. Putin changed B. Yeltsin as president of the Russian Federation in 2000 and merged the Russian nation against oligarchs, terroristic movements, different types of opposition and international NGOs(Staff, 2012). After resolving the crisis in the 90th, Russian external politics became more aggressive toward neighbouring countries and Ukraine, resulting from the increasing role of the new Russian president V. Putin and his attempt to revive the Soviet Union 2. The critical turn was the speech by V. Putin in 2007 where he declared restoring the role of Russia in the world and emphasised preventing the expansion of NATO to East Europe(Ukraine and Georgia) (Carpenter, 2022)

From 2000-2013, there were some political and military escalations between Kyiv and Moscow, which Kremlin artificially created to set up its own rule and dependence on Ukraine, such as:

  • military escalation in Tuzla Island, by building the dam to the Ukrainian side to connect Russian territory with Crimea in 2003(Lambroschini, 2003)
  • accusations by the Russian authority Ukraine of providing military assistance and equipment to Georgia in 2008 during the war(Bright, 2008)
  • gas wars between Russian company Gazprom and Ukrainian Naftogaz about prices, supplies and debt in 2009 (Simon Pirani, 2009)
  • sea conflict in 2013 between the Russian Coast Guard and a Ukrainian fishing vessel collided due to 4 Ukrainian fishing men being killed and 1 detained.(Interfax-Ukraine., 2013)

All previous Kremlin politics focused on decreasing the Ukrainian movement to the West, creating dependence on Russian resources. However, two Ukrainian revolutions showed that pro-Russian authority in Ukraine could not control the population and their will to democracy. As a result, Moscow temporarily annexed the Crimea peninsula (Penn), and the military occupied Donbas in 2014 (Fisher, 2014) and conducted a vast invasion of Ukraine (Action, 2022).

The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine showed a new kind and type of military conflict in the 21st century, with the great success of various types, types and means of military force. This invasion was no longer declared under various scenarios of local resistance but was widely announced by the highest political leadership of Russia (Osborn, 2022) with the start of hostilities. In 2014, during the annexation of Crimea and the later hybrid occupation of Donbas, the Kremlin officially did not recognise its involvement by regular or irregular units, but only declared that the local population was fighting with the support of Russia. (CHAPELL, 2014).

As of October 2022, Kyiv disrupted all relations with Russia due to the invasion and made legislative changes to the Constitution about future consequences. All economic and political relationships between Kyiv and Moscow were cancelled in spring 2023, after Ukrainian attempts to conduct some negotiations, but were discarded by V. Putin. (Pifer, 2022)

Policy options

The Russian military invasion on 24 February 2022 has become a significant challenge for Ukraine and the world community, particularly for democratic countries, regarding security, politics and economy.

In the spring of 2022, many countries did not expect that Ukraine would remain insignificant on the world political map and therefore was in no hurry to supply military aid. The Western countries generally trusted Russian propaganda, which promised to occupy Kyiv and then the country in 3-5 days (Appendix A) (Epstein, 2022 ).

However, as of the end of October 2022, there are many predictions about the timing and the form of Ukraine’s victory over Russia. However, there is still a long and expensive process( in the human aspect), but some forecasts about the terms are already appearing nowadays (Zagorodnyuk, 2022). Usually, considering the current course of affairs on the Russian-Ukrainian front, deadlines for the war’s end in 1-2 years are heard. However, the interpretation of the cessation of hostilities and the victory of Ukraine are different things that have different meanings.

The Ukrainian military strategy for the complete defeat of Russia should consist not only in the military direction but also in other areas. Therefore, to defeat Russia and prevent it from conducting hostilities against Ukraine and other states in future (including those under occupation), it should take place in the following directions:

Option 1 (military). According to the general definition of „military strategy” by Carl von

Clausewitz and the reference to the Russian-Ukrainian war, the Ukrainian military strategy should be aimed to protect the national interests of the country and the citizen. It should include the following directions, such as:

– complete de-occupation of the territory of Ukraine within the borders recognized by world countries and international organizations in 1991.

– the destruction of the forces and means of regular and irregular units of Russia presented in Ukraine, as well as the puppet regimes of Crimea and Donbas. In our opinion, the military potential of the aggressor country can be considered ineffective if about 50% of its workforce and about 30-40% of its military equipment are destroyed (especially means that can cause fire damage).

– complete rearmament of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to the world’s modern types of equipment. The transition from the Soviet concept of conducting hostilities to a modern one, joining the NATO alliance shortly.

– create a 52 km buffer zone( range of shooting MLRS BM-21 «Grad») between the Russian and Ukrainian border under USA and UE peacekeepers. It helps create a neutral gap and prevent shootings in big cities like Kharkiv or Belgorod.

Ukraine’s military strategy should be aimed at reducing the ability of Russia’s troops to conduct active hostilities and the complete destruction of the pro-Russian resistance movement on the territory of Ukraine.

Option 2(Political). This type of policy includes political measures of strategy to defeat Russia and all aspects of Policy 1(military). This part is an important direction in the Ukrainian military strategy. It incorporates all possible alliances and treaties with the democratic world (especially with USA and EU) to reduce Russia’s political influence on the international community. Decrease the Russian level of relationship with countries that can supply Moscow aid, such as Iran, China, Belorussia and others.

Considering the current situation, Ukraine is not a strong player on the international field, but since February 24, the share of influence has increased significantly. In our opinion, the only possible way to inflict a political defeat on Russia is the maximum number of international partners of Ukraine, which contribute comprehensive support.

The political strategy of Ukraine consists of the following:

–  change the top political leadership of Russia, which will be favourable for changes and be ready for peace negotiations and compensate for the losses caused.

– increase the number of countries that condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine and provide humanitarian, economic and military aid for the Ukrainian victory. Expanding the number of aid programs with partners, and the implementation of the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

– review the role and functions of international organisations that have shown low performance since 2014, such as the UN, OSCE and others. Create a new mechanism for future scenarios, which could successfully deal with the international community for peaceful negotiations.

– Speed up the implementation of the requirements of the European Union into the legislation of Ukraine and have a clear step-by-step path to EU membership and other international organizations.

Option 3 (Economic). This policy includes three aspects of Ukrainian strategy: military, political and economic. Option 3 combines all previously mentioned options, which are prominent as all. The economic direction in the context of the military strategy takes place in applying maximum methods and indirect measures to reduce the success of financial costs to the Russian budget, thereby limiting the allocation to the defence segment. This can be achieved by:

  • As the results of the sanctions imposed against Russia in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of Donbas showed, it made it possible to prevent the growth of the Russian economy and significantly reduce military spending. (Oslund, 2023). Strengthening the number and role of multilateral sanctions aimed at the economic decline in Russia and preventing the manufacture of weapons and military equipment.
  1. conducting a broad campaign among the EU countries and the world to stop the consumption of Russian energy products, which are one of the primary sources of funding for armed aggression against Ukraine. According to the data for 2021, about 45% of the Russian budget is shared from the sale of energy carriers in the form of oil and gas, which can be considered the main income item in the budget. (IEA, 2022)

Recommendations

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is the largest in terms of the number and equivalence of the military component in the world since the end of the Second World War. Therefore, for the complete victory of Ukraine over Russia, a significant consolidation of the efforts of the country and the international community is necessary, because Kyiv will not be able to win alone.

Russia has significant economic and military resources, which it could restore long term. Therefore, hitting one component will not bring the desired result generally.

Option 1 is only a military component, so defeating the Russian army will bring only temporary success. Destroying a certain number of troops and equipment will only give a short-term advantage while Russia rebuilds its own forces for revenge( for example, building missile under sanction reduce capability but is still possible (Butusov, 2022)

Option 2 in the military and political direction will allow Russia to live politically isolated and with limited military capability.

Option 3 is recommended but comprehensively prevents Russia’s possible retaliatory intentions. That is why the Ukrainian military strategy should not focus only on the military component, but also include other aspects, because this may lead to future escalation.

Therefore, option 3 is considered recommended for implementation, which can lead to the security of Ukraine. The most tentative option for Kyiv is to declare Siberia non-flammable and the region’s complete independence from Moscow. This will completely exclude Moscow’s economic capacity for economic growth, reducing the impact on other subcategories.

Dudko Volodymyr (Fenix)

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Annex A

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