Russian Warfare

Winston Churchill once said:

Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.

What we are seeing in Ukraine is generalship of the worst kind. Like the child in the midst of a temper tantrum, the Russian military is attempting to bring Ukraine to its knees by senseless slaughter and wanton physical destruction. Like the amateur chess player, who has no concept of higher order tactics or strategy, Russia is desperately trying to remove pieces from the board. Such conduct is not only a sure way to lose, it also verges on the criminal.

As someone who has long been interested in national philosophies of war or what is commonly termed “ways of war” (by the way, I strongly suggest you read Antulio Echevarria’s writing on this subject), it would seem that what we are witnessing is not an accident. It appears culturally embedded in Russian doctrine. The Soviet Union’s strength always lay in their ability to bring massive formations onto the battlefield and simply overwhelm NATO. The names of the formations may remain but their mass has been diminished. But it would seem that the thinking has not changed.

For a culture that has some of the world’s greatest chess players and arguably the best ballet troupes on any stage, the subtlety, finesse and creativity does not seem to ver have made its way into military thought and theory.

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