Today: Why is Russia having such a hard time in the Ukraine war?, Mar 26, 2022


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Mar 26, 2022

Why is Russia having such a hard time in the Ukraine war?, Mar 26, 2022

Adelino José Soares de Mello's profile photo
Adelino Jose Soares de Mello
Adm. associate Eng. Mec.Ing. in Management and Economics, University of Manchester (Graduated in 1957)Updated 16 Mar.

In the days of the USSR, there were many anecdotes in Russia about Russian incompetence.

One is that Russia could put a man on the moon (which never happened), but couldn't get an elevator to the 5th floor.
I know Russia reasonably well and I have always placed it in a development parallel with Brazil, as the anecdote above defines.

Russia has elites who are capable of putting men on the moon (or making Embraers, one of the best commercial planes in the world), but no masses capable of repairing elevators. Or getting a working phone line (how many times has this happened to me in Leblon…)

Brazil is the 8th worst country in the world in terms of social equality. Russia is not as bad as Brazil, but the inequality of knowledge is perhaps worse than in Brazil.

The difference in education between a good engineer in Russia and a factory worker is simply astounding. Toward the end of communism, a famous Russian author wrote a satirical book that played on the confusion, in Russian, between two words and wrote The Dazzling Heights in which he described the disastrous incompetence of the middle classes. The book was a huge success at the time, but the rapid end of communism made it lose popularity and I forgot the author's name. (Zinoviev?)

But therein lies the disastrous incompetence of the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.

I am not a military strategist or tactician. But what little I know is enough to describe the first week of the invasion as one of terrifying ineptitude. Above all, keeping a force of assault cars dozens of kilometers stopped in line. The big difference between naval warfare (when there was one) and land warfare was that ships fought in line so the side guns could fire.

Assault cars, field cannons (and even planes before missiles) must fight and park in parallel to avoid hitting their own companions and preventing the failure of one from paralyzing all those behind.

The disproportion between Russian and Ukrainian forces is certainly greater than between German and Polish forces in World War II. By the end of the first week half of Poland was occupied. Now?

This is where the Russian difficulties lie. Not only in Ukrainian heroism (the Pole was perhaps even greater), but above all in the comic (if not tragic) incompetence of the Russian middle-class military. And in the impressive lack of morale of the Russian army.

With all its dictatorial devices, Russia can barely get its soldiers to fight.

In World War I, the so-called Russian steamroller was amazingly beaten by enemy troops in the first battle at Tannenberg. Scholars offer millions of explanations, but only one seems valid. The disastrous low morale of the attacking Russian troops.

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