Analysts: This is a huge failure of Russian military intelligence

During this attack Ukraine regained the strategically important city of Izium, which was symbolically visited by the president on Wednesday Volodymyr Zelenskyalso pushed Russian forces out of much of the country’s eastern Kharkiv region.

The counteroffensive began when the more than half-year-long war appeared to have reached a stalemate: Russian forces controlled large swathes of territory in eastern and southern Ukraine over the summer, but were unable to advance further.

“It’s a huge failure for Russian military intelligence to miss this coming build-up,” said Michael Kofman, a senior fellow in the Russia studies program at the Center for Naval Analyses.

Pierre Grasser, a historian of international relations and researcher at the Paris-based Sirice institution, believes, in turn, that “Russia failed to predict” the Ukrainian counterattack.

Agreeing with other analysts, Mr. Grasser said that Ukraine’s heavy cover tactics had benefited it: it launched a counterattack in the south before launching an even bigger counterattack in the northeast.

Since August, Ukraine has been active in smaller operations on the northeastern front line. In addition, the war is characterized by an unprecedented abundance of open intelligence sources, such as satellite imagery.

“Still very centralized”

But the intelligence failure is also a reminder of Russia’s overconfidence six months ago, when Moscow believed its forces would quickly break through Ukraine and even take the capital, Kyiv.

Failing that, the Kremlin appears to have scaled back its short-term priorities, focusing on taking control of the eastern and southern regions and no longer pursuing a clear goal of power change.

But the president Vladimir Putinfaced with military setbacks and problems with reinforcements, has yet to take any action on conscription.

Rob Lee, a researcher at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), said some Russian Telegram channels had been talking about Ukrainian forces massing around Kharkiv for a month.

“One of the biggest weaknesses of the Russian military is that it is slow to react to changes on the battlefield,” he said.

Lee said Russia was caught off guard by Ukraine’s military advances with Western support, particularly the US-supplied HIMARS multi-launch missile systems.

“There are various explanations for these mistakes, but they point to a very fundamental problem in Russia’s military leadership. Decision-making in the Russian military is still very centralized,” he said.

“didn’t understand”

Ukraine’s counteroffensive has also raised concerns in Russia, with some experts no longer talking on state television that Moscow’s so-called “special military operation” is a success.

The influential leader of Russia’s Chechen region, Ramzan Kadyrov, whose fighters are taking part in the invasion, spoke openly on his Telegram channel about the “mistakes” in Russian tactics.

At the time, Russian military expert Alexander Khramchichin said that the Russian response was also complicated by Ukraine’s tactics of launching multiple attacks at once.

“Russian intelligence didn’t understand exactly where the real counterattack would take place,” he told AFP.

In addition, according to A. Khramchikhin, mobilization in Russia and Ukraine is very different.

“In Ukraine, the entire population is mobilized,” he said. “So the Ukrainians can add as much force as they want.”

He added that in addition to arms supplies from the West, Ukraine also benefited enormously from Western intelligence resources.

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