Russia May Have Won in Ukraine if Military ‘Playbook’ Followed: Analyst

Russia may have already been celebrating its victory in Ukraine had it only followed its own military “playbook,” a defense expert from US think tank RAND Corporation has claimed.

Scott Boston, who follows developments within the Russian military, recently told Business Insider the invading country actually has an impressive manual of how its soldiers are supposed to fight.

He said the 280-page document is packed with details and diagrams of warfighting strategies that may have proven effective in Ukraine.

However, Boston claimed that the invading forces have failed to follow their own playbook, resulting in costly battlefield maneuvers and unsuccessful attacks.

“A lot of the basic elements of that doctrine are sound enough that they could form a basis for successful operations,” he explained. “But you do have to follow them.”

The failure to follow its own doctrine has reportedly cost Moscow more than 460,000 casualties as of April 2024, according to UK Ministry of Defence estimates.

Military Playbook

According to Boston, the Russian military playbook is derived from Soviet-era tactics wherein countries go to battle with strictly controlled mass armies.

It reportedly includes guidance in conducting effective brigade assaults, recommending battlefield advancements in multiple echelons to strike fast, hard, and deep.

It also recommends invading forces synchronize with reconnaissance, flank protection, engineering, artillery, and air defense elements for an effective attack.

“Doctrinally sound attacks can still fail,” Boston pointed out. “But a lot of their mistakes were failures to follow doctrinal guidance that is there for good reason.”

“Like, have a guard force out in front so your main body doesn’t blunder into combat and become decisively engaged. Don’t try to send your entire force down too few roads. Don’t leave your support troops unprotected. These were pretty basic things.”

Russian Lapses

When Russia tried to carry out a lightning advance toward Ukrainian territory, its armored units were reportedly sent down narrow, congested roads, making it easy for Kyiv’s forces to thwart the operation.

The invading forces were also reported to have been carrying out “meat assaults” in which a large number of soldiers swarm an enemy area with almost no cover to suppress and overwhelm defenders.

However, a Ukrainian artillery commander said up to 70 Russian soldiers were getting killed in each “meat assault” because Kyiv’s loitering munitions could easily spot them from above.

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