What Does the Russian Army Think About its War in Ukraine? Criticisms, Recommendations, Adaptations Russie.Eurasie.Reports, No. 44, Ifri, September 2023
The Russian army is very critical of its war in Ukraine. Not just of the first phase of the failed special military operation (SVO), which was inspired by the theorization of bypassing, but also of the strategic deterrence phase that preceded it.
Russian military theorists have commented on the profound lack of preparation not just for the SVO, but also—in many areas—for the heterotelic war the SVO has become.
The Russian army’s weaknesses vis-à-vis the Ukrainian army are generally, and sometimes quite directly, recognized. The Russian military elites have made numerous recommendations for improving Russia’s military performance, primarily focusing on the ground and aerospace forces. Meanwhile, the Russian army has mostly adapted (more or less successfully) to the difficulties it has encountered in the last year and a half in Ukraine.
Although the Putin regime is authoritarian and intent on reducing freedom of expression in Russian society, the existence and tolerance of a certain amount of truth-telling at this level of the military apparatus indicate that the Russian army’s and state’s ability to adapt should not be underestimated.
Dimitri Minic is a researcher at Ifri’s Russia/Eurasia center. He holds a PhD in History of International Relations from Sorbonne University (2021). He is the author of Pensée et culture stratégiques russes: du contournement de la lutte armée à la guerre en Ukraine (Paris, Maison des sciences de l'homme, April 2023), for which he received the Prix Thibaudet.