The Russian army is launching an artillery shell in the ongoing Ukrainian war.

Ukrainian War: Why Russia Can Dig in for a Prolonged Conflict

Understanding Russia’s Readiness for a Long-Term War with Ukraine


As we begin to cycle through another round of primaries, face another looming government shutdown, and approach the closing of another year in the Russian-Ukrainian War, we thought it essential to focus on the military capability Russia continues to use against the Ukrainian Army and its impact.

The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has raised concerns and questions about the duration and intensity of the war. Since Russia’s “special military operation” against Kyiv, there has been speculation about Moscow’s ability to sustain a prolonged war of aggression. Despite the significant costs incurred by Russia, the Kremlin appears committed to a protracted conflict with its Western neighbor. In this article, we will explore reasons that indicate Russia’s readiness to engage in a long-term war with Ukraine.

Russia’s Preparedness for the Ukraine War

At first blush, this point might seem moot. According to declassified intelligence by the United States Government, significant equipment damages have been incurred by Russia, including the destruction of 2,200 tanks out of a total force of 3,500, as well as rendering one-third of its armored vehicles inoperative. To compensate for the losses, Russia has resorted to utilizing Soviet-era machinery from the 1960s, such as the deployment of T-62 tanks. This report does not scream military preparedness. Although the Ukrainian, Russian, and U.S. governments are publishing different casualty and fatality rates, the numbers are remarkably high and disconcerting (Ward and Seligman 2023). As countries and senior military leaders apply varying definitions to Large Scale Combat Operations (LSCO), preparedness runs along the same course. Looking at the explanation behind LSCO from Field Manual 3-0 (FM 3-0), Operations, you see it’s relatively broad and optimistically fundamental. We agree that large-scale combat operations will be state-on-state, leveraging assets above the division. The larger the enemy force, the more resources are required to sustain operations and meet the end state.

“Large-scale combat operations are extensive joint combat operations in terms of scope and size of forces committed, conducted as campaigns aimed at achieving operational and strategic objectives through the application of force. Large-scale combat on land occurs within the framework of a larger joint campaign, usually with an Army headquarters forming the base of a joint force headquarters. These operations typically entail high tempo, high resource consumption, and high casualty rates. Large-scale combat introduces levels of complexity, lethality, ambiguity, and speed to military activities not common in other operations.”

Headquarters, Department of the Army 2022
A map of Ukraine with red pins marking locations.

How is Russia Prepared and Waning Support for Ukraine

Our country has developed a sense of apathy or learned indifference to global theatre. If a meltdown in the supply chain keeps us from getting the latest skincare product trending on TikTok or increases the price of our PS5, we are all in. Expect an army of viewers to express themselves through meaningless emojis and hashtags. However, conflicts in countries many Americans did not know existed until the algorithm injected them into their social feed will feign interest as they continue to scroll. Besides, the average American’s attention span is 8.25 seconds, too short to provide context or importance to your feed (Golden Steps ABA 2023).

Even as Russia continues to attrit soldiers and equipment, its military-industrial complex drives on. And like previous wars, it will soon rely on quantity over quality. It has to; it has committed too much, its citizens have grown accustomed to the conflict, mothers and wives are sending food and equipment forward, the U.S. sanctions are ineffective, and the geopolitical atmosphere remains clouded with disagreement and indecision (Zhukov 2017).

Top 8 Military Resources Russia Uses in the Ukrainian War

  1. Russian Ground Forces: Russia’s ground forces play a crucial role in the conflict with Ukraine, deploying troops and heavy equipment to strategic locations. Russia has increased its professional military force by absorbing military contractors from the former Wagner Group. Additionally, numerous sources report that Russia received support from fighters from countries such as Belarus, Syria, Cuba, India, and the Donetsk People’s Republic in Ukraine to assist in their war efforts (Sauer 2023) (Grasmeder 2023).
  2. Russian Air Force: The Russian Air Force provides air support to ground troops, conducts reconnaissance missions, and carries out airstrikes in the conflict zone.
  3. Russian Navy: The Russian Navy maintains a tenable presence in the Black Sea and provides maritime support for operations along Ukraine’s coast.
  4. Special Operations Forces (Spetsnaz): Russia’s elite Spetsnaz units are highly trained special forces that carry out covert operations, surveillance, and sabotage missions behind enemy lines.
  5. Armored Vehicles: Russia deploys various armored vehicles, including tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers, to enhance its ground capabilities in the conflict. They are not the most modern combat fleet, but Russia has a significant number and the supply chain to keep the front lines operational.
  6. Artillery and Missile Systems: Russia utilizes artillery and missile systems to target enemy positions, provide fire support, and conduct long-range strikes in the war with Ukraine.
  7. Cyber Warfare: Russia leverages its advanced cyber warfare and state hacking groups to disrupt communications, gather intelligence, and target critical infrastructure in Ukraine and other nation-states.
  8. Propaganda and Information Warfare: Russia employs propaganda and information warfare tactics to shape public opinion, spread disinformation, and influence narratives surrounding the conflict with Ukraine.

These military and combat resources demonstrate Russia’s multifaceted approach to the war with Ukraine, combining conventional military tactics with special operations, technology, and psychological warfare strategies. The Russian Army Russia has demonstrated a high level of military preparedness through extensive conscription and the use of professional military contractors (PMC), modernization of equipment, and deployment of advanced weaponry. How has Russia’s military preparedness enabled it to sustain a long-term conflict with Ukraine?

  • Russia’s military modernization efforts and extensive training have bolstered its capability to engage in prolonged conflict.
  • Deploying advanced weaponry and technology has given Russia a strategic advantage in the ongoing war. We should add that they receive material support from Iran, Vietnam, China, Djibouti, Myanmar, and North Korea.

Russia’s Economic and Fiscal Resources

Despite the substantial costs incurred by Russia’s Ukraine campaign, the Kremlin has shown resilience in managing its economic and fiscal resources. How has Russia managed to sustain its war efforts economically and financially?

Russia has sustained its war efforts economically and financially through strategic approaches. Firstly, by waging the war outside its borders, particularly on Ukrainian land, Russia has minimized the direct impact on its economy and productive capacity. This strategy has allowed Russia to continue funding the war while avoiding significant economic setbacks at home. Secondly, by generating demand for wartime goods and services, such as military supplies and manpower, Russia has stimulated key industries and supported economic growth. The intense demand for these goods has increased wages and consumption, further bolstering the economy.

Additionally, Russia’s self-reliance in weapons and commodity production has played a crucial role in sustaining its war efforts. Being a major global economy and producing critical commodities like oil, natural gas, and wheat has helped Russia weather years of sanctions and economic challenges. Moreover, by implementing government subsidies, spending initiatives, and policies to prop up the economy, Russia has stabilized its market and support sectors affected by the conflict. These measures have collectively contributed to Russia’s ability to continue funding its war in Ukraine despite facing economic pressures and geopolitical sanctions.

Russia has managed to sustain its war efforts economically and financially through several key strategies:

  1. Waging war outside its borders: By conducting the war mainly on Ukrainian land, Russia has minimized the direct impact on its productive capacity and households.
  2. Generating demand for wartime goods and services: The military supply and service market has boosted domestic industries and supported economic growth.
  3. Being self-reliant in weapons and commodity production: Russia’s self-sufficiency in producing critical commodities like oil, natural gas, and wheat has helped it withstand sanctions and sustain its economy.
  4. Stimulating and steadying the economy with subsidies and policies: Government subsidies, spending, and policies have propped up the economy, including measures like discounted mortgages and subsidized business loans.
  5. Keeping external debt low and exports strong: Russia entered the war with little external debt and has maintained a surplus in its current account, partly due to the impact of commodity prices on its economy.

These strategies have collectively allowed Russia to continue funding its war efforts despite economic challenges.

Russia’s Sources of Funding for the Ukraine War

  1. Government Budget: Russia allocates a significant portion of its budget to fund military operations, including the conflict with Ukraine.
  2. Oil and Gas Revenues: Russia, as a significant exporter of oil and gas, generates substantial revenues from the energy sector, which they use to finance military activities.
  3. Arms Sales: Russia is one of the world’s largest arms exporters, selling weapons and military equipment to other countries to generate income to support its war efforts.
  4. Foreign Investments: Russia may receive foreign investments from allies or partners to fund its military operations in Ukraine.
  5. Black Market Activities: Illicit activities, such as smuggling, illegal arms trading, and other black-market operations, can provide additional funding for Russia’s war with Ukraine.
  6. Resource Exploitation: Russia may exploit natural resources within the conflict region or territories under its control to generate revenue for military purposes.
  7. International Loans: Russia could potentially secure loans or financial assistance from international entities or allies to fund its war efforts in Ukraine.
  8. Military Expenditure Cuts: Russia may reallocate funds from other areas of its military expenditure or reduce spending in non-essential areas to finance the conflict with Ukraine.

These funding sources illustrate how Russia sustains its military campaign in Ukraine through domestic resources, international support, and alternative financial means.

Geopolitical Considerations

Russia’s military incursions in Ukraine have impacted its geopolitical standing. The question becomes: how has Russia’s geopolitical strategy influenced its readiness for a long-term conflict with Ukraine?

Russia’s geopolitical strategy has significantly impacted its preparedness for a prolonged conflict with Ukraine. By prioritizing the establishment of strategic alliances, such as with Belarus and Kazakhstan, Russia has sought to create a network of allies that can provide support in case of a protracted conflict with Ukraine. This strategic positioning enhances Russia’s military readiness by ensuring potential backing from neighboring countries, thereby bolstering its capabilities in the event of an extended military engagement.

Moreover, Russia’s assertive approach to asserting its influence in Eastern Europe, “as seen in the annexation of Crimea and support for separatist movements in eastern Ukraine,” reflects a calculated effort to maintain a strategic foothold in the region (Petroni 2023). This aggressive stance has allowed Russia to consolidate its military presence along its western borders, enhancing its preparedness for a potential long-term confrontation with Ukraine. By engaging in such actions and shaping its geopolitical strategy accordingly, Russia has demonstrated its commitment to defending its interests and maintaining regional influence.

Russia’s strategic positioning and alliances have played a significant role in enhancing its preparedness for a protracted war with Ukraine. Geopolitically, Russia’s proximity to Ukraine allows for swift mobilization of forces and logistics in the region, giving it a strategic advantage in the conflict. Additionally, Russia’s control over key transportation routes, such as the Black Sea and access to Crimea, enables efficient deployment of resources and reinforcement of troops in the conflict zone. This strategic positioning has facilitated Russia’s ability to maintain a robust military presence in Ukraine and sustain a prolonged engagement.

Furthermore, Russia’s alliances with other countries and international partnerships have bolstered its military capabilities and readiness for a protracted war with Ukraine. Collaboration with allies, such as Belarus and certain factions within Eastern Ukraine, has provided additional support regarding intelligence sharing, military equipment, and manpower. Moreover, Russia’s strategic partnerships with countries like China and Iran have potentially opened up avenues for diplomatic backing, economic assistance, and access to advanced military technologies, further strengthening its position in the conflict with Ukraine. These alliances have expanded Russia’s resources and capabilities and contributed to its resilience and endurance in facing a prolonged military campaign. In conclusion, Russia’s geopolitical strategy, characterized by the establishment of alliances, assertive actions in neighboring countries, and the consolidation of military presence along its borders, has played a pivotal role in shaping its readiness for a protracted conflict with Ukraine. The strategic decisions made by Russia reflect a calculated effort to secure its position in Eastern Europe and ensure its military preparedness in the face of potential challenges. Overall, Russia’s geopolitical strategy has had a profound impact on its ability to navigate and potentially sustain a long-term conflict with Ukraine.

Geopolitical Impact of America’s Internal Challenges on the Russian-Ukrainian War

The internal challenges faced by America have had significant geopolitical impacts on the Russian-Ukrainian war. The Biden administration’s struggle to rally its allies against Russia has been evident, with countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, adopting a neutral stance. This lack of unified support for Ukraine from traditional allies has weakened America’s position in the conflict and highlighted the shifting dynamics in international relations. Additionally, America’s failure to ensure total economic sanctions on Russia has also had repercussions, as it has not led to the expected level of negative consequences for Moscow (Bobkin 2022).

Moreover, the internal challenges in America have complicated efforts to negotiate the resumption of the nuclear deal with Iran. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has slowed these negotiations as Tehran seeks to navigate its relationship with Moscow amidst the crisis. Iran’s support for Russia in deterring the U.S. and NATO reflects the broader impact of America’s internal challenges on global alliances and regional dynamics. Overall, the geopolitical repercussions of America’s internal challenges on the Russian-Ukrainian war underscore the complex interplay between domestic issues and international relations (Bobkin 2022).

  1. Congressional Partisanship: The ongoing partisan divide in the U.S. Congress on U.S. support for Ukraine, which has hindered swift decision-making on foreign policy matters related to the Russian-Ukrainian war, has directly resulted in the Ukrainian military facing challenges such as inadequate training for its forces and a shortage of essential equipment and supplies, severely impacting their operational capabilities. For instance, debates over sanction measures and military aid to Ukraine have been bogged down by political infighting, delaying crucial support. As Russian President Vladimir Putin predicted, U.S. support for Ukraine is waning, and one poll registered “48% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the U.S. is giving too much aid to Ukraine (Cerda 2023).”
  2. Inability to Pass a Budget: The failure to pass a comprehensive budget on time has affected the allocation of resources towards national security priorities, including support for NATO allies like Ukraine. This lack of budgetary stability can undermine the U.S.’s ability to provide consistent aid and assistance to Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.
  3. Leaders Who Misunderstand the Geopolitical Impact: Some U.S. political leaders have demonstrated a poor understanding of the war’s geopolitical impact, either by downplaying its significance or misinterpreting its implications. These leaders overlook the broader implications of the conflict on global security and stability. Instead, they may focus on narrow domestic priorities or fail to grasp the interconnectedness of international relations. Their lack of comprehension of the situation’s complexities in Ukraine can hinder effective decision-making and diplomatic efforts on the world stage.

These examples from the past nine months highlight how internal challenges within the United States, including Congressional partisanship, budgetary constraints, and leaders with a poor understanding of the war’s geopolitical impact, have had implications on America’s ability to effectively respond to the Russian-Ukrainian war and US support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

The geopolitical impact of America’s Congressional partisanship, inability to pass a budget, and leaders with extreme political views have created a sense of uncertainty and division within the United States, which Russia can exploit to its advantage in the Russian-Ukrainian war. The lack of bipartisan consensus and gridlock in Congress hinders the ability of the U.S. government to formulate a cohesive foreign policy approach towards Russia and Ukraine, potentially weakening America’s stance on the international stage. Furthermore, failing to pass a budget and address critical national security priorities may limit the resources and support available for U.S. allies, including Ukraine, in their conflict with Russia. Leaders with extreme political views in the U.S. can further complicate matters by promoting isolationist or non-interventionist policies that undermine NATO unity and commitment to collective defense. This stance can embolden Russia in its aggressive actions towards Ukraine, as it may perceive a weakened resolve among Western allies to counter its expansionist agenda. The discord within American politics and divergent views on international relations can create opportunities for Russia to exploit divisions, sow discord among NATO members, and potentially erode the alliance’s solidarity in responding to Russian aggression in the region.

Russian Domestic Support and Propaganda

The Kremlin has utilized domestic support and propaganda to maintain public morale and sustain its war efforts. How has Russia’s use of domestic support and propaganda contributed to its readiness for a long-term conflict with Ukraine?

  • The Kremlin’s control over media and dissemination of propaganda has bolstered public morale and support for the war.

The Kremlin’s control over media and dissemination of propaganda has bolstered public morale and support for the war. Through a carefully crafted narrative, the Russian government has framed its military intervention in Ukraine as a necessary measure to protect Russian-speaking populations and safeguard national interests. This narrative has been consistently reinforced through state-controlled media channels, social media platforms, and public addresses by political leaders, creating a sense of unity and purpose among the Russian populace. Furthermore, the dissemination of information portraying Ukraine as a threat to regional stability and Russia as a defender against Western aggression has fostered a strong sense of patriotism and resilience among the population. The Kremlin’s adept use of domestic support and propaganda has not only shaped public perception but has also contributed to a sustained willingness to endure a long-term conflict with Ukraine.

Russian Military Strategy Used in the Ukrainian War

Russia’s military strategy and tactics have been instrumental in its ability to pursue a long-term war with Ukraine. How has Russia’s military strategy and tactics contributed to its readiness for a prolonged conflict?

  • The Kremlin’s adaptive military strategy and tactics have enabled it to sustain pressure on Ukrainian forces while minimizing casualties.
  • Russia’s strategic military planning and execution have positioned it for a protracted engagement in the conflict.

Russia’s military strategy and tactics have been instrumental in its ability to sustain a long-term war with Ukraine. One key aspect of Russia’s strategy is its utilization of hybrid warfare, which combines conventional military tactics with unconventional methods such as cyber warfare, propaganda, and special operations. This multifaceted approach allows Russia to exert influence, disrupt enemy operations, and control the narrative domestically and internationally. Additionally, Russia’s emphasis on swift mobilization, flexible deployment of forces, and adaptive decision-making enables it to respond effectively to changing dynamics on the battlefield and maintain pressure against Ukrainian troops over an extended period.

Top 5 Tactics Russia Uses in the Ukrainian War

  1. Hybrid Warfare: Russia employs a combination of conventional military tactics, cyber warfare, information operations, and irregular warfare to achieve its objectives in the conflict with Ukraine.
  2. Proxy Forces: Russia supports and coordinates with proxy forces in Eastern Ukraine, providing them with training, weapons, and logistical assistance to advance its interests and create instability in the region.
  3. Artillery and Missile Strikes: Russia utilizes artillery and missile systems to target Ukrainian positions, infrastructure, and civilian areas, causing significant damage and disruption.
  4. Disinformation Campaigns: Russia spreads disinformation, propaganda, and false narratives to manipulate public opinion, sow discord, and undermine the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government both domestically and internationally.
  5. Drone Warfare: Russia leverages unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeted strikes against Ukrainian military positions, enhancing its intelligence-gathering capabilities and precision in combat operations.

Russia’s military designed these tactics collectively to exert influence, weaken its adversary, and maintain a prolonged conflict with Ukraine through a combination of military force, covert operations, and psychological warfare. Additionally, these are tactics young NCOs and officers need to know, understand, and possibly leverage on the battlefield. Russia has an almost two-year head start.

Conclusion: A War of Attrition Without US Support for Ukraine

Russia is underpinning its readiness for a long-term war with Ukraine with its military preparedness, economic resilience, domestic support and propaganda, and strategic military strategy and tactics. Additionally, it leverages geopolitical calculations, allowing Western countries to infight, reduce support, and lose the war of public opinion. Despite the costs and implications of the conflict, the Kremlin’s determination to engage in a protracted battle of attrition remains evident. Understanding these factors provides insight into Russia’s sustained commitment to the ongoing conflict and its implications for the region, Europe, and global geopolitics.

Sources / Credit

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