Kyiv was a Russian defeat for the ages. The fight started poorly for the invaders and went downhill from there.
When President Vladimir Putin launched his war on Feb. 24 after months of buildup on Ukraine’s borders, he sent hundreds of helicopter-borne commandos — the best of the best of Russia’s “spetsnaz” special forces soldiers — to assault and seize a lightly defended airfield on Kyiv’s doorstep.
Other Russian forces struck elsewhere across Ukraine, including toward the eastern city of Kharkiv as well as in the contested Donbas region and along the Black Sea coast. But as the seat of national power, Kyiv was the main prize. Thus the thrust by elite airborne forces in the war’s opening hours.
But Putin failed to achieve his goal of quickly crushing Ukraine’s outgunned and outnumbered army. The Russians were ill-prepared for Ukrainian resistance, proved incapable of adjusting to setbacks, failed to effectively combine air and land operations, misjudged Ukraine’s ability to defend its skies, and bungled basic military functions like planning and executing the movement of supplies.
“That’s a really bad combination if you want to conquer a country,” said Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel and professor of military history at Ohio State University. Continue Reading