Report to Congress on Military, Intelligence Issues on Russian Invasion of Ukraine

September 20, 2022 9:10 AM

The following is the Sept. 14, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Russia’s War in Ukraine: Military and Intelligence Aspects.

From the report

Russia’s renewed invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February 2022 marked the start of Europe’s deadliest armed conflict in decades. After a steady buildup of military forces along Ukraine’s borders since 2021, Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, with Russian ground forces attacking from multiple directions.

Initially, Russian forces made gains along all lines of advance. However, Russian forces ran into effective and likely unexpected levels of Ukrainian resistance from the invasion’s outset. In addition, many analysts and officials assess that during this first stage of the war the Russian military performed poorly overall and was hindered by specific tactical choices, poor logistics, ineffective communications, and command-and-control issues. The Ukrainian military, while at a quantitative and qualitative disadvantage in personnel, equipment, and resources, has proven more resilient and adaptive than Russia expected.

Over the course of the first several weeks of the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian military had to adjust to various setbacks and other developments on the ground. With many of its advances stalled, in late March 2022, Russian defense officials announced that Russian military operations would focus on eastern Ukraine, including the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk (collectively known as the Donbas, where Russian-led separatists have been fighting since 2014) and that Russia would withdraw its forces around Kyiv and Chernihiv in the north.

Since refocusing on the Donbas region of Ukraine, Russia has gained territory in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. President Putin recalibrated his stated war aims to emphasize helping “the people in the Donbas, who feel their unbreakable bond with Russia.” It is unclear whether Russia has the necessary forces to achieve its recalibrated objectives, considering losses of personnel and equipment. However, short-term strategies to increase recruitment are unlikely to resolve personnel challenges and likely will undermine Russian capability going forward.

As Russia suffers from a lack of personnel and supply challenges, momentum may be shifting to Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) counterattacks. The UAF continues to train and deploy personnel to exploit Russian weaknesses, including the use of advanced Western systems to target key Russian logistics, infrastructure, and command centers. How the UAF decides to deploy limited resources and personnel likely will play a crucial role in the conflict’s evolution.

After unprecedented Ukrainian success retaking territory in Ukraine’s northeastern region of Kharkiv in September 2022, many observers believe momentum has swung in Ukraine’s favor for the immediate future. The UAF has demonstrated an ability to deploy forces effectively to conduct offensive operations, and the Russian military continues to suffer from endemic and structural failings. Recent Russian losses in personnel, equipment, and morale likely will limit its operational capability for the immediate future.

Congress is poised to continue to track these developments closely, especially as it considers U.S. and international efforts to support Ukraine militarily and respond to events on the ground.

Download the document here.

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox