Monday, March 21, 2022

Who Commands Russia's Invasion of Ukraine?

Does Russia's invasion of Ukraine have an overall field commander? Nobody seems to know. The US Defense Department recently told CNN that they don't know, adding that if there is such a person, "the state of combat operations would suggest he is inept." I read all the English language bulletins from the Ukrainian MOD, and they make no mention of an overall Russian commander. They seem to have pretty good intelligence on the Russian military, so you would think they would know.

Which raises the possibility that nobody is in command of the invasion, and there is no connection between the various Russian armies in Ukraine until you get to the Minister of Defense in Moscow. Or maybe even until you get to Putin himself.

This is a weird situation and probably not conducive to military operations:

Without a top, theater-wide commander on the ground in or near Ukraine, units from different Russian military districts operating in different parts of Ukraine appear to be competing for resources rather than coordinating their efforts, according to two US defense officials. Units participating in different Russian offensives across Ukraine have failed to connect, these sources say, and in fact, appear to be acting independently with no overarching operational design.

I can imagine many reasons for this. Perhaps Putin wants no rivals. Perhaps generals in Moscow didn't want anyone to outshine them. Perhaps there was no candidate acceptable to the various army commanders and military districts, or perhaps all the top generals wanted the job. Or none of them.

This seems to me another way that the strange politics of Putin's Russia have confounded their military operation.


David said...

I have wondered about this too. But it occurs to me: who is in command on the Ukrainian side? Whoever it is, they should do something about the northern part of their line in the east, or it's going to get surrounded and cut off.

David said...

This interview from Politico shows IMO a lot of good insight: