It’s hard to get a picture of Russia’s progress on the second day of the war in Ukraine. “The situation is fluid,” asserts Frans Osinga, Professor by Special Designation for War Studies, affiliated with the Dutch Defense Academy and Leiden University.
Osinga says Russia dealt a big blow on the first day by seizing Ukrainian airspace, but that doesn’t mean it transcend for the Russians.
“Russia has to deal with a vicious and well-organised opponent, and he has prepared well,” Osenga said. The Ukrainian army ranks far above the Iraqi army, which halted the American advance on Baghdad in 2003. The Americans also had to contend with the easier, flat terrain there.
The fall of Kiev does not seem imminent
According to Osinga, it is true that the Russian units were 9 kilometers from the center of the capital Kiev today, but this does not mean that the fall of the Ukrainian capital is imminent. These forces were advanced, and the main force was still 50 km from Kiev.
Most importantly, the Russians failed to capture the Antonov air cargo airfield near Kiev yesterday. At first this seemed to work quickly, but then they encountered fierce resistance. The airport is now said to be in the hands of the Russians, but the Ukrainians have disrupted the runways.
How they did it is not clear. “This can be done by using mines, concrete obstacles and mortars that have created holes in the runways.”
The bottom line is that the Russians are still unable to provide large numbers of troops because of this. In order to do so safely, they would also need to control the area around the airport.
Also on the roads to Kiev, obstacles were erected to stop the advance of Russia and bridges were destroyed, for example. “It’s really 160 kilometers of rugged terrain,” Osinga says of the road from the border to the capital. It also suggests that Russia may control the airspace, but that does not mean that helicopters or combat aircraft can fly at a low altitude. Then they have to deal with anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers and the like.
This does not change the fact that Russia can harass Kiev from a distance. Mayor Klitschko warned Kiev residents tonight that the coming night will be very difficult.
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