Legacy media is pumping the narrative that the Russian military is incompetent and the invasion was poorly planned. Because media out of Russia has been largely cut off it’s difficult to get other views on how the war is proceeding. Below is a Twitter thread from Bill Roggio. His bio says he’s a Senior Fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of the Long War Journal. I don’t know this man from a hole in the ground but reading through his analysis his take at least seems plausible.
1) A look at the military situation in eastern and central Ukraine, & around the capital of Kiev. This will use several maps, from @nytimes & @Bcc. First the overall picture, using map from @nytimes. The strategic situation for Ukrainian force in Kiev & to the east is not good.
2) There hasn't been a lot of movement by the Russians overall (compared to the first week that is), however it appears the Russians are consolidating their positions, preparing/positioning, and moving with the goal of the encirclement of several key regions.
3) Russian forces are moving to cut off the far eastern areas close to the Donbas region, both northeast of Mariupol, and east of Izyum.
5) There are also credible reports that the Russians are seeking to march on the city of Dnipro on the Dnieper river. @nytimes maps shows this. If the Russians can take Dnipro (this is an operation that should take weeks to unfold) then the eastern half of Ukraine would be cut.
6) In the south, RUSMIL appears to be bypassing Mykolaiv & pushing north. Russian forces likely don't have the manpower/resources to lay siege to the city, & can blockade/starve it instead. RUSMIL likely pushing to the South Ukraine nuke plant & Odesa to shut off Black Sea.
6) The north: Russian forces continue to push to complete an encirclement of Chernihiv province while pushing to also encircle Kiev. The city of Chernihiv remains defiant but is close to being cut off in a wide pincer movement. UKR troops caught in this pocket will be cut off.
7) Kiev: Russian forces are on the outskirts of the city & are facing fierce resistance from UKR military & territorial forces. Russian forces are now positioned north, west & east of the city. Russian forces continue to position its forces for a siege & possible assault.
8) Ukrainians still have an escape valve to the south. It is unclear if the Russians plan on full encirclement or will leave this valve open. Speculation: Russia wants to take the city and/or collapse gov't. Letting the UKR forces retreat is a time-honored way of achieving this.
9) Back to the bigger picture: Does Russian want to take all of Ukraine, or sever it in half and leave a pliant, demilitarized rump state in the west? If the latter, then …
Linking in this thread, all apologies for the break in continuity.
10) … it makes sense the Russians will hold a line stretching south from the west of of Kiev down to somewhere along the Moldavian border (Transnistria). Or west of a line along the M05 highway. This would completely cut off Ukraine from the Black Sea, a strategic objective.
11) The M05 highway runs north-south from Kiev to Odesa. Again this is an operation that would take weeks or months to develop. But if Kiev falls this changes the timeline calculus.
12) Kiev is without a doubt a strategic objective for the Russians but by no means the only objective. A look at the RUSMIL offensive shows this operation was not launched in haste because Kiev didn't fall and Zelensky didn't capitulate on day 2.
13) Zelensky may be recognizing that his strategic position is untenable. In the past 48 hours he has "cooled down" on the idea of joining NATO and said he'd discuss the status of Russian occupied and "control of Russian-backed separatist regions."
14) One final point: the UKR strategy appears to be that of defending the cities, and bleeding Russian forces. And they are doing this well. This is a fine short-term strategy if you think the Russians will quit the fight. But the UKRs face encirclement over long term.