The head of the British armed forces has said that President Vladimir Putin has already failed to achieve the initial goals of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
Admiral Tony Radakin, Britain’s chief of defense staff, told the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit in London on Tuesday that he was surprised by Russia’s failures in the campaign that began with a poor intelligence, leading to catastrophic results. He said he believed Mr Putin was in charge of the campaign and showed the traits of an autocratic leader who was becoming increasingly isolated.
“Their decision making rarely improves and their decision making gets worse,” he said.
“We were surprised how Russia proceeded,” Admiral Radakin said. Russia expected to be able to invade Ukraine, take cities within days and take over the country within 30 days, he added. He said the failure in that effort was the consequence of a “shocking intelligence failure and it’s also incredible arrogance.” He also praised what he called the courage and ingenuity of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
“Whatever their endgame is, it’s radically different from their starting game,” Admiral Radakin said. The campaign began with the ambition to take all of Ukraine, push back the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and demonstrate Russia’s power and authority. “All of these have failed, NATO has never been stronger,” he said. “The idea that the Ukrainian people would somehow choose to move towards Russia now seems absurd.”
“We expected a much more concerted attack from Russia,” he said, adding that Russia was struggling to coordinate the branches of its armed forces. He has already suffered a tactical defeat as he was forced to shift the focus of his campaign to the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. The campaign looks “incredibly risky, incredibly rushed,” he said.
Of intelligence failures, Admiral Radakin said “catastrophic errors tend to lead to catastrophic consequences”. He said Russia had never operated on this scale since World War II. A successful operation would have relied on timing and momentum that did not occur during the campaign.
Admiral Radakin said Russia failed to suppress Ukrainian communications, allowing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to speak to the world throughout the war. He also said that Russia had failed to achieve air superiority, while its sea, air and ground forces were “siloed” and their operations were not dynamic. Flight operations were planned seven to 10 days in advance, he said.
“The idea of running out of fuel when you’re only 100 miles from Ukraine is a little weird,” he said, speaking of Russian convoys that stalled at the start of the war. .