Did Russia Lose the Battle for Kyiv?


According to one US official, “The Russians really f—ed this up” during the Ukraine War. Moscow is now scrambling for redeployment, refreshment, and reconstitution of units that were supposed to have taken Kyiv several weeks ago. Nevertheless, Russian forces haven’t abandoned their positions in west Kyiv.

ISW reported Tuesday night that Russian forces were fighting to maintain their forwardmost positions at the eastern and western Kyiv borders, even as severely damaged units fled to Russia from other locations on the Kyiv or Chernihiv scales.

These combat units, part of the famous 40-mile-long convoy, have been fighting for weeks and need to be able to recover from heavy losses both in men and in the material. Both sides continue to propagandize, with the Kremlin being the most recent victim.

However, no plan survives the first contact with a metric lot of Javelin missiles. This is according to an old saying.

According to IWS, the Kremlin has “likely concluded that it cannot seize Kyiv” and therefore “decided not to continue its previous practices of forcibly causing units that have suffered devastating losses to continue their hopeless offensive operations.” This does not mean that Ukraine has won, or even Russia has lost. While the first round may be over, the long grind goes on elsewhere.

Politico reports: Officials from the Biden administration cautioned that although they have seen a reduction in Russian attacks on Kyiv/Chernihiv recently, violence continued unabated, especially in southern and east Ukraine.

After weeks of intense fighting and heavy shelling, Mariupol, a strategically important coastal city in the south of Russia is now largely under Russian control. Putin called for the “complete surrender” of Mariupol if the residents do not want the shelling stopped.

Moscow declared last week, as I wrote to you Monday, that “Our forces, resources, and objectives will focus on the primary goal: full liberation Donbas”. This is Ukraine’s eastern, energy-rich, industrial region, which is largely populated with ethnic Russians. There are two Russian enclaves that declared independence from Kyiv last year and have been a source of great pain ever since.

Moscow may be able, once Mariupol has been fully under Russian control, to isolate the bulk of the Ukraine Army that is still fighting against Russian and separatist forces. This is a good moment for Kyiv, to remember Mao’s advice: “Keep land, but lose men: Land and men both are lost.”

This is exactly what I predicted four weeks ago. (I am not a military genius but I can read maps.)

However, Alexander Fomin, Russian Deputy Defence Minister, stated that Russian forces would “fundamentally reduce” military activity near Kyiv to “increase trust” for ongoing peace negotiations.

Two things are going on.

First, it is a tacit admission to the fact that there was a reality on the ground in Kyiv. Russia was unable to surprise Kyiv with new troops, even their most elite special forces. It is highly unlikely that they will take Kyiv the second time around, with less-prepared replacement units.

Second, while Moscow rotates troops away from Kyiv but they don’t abandon their positions around the city, They will have to fight for anything Ukraine wants back. If I had to guess, Moscow’s Plan B for Kyiv is simply another example of the Russian operational art of firing artillery and shells at anything until the rubble stops bouncing.

Maybe a second attempt to sack the capital will be made if Ukraine will finally give way. However, until we see the East’s actions, that seems like a distant possibility.

At least for now, the Battle for Kyiv is likely over. However, Russia will continue to try to subdue it.