This war would be remembered for Ukraine’s sling shot’ tactics that is use of relatively cheaper missiles utilised by it to bring down the mighty Russian Tanks, BMPs, aircraft and warships. The Russian camp seems to have misread the terrain and the will to fight among the Ukrainian citizens.
The continuous flow of the Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) and the Javelin precision missiles from the West spelt the end of numerous Russian tanks. The Russian armoured personnel carriers succumbed to the simple RPG-7 rocket launchers.
The Turkish drones dropping their smart bombs paid their costs by humbling, stalling and laying bare the long columns of Russian armour to be attacked and destroyed at will. The Russian aircraft had to face the wrath of Stingers and other Anti Aircraft missiles, leading to only partial suppression of Ukraine’s airspace.
The Russian Navy lost the Orsk, an LST at Berdyansk, and a formidable guided-missile cruiser Moskva, armed to its gills to instill fear in the hearts of any adversary, in the Black Sea. Moskva was hit by Neptun missiles, an advanced version of the Russian Kh-35U anti-ship missiles.
The Neptune is said to have been inducted in 2021; it is heavier, longer and has a High Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG) warhead with an explosive weight of about 145 kg. It is a subsonic sea skimmer with active radar guidance. Ukraine fired two Neptun missiles at Moskva. Ukraine claims to have used Turkish drones for decoying the warship’s radars. The Moskva was hit in its magazine area and succumbed to the ensuing fire while being towed to safety.
There are many lessons to be imbibed by the navies: ship construction, fire fighting, crew training, weapons and sensor capabilities and limitations, and tactical & standoff operations during inclement weather.
India needs to invest heavily in precise and accurate indigenous drones and missiles during land, air and sea battles involving bigger adversaries.
In my personal view loss of tanks, armoured vehicles, aircraft, helicopters and major warships to an insignificant adversary has ensured a loss of face for Russia leading to the speculation that this war is no longer amenable to a swift resolution. In my opinion, it is now a war for prestige (रसूख) of Russia, and the aim is to regain the lost importance in the world order. Even if Ukraine surrenders, it will keep simmering in other places in Europe.
The countries which have supplied or acted as conduits for arms supply to Ukraine would be on the negative list of Russia for cordial relations for a long time to come. The push and pull from both sides will continue and may lead us to the brink of a great war and beyond. It would be erroneous to think Russians would let China gain precedence or settle for a three-player world order. It does not look like Russia will stop till its honour is restored or it is annihilated in the process.
India’s stand could help it gain a dominant presence but not the fourth corner. China will gain in world order because of economic clout but may lose stakes in SCS. EU would push against the US and settle for an equal level partnership against Russian influence. Global stability is far away.
I am praying for peace and for events to unfold differently.