The Ukrainian Army has substantially improved its fighting capabilities and its fighting morale during the last eight years since Russian illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014. To the noticeable improvement of fighting capabilities has substantially contributed foreign military aid, especially US one, but also from Eastern European countries like Poland and the Baltic states. Recently Germany, in an unexpected reversal of a 40 years long Russian friendship policy, has sent weapons to Kiev, after a false start with the promise of defensive infantry helmets.
The strength of the Ukrainian land forces on the terrain will be one of the main cards in the diplomatic negotiations that perhaps will continue after a first failed round in Antalya (10/3/2022). This will be all the more necessary in the aftermath of the war when the country will be in dire need of a thorough material reconstruction
For the time being, during the Russian “special military operation”, the Ukrainian army seems to be in a reasonably good shape, thanks to a good motivation because it is defending the fatherland, despite many technical and maybe organisational shortcomings. Command and control is still very rigid, but since communications are often interrupted, smaller units are forced to use their initiative at local level.
On the contrary, Russian soldiers, some of them of clear Ukrainian descent, although substantially provided with high-tech weaponry, may have a lower morale since the war is not massively supported by the Russian public opinion, leading to massive arrests.
Foreseeably urban warfare, with its brutal and bloody tactics, will put further psychological pressure on the Russian combatants and the extensive use of firepower will be one of the means to reduce the defenders’ military and motivational advantages.
The Ukrainian military, after the first onslaught, tried to use to essential tactics: urban warfare with fortified positions and hit and run attacks. Both are typical of forces that are weaker in a war and their strategic objective is to impose attrition on the enemy and gain time in view of a decisive political engagement. The Antalya meeting between the Foreign Minister has proved unfortunately inconclusive for now (10/3/2022).
This implies giving up secondary cities and concentrating both regular and irregular forces in the main cities. Fortifications are generally improvised (barricades and similar obstacles), but reinforced concrete buildings provide already useful structures, especially after being destroyed by artillery fire.
Hit and run attacks are concentrated in attacking either isolated armoured or much more vulnerable logistic trucks.
A verified fact is that, beyond the narratives on a supposedly weak Ukrainian national identity, the civic spirit of the citizens, both Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking ones, has withstood the ordeal of combats: this factor probably has been inaccurately evaluated by the Kremlin.