Russia’s Ukraine war a colossal military mistake, armed forces expert tells Fox News

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To say nothing of the evidence of war crimes, the Ukraine war was a colossal military mistake, according to one Russian armed forces expert and veteran of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. And he says it boggles the mind of many like him.

It’s not that the Russian soldiers were lacking good equipment, food or warm clothing, as many have said, according to Valery Shiryaev. It’s that there were far too few of them to do what their president wanted them to do, which Shiryaev said was the impossible.

The US and its coalition partners dispatched half a million soldiers to fight the first Gulf War in circumstances under which you could argue Saddam Hussein had less support on his side than the Ukrainian president has right now as his country fights an existential battle. Compare that to the fact Russia had less than a quarter of that number – a mere 120,000 lined up for the invasion of Ukraine, something Shiryaev never actually thought would happen, until it did.


Shiryaev, a veteran of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, said this war has been like none other this century, with men on both sides who are similar in culture and who fight the same way, or at least come from the same experience. The Red Army may be long gone, but some legacy must carry on in the republics of the former USSR.

That led Shiryaev to ponder how the Russians even thought about waging this war in the first place. “It’s a big mystery!” the military expert explained. “There was an opinion among military experts that an attack was not rational. Everyone assumed [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as a politician acts rationally,” Shiryaev continued. “If a politician is dominated by emotions, he can make a mistake.” And, Shiryaev said the war in Ukraine was “a colossal” one. He described it as a shared miscalculation between the different agencies that were studying the situation, from Russia’s security agency known as the FSB to foreign intelligence to military intelligence. He, like many others, wondered whether these generals and spies were too timid to tell Putin the truth and exactly how the decision to go in was made.


He also pointed to the underestimation of Ukraine’s resolve. “I don’t get it. We all know Ukrainians – they are our brothers. We know them as ourselves. They would never surrender, just as Russians would never surrender if they were attacked.”

He blamed what he called essentially a one-man power structure in Russia for the miscalculations. Even under the undemocratic system that was communism, there were some checks and balances. “After Stalin died,” Shiryaev continues, “there was collective leadership in the Communist Party, and when troops went into Afghanistan, there was a vote in the Politburo of the Communist Party,” he said. Of course, there was no telling whether that vote took place at the end of the barrel of a gun. “The Communist Party of China also has a voting procedure, but in Russia, there is one person and he made a mistake. This is the tragedy of Russia’s political structure.”

Ukrainian soldiers celebrating at a checkpoint in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, April 3.

Ukrainian soldiers celebrating at a checkpoint in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, April 3.
(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

On the subject of nuclear weapons, Shiryaev was not alarmist, believing Russia’s talk about getting to a higher state of readiness was to ensure NATO boots don’t cross into Ukraine. He similarly was convinced the Russians won’t use chemical or biological weapons. He didn’t believe the Russians would deploy something so toxic so close to their own borders, something that could blow right back at them.


He saw an end game by Russia’s annual Victory Day, celebrated May 9, when the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II is marked. And perhaps, Shiryaev suggested, Putin will at that point just declare whatever they have taken by then is exactly what they wanted all along – and that will be the spin. But, he acknowledged that even the fight for the Donbas has not gone so well. Just listen to the Russians.

“Everyday, [Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Igor] Konashenkov talks about how Ukrainian missiles and Ukrainian shells are exploding in Donetsk. This means the troops are where they were and nothing has changed. And a month has already passed. Every day, Konashenkov tells us Russia destroys some Ukrainian planes, some S-300 air defense equipment. But I’m sorry, these targets should have been destroyed in the first week.”

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