Is Russia stupid? asks Phillips O'Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews

A full week since the start of Russia's all-out drive began to conquer and occupy eastern Ukraine, are the Kremlin's forces anywhere near a breakthrough?

Professor Phillips O'Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the Russian army isn't what many believed it would be, steamrollering its way through Ukraine.

"Actually it's hardly advanced at all," he says. "They've suffered so many losses in the Kyiv campaign and others... and it's not fighting particularly intelligently as far as we can tell."

He also makes the point that human beings are "not just programmable machines".

"These soldiers that were taken out of Kyiv were defeated soldiers - they'd seen and they had committed war crimes, they had seen people die, they were exhausted, their equipment had gone."

The fact the Russians aren't letting them rest, he continues, "is a sign of either stupidity or desperation".

O'Brien also says the drip feeding of forces into action as they come available means the front line might not move very quickly.

"The Ukrainian's problem will be, can they drive the Russians back? The Russians still have a lot of heavy artillery and they've got some modern weaponry, and the Ukrainians are a lighter army. So it might not be so easy...

"This Russian army will be gone in say two months... So if you're going to switch to a long war where Russia fights a long war of occupation in Ukraine, they're going to need a new army. And it's going to be a conscription army."


Phillips O'Brien is a Professor of Strategic Studies at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of How the War was Won and Second Most Powerful Man in the World. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsPOBrien


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