Many of the Russian soldiers who are now being ordered to destroy Ukraine actually believed that they were massed along the Ukraine border since last December for training exercises, and nothing more – just as Russian strongman Vladimir Putin told the world. It turns out the dictator had other plans, presumably none of which took into account the resolute defense now being staged by the Ukrainian people.
Bob Maginnis, a senior fellow for national security at the Family Research Council, points out the Russians continue to be bogged down by that stiff Ukrainian resistance.
"You have mixed in with some of the [Russian] regulars a lot of one-year conscripts who can't do anything right. I mean, they're just very poor," Maginnis says of the Russian military. "The tactics that we've seen have been dismal – their supplies are not keeping up, their soldiers aren't being fed, their fuel isn't keeping up. And the Ukrainian special forces know that – so they're going behind lines and really causing havoc for the Russians."
Victor Akhterov is Far East Broadcasting Company's director for Eurasia. He confirms those dismal tactics are taking a toll on the Russian troops.
"They come and they have to shoot and they have to rob the villages because they don't have enough to eat. They are totally demoralized – and for understandable reasons," says the Christian broadcaster. "Many of them are just escaping [from Russia]; and many of them are just trying to break their tanks so they don't have to go and fight."
Adding to the low morale is the fact that Russia and Ukraine have strong ethnic and family ties. Akhterov – a Russian who is married to a Ukrainian woman – says it's almost like a civil war to some.
"I served in the Soviet army myself. I know what it is to be drafted and be serving, and then suddenly you find yourself in a different country …," he shares. "There are millions of Russians who are married to Ukrainians and vice versa."
Will Putin's frustration kick in?
Hardly anyone – Putin included – thought this war would last more than a week. But it's now three weeks in and the Russian army is bogged down and taking huge losses. Akhterov offers caution, arguing this is where things might get even more dangerous.
"If we were talking about just on-the-ground kind of fighting, Ukrainians definitely would prevail," the journalist contends. "But Russia has a lot of weapons, a lot of rockets, and they could just shoot at the cities and destroy them – and the Russian soldiers don't even have to be there.
"[Russian rockets are] just destroying the city, [destroying] the buildings where people live. So, if this happens in Kyiv [the Ukrainian capital], it's going to be hundreds of thousands of people who are dying," laments Akhterov.
But currently, according to Maginnis, it's "because of the Stingers" that Russians don't own the skies.
"And the [anti-tank] Javelins have about a 93% kill rate – and that's phenomenal," the retired Air Force officer states. "And [the Ukrainians have] killed about a sixth of all Russian tanks in the last three weeks, and that's phenomenal itself … and yet we keep pumping in more Javelins and Stingers."
He also expects that stout Ukrainian defense to continue taking a human toll on Russia.
"Putin's already lost at least 5,000 soldiers [and] he's likely to lose many more," says Maginnis. "His tanks and his other vehicles are being decimated by these so-called 'irregulars' who happen to be very effective against him."
On Wednesday, President Biden announced that the U.S. is sending more anti-aircraft and anti-armor weapons, as well as drones to Ukraine to assist the embattled nation in its defense against the Russian invaders.