I year into the invasion of Ukraine by Russia there are some glaring lessons for us to learn as a country moving forward. SOFREP’s editorial position ought to be clear to our members and the general audience right now, Russia is the aggressor and invaded Ukraine with the goal of erasing its culture. language, religion, and its very existence from the map.  Ukraine is and wishes to remain a sovereign country and has every right to resist being annihilated and enslaved by Putin and Russia.

That said, here are SOFREP’s top takeaways from the war in Ukraine so far.

There Was a Massive Failure of our Intelligence Agencies and the Pentagon.

This war began in part because of a massive failure by our intelligence agencies and the Pentagon, both of which grossly overestimated the capabilities of the Russian army while dismissing the capabilities of the Ukrainian army. If you will recall the news headlines at the beginning of the war, military experts all seemed to agree that Russia would overrun Ukraine in a few days and its fate was sealed.  Rather than send weapons and aid to Ukraine immediately, the Biden administration offered to evacuate Ukrainian president Zelensky out of the country with his family.  Zelensky famously refused and vowed to fight on, pleading with the world to come to the aid of his country.

Not quite believing Ukraine stood a chance, the US and NATO began to trickle weapons and aid to Zelenksy as a way of appearing to help without really helping much, hedging the bet that Kyiv would still fall in days.  Then two things happened that changed things on the ground.  First, the Russians underestimated the ability and resolve of Ukraine to resist invasion and they attacked in the dead of winter with too few troops in undermanned units that we assess were at 40% fighting effectiveness.  The Russians also did not prepare their army for war mentally or logistically. They did not inform their troops as to what was about to occur and this had disastrous consequences for their armored formations.  The Russian army is notoriously corrupt on all levels, so the troops on “training exercises” in Belarus showed up with faulty equipment that was not in good working order, expired rations, short on ammunition, and had even sold off the fuel in their vehicles to buy vodka from the locals.  The order to invade Ukraine came as quite a surprise to them as well.   When they received orders to move into Ukraine, they went with what they had on hand, vehicles half full of fuel, armored personnel carriers(APCs) that had a commander, gunner, and driver, but no infantry riding in the troop compartment, and no air support.  It didn’t take long for the offensive to stall simply because they ran out of gas and the Ukrainians began a mass slaughter of the cream of Russia’s experienced career soldiers and technical personnel trapped in long columns of tanks, APCs and trucks that were out of gas.

How we got it all so wrong regarding the militaries of both countries we may never know, but we really should have known, this is why we maintain a huge military and multiple intelligence agencies, to assess these things accurately.  The failure regarding Ukraine’s abilities is especially galling.  Following the initial invasion of Ukraine by Russia in 2014, the US spent the next 8 years sending US units over to Ukraine to train their army, air force, navy, and Special Forces units.  The CIA and DIA were also over there working with their counterparts in Ukraine. They all seriously underestimated the will to fight, resourcefulness, and capabilities of Ukraine’s armed forces.