As Russia’s war on Ukraine passes the 100-day mark, the brutal invasion brings lessons — and warnings


Over the weekend, the war between Russia and Ukraine passed the 100-day mark. 

For the people of Ukraine, the period since Russia launched its invasion has been torturous, cruel and uncertain. More than 10 per cent of Ukrainians have fled the country. Few of those who remain do not have a relative or close friend who isn’t fighting the Russians in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. 

Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed or wounded in this invasion. Many others have been murdered in cold blood at close quarters by the Russian Army. We have also witnessed Russian advances on Kyiv and Kharkiv being thrown back by courageous battlefield tactics and strategic leadership.

The world has watched on as the Ukrainians have demonstrated national unity, resilience and bravery as they have been led by their young yet fearless president.

A row of graves is seen bug in the dirt with simple wooden crosses.
Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed or wounded during Russia’s invasion.(Reuters: Alexander Ermochenko)

And despite the barbarity of the Russians and the suffering of the Ukrainian people, this has also been a tragic opportunity for many governments and military institutions to learn. 

For national governments, the invasion holds an important lesson about investing in the right defence capabilities for modern wars, rather than those of yesterday. Balancing older capabilities with new systems — such as those to counter autonomous systems and long-range strikes — will be necessary deterrents against aggression and to ensure appropriate responses if aggression can’t be prevented.

Nailing your strategy is critical

Perhaps the most important lesson of the last 100 days has been that strategy matters. As the Russians have rediscovered in Ukraine, getting strategy right is critical to effective military and information operations. Russian assumptions about a rapid Ukrainian collapse underpinned their initial military strategy for the invasion. Putin’s desired political end state — a compliant Ukraine — relied on a decisive and quick military victory. The Ukrainians missed this memo.

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