CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — It would not behoove Russia to bring the war into Kyiv, says retired Green Beret Jason Beardsley.
In the wake of the shelling of a maternity hospital in Mariupol on Wednesday, there have been growing warnings from the West that Moscow’s invasion is about to take a more brutal and indiscriminate turn as President Vladimir Putin tries to regain momentum. Kyiv Regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba said the crisis for civilians is deepening in and around his city.
But as reports emerge that the previously stalled 40-mile Russian convoy has broken up and redeployed, with armored units seen in towns near the Antonov Airport north of the city, the former master sergeant predicts that it’s the Ukrainians, not Russians, who are at an advantage.
“Urban warfare is difficult,” Beardsley said on Thursday night’s edition of “The Donlon Report.” “These are the toughest kinds of fights and the advantage goes to the defenders. That’s the Ukrainians.”
Urban warfare is as it sounds — fighting in cities and towns where civilians are at risk and combatants can hide more easily. This type of fighting can take myriad forms, including guerrilla attacks, militia patrols and gang violence.
As Beardsley noted, it’s a fighting style that favors the home team. John Spencer, an expert on urban combat and chair of Urban Warfare Studies at West Point’s Modern War Institute, wrote a detailed Twitter thread explaining:
“The urban defense is hell for any soldier. It usually takes 5 attackers to 1 defender,” he tweeted. “Russians do not have the numbers. Turn Kyiv and any urban area leading to Kyiv into a porcupine,” he tweeted.
Russia hasn’t quite entered the city but some of his advice, such as preparing simple Molotov cocktails and building obstacles in the street (porcupining), is already being seen on the streets of Kyiv.
Ukrainians, for example, have been using hydraulic warfare, making a modern-day moat by flooding the countryside to make it more difficult for Russia to attack Kyiv. This, according to Beardsley, is exactly the type of tenacity that could aid the Ukrainians in achieving victory.
“If they have lethal munitions, the javelins and moats, then that makes this a real tough fight for Vladimir Putin,” Beardsley said. “The Russians were not prepared for this. They were hoping for shock and awe that failed. This is not going to go well for Vladimir Putin.”
America’s urban warfare experience in Somalia in 1993, for example, changed U.S. policy in Africa forever. The disastrous raid nf the capital of Mogadishu led to images of U.S. soldiers being dragged through the streets.
Russia has had success with urban warfare in the past — leveling Grozny in the Chechen Republic in 1994. However, Kyiv is much larger than Grozny.
Furthermore, history has shown in many other cases, including countries as powerful as the United States, that soldiers on the offensive are almost always at a disadvantage.
America also faced stiff resistance as it held Iraq and Afghanistan for decades. Beardsley said it took a big effort for the U.S. to keep supply lines secure in Baghdad.
“We have not seen that Putin planned well for the logistics fight here. So even if they get into Kyiv, that does not make this an easy fight. It just means they’re closer to their enemy’s own territory,” he said.
Beardsley also says it’s why Putin has been running desperate plays, including the alleged airstrike on the children’s hospital and maternity facility in the besieged port city of Mariupol.
“They’re hoping to scare the civilians to flee the country so they can walk in and kind of install their own puppet regimes,” he said.
But even if Russia tries to stall Ukraine out, Beardsley says, Ukraine is not alone.
“Remember, those supply corridors from Poland and from the west are still available to the Ukrainians,” he said.