The Russia-Ukraine War: Lessons Learnt

Maj Gen (Dr) G D Bakshi, SM, VSM (Retd)

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The sheer intensity, scale and duration of the Russia-Ukraine war marks a significant Paradigm shift in the very nature of war-fighting in the current era. Conflict now closely resembles the titanic battles and carnages of the First World War or even the grinding battles of attrition that marked the closing stages of the Second World War. In the dynamic between offense and defence; between tank and anti-tank Weapons; between Aircraft and Air Defence Systems, we are seeing a new equilibrium that clearly favoursdefence over offense. Singular Artillery has once again become the critical war winning factor, just as it was in the two world wars. Additionally, over 3,600 Tactical Ballistic, Cruise and Hypersonic missiles have been fired by Russia alone in this war. The resultant scale of casualties and carnage have been simply unprecedented in our times. Most military analysts feel that we are witnessing a pivotal moment in military history—the re-ascendence of defence as the decisive form of war. The levels of battlefield transparency today are simply unprecedented. This makes surprise impossible to achieve. Sans surprise and given the very high levels of lethality of Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs), most attacks result in very heavy casualties in men & material and result in carnage & stalemates with little to show for the effort and resources expended. Given the scale of casualties, we will have to focus hard on Force—preservation, reconstitution of badly battered units and quick replacement of casualties in future wars. This is the most inopportune time to downsize or reduce numbers (as we in India are doing). The world over, defence budgets are rising very fast & armed forces are adding not just new weapons and equipment but also increasing the size of their armed forces. This is the new era of not just high-tech but high-tech and mass. Nations that want to win in such unrelenting wars will need to generate the mass that is required to prevail in such intense & long duration grinds of attrition. Wars will increasingly be a test of national will and stamina to stay the course. Both Russia and Ukraine are feverishly raising and training new formations even as they are locked in brutal combat. Downsizing a standing field force in such a dire scenario could well be an invitation to disaster. We are witnessing the return of the era of Von Clausewitz. Today the world is witnessing the sheer costs nations are willing to endure to attain their objectives and simply prevail in such hard fought slogs of attrition. Since 70 per cent of India’s high-tech military equipment are of Russian origin, we have a dire need to study and ingest the lessons of this campaign. Perhaps the lessons of the economic war and the information and cyber war domains are as vital as the lessons of kinetic war. With sky-rocketing energy, food and fertiliser prices, the world is staring at a deep recession and stagflation. The world may also be staring at the cusp of a Third World War as Flash Points flare up concurrently in the Taiwan Straits, Koreas, South or East China Seas as well as the Baltic and Black Seas.

Maj Gen (Dr) G D Bakshi, SM, VSM (Retd)

Maj Gen (Dr) G D Bakshi is a combat veteran with considerable experience in Kargil, Kishtwar and Rajouri sectors of J&K. He is a renowned military historian and a prolific writer who has written over 41 books. He is India’s most popular commentator on TV on matters–military.



1. A Strategic Forecasting Exercise: War-Gaming the Russia-Ukraine War
2 Structural Causes of War: Economic Warfare:The Oil Glut Strategy That Destroyed the USSR. Demographics as Destiny
3. Geopolitical Factors: NATO’s Needless Eastward Expansion
4. Opposing Force Levels and Equipment Profiles
5. The Russia-Ukraine War: Conduct of Operations-Phase One
6. Conduct of Operations-Phase Two
7. Information War, Psy-Ops and Cyber War Aspects
8. Nuclear Escalation Scenarios and Pathways
9. Ukraine: Biological War Bridge Head?
10. Economic Warfare: Sanctions and Response
11. Impact and Implications for the Swing State of India
12. A Comparative Analysis of Operations: Bangladesh 1971 and Ukraine 2022
13. Lessons Learnt: The Indian Context



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