It is difficult to get a picture of the Russian advance on the second day of the war in Ukraine. “The situation is fluid,” confirms professor by special appointment of War Studies Frans Osinga, affiliated with the Dutch Defence Academy and Leiden University.
Osinga says Russia did a big blow on day one by getting their hands on Ukrainian airspace, but that doesn‘t mean it’s a walk over for the Russians.
“Russia has to deal with a venomous and well-organized opponent, who has prepared itself well,” said Osinga. He strikes the Ukrainian army much higher than the Iraqi army that had to stop the US advance to Baghdad in 2003. The Americans also had to deal with an easier, flat terrain there.
Val Kiev doesn‘t seem imminent
According to Osinga, it is true that Russian units today were 9 kilometers from the center of the capital Kiev, but that does not mean that the fall of the Ukrainian capital is imminent. It was about advanced troops, the main force is still 50 kilometers from Kiev.
It is important that yesterday the Russians failed to take the Antonov cargo airport near Kiev. At first, that seemed to work out quickly, but then they encountered fierce resistance. By now, the airport would be in Russian hands, but the Ukrainians have unfinished the runways.
How they did that is unclear. “It can be done with mines, concrete obstacles and mortar grenades, which have created holes in the runways”.
What matters is that because of this, the Russians are still unable to command large amounts of troops. In order to do that safely, by the way, they should also have their hands on the surroundings of the airport.
Obstacles have also been raised on the roads to Kiev to stop the Russian advance and bridges have been destroyed, for example. “It’s really 160 kilometers of difficult terrain,” says Osinga about the route from the border to the capital. He also points out that Russia may control the airspace, but that does not mean that helicopters or fighter planes can fly low. “Then they have to deal with anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers and the like.”
That does not alter the fact that Russia can harass Kiev from a great distance. Mayor Klitschko warned Kiev residents tonight that the next night will be very difficult.