Muchas de las discusiones relacionadas con ,la ayuda que Occidente podría darle a Ucrania, para hacer frente a una invasión de Rusia, mencionan la provisión de armas livianas portátiles como los misiles antitanque Javelín o misiles de Def Ae cercana. Sin embargo, parece no considerarse que, en las fases iniciales decisivas del ataque, Rusia seguirá su doctrina de empleo de los medios y su experiencia, realizando bombardeos masivos y empleo de misiles de corto y medio alcance, para devastar las escasas defensas existentes, forzando de esa manera una pronta capitulación. En resumen, hacer frente a una Operación de Invasión a gran escala “multidominio” de Rusia, requiere de otro tipo de asistencia militar.
Much of the Western discussion about helping Ukraine in the face of overwhelming Russian military advantage centers on relatively short-range weapons and tactics meant to enmesh an invasion force in the “next Afghanistan” or a “near certainty of hell”: for example, providing more Javelin anti-tank weapons, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, and weaponized drones; or training Ukrainian forces and Ukrainian non-state groups to make improvised explosive devices. While such courses of action would impose costs, they would impose them on Russian and Russian proxy forces’ ground troops. These approaches do not consider the decisive role that Russian air and standoff missile strikes may play. If the Kremlin orders a large-scale move on Ukraine, it is likely to take the form of a multi-domain operation, beginning with air and standoff missile strikes that could prove decisive—and devastating—long before short-range defenses come into play.
A better approach starts with looking at the Russian military’s current strategy and doctrine, the forces it has amassed nearby, and the capabilities it has shown in recent conflicts. Many Russian concepts of operation emphasize a short and intense “Initial Period of War” that may produce decisive effects even before ground forces are fully committed. Standoff weapons—bombs, precision guided missiles—are unleashed against enemy forces and the infrastructure that sustains the fight: military bases, forward-deployed units, air defense sites, airfields, key transportation nodes, fuel depots, command-and-control targets, power plants, even local news organizations. The aim is to force the enemy government to capitulate quickly.
A large-scale Russian operation against Ukraine would likely be different from previous post-Soviet operations for several reasons. The Russian military has spent the past decade refining doctrine, reorganizing its forces, and updating its arsenal. It no longer relies on large numbers of poorly trained conscripts and ill-equipped ground forces as it did in Chechnya. Its modernization program was designed to avoid the kind of disorganized, stove-piped, ground-force dominant operation seen in Georgia in 2008. Even its “hybrid” incursions into the Donbass and Crimea in 2014 may be only partially illustrative at best.
The most illuminating illustration of current Russian tactics is probably its overt operations in Syria. But that expeditionary force was much smaller, designed only to support what Moscow claims is a counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism operation. At their peak, Russian forces in Syria were only a small fraction of the strike power that is permanently based and temporary deployed near Ukraine today.
The modernized and massive Russian military force that currently surrounds Ukraine on three sides can muster air and missile strikes that would likely overwhelm Ukrainian airpower and air defenses and severely damage military and other facilities. In particular, Russia’s Aerospace Forces, or VKS, are very different from a decade ago. They have new and modernized aircraft, along with better radar, communications, and targeting equipment. Pilots have generally flown more flight hours and received training in close air support and nighttime operations. And although they have little experience flying through hostile air defenses, 92 percent of VKS pilots have recent combat experience in Syria. The VKS also has adopted more effective countermeasures against man-portable or short-range air defenses such as Stinger missiles, including flying at higher altitudes.