To succeed in a land battle, a military maxim suggests the attacker’s capability needs to be dominant by 3:1, which is pretty much the exact ratio between the totals of the Russian and Ukrainian forces, if you include reservists in the calculation. Of course, with an extensive border to defend, local superiority can be achieved easily by a well-trained, mobile army, but holding onto the captured territory requires more troops on the ground. So why has President Putin invaded his southern neighbour with such a tiny proportion of the Russian army?
What we have seen in the war so far, is a relatively cautious approach compared with the way the Soviet Army planned to invade Germany in the Cold War. There has been nothing like the sort of artillery barrages that the British Army of the Rhine anticipated if the balloon went up in the 1980s. So why has President Putin held back from using the full might of the Russian military?
The answers to these two pivotal questions lie in Putin’s own words and the patterns of recent conflicts. Someone once said that only a fool would try to predict the future, but these vital issues might provide the public with an idea of the length and depth of this war and where Putin might go after Ukraine. It is time the serious UK media commentators focused on the grand strategy, rather than the here and now.