The world watches the Ukrainian people's bravery, tenacity and fortitude as the Russian military ransacks and pillages homes, villages and entire cities in Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been hailed a hero as he stands with his people on the line drawn in the sand, a line between the innocent people of Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin. A line of freedom and democracy as a way of life drawn between greed and attempted occupation despite the Russian president’s denial. Zelenskyy stands for Ukraine, but he also stands for the free world as it is challenged in these dire moments.
Citizens and world leaders alike are stricken with fear and uncertainty as Putin unearths long-buried Cold War sentiments. NATO countries rushed to the aid of the Ukrainian people, all while imposing unprecedented economic sanctions on Russia. In response , Putin threatens “consequences that [we] have never experienced in [our] history.” These threats and subsequent uncertainties have snuffed out requests by Zelenskyy for a no-fly zone over Ukraine and Poland’s desire to send MiG-29 fighter aircraft in exchange for U.S. F-35s.
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Months into the conflict, Russia is seen through a different lens despite these reborn Cold War fears and sentiments. Russia has spent decades and hundreds of billions of dollars revamping its military, attempting to upgrade equipment while modernizing tactics and procedures. Reports from Ukraine suggest that Russia may have begun this operation with premature confidence.
Numerous Russian generals have been killed on the front lines, suggesting that lower-ranking soldiers are unable to take decisive actions, a far cry from the non-commissioned officer corps of the U.S. military that relies heavily on the leadership of lower-ranking military members. In Voznesensk, Ukrainian forces and volunteers from the Territorial Defense Force dealt the Russian military one of the most significant blows since the invasion of Ukraine. A two-day battle culminated in surviving Russian troops retreating, leaving behind damaged and destroyed equipment and armor as well as their fallen comrades.
According to Ukrainian officials, antitank missiles supplied to Ukraine by Western supporters have led to the destruction of hundreds of Russian tanks and other military vehicles. Russian forces were reported to have been stranded for days in miles-long convoys, falling short of their objectives. Western officials estimate between 70,000 and 80,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, with many more wounded or missing — although the Kremlin keeps those cards close to its chest.
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The Russian military and its officials have proven far less competent than they were initially given credit for. Cold War feelings are likely to live on until a resolution with the Kremlin is reached. However, the Ukrainian resolve proves that, without her allies, Russia cannot achieve what Putin and much of the world believed it could. The outnumbered Ukrainian military has withstood the desecration of a much more well-equipped military force. But what does this mean for Americans stateside? While dangers still exist, the world can take a breath knowing that the Russian military is nowhere near as powerful and is far more disorganized than it was thought to be.
Parker Zaitz is a private investigator based out of Maryville.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Ukrainian resolve shows Russia isn't as powerful as was thought