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Early Lessons of Ukraine : Conventional Military "War" Is Back?

Whatever be the hyperbole surrounding phrases used in the lexicon of conflict such as information “war”, hybrid “war” and “multi domain warfare”, “War in Ukraine – 2022” has clearly established that, “War as an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will,” as Clausewitz defined it or politics by other means is back.

The reasons are not far to seek.

Clausewitz and War

War entails violence, in that context the concept suffixing every form of contest with an opponent nation or entity with War is definitionally incorrect.

War as Clausewitz informs us entails use of maximum force with simultaneous use of intellect. If one side uses maximum force against another the former will gain an upper hand and repeats time and again that “war is an act of force,” with no logical limits to application. There are other parts of Clausewitz’s treatise which defines limited use of force and so on but this does not dilute the correlation of physical force and war.

However by adding war to as cyberwar, information war and so on the aim appears to be to attract attention of the reader a form of click baiting frequently used in the digital world with bylines to entice a reader to click on articles.

The body of the article may not contain what the headline says but these means have been considered fair.

Prefixing war with hybrid is another modern trend even though original proponents of use of multiple types of forces in a civil war scenario did not consider their actions as war, but threats or force used to be an amalgam.

Multi domain operations or war is another term that is oft used indicating broad spectrum of domains in which a contest against an opponent is waged such as – electronic, cyber, information and so on.

Suffice to say many of these domains do not entail physical violence inflicted on the enemy and are benign in nature.

Never the less their importance lies in providing the conventional war fighter tools and force multipliers with which to gain advantage over the enemy in use of arms.

These operations seldom achieve the objective that is intended of a comprehensive defeat of an adversary.

Ukraine War and Russian Use of Conventional Force

Now that the Russian Armed Forces have launched a war in Ukraine or a, “special military operation,” as the Russian President Vladimir Putin has defined the venture, the importance of conventional war fighting has come to the fore.

This is clear when one links with the operations carried out with the objectives for which these were launched and achieved.

As on April 19th, Russian armed forces have been able to physically occupy parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast of Ukraine which have been declared as independent republics by Russia.

A corridor from Rostov in Russia to Crimea has been carved out thus linking the territory that was seized in 2014 with Russian mainland. Mariupol the port which provided access to the sea for Donetsk region remains to be fully secured.

Clearly all these gains were made with the use of conventional military power – aerial, missile, artillery and attack helicopter attacks, maneouvre by armour and closing in urban combat by the infantry including units as the Chechnya Guard.

Ukraine Military Resistance

Ukraine’s resistance was also based on armed action by the military, Territorial Defence units and local support which has denied Russia access to Kyiv the capital in the North and forced Moscow to review and restrict the objective at least in the current phase to Eastern Ukraine.

The Battle of Mariupol is yet to be consummated, and the heroic resistance by the Ukrainian forces including what the Russians call as Nazis – the Azov Battalion will be a saga that may become standard in the annals of history.

A highly sophisticated information campaign led by the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and a vast array of digital team was launched, this could mobilise global public opinion for political and diplomatic support.

Indeed this strengthened Ukraine’s national resolve to resist the Russian offensive -fighting and winning on the Northern front with resistance on others.


To conclude early lesson to be learnt is do not write off – conventional war and combat involving fire and maneouvre – there is no substitute and other forms that are touted to be “War,” are only supporting actions to facilitate success on the battlefield, boost up national morale and win international support for actions of the war fighters on the ground.

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