After more than two weeks of war, the Russian military grinds forward at a heavy cost

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War in Ukraine


Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director general of RUSI, a London-based think tank, said he’s been surprised at the “very poor performance” of the Russian air force, which has yet to knock out all Ukrainian air assets and defenses — something he had thought would take a matter of days. The Russian air force, although old, consists of several hundred high-end fixed-wing aircraft that are roughly equivalent to their Western counterparts. But the Russians, he said, “don’t seem to be able to coordinate the use of them together, and deconflict them and ensure they aren’t shooting each other.” Still, he cautioned against underplaying Russia’s strength. It may not have taken the skies or advanced quickly on the ground, but Russia does have the firepower to do immense damage to Ukraine. “Having painted the Russians as 10 feet tall compared with Ukrainians, now some people are painting them two feet tall,” Chalmers said. “It’s somewhere in between. They are still a formidable adversary.”