Urban Warfare blog
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, it is essential to understand urban combat. As the first phase of Russia’s invasion concludes and the second begins, I will be looking at why the Ukrainians were successfully able to defend Kyiv and other major cities. To understand urban combat, readers must realize that the defender has the advantage in open terrain combat. Defenders create a 3:1 advantage over attackers. In a well-prepared defended city, defenders can increase their advantage to roughly 10:1 over attackers.
Rural warfare like World War I and II and soon to be seen in the second phase of the Russian invasion, allows tanks and artillery to fire on enemy positions and extract heavy losses on both sides. Defenders must create defenses such as trenches making the battlefield look eerily similar to 1918. However, in an urban setting, defenders have vastly more cover and attacking positions options. Buildings, basements, rubble, trash, etc., allow the defender to attack from multiple angles and escape before the enemy can accurately direct fire. Urban areas also make it challenging for attackers to gather intelligence, direct artillery or air support, and maneuver heavy machines like tanks through tight roads. The limited maneuverability of the attacker allows hit and run ambush tactics that can extract heavy losses on the attacker.
With the urban defender’s advantage, Ukraine was able to repel the Russian advance into their main cities during the first phase of the war. Now that Russia has retreated and started concentrating its forces in the Donbas region, the Ukrainian advantage is decreasing. They will be without multilayered defendable structures while facing heavy artillery and overwhelming amounts of Russian mechanized troops.