Logistics: The Chinese Analysis


September 14, 2023: China believes that the Russian lack of progress in Ukraine is largely due to the failure of the Russian logistical system. The Ukrainian defenders went after Russian supply lines and that made it easier to destroy most of the Russian offensive forces. The Ukrainians did this from the beginning, attacking Russian supply convoys and leaving Russian combat forces stranded because of fuel and ammunition shortages. Russia underestimated the Ukrainian ability to take advantage of Russian efforts to remedy their logistics shortcomings, which were hampered by corruption in the military logistics bureaucracy. This was something Russian generals could only complain about because they could not fix it. Some Russian leaders realized the logistical risks but could not get needed support from senior political leaders to do anything about it.

This assessment by the Chinese has them reviewing their own logistical plans for an attack on Taiwan. China can get troops onto the island but their supply arrangements are less certain to succeed if the Taiwanese forces concentrate on the Chinese supply ships. Many of these supply ships are civilian vessels, including RO/RO (roll on/roll off) ships and ferries. China has conducted some exercises testing the ability of these ships to travel the necessary distance, but did not include any Taiwanese efforts to destroy the ships. As history regularly demonstrates, the enemy has the ability to respond and the Taiwanese have missiles and satellite targeting support from their American allies to find and destroy Chinese seaborne supply efforts. The Chinese strategy is to win quickly and then declare peace. This was the Russian plan in Ukraine, where Russian supplies were moved over roads and rail lines as well as by ships in the Black Sea. The Ukrainians attacked or disrupted these supply efforts sufficiently to leave many Russian troops in Ukraine without enough food, ammunition, fuel or even food. And they still don’t.

Ukraine continues to concentrate on Russian logistics, using long range missiles and GPS guided aircraft bombs to destroy Russian supplies that have been stockpiled for troops to use. Russia responded by moving the stockpiled supplies farther from the front lines and, when possible, storing them in underground bunkers. Such bunkers are great in theory but in practice there are not many of these bunkers and supply stockpiles often end up out in the open, on pallets and covered by tarps. Ukraine tends to find these locations quickly and attack them. Ukrainian sabotage teams operate in Russian territory to disrupt railroad movement by damaging railroad signals and communications systems. This makes the railroads less reliable and often leads to accidents that derail supply trains and block further use of that line until the wreckage is removed and the rails repaired. Ukraine has even been able to get operatives deep inside Russia to damage the Trans-Siberian Railroad, which is currently used to move weapons and munitions from North Korea to Ukraine.

These sustained attacks on Russian logistics have been a major reason for the failure of Russian forces in Ukraine. China fears Taiwan plans to do the same to Chinese invasion forces, who are even more vulnerable because they must come by sea.




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