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The Top 29 Videos Explaining Russia's Military Invasion of Ukraine

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There’s an incredible plethora of videos and reports put out about the Russo-Ukrainain War every since Russia dramatically escalated the conflict and launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022. This has both great advantages and disadvantages - the sheer flurry of information means that it is possible to have an amount of knowledge on the war which up until a few years ago even intelligence agencies would struggle to possess. But there’s also such an overwhelming amount that it is hard to actually narrow down to what to look at and watch. This is a list of what I view as 20 of the best analyses and videos on the war, looking at it principally from a military perspective, examining operational aspects, the forces available to the two sides, strategy, doctrine, mistakes made, lessons drawn from the war, and its global impact and relevance to other states.

Given how the war has evolved dramatically over time, an important thing to look at is the dates of the various videos. Thus, they’re arranged in four periods: the pre-war (prior that is, to the contemporary Russian invasion, and ignoring previous Russian incursions into the Donbass and annexation of Crimea) look, the early invasion (during the failure of the initial Russian invasion during the first few days when it expected that Ukraine would simply fold over), the middle of the invasion (during the period of intense fighting which happened during the Defense of Kiev/Kyiv most notably), and finally since the end of March, with the clear defeat of Russian forces in Kyiv and the decisive shift of operations to the Donbass.


Pre-War

During the pre-war phase, most videos consisted of examining what Russia's reasons might be for attacking Ukraine, and the military composition and capabilities of the two sides. Most assumed that the war would entail heavy strategic costs for the Russian government, but that Russian military strength would be sufficient to enable a conventional defeat of the Ukrainian army, at least east of the Dnieper.

#1 - What Russia Faces: Primer to Ukraine’s Ground Army by Battle Order

As a great look at the actual composition, size, and organization of Ukraine’s military before the war, Battle Order’s video is a great primer to the capabilities of Ukrainian forces. These are somewhat confusing to an outside, since for example a key component of Ukrainian forces are "air assault brigades," which are actually typically mechanized units - similar to Russia with the VDV, who despite being theoretically airborne troops often fight on the ground. It also is very useful at showing the internal composition and structure of Ukrainian units.


#2 - What might happen if Russia does attack Ukraine? by Binkov’s Battlegrounds

One of the fascinating things about the Russian invasion of Ukraine was just how dramatically overestimated were Russian forces. It was widely expected before the war that the Russians would defeat the Ukrainians decisively, utilizing major advantages in equipment, size, and training and operational art to crush Ukrainian forces and at the least seize the eastern half of the country, exploiting pro-Russian sentiments, and during the initial days of the invasion I certainly thought that the Russian invasion would succeed, even if I thought it was still a mistake. Binkov’s Battleground gives what I see as a reasonably middle of the road perspective, before the war, of what the Russian invasion was thought to look like, and thus enables a great compare and contrast. It also examines the intense costs in trade and isolation which Russia would face from the war.


#3 - What a Russian assault on Ukraine would look like by Caspian Report

In line with the general question of what it was thought the war might look like before it began, Caspian Report shows a prediction of the Russian assault being based upon a staggered, step-by-step, attack, rather than the singular, massive offensive which expected Ukraine to simply collapse. It both shows what some predictions were from before the war, and what the Russians were looking for in Ukraine.


Early War

What I would define as the early war period was most everything up to a bit over after 10 days of the war beginning. This was marked by a Russian invasion which was based upon incredibly faulty intelligence and planning that assumed that the Ukrainians would simply capitulate and so the Russians would simply roll into and occupy the country. At the time, the sheer degree of miscalculation and the nature of this horrific Russian mistake was only beginning to become evident, but the fact that the Russian plan had gone off the rails, if not necessarily to what extent, was starting to become clear. Thus, the first analyses of increased Ukrainian strength and why Russian forces were underperforming to such a degree were starting to appear, although the general expectation was still for a grinding Russian victory would would force Ukraine to capitulate.

#4 - All Bling, no Basics - Why Ukraine has embarrassed the Russian Military by Perun

Principally focusing on Russian spending priorities, this video is however a brilliant perspective on why Russia’s forces have so underperformed despite relatively lavish defense spending, since the Russians have invested in capabilities which have little relationship to their strategic objectives in Ukraine, such as strategic strike forces and the navy. That the Russians invested so much in other fields despite making the decision to invade Ukraine was an unconscionable strategic mistake, and Perun suggests various changes that could have been made to spend Russian military resources better and prepare more effectively for the war. It also explains why the Ukrainians have been so effective, by an effective usage of resources they have and efficient cooperation with NATO support.

#5 - Ukraine's army invalidated the Russian invasion plan. Day 4. by Good Times Bad Times

By day 4 of the invasion, it was already clear that the Russian military was performing far worse than expected. Good Times Bad Times looks at some of the factors involved, such as US intelligence penetration of Russian command, Russia’s bad operational plan, and the perception of Russia’s military strength and options abroad as well as international reactions to Russia’s invasion.

#6 - Ukraine War: What the West Doesn't Understand EP 3 by Task & Purpose

While many of Task & Purpose’s claims appear heavily too optimistic from the Russian perspective, such as his prediction of the Russians being able to relatively smoothly transition to an attritional artillery war and continue to make progress against the Ukrainians, it also helps to understand what some of the initial invasion discussion revolved around and to put Russian failures into context.

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#7 - The War in Ukraine: An Operational Assessment by Modern War Institute

Although much of it focused on the strategic side of the war, The Center for Strategic and International Studies provides a good look at the successes of the Ukrainians early in the war, the disastrous outlook for the Russians in the long run, and shows the evolution of mindsets on Ukrainian performance - a pre-war assumption of military collapse which has by now, in early April, transformed into an assumption of a long term Ukrainian victory, if at grinding cost, with this video coming at a time when it was assumed that the Russians still inevitably would win, even if the cost to do so would be massively higher than the Russians ever imagined. It also provides for a good discussion of hybrid war and intelligence operations, such as Russian attempts to undermine the Ukrainian government pre-war, and cyber-attacks.

#8 - Assessing the Russian Military Campaign in Ukraine by Center for Strategic and International Studies


Although looking at a broad range of issues from sanctions to Russia’s strategic failures on essentially all fronts, this video also provides a valuable understanding of how the US and Western countries aided in transforming and improving the Ukrainian army before the war, as well as, along with other videos, providing a good early war mindset. This is particularly evident in regards to its concern for supporting an eventual insurgency against the Russian occupation of Ukraine.

#9 - Early Analysis of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine by Sub Brief

Russia’s initial invasion operations were the start of a long chain of incompetent failings on the part of the Russian military, initially presumed to simply be Ukrainian propaganda but which quickly showed themselves to be all too real. Sub Brief shows some of the crucial deficiencies of Russian formations, such as their incomplete organization with even signal units lacking, the failure to inform soldiers, the poorly chosen time of year which prevented Russian tanks from being able to operate off road, and the failure of the VDV to capture airfields which prevented a rapid Russian offensive push.

#10 - The Failed Logistics of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine by Wendover Productions


Especially during the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one of the most noticeable things on a map was that the Russian attack penetrated into an extensive but relatively shallow belt all around the country. There are other reasons behind it, but one of the big failings during the Russian invasion has been logistics, and Wendover Productions gives a comprehensible and effective analysis of how Russia’s largely railroad-bound logistics failed to enable offensive operations, how the Ukrainians exploited this, and how Russia’s military plans made their shortcomings even more pronounced.

#11 - Reasons for Failure? Russian Air Force in Ukraine by Military Aviation History

When NATO goes to war, it almost always involves massive usage of aerial forces who seize command of the sky, suppress enemy aircraft and air defenses, and are a major component of providing support and assistance to ground forces. Russia’s air force, despite being far larger than the Ukrainian one, has singularly failed to have anywhere near this effect on the battlefield, and Military Aviation History looks at why it has been so ineffective, ranging from training to equipment and the limitations of the Russian defense industry.

#12 - Is The Russian Military Actually Failing In Ukraine? by Covert Cabal


After the end of the first week of the war, ever harder questions started to be asked about why the Russian military was failing. This video from Covert Cabal examines the beginning of the period of stagnation that occurred in the Ukraine conflict after the initial offensive push by Russian forces, and recounts the beginning course of the war and some of the key problems afflicting Russian forces, such as corruption, the mud season, and the absence of the Russian air force.

The Middle War

We of course, do not know how long the Ukrainian War will go on. I hope sincerely that the horrible and saddening war will end soon, but it is impossible to predict how long it will list. Thus naming this period the "middle war," is a dangerous gamble, but it's the term I've used for the period following the failure of the initial Russian invasion plan, seeking to capture the Ukrainian government and capitulate the Ukrainian government in one fell swoop, to the definitive defeat of Russian forces around Kiev. This period was marked by a semi-stagnation of the war, and a realization of the long-term weaknesses and rot present in the Russian military, as well as some additional analysis of the strategic aspects of the war.

#13 - War in Ukraine: Understanding Russia’s Military Strategy by RUSI

An excellent look at the different Russian conceptions of war and its levels, Russian strategic preoccupations, Russian relations with Belarus, potential Russo-Chinese relations, and the development of the Russian military in the future. These international strategic elements are ones which have been much discussed, given that the Russians will almost certainly have to turn more to the Chinese to provide for continued economic vitality, but this video cautions that this will probably not constitute anything close to what might be termed a "vassal" arrangement.

#14 - Analysing the Performance of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine | Adversarial Studies Ep. 17 by RUSI

A discussion video on the Russian forces in Ukraine from the Royal United Services Institute and particularly military analyst Michael Kofman, this video examines the Russian expectations going into the war, current expectations for what future developments the conflict might take, and why Russian military and political capabilities have diverged so badly. Although published in April it actually came from the beginning of March.

#15 - EXPOSED! - What the Ukrainian Invasion has Revealed about Russian Military Power by Ward Caroll

As the war continued to grind on, it became more and more clear that the Russian military had severe shortcomings and errors. Ward Caroll’s video covers some of the severe problems that the Russians had, such as logistics, precision guided munitions, poor air force technical capacity, and what role NATO supplies had in assisting and aiding the Ukrainians.

#16 - Russia's war in Ukraine is not going to plan by Caspian Report

Reckoning with the disruption of Russian plans and why they failed, Caspian Report looks at why the Russians chose such a poorly conceived strategy and how it turned out so disastrously. Although the situation quickly changed after the video was published as the Russians switched to far greater usage of artillery and bombardments, it shows the faulty logic of the beginning of the war and its results.

#17 - Russia headed to strategic defeat in Ukraine by Caspian Report

Another video from Caspian Report comes after the previous one, discussing how the Russians have boxed themselves into a corner and proved to be a strategic disaster for Russia, undermining many of its objectives and interests.

#18 - Air Defense in Ukraine - Watch This First by Military Aviation History

Examining the role of different anti-aircraft systems and what differences exist between ex-Soviet and NATO conceptions of air defense, this video explores what can be done to help Ukrainian air defense and how it works in general.


#19 - Be careful drawing conclusions from the Ukraine combat videos by The Chieftain

One of the most valuable sources on what has been happening in Ukraine has been videos posted from combat, principally on the Ukrainian side. While these are definitely useful, this video examines the limitations on this and how they can show different perspectives on each side, as well as some of the important sides for operational security and war crimes.

#20 - "Sending their best" - Debunking the myth of Russian 'cannon fodder' in Ukraine by Perun

During the early days of the invasion, one of the ideas which emerged to try to explain the terrible Russian performance in the war was that the Russians were sending in waves of poorly trained and constituted conscripts, and were preserving the regular units behind them to exploit their success. It’s easy to see whence this view came, since the Russian military was universally, including by the Russian government itself, expected to be far more competent, but it is, as Perun shows, wrong. The Russians are not fighting the war with one hand tied behind their back.

#21 - The Way Ukraine Could Destroy A Russian Army And Win The War A (theoretical) Battleplan by Arch Cast

This video explores the positioning and organization of units on both sides at around the middle of the war. While the proposals about what could be done by the Ukrainian army are entirely the author’s opinions, and I generally don't like that style of video, it gives a good perspective on what the battlefield looks like operationally.

#22 - Is Russia low on Ammo? by Military History not Visualized.

One of the big questions in the war has been the extremely poor performance of the Russian air force. Part of the explanation behind it is provided by Military History not Visualized, who examines the poor supplies of precision munitions available to the Russian air force and the state of broader munition supplies.

#23 - Drones in Ukraine - lessons for other countries by Perun

The usage of drones has been a key factor in military transformations over the last several decades. Although started by the Americans with drone strikes during the War on Terror, since then their effect on the battlefield has only grown, providing major increases in strike, reconnaissance, and SEAD capabilities, shown notably during the Nagorno-Karabagh War and now during the War in Ukraine.

#24 - End of the Tank? - ATGMs and shoulder fired anti-tank weapons in Ukraine by Perun

Although not entirely unexpected in light of problems with armored units in recent wars in Yemen, Syria, and Armenia, the Ukrainian War has shown in painful light the limitations of armored forces against contemporary weapons. Perun examines the increasing threats facing tanks on the modern battlefield, puts them into historical perspectives, and discusses what can be effectively done to limit them and what future changes can be made to tank forces, as well as showing the Russians proved to be so particularly vulnerable.


#25 Could the Ukraine war turn into World War III ? by Caspian Report

One of the greatest concerns about the Ukrainian conflict is that it could escalate as far as a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia. Caspian Report’s video on this examines the role of nuclear weapons in Russian doctrine, potential deployment mechanizations, authorization, and likelihood of use.

Late War / Contemporary

The big break in the war so far, and the decisive closure of the initial stage, came with the defeat of Russian troops in front of Kiev, and their forced withdrawal from the city. Not only did this end the Russian threat to Kiev and end any Russian hopes of regime change in Ukraine, it also meant that the Ukrainians had shown that they could defeat the Russians in conventional, stand-up fights - most notably when the Ukrainian 93rd Mechanized Brigade crushed the Russian 4th Tank Division, an elite Russian armored formation. With this, the epicenter of the war has shifted to the Donbass, which is still ongoing.

#26 - Russia’s David vs Ukraine’s Goliath? Manpower woes explained. by Binkov’s Battlegrounds

Binkov’s video explains what the alternate sources of manpower are for the two sides and why Russia struggles to put enough troops into the field, and the long term expectations of what the manpower situation will look like for both.

#27 - Reservists and irregulars in Ukraine - "A people at war" by Perun

In line with other recent videos, an increasing focus has come to be placed upon the attritional side of the fight, particularly manpower, which for both sides is a crucial element. This video shows the important role which Ukrainian reservists and the civilian population have played in assisting the regular Ukrainian army and what services they have rendered both on and off the battlefield, with a comparison to the limitations which Russia’s limited war imposes.

#28 - Is the Ukraine War in a Stalemate or Checkmate? by Task & Purpose

Coming at the turn of the war with the defeat of Kiev, this looks at why and how Russian forces were defeated in the North, the shift to the Donbass, ongoing offensives north of Kherson, and some elements of the ongoing Battle of Mariupol.

#29 - Russia Regrouping in Ukraine is Worse Than You Think by Task & Purpose

The big change recently in the war has been that the Russian offensive nexus has shifted to the Donbass, with the withdrawal of their troops from the north. Task & Purpose talks about how the Russians have spun this defeat in the north and what sort of objectives and interests they have in the new southern offensives.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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