DAY 5: Russia Stumbles

Ukraine’s forces have their problems too. Mr. Zelensky’s reluctance to order a general mobilization until late last week delayed the call-up of reservists and consequently the movement of some units into defensive positions, said Phillip Karber of the Potomac Foundation, a policy center.

The longstanding U.S. policy of modulating the supply of arms to Ukraine so as not to provoke Russia has also affected the country’s military capability. Stinger antiaircraft systems weren’t sent to Ukraine until January when the Biden administration approved a request by Latvia and Lithuania to provide the U.S.-made systems from their arsenals. The U.S. has since opted to send antiaircraft missiles from its own inventory. Experts say, however, that it takes time to distribute the weapons and train Ukrainian forces in how to use them. The U.S. hasn’t outfitted the Ukrainians with antiship missiles.

The Ukrainian forces have benefited from the U.S., British and other allied training, however, as well as U.S. intelligence about Russia military moves. The Ukrainians have also been adept at moving their surface-to-air systems and turning them off at times to make them harder to be targeted by the Russians, Western analysts say. As a result, Russia has yet to achieve air superiority in the country.