A lot is being asked of 30K troops who are being placed in unenviable positions
Putin wasn’t kidding when he said he was launching a “special military operation”. Relative to what the Russian military brought to the border this is not yet all-out war.
I would say about 30,000 Russian troops have crossed over into Ukraine so far. A small portion of the force assembled.
Moreover, the Russians are (so far) waging the war in a way that keeps civilian losses to a minimum and even trying to minimally disrupt civilian life.
The Russian operation could have opened with strikes against power plants and the electric grid (both bombed by US in Yugoslavia) that left civilians in shock and without power, and with ballistic and cruise missile strikes on Ukrainian army barracks.
Instead, the Russian enterprise is so far conducted in a way that limits not just Ukrainian civilian, but even Ukrainian military losses. The Russians have barely used their artillery.
It’s as if so far Putin is trying to conduct less a war, and more a 1968-style policing action.
Kiev’s approach has been just the opposite, to distribute weapons to civilians. To ask them to “make Molotov cocktails” and to film and publish Russian troop movements.
It’s a competition. Kiev is trying to induct the populace into a people’s war and give Moscow the kind of war it does not want. And Moscow is doing everything it can from its side to not have that happen but to instead wage a minimally disruptive regime-change.
Russia wants the populace passive, Ukraine wants it as mobilized as possible. Thus there is good reason for Russia to refrain from using all the firepower it has, but it has made the life of its troops more difficult.
This economy-of-force approach is actually typical of how Russia operates. It will try something limited and small-scale first then escalate into something bigger when that hits a wall and so on.
There are good reasons to do it the Russian way, but there is also good reason not to. Certainly on the negative side is that it means asking a lot of their troops.
The brazen helicopter assault on Gostromel Airport was the most dramatic example of this, but really all Russian troops that have been committed are being asked to do brazen stuff with not much cover.
Small units of 800 men are being told to drive along a road 50 kilometers into the enemy’s rear and to go around major cities.