The Coming Siege of Kyiv | National Review

The Coming Siege of Kyiv | National Review

People walk past the remains of a missile at a bus terminal in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 4, 2022. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

This war is in its opening week. To get an idea of what is in store for Kyiv, let’s look at a few recent cases of urban warfare.

Fallujah was a small city with 300,000 inhabitants. It had 39,000 buildings, almost all concrete, with poor construction and two to three floors. Of the 39,000 buildings, 18,000 — 45 percent — were destroyed or seriously damaged in the U.S. assault to dislodge the insurgents in November of 2004.

The battle for Mosul in 2015 was far more extensive in size and damage. Mosul, with a pre-battle population of 1.5 million, was about 65 percent destroyed. Of its 210,000 houses, 138,000 were damaged or destroyed. No sewer system, no power, no potable water.

In Kyiv, a city of 3,000,000 people, there are at least 250,000 commercial and residential buildings (my estimate). (Anyone taking the time can count the number of high rises and estimate their engineering stability.)

The insurgents in Fallujah and Mosul did not have anti-tank weapons. With NATO providing thousands of anti-armor weapons to the Ukrainian defenders, the Russians will apply massive artillery and air bombardment before armor and dismounted infantry try to advance block by block.

In Fallujah, U.S. forces expended 2,500 tank main-gun rounds, after launching 540 air strikes and firing 14,000 artillery and mortar shells. It is not unreasonable to expect the Russians to launch ten times that number — or 140,000 artillery shells — at a city ten times larger. Our military has surely done the calculations and shared them.

If televised visuals persist of that bombardment, day after day, then global public demand to forbid the purchase of Russian oil and gas will grow. Even assuming that President Biden soon trumpets a deal with Iran as the solution to skyrocketing gas prices, he will feel additional pressure to cut off Russian oil exports.

In sum, the siege of Kyiv is likely to extend well beyond a month. It is not self-evident that Putin will achieve his objective of installing a puppet government. Unknown is the tenacity of the defenders, even when they are exhausted, and whether a resupply route to them can be maintained.

A former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine, Bing West embedded with dozens of platoons in Afghanistan and wrote three books about the course of that mismanaged war.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.