CoveTalk | Ukraine: Current Situation and Future Prospects

The Russo-Ukrainian War is an ongoing international conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which began in February 2014 and escalated 8 years later when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and began occupying more of the country. 

Having recently spent time in Ukraine, Dr David Kilcullen recounts his experiences to set out the macro-picture of the war and current reality on the ground. He then delves into the details behind the military strategies at play. David characterises the current 20-mile deep static front of the War, the prospect of counter-offensives, and highlights how technology is shifting the urban military environment. 

Dr Kilcullen spoke to Ukrainian resistance leaders and presents their experiences under Russian occupation. David picks up on the use of chatbots as a tool to report Ukrainian traitors to authorities and other uses of new technology in the war.

Describing the layout of the terrain near the front line and explaining the Ukrainian use of the term grey zone, meaning 'no man's land'. With the threat being uni-directional, Ukrainian authorities have to be well-aware of the human terrain of the cities: making sure civilian centres for supplies are spread out to reduce the threat/impact of bombings - especially important when Russia retains a 10:1 artillery advantage and the lowest resource in Ukraine is people.

"It's all about manoeuvring for advantage and fighting for information, but in a very electronic-warfare heavy way and enabling artillery."
– Dr David Kilcullen

This CoveTalk was delivered to members of Holsworthy Barracks on Tuesday, 05 September. 


Picture of David Kilcullen

Dr David Kilcullen is a former soldier and diplomat, and a scholar of guerrilla warfare, terrorism, urbanisation, and the future of conflict, who served 25 years for the Australian and United States governments. Retiring from active service as a lieutenant colonel, David has been in command of and deployed on operational missions including: peacekeeping, counterinsurgency, and foreign internal defence across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe. In the United States he was Chief Strategist in the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau, and served in Iraq as Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to General David Petraeus, before becoming Special Advisor for Counterinsurgency to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He is the author of a number of influential books including, The LedgerThe Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One and Counterinsurgency, Out of the Mountains and, Blood Year: The Unravelling of Western Counterterrorism based on an essay that received the Walkley Award.