“‘You have the power but you have to fight smart.’”
— John W. Spencer
That’s retired Major John Spencer, chair of Urban Warfare Studies at West Point’s Modern War Institute, who took to Twitter on Saturday to directly speak to Ukraine’s citizens as skirmishes for control of the capital Kyiv itensified. Main Russian forces advanced closer to the city Saturday night after earlier airstrikes were reported and civilians were taking up arms to defend the city against the potential for battalions of Russian troops.
“The urban defense is hell for any soldier. It usually take 5 attackers to 1 defender. Russians do not have the numbers. Turn Kyiv and any urban area leading to Kyiv into a porcupine,” wrote Spencer, who recommended that defenders of the city need to build thousands of obstacles in the streets, destroy bridges and create strongholds to attack the well-armed Russian military.
“If it is a street you still need to use. Build a S pattern obstacle that still slows a vehicle down,” he writes.
The advice from the tactical expert comes as amid the third day of the Ukrainian invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, with the aim of overthrowing Ukraine’s elected government and ending its alignment with the West.
The Wall Street Journal and others were reporting that Ukrainian forces, backed by thousands of volunteers regained control of Kyiv’s streets.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was asked to evacuate Kyiv at the behest of the U.S. government, turned down the offer and has urged citizens to take up arms.
Zelensky said in response: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” according to a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation, who described Zelensky as upbeat. Zelensky, in a video address on the streets of Kyiv, urged citizens to keep fighting.
Some 18,000 rifles had been distributed to volunteers in the capital willing to fight, WSJ reported.
Spencer’s recommendations were drawing attention on Twitter, with hedge-fund manager Pershing Square Capital’s Bill Ackman retweeting the military expert’s messages on urban tactics in Kyiv, using the hashtag #StandWithUkraine.