A concise and informative summation of the main participants in Russia’s war with Ukraine; it is a useful guide for modellers, and an in-depth explanation for those wanting more information than that afforded in the news.
This book covers the forces that are / were involved in Russia's War in Ukraine
, from the loosely formed ad hoc units which coalesce and disperse like the ebb and flow of the tide, to formal standing units of police and armies on both sides. The two sides being Ukrainian and associated formations on the one hand, and Russian with associated formations on the other. There is a brief explanation of how this war came to be, and it is brief as this book is easily read over a couple of coffees in an afternoon, being 64 pages in length.
Each formation is identified by name, with the leader identified where known or relevant; there is a history or explanation by way of background, any notable actions that that formation participated in, what became of the leader if relevant (and it is relevant in several instances – there is a sidebar profiling three unit leaders who fell out of favour with Moscow and their untimely demise), the arms, equipment, and uniform(s) utilised – most helpful for modelling purposes, and where that unit is now, for example disbanded due to questionable practises or absorbed into a larger, established unit.
As this is a precis of units, there is no in-depth analysis of the politics, strategy, or battles arising from this war. Which is just as well, as any narrative that did try to cover those subjects could run into several tomes.
The book treads a careful apolitical path as much as it can, whilst acknowledging that Russia did illegally invade Ukraine, seize and hold the Crimea, and continues to support occupying forces, all the whole maintaining plausible deniability.
Before reading the book, it is recommended to first read the Author’s note inside the front cover; this explains the conventions used around translating Cryillic and names of persons and places.
The narrative references individuals, dates and times in chronological order, making it easy to follow as events unfold across the pages.
The book is broken down into the following chapters
War in the Donbas
Russian Regular Forces
Ukrainian regular forces
Approximately 10 pages are spent on each of the protagonist, being the rebels, Russian regular forces, Ukrainian regular forces, and Ukrainian militias. This forms the bulk of the book and more than adequately covers the subject in a short span.
I particularly liked the attention paid to important details such as how various units were formed and organised, what they consisted of, and what happened to them. About my only gripe would be that the text does not note references used, and there is nothing connecting the index to the text, or visa versa.
Photographs, artwork, graphics
The narrative is supported by several tables, maps, photographs, sidebars, and useful colour plates dispersed throughout the book. I found these relevant and easy to read, accurately depicting the information referred to. The sidebars are as interesting as the main body of text, and details incidents like the shooting down of MH17, the fate of leaders who have fallen foul of Moscow, and the “colourful” history of a couple of the more notorious units.
The photographs are clear, and depict useful aspects, such as items of uniform and equipment; they are also accurately explained in a small paragraph to the side, calling out points of interest, eg p.36, a Spetsnaz with AS Val suppressed rifle.
What I found most interesting was, from a modelling perspective, the array of vehicles and uniforms utilised by both sides: weapons from World War Two, through to current and next generation Russian hardware; similarly, a veritable pick-and-mix of uniforms from ex-Soviet stocks, donated civilian items, Crye precision, and Russian ‘Ratnik’ uniforms, purportedly purchased second hand from military surplus stores.
The colour plates are accompanied by a brief explanation, in typical Osprey fashion; these are accurate and point out interesting aspects of the illustrations.
I looked up a couple of the references from the select bibliography and found it to be accurate and correctly quoted, which is always reassuring in any book of a subject as complex as this.
I recommend this book without qualification as a useful resource on Russia’s war in the Ukraine, to modellers and interested parties alike, as it is succinct, topical, and an easy read. I genuinely found it useful, and it has piqued my interest in modelling a vehicle on the subject.
About the only thing I’d dispute is that the author asserts the war has the potential to ‘bleed Russia to death’, p.60. I would have thought that in any war of attrition between Russia and Ukraine, the odds would favour Russia, given its size and disregard for law.
Rating 90% (only due to brevity)
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