Ten months later, it's become quite obvious how utterly wrong those generals were. Not only has Russia failed to reach most objectives, but Ukrainian forces have proven to be much tougher than estimated and, with an influx of Western weapons -- primarily from the United States -- Russian forces are reeling and have been pushed out of areas they initially captured.
But Moscow's military misfortunes may be about to change, and soon: As winter sets in and the ground in Ukraine becomes hard and frozen, it looks as though Putin is priming his military for a major offensive that reportedly will include two of NATO's newest members, Finland and Sweden.
Vladimir Putin has dramatically escalated the Ukraine war again by raising his nuclear combat readiness and bolstering his troops by 350,000 to turn the tide on his failing campaign, raising fears of a global conflict.
The war-mongering despot warned the Kremlin will invest whatever necessary to increase its nuclear arsenal and vowed his much-hyped Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles will be available to his forces within weeks.
New military units will be formed on Russia's western borders to terrorize and scold Finland and Sweden for seeking to join NATO in the face of Kremlin aggression.
The major buildup of forces means that the war will be escalating as well, both of which should send pause through the ranks of Western civilian and military leaders after weeks of decent gains by Ukrainian forces and a visit to the United States by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to plead for more weapons. The specter of a nuclear conflict has now been raised dramatically as well, given that the Zircon missiles are capable of intercontinental travel and can be tipped with nuclear warheads. Oh, and no missile defenses in American or Western arsenals can stop them, either.
The fact is, if Putin uses a nuke in Europe, that's going to drag NATO into the war, and once again, conflict on the continent will rage, giving China the opportunity it needs to move on Taiwan and, possibly, Japan.
"In his speech to defense chiefs in Moscow" this week, the Daily Mail reported, "Putin made a series of rare and frank concessions about his botched invasion, admitting there were 'problems' with his mobilization and acknowledging vague 'criticism' of his military strategy. But to reverse his fortunes, the president will spend 'whatever it takes' on the military, 'improve the combat readiness of our nuclear triad' and increase his troop numbers from 1.15 million to 1.5 million."
Putin also said that his military forces should be learning a great many lessons from the experience in Ukraine in order to modernize the force moving forward. But in the meantime, he said that he will pay special attention to improving and modernizing the nuclear forces because, he said, they are "the main guarantee of Russia's sovereignty."
Long-serving Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who, frankly, should be shouldering the lion's share of the blame for the poor performance of Russian troops, said the additional manpower would be utilized to form new military units in western Russia, opposite NATO and Ukraine. He also indicated that the Russian high command is preparing for the next phase of the 10-month-old war in Ukraine.
"We have no funding restrictions. The country and the government are providing everything that the army asks for," Putin said, even amid reports that Russian soldiers are ill-equipped and lacking in basic supplies and, often, ammunition.
Despite those reports, the threat of using nuclear weapons is likely keeping NATO commanders up at night. It might just be time to let Ukraine go.