I am at work, and as such, have no access to TV or other news sources, so if this is being discussed, I haven't yet heard.

Do we know from decent sources what the Russian Rules of Engagement are for the current conflict?

Ukraine is a (relatively) small country and it shares borders with Poland and Hungary, among others.

My concern is Ukrainians in active conflict with Russians may flee across the borders and into EU territory. I know there are no painted lines through the woods and fields, and I am assuming there is also no actual fence line surrounding Ukraine. It concerns me that Polish and Hungarian citizens may be drawn into the conflict which would again, enlarge it.

Of course, the other way works as well. What if the conflict spills over into any neighboring countries that aren't either of the primary combatants?

  • 1
    Borders don't usually go with a painted lines unless near a crossing. Otherwise roads, clearing trees, or periodic stones are common at borders. Even through undeveloped forests or "protected" land the border will often have a path cleared through. Poland and Ukraine share a river for much of the northern border. Also, Ukraine is roughly comparable to France in land area, or Alaska if you want a US comparison. Not very small.
    – David S
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 21:43
  • @DavidS The comparison to France is apt (U=233,031 sq mi vs F=210,016 sq mi). Alaska not so much. (A=663,300 sq mi), but I do get your point. I often accuse Europeans of not understanding just how big the US really is, and yet, I don't really understand how big various countries in Europe may very well be.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 13:06
  • My apologies on Alaska, I pulled a Mars Climate Orbiter mistake, unit conversion error, I compared Ukraine square kilometers (603,628) to Alaska square miles.
    – David S
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 17:40

1 Answer 1


Armies have maps, and these days they also have GPS. There could be a few sticky situations if the Ukrainian army makes a fighting retreat over the border (where they would have to be disarmed), and it is the responsibility of the NATO countries to make sure that there is no fire over the border from their side. In return, they can expect that the Russians respect the border. For retreating Ukrainian forces, crossing the border is an one-way ticket to sanctuary.

One would expect that the Russian military command is aware of the problem and takes measures to halt their troops at the right place. For a historical perspective, consider the role of the Yalu during the Korean War, or the standoff at the Berlin Wall in 1961.

The West might decide to overlook a few smaller incursions, if that is politically convenient.

  • Given the reports of Russian solders not even being aware that they are in Ukraine, the first sentence may overstate matters a bit.
    – Arno
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 18:04
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    @Arno, the officers will know better. And as I heard it, they thought they were on an exercise until they were ordered to cross the border.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 18:31
  • Btw. all the navigating systems are operating with full accuracy currently? I remember reading that this can be changed in wartimes. Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 23:01
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    @Trilarion, of course it does, it's relatively easy. (The GPS signal is astonishingly weak (on the ground)). It's working permanently over Kremlin and many other places, fending off drones and even affecting car navigators in the vicinity. But it's a bit harder to disturb it for your enemy while being able to use it for yourself. (This possibility is built in in GPS and I presume GLONASS, but... it's complicated).
    – Zeus
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 7:49
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    There are reports (admittedly, this one is from RFE/RL, but it's not like the pro-Russia outlets would ever admit to their weaknesses) that the Russian army's navigation and communication leave much to be desired. The problems range from blatantly outdated paper maps and lack of secure communication to ageing satellites, as well as Ukraine banning non-Ukrainian SIMs and outgoing calls to Russia. Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 21:33

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