The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – Day 21 (ground actions)

The slow grind continues but no real changes on the ground. Lots of pointless shelling going on. I will put any changes/updates since yesterday’s post in italics. Russia continues to occupy three cities, Berdyansk (pop. 107,928), Melitopol (pop. 150,768) and Kherson (pop. 283,649). The mayor of Melitopol has apparently been detained/abducted and replaced with a Russian appointed one.

They have isolated Mariupol. The city has been without power since 1 March. The vice-mayor said on the morning of 3 March on CNN that they could hold out for five days. This is now a city far enough away from the other fighting grounds, that I assume there will no real attempt to relieve it. 

So, it does appear that this is the first “siege” of the campaign. Is the future of the Russian offensive? Is the next one at Kharkov? 

We are looking six major areas of operations right now.

1. Kiev

2. Odessa

3. Kharkov

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces
5. Mariupol
6. Crimean border/Kherson

Here is what I have heard/seen from open sources:

1. Kiev (pop: 2,962,180): The reinforced Russian Army have occupied the defunct nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, the large Antonov/Hostomel airport north of Kiev, the northern outskirts of Kiev (the Obolon district), the outskirts of Irpin to the west of Kiev, and are on the outskirts of Brovary to the east of Kiev. The center of the city appears peaceful and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is still able to broadcast messages from his office in Kiev. I gather the city is still open to the south and the prime ministers of Poland, Czech and Slovenia took a train into Kiev to meet with Zelenskyy on 15 March. This is making a statement.

Supplies: In an interview on 11 March with two former heavy weight boxing champions, the Klitschko brothers, one who is now mayor of Kiev, they stated that: 1) there are nearly 2 million people left in Kiev (out of 3.5 million), 2) they have enough provisions to last two weeks, 3) the supply lines in and out remained open, and 4) they currently have electricity, heating, gas and water.

Chernigov (pop. 285,234) it located to the NNE of Kiev. The Russians have pushed columns past the city and down to Kiev, but the city remains under Ukrainian control. It is reported that all exits from the city have been mined. They are shelling the city and for all practical purposes, it is isolated.

2. Odessa (pop: 1,015,826): Appears to be safe and secure for now.

3. Kharkov (pop: 1,433,886): Kharkov is being shelled but it does not look like the Russians have tried to re-enter the city.  

Supplies: I know from a personal story on 10 March that parts of Kharkov are out of power but still have water. There was a very limited selection of food still in the grocery stores.

Sumy (pop. 259,660) looks in danger of being isolated. The Russians have taken Konotop (pop. 84,787).

Izium (pop. 45,884) is reported under siege.

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces: So far, we have not heard much from this area. We do have a casualty report dated 7 March from the Donetsk People’s Republic saying they have 47 soldiers killed and 179 wounded.

5. Mariupol (pop: 431,859): Day fifteen of the siege. The Russians have captured the eastern outskirts of the city. Mariupol has no power, gas or water. The vice-mayor of this city said on 3 March that they can hold out for five days. I do not expect any significant relief columns.

6. Crimea & Kherson (pop: 283,649): Kherson is under Russian control. 

Mikolaiv (pop. 476,101), the city on the Southern Bug River just west of Kherson, is still under Ukranian control. There still seems to be some fighting there, but it looks like the Ukrainian Army is holding.

The Russians have taken a lot of the area between Donetsk and Crimea. They now have to garrison it. There were more than 2,000 protesters active in Melitopol Sunday, demanding the release of the detained mayor. Seeing pictures and videos of fairly large protests also in Kherson and Berdyansk. Meanwhile, the Black Sea port “city” of Skadovsk (pop. 17,344) was reporting on 12 March that the Russians have left. On 13 March the Russians re-entered the city and on 16 March they detained the mayor. The Russians are also advancing to the north of Crimea and appear to be taking all of Kherson Oblast.

One video worth watching (47 seconds). It shows a BTR-4 damaging a T-72 B3M and destroying a BRM-1K (you can see people standing behind it). See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrCS1m2Sm_w

My question is: What is its SSPK (Single Shot Probability of Kill)? I count 15 rounds fired at the tank and 31 rounds fired at the IFV. See: What is Lethality? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

I will update this post during the day as I find more information. 

Weather: Kiev at 2 PM: 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) and mostly sunny, low tonight 23 degrees. Kharkov at 2 PM: 28 degrees and partly cloudy. Low tonight 18 degrees (-8 Celsius). The period of blistering cold had ended, it looks to only being cold being cold for the next 10 or so days. No precipitation is forecast.

Ukrainian Army Build-up: According to interviews publish by Radio Free Europe (see: Kyiv Volunteers Get Last-Minute Training On Powerful Anti-Tank Weapons (rferl.org)) the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Force now has 200,000 recruits.

   I gather that a few hundred foreign volunteers have also gathered in Ukraine. Do not know if they have reached the front lines.    

     According to senior U.S. officials, the U.S. and other NATO members have so far sent Ukraine 17,000 AT missiles and 2,000 Stinger AA missiles.

Russian Army Build-up: Russia is claiming that they have 16,000 volunteers from the Middle East. Apparently, the pay is $400 a week. I have yet to see any reports of Russia expanding its army or calling up more reserves and conscripts. We are now in the third week of the war. Are they going to expand their army as Ukraine is clearly expanding theirs, or are they expecting that this war will end shortly?

Opposing forces: Ukraine had before the war an army (ground forces) of 169,000 in 2016. The Russian army (not armed forces) was 280,000. The current Ukrainian army is now probably over 200,000. The Russian army (ground forces) in and around Ukraine is probably around 150,000. They may be able to add more from their own resources, but not much more. If they want to add more, they are going to have to mobilize. They appear to be hesitant to do so. I suspect with full mobilization; we could be looking at a Ukrainian army larger than 300,000. At some point, Russia will have to mobilize to continue this war.

The Russian Home Front: Count of detained protesters is claimed to be over 13,000 since the war began. See: OVD-info. Protests continue, some quite creative (blank signs, signs that say “two words,” the lay holding a sign behind a news broadcaster). At least 800 people have been detained in Belarus. 

Exchange rate: The Ruble is at 107.75 to a dollar as of 9:02 AM EST. Not sure what the exchange rate will be if Russia ever opens its stock market. 

Price of oil (Brent crude): $101.46 as of 9:033 AM EST. The last report I saw, 52% of the Russian government revenue comes from oil (even though it makes up only 7% of their economy). There is a strong desire on the part of the west to bring this price down, as it undercuts their budget. Several years ago, if the price of oil dropped below $80, the Russian budget would go into the red.

They have stopped production Ladas (the largest Russian produced automobile) and placed thousands of workers “on leave.”

Casualties: The UN is reporting for 14 (?) March 636 civilians confirmed dead in the war. They previously reported that 23 were in territory controlled by Russian separatists. Ukraine is claiming 2,500 civilians killed in Mariupol alone (15 March). Zelensky (President of Ukraine) is reporting on 12 March that around 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed. Russia is claiming to have captured 572 soldiers (which is entirely believable). U.S. officials are saying that between 2,000 to 4,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed.

Russia reported on 2 March 498 troops have been killed and 1,597 wounded. This is a 3.21-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio, which seems a little low (see link below). Ukraine is reporting almost 200 Russians captured. The Donetsk People’s Republic is reporting as of 4 March that they had 77 soldiers killed and 406 wounded (5.27-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio). See: The overview of the current social and humanitarian situation in the territory of the Donetsk People`s Republic as a result of hostilities in the period from 26 February to 04 March 2022 – Human rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic (ombudsman-dnr.ru). U.S. officials are now claiming figures of around 5,000 to 6,000 Russian soldiers killed. In the past they have claimed 3,000 captured. Zelensky (President of Ukraine) claimed on 12 March that between 500 to 600 Russian troops surrendered the day before. This claim has not been verified. Have no idea of the validity of the U.S. figures but suspect the Russian casualty figures are understated (because they kind of always are). I suspect that if Ukrainian losses are 1,300 killed (as Zelensky claims) then Russian losses are probably at least as high.

Note: Wounded-To-Killed Ratios | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Also see Chapter 15 (Casualties) in War by Numbers.

Three Russian generals have also been killed: Major General Vitaly Gerasimov (age 44), chief of staff 41st Army, was killed near Kharkov on 7 March, and Major General Andrei Sukhovetskiy (age 47), CO 7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division, was killed on 28 February. Ukraine is now claiming a third general, Maj. General Andrei Kolesnikov (age 45), was killed on 11 March in action in fighting over Mariuipol. Ukrainian “sources” estimate that around 20 major generals have been deployed to the Ukrainian front.

During World War II the United States lost 11 generals killed in action. Germany lost 135, and had 84 executed. See: A List of American Commanders in WWII Who Lost Their Lives (warfarehistorynetwork.com). The U.S. lost six generals killed in action in Vietnam:  Last US general killed in combat was in Vietnam in 1970

Russian Equipment Losses: @oryxspioenko is reporting the following Russian losses based upon his analysis of pictures and videos. See: https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/2022/02/attack-on-europe-documenting-equipment.html

           2100, 7 March       0800, 11 March

Tanks:            141                179

AFVs:               89                108

IFVs:               131                158

APCs:               52                  61

Jet aircraft:      10                  11

Helicopters:     11                  11

 

The Ukranian Ministry of Defense is claiming as of 14 March they have destroyed 404 tanks, 1,279 armored vehicles, 81 aircraft and 95 helicopters. They also claim 13,500 personnel killed.

The rate of equipment losses does appear to have slowed down.

Ukrainian Equipment Losses: @oryxspioenko is reporting the following Ukrainian losses based upon his analysis of pictures and videos:

           2100, 7 March       0800, 11 March

Tanks:           46                          49

AFVs:            38                          42

IFVs:              33                          36

APCs:            18                          19

Jet aircraft:     6                            7

Helicopters:    0                            0

 

Have no idea how accurate this count really is (the Ukrainian losses seem low), but I figure it is probably the best count publicly available.

It is clear that at least 3,000 people have died in this conflict. It may be more like 5,000 deaths. The U.S. provided estimates are higher. I am not confident in the accuracy of claims like those made by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that more than 13,500 Russian troops were killed as of 15 March. 

There are people doing a better job of this on Twitter, including @RALee85 and @Oryxspioenkop and @caucasuswar, none of whom are known to me.

Air Power: The Pentagon on 12 March is reporting that Russia is flying about 200 sorties a day. The Ukrainian air force has 56 operational jets flying 5 to 10 hours a day.

Missile Defense: According to Zelenskyy the missile barrage near Lvov on 12 March consisted of 30 missiles, 8 missiles that landed and 22 missiles that were intercepted and shot down. Sources: https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-war-live-updates-e4ccdd9cf82e868ad8854f6f97cadb27 and https://news.yahoo.com/russian-airstrike-hits-western-ukraine-130003596.html and New York Times (see: Russia strikes base near Polish border, killing 35).

End of the War:  While Ukrainian and Russian delegations are talking, I don’t expect much from this in the short term. Mariupol is supposed to have fallen already. I suspect the Russians will not be interested in negotiating until they have taken it. It is part of the Donetsk province.

Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, provided four conditions for a cease fire:

  1. Ukraine ceases military action,
  2. Change its constitution to enshrine neutrality (i.e. never join NATO),
  3. Acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory, and
  4. Recognize the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states. 

These same demands were made at the talks with Ukraine 10 March in Turkey. Needless to say, these talks went nowhere.

The attached map is from Wikipedia. It is not dated. It is showing a front line change dated 15 March near Velyko Oleksandrivka (pop. 6,487) and is now showing Skadovsk back under Russian control. It is not showing other any changes in the front line since 13 March. View with caution, but it does appear to be one of the better maps out there.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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