The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – Day 23 (ground actions)

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 and now released in a prisoner exchange for nine Russian conscripts. He has certainly had an interesting week.

They have isolated Mariupol. The city has been without power since 1 March. 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. 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. The Ukrainian Army in conducting counterattacks west of Kiev.

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. The Donetsk People’s Republic is reporting as of 10 March that they had 199 soldiers killed and 1,044 wounded (5.25-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio). 

Severodonetsk (pop. 101,135) is being shelled. It might soon come under assault or possibly siege. It does appear like the Russia/Russian separatists are trying to take all of Lugansk and Donetsk. Suspect this will be a point of contention in the peace talks.

5. Mariupol (pop: 431,859): Day seventeen of the siege. Not epic yet, but they are putting up serious resistance. The city has been decimated, lots of buildings and houses destroyed. 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. Is the seizure of all of Kherson Oblast a negotiating strategy or a military strategy?

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 3 PM: 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 Celsius) and sunny, low tonight 21 degrees. Kharkov at 3 PM: 29 degrees and sunny. Low tonight 16 degrees (-9 Celsius). It looks to be cold and clear for the next 10 or so days.

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. The U.S. has promised an additional 9,000 AT missiles and 800 Stinger AA missiles.

Russian Army Build-up:  I have yet to see many 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? Not sure how serious to take claims that Syria is promising 40,000 soldiers.

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 lady holding a sign behind a news broadcaster). At least 800 people have been detained in Belarus. 

Russian rapper Oxxxymiron is conducting protest concerts in Istanbul, Turkey. A 3-minute video is here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW7ZbOHprz4

Exchange rate: The Ruble is at 105.06 to a dollar as of 9:20 AM EST. Not sure what the exchange rate will be if Russia ever opens its stock market. 

Price of oil (Brent crude): $106.70 as of 9:20 AM EST. 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 16 March 780 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 10 March that they had 199 soldiers killed and 1,044 wounded (5.25-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio). 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. 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.

Reportedly now four Russian generals have been killed: Major General Andrei Sukhovetskiy (age 47), CO 7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division, was killed on 28 February, Major General Vitaly Gerasimov (age 44), chief of staff 41st Army, was killed near Kharkov on 7 March, Maj. General Andrei Kolesnikov (age 45), was killed on 11 March in action in fighting over Mariuipol, and now Major General Oleg Mityaev (age 46) commander 150th Motorized Rifle Division, was killed near Mariupol on 15 March. 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     1000, 17 March

Tanks:            141                179                         230

AFVs:               89                108                         148                 

IFVs:               131                158                         211

APCs:               52                  61                           69

Jet aircraft:      10                  11                            11

Helicopters:     11                  11                            30

 

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.

 

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

           2100, 7 March       0800, 11 March     1000, 17 March

Tanks:           46                          49                        66

AFVs:            38                          42                        48

IFVs:              33                          36                        43

APCs:            18                          19                        24

Jet aircraft:     6                            7                          8

Helicopters:    0                            0                          1

 

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 3,500 people have died in this conflict. It may be more like 6,000 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 dated 18 March. 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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6 Comments

  1. Chris,
    It appears to me that the BTR-4 is armed with a 30mm autocannon. I would not expect it to be able to kill a T-72 except maybe from the rear and side. (The S-3 of 1-4CAV during Desert Storm killed two T-72 with TOWs and a 3rd with his 25mm Chain Gun. That was probably a side engagement but the T-72 could have been an “import” version while the Russian tanks in Ukraine would be the “real’ ones.)

    The shots against the BMP should have penetrated the front slope but could have been retarded by having to go through the engine. I also did not see a lot of the flash that comes from AP rounds hitting the Armor except for the first burst (which blew off some pieces) until they started hitting the engine compartment and part of the vehicle flew up.

    When I commanded my tank companies, I told my guys to shoot till the thing blew up or caught fire….

    Mike

    • So, hazard to guess what would be the SSPK in some U.S. wargame simulations?

      Now, it is possible the first shot of the BTR killed the BMP but we could not tell. The other 30 rounds would have been insurance.

      When I commanded my tank companies, I told my guys to shoot till the thing blew up or caught fire….

      And is that approach incorporated into our simulations that are used to calculate such things as ammo expenditures?

      • For this example, I used the GMT Game MBT which is set in 1987 (https://www.gmtgames.com/p-756-mbt-2nd-printing.aspx). Ammunition’s and armor protection could have changed by now. This example probably does not answer your question, but its what I’ve got.

        From the size of the target reticle compared to the BMP size, I put the range at about 1000m.

        I use the 30mm cannon that the BMP is armed with as the gun for the BTR-4.

        The 30mm cannon has an AP Penetration on a frontal shot 10mm of armor.

        The BMP itself has 6mm armor on the Turret Front and 4mm on the Hull Front.
        IN THE GAME, this results in a 35% chance of a hit.

        If the shot hits, because the KE Penetration factor is 10 it exceeds the armor protection by a factor of 4 – 6 which should result in a kill. It took me 12 rolls of a 2D10 to get a hit. If a cross reference with the hit roll and the rate of fire, it is possible to get more than 1 hit. In that case, each hit is rolled separately. My roll was 1 hit, but it could be as high as 4. (It’s been a long time since I really played the game, so I may be off in this part.)

        There are factors for a Level shot, a rising shot, or a falling shot. The shot in this case was level.

        Against a T-72ABV/T-80BV tank which looked to me about the same range, the game does not give it any chance to penetrate the front or the side.

        With this game, the M2/3 Bradley’s 25mm cannon would not be able to penetrate the T-72 armor which seems to be contradicted by the 1-4CAV S-3s engagement in Desert Storm.

  2. I don’t know Chris. out of the 30 or so shots he fire it looks to me like 10-15 actually struck the target. It looks like he missed at least half the time. When I look at the flashes, indicating he hit something, about half look they are hitting on the front slope and bouncing and the other half hit short. The last two shots where the gunner aimed more carefully, results in 2 hits out of 2. I think the 2nd to last shot hit and may have penetrated, but didn’t appear to do any real damage. The last shot goes through and hits something in the engine compartment that blows the top off and maybe starts a fire. I would have expected my guys to shoot till the vehicle exploded. Of course, my guys had 105mm guns which really would have overmatched the BMP.

    In none of the three targets he shoots at, does the other vehicle shoot back. The infantry are already getting out of the BMP when he starts to shot at it.

    I don’t know for sure if the game adjusts for the slope of the BMP, but there is a modifier for size and many other factors.

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