The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – Day 38 (ground actions)

Probably the biggest news of the day is that Ukraine has managed to clear the entire area to the west and northwest of Kiev over the last three days, effectively securing Kiev.

I gather Russia now controls the majority of isolated Mariupol. The city has been without power since 1 March. I suspect it is going to fall very soon (days). There were some Ukrainian counterattacks to the southeast of Zaporizhzhiya on Sunday and around Kharkov. The attacks southeast of Zaporizhzhiya were 63 miles northwest of Mariupol. That is a still a long way away in war.

This does appear to be the first of several “sieges” in the campaign. Is this the future of the Russian offensive? Is the next one at Kharkov? 

Russia continues to occupy three cities, Berdyansk (pop. 107,928), Melitopol (pop. 150,768) and Kherson (pop. 283,649). Russia has taken all of Izium (pop. 45,884) as of 1 April. On the other hand, it appears the Ukrainian forces have completely cleared the area west and northwest of Kiev, is clearing the area east of Kiev, has advanced to the outskirts of Kherson, and has advanced to the Russian border to the east of Sumy at Krasnopillya (pop. 7,849). 

I will put any changes/updates since yesterday’s post in italics. I also have a series of other posts on the war that are relevant:

How Much is U.S. Intelligence helping Ukraine? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Russian casualties? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

So, have 9,861 Russians really been killed in Ukraine? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

So, is this war really stalemated? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Does Russia have chemical warfare capability? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

International Pariah | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Contested Air Space over Ukraine? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

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

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): It appears that Kiev is no longer under assault or in danger. The Ukrainian army has cleared the area to the west and northwest of the city, including retaking the large Antonov/Hostomel airport and driving as far as the defunct nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, which is now back under Ukrainian control as of 2 April. The city is open to the south and west and the Ukrainian Army in conducting counterattacks to the east of Kiev. It appears that all of Ukraine to the west of the Dnieper River, except for the areas around Kherson, are under Ukrainian control.

So, Russia either withdrew like it said it would, or the Ukrainians threw them forcefully back, or some combination of the two. Regardless, it looks like Kiev is now safe and secure.

Chernigov (pop. 285,234) it located to the NNE of Kiev. The city remains under Ukrainian control and partly surrounded. It is reported that all exits from the city have been mined. The latest maps are showing that it is no longer isolated. The town of Slavutych (pop. 24,685) to the west, which was taken by the Russians on 25 March, was re-taken by the Ukrainians on 31 March.

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. It looks like all action in and around Kharkov has pretty much halted, with the Russians reported digging in. 

Sumy (pop. 259,660) appears to no longer be in danger of being isolated. The Russians have taken Konotop (pop. 84,787), although the Ukrainian neo-fascist mayor has remained in charge there.

Izium (pop. 45,884) was confirmed by the Ukrainian military to be under Russian control as of 1 April. Russia claimed to have taken full control of Izium on the morning of 24 March.

The Ukrainians have conducted a helicopter strike using missiles at a fuel depot near Belgorod, inside of Russia. This is a town I have been to a couple of times researching the Battle of Kursk. I don’t recognize the area (1:25): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66XrGQcKnJc. They had previously hit an ammo dump near Krasny Oktyabr around 30 March. See (1:15): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKqhr_pWYbA

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 25 March that they had 581 soldiers killed and 2,801 wounded (4.82-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio) out of a supposed strength of 20,000. This is 17% casualties out of an estimated force of 20,000, which is pretty serious.

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 thirty-two of the siege and not sure how much longer they will hold out. The population of the city is down to 170,000 or less. The Russians have captured the majority of the city. The mayor, who is no longer in the city, is claiming that nearly 5,000 people have been killed. The city has been decimated, lots of buildings and houses destroyed. 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. The neo-fascist Azov Regiment is posting videos of fighting inside of Mariupol. The kickboxer, Maksim Kagal (30 years old), apparently died on 25 March (Friday) fighting there for them: Kickboxing champion Maksym Kagal died defending Ukraine as part of the controversial Azov unit

Some videos:

Posted 24 March (1:14): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7KTFQXF5D8

Posted 22 March (0.48): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ2sSYNvwJE

Posted 22 March (2:20): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDEIGK3EeyM

Posted March 21 (1:16): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN8wEYmRg-g

 

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

Mikolaiv (pop. 476,101) is under Ukranian control. The latest reports are that the Ukrainian Army is counterattacking outside the city and life has returned to “normal” in the city. I gather that areas to the north, like Vosoznesensk and Nova Odesa have been cleared (it is being showed as such on the attached map). I gather this all means the Odessa is safe from overland attack.

The Russians have taken a lot the area between Donetsk and Crimea. Is the seizure of all of Kherson Oblast a negotiating strategy or a military strategy? They now have to garrison it.

There have been more protests in the occupied areas of Ukraine. This video (1:38) is showing recent protests (Sunday, 20 March) in Kherson, Enerhodar (pop. 52,887) and Kakhovka (pop. 35,400), and Berdyansk. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcT9184_fzo. Also see, starting at 1:12 for more Kherson protests : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pmo4mTz50xI. These are all in the around to the north of Crimea, in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.

Weather: Kiev at 5 PM: 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Celsius) and cloudy. Low tonight 32 degrees (0 Celsius). Kharkov at 5 PM: 63 degrees (17 Celsius) and mostly cloudy. Low tonight 37 degrees (3 Celsius). Precipitation forecast for the next two days for both Kiev and Kharkov.

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. One video (1:06) seems to shows at least one American on the front lines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbc7BBDu9kE. Other videos that include at least two Americans are being shown. This is at least four Americans that have been reported involved in the fighting. See:

(1:27): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlgWI0FzjKc

(0:52): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PssKiwp-6FQ

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. Their biannual call-up starts on 1 April, and Putin just signed a decree ordering up 134,500 new conscripts into the army. See the comments in the Day 35 for a discussion on the significance of this. We are now in the fifth 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. It looks like the Russian Army is adding a couple of thousand volunteers.

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 (up to 190,000). Donetsk PR is estimated at 20,000 and Lugansk at 14,000. Russia may be able to add more forces 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 14,900 since the war began. See: OVD-info. At least 800 people have been detained in Belarus. 

Exchange rate: The Ruble is at 88.26 to a dollar as of 10:24 AM EST. This is much stronger than it has been. Not sure what the exchange rate will be if Russia ever opens its stock market. 

Price of oil (Brent crude): $104.75 as of 10:24 AM EST. Several years ago, if the price of oil dropped below $80, the Russian budget would go into the red.

Casualties: The UN is reporting for 31 March 1,276 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 (March 9) 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 25 March that they had 581 soldiers killed and 2,801 wounded (4.82-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio) out of a supposed strength of 20,000. The BBC has counted 557 confirmed killed through 21 March based upon individual Russian media reports. The Russian Army stated on March 25 that 1,351 soldiers have been killed and 3,825 wounded. This is a 2.83-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio, which is still pretty low, but at least much more believable. 

U.S. officials are claiming figures between 3,000 to 10,000 soldiers killed (March 18). In the past they have claimed 3,000 captured. NATO is claiming 7,000 to 15,000 killed (March 23). There is report recently released of 9,861 Russians killed and 16,153 wounded (1.64-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio). I seriously question that report (see my posts on the subject of 22 and 24 March).

“Officials” are now claiming that 20 of the 115-120 Russian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) are “no longer combat effective” due to losses. It is hard to square this estimate with claims of 10,000 or more Russian soldiers killed.

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

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

It is now reported that a sixth Russian general has been killed, Lt. Gen. Yakov Rezanstev of the 49th Combined Arms Army. His death has still not been confirmed. 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

                   7 March    11 March   17 March   23 March  0900, 30 March

Tanks:            141           179             230            267             336                  

AFVs:               89           108             148            179             239          

IFVs:               131           158             211            259             320

APCs:               52             61               69              78               79

Jet aircraft:      10             11                11              12               15

Helicopters:     11             11                30              32               32

 

The Ukranian Ministry of Defense is claiming as of 29 March they have destroyed 597 tanks, 1,710 armored personnel vehicles, 127 aircraft and 129 helicopters. They also claim 17,200 Russian soldiers killed. These figures look to be inflated, especially the aircraft and helicopter claims.

 

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

                7 March    11 March   17 March   23 March   0900, 30 March

Tanks:           46            49              66              73                79

AFVs:            38            42              48              59                62

IFVs:              33            36              43              53                60

APCs:            18            19              24              27                29

Jet aircraft:     6              7                8              10                10

Helicopters:    0              0                1                1                  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 4,500 people have died in this conflict (1,351 + 1,300 + 1,276 + 581 = 4,508). It may be more like 8,000 total deaths as I think both Ukrainian and Russian military deaths are being underreported. 

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. March 22 it was reported by the U.S. that Russia flew more than 300 sorties into Ukraine. March 24 it was reported that more than 250 Russian sorties were flown, mostly around Kiev and Kharkov.

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. 

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

Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, originally 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. 

Talks are moving slowly, which has always been the tradition negotiating with the Soviet Union. I gather they have reached a compromise on Crimea, which is to discuss it in 15 years from now, but that is all.

The reports splashed everywhere that Ukrainian leaning Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and two Ukrainians were poisoned at the peace talks is questionable. A U.S. intelligence official has suggested that their sickening is due to “an environmental factor.”

The defenders of Snake Island were released in a prisoner exchange on 24 March and the commander, Roman Hrybov, famous for his quote (“Russian warship…”), is back in Ukraine. Ukraine is apparently going to issue out a stamp in honor of his quote. Not quite “Give me liberty or give me death,” but close enough. See: Ukrainian Snake Island border-guard member who told off a Russian warship has been released from captivity, military says

Other Issues: Azerbaijani troops have occupied an area in Nagorno-Karabakh that they are claiming is theirs. The Russian peacekeeping troops there have not expelled them.

The attached map is from Wikipedia, which is under pressure from the Russian government to change its articles. It is dated 2 April. It is now showing considerable updates, including Kiev being cleared completely to its west with drives dated 30 March, 31 March and 1 April. It showing a drive dated 1 April to the east of Kiev. Near Chernigov it is showing Slavutych retaken as of 31 March. Chernigov appear to be no longer isolated. It is showing the area behind Sumy as much more open. It is showing Izium taken by the Russians as of 1 April.

It is showing other changes in the front lines, and has an arrow dated 27 March showing a Ukrainian advance all the way to the village of Krasnopillya, just to the east of Sumy and on the border with Russia. The rest of the map is not dating anything since 22 March, although other parts of the front line trace have been updated since then. It does not show the attacks into Russian territory. 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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