The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – Day 43 (ground actions)

A link to a blow up of the map is here: Wikipedia map

It does appear that they have completely cleared the area around Chernigov (Chernihiv in Ukrainian). Ukrainian forces have driven all the way to the Russian border to the north and east of Chernigov. They have also reclaimed Konotop and driven back the Russian forces in areas around Kharkov. It does appear that Kiev and the northeast part of Ukraine is secure. Of course, Russia can always reintroduce troops later from Russia or Belarus.

As Ukraine has cleared the areas to the west and northwest of Kiev, there are multiple reports of heavy civilian casualties and atrocities, especially in Bucha to the NW of Kiev. Lots of confirming evidence. It is all over the news, so no need to describe it here in detail.

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 (I have been saying this for days and it still hangs on). I do not think it is going to be relieved. Ukrainian Army remains over 60 miles away.

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; or at Siervierdonetsk (pop. 101,135) and Sloviansk (pop. 106,972) to its west? 

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, has cleared the area around Chernigov and Sumy and everything to west and northwest of Kharkov, and has advanced towards Kherson. 

I will put any changes/updates since yesterday’s post in italics.  

We are looking at six major areas of operations right now.

1. Kiev – secure

2. Odessa – secure

3. Kharkov

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces – i. e. Sloviansk and Sievierodonetsk
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 secure, 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 the defunct nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, which is now back under Ukrainian control as of 2 April. They have advanced beyond Chernigov, clearing Kiev to the east and northeast. The city is open from all directions. It appears that all of Ukraine to the west of the Dnieper River, except for the areas around Kherson, are under Ukrainian control.

There are reports coming out of Bucha, NW of Kiev, of massacres of civilians. These are addressed below.

Chernigov (pop. 285,234) is located to the NNE of Kiev. It has been relieved, and the Ukrainian Army holds the areas to the north and east of the city. It appears that the Russian troops withdrew from the area, vice being pushed back.

According to the Pentagon, Russian committed around 1/3 of its forces to taking the capital. This consisted of about 20 BTGs to the north and NW of Kiev and another 20 BTGS near Chernigov. Of the roughly 130 BTGs Russia has dedicated to the invasion, around 80 are still inside Ukraine. More than 30 are already in the Donbas region (eastern Ukraine) and are expected to be joined by some of the forces withdrawn from Kiev and Chernigov.

2. Odessa (pop: 1,015,826): Appears to be secure for now, but not completely safe. Russian did rain down missiles around Odessa the night of 3/4 April, although there were no casualties reported. They appear to be going after an oil refinery and fuel depots.

3. Kharkov (pop: 1,433,886): Kharkov looks to be securely held but is still being shelled. Some areas to the east and northwest of the city have been retaken by the Ukrainian Army.

Sumy (pop. 259,660) appears to be secure all the way to the Russian border. The Russians have withdrawn from Konotop (pop. 84,787). The governor of Sumy Oblast reported on 4 April that Russian troops no longer occupied any towns or villages in the Oblast and had mostly withdrawn.

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.

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces: The Donetsk People’s Republic is reporting as of 31 March that they had 767 soldiers killed and 3,559 wounded (4.64-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio) out of a supposed strength of 20,000. This is 22% casualties out of an estimated force of 20,000, which is pretty serious.

Sievierodonetsk (pop. 101,135) 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 provinces. Suspect this will be a point of contention in the peace talks.

Sloviansk (pop. 106,972) to its west is also expected to come under assault.

5. Mariupol (pop: 431,859): Day thirty-seven 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 that more than 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. 

It is reported that Ukrainian helicopters were resupplying Mariupol with multiple low-level flights. This does harken back to the attack on Belgorod. See: How Much is U.S. Intelligence helping Ukraine? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). Apparently, they were eventually intercepted by Russian mobile SAMs.

6. Crimea & Kherson (pop: 283,649): Kherson is under Russian control. Are the Ukrainians going to make a push to take Kherson? This would appear to give them an advantage in the on-going negotiations.

Mikolaiv (pop. 476,101) is secure as are the cities to the north. I gather this all means the Odessa is safe from overland attack. 

Weather: Kiev at 4 PM: 67 degrees Fahrenheit (19 Celsius) and mostly cloudy. Low tonight 42 degrees (6 Celsius). Kharkov at 4 PM: 65 degrees (18 Celsius) and sunny. Low tonight 43 degrees (6 Celsius). Precipitation forecast off and on for the next ten days for both Kharkov.  Kiev is mostly precipitation forcast for the next six days.

Ukrainian Army Build-up: Not sure how large the army now is (assume over 200,000). There is a Ukrainian Territorial Defense Force of 100,000 to 200,000. There are some foreign volunteers (including two Chechen battalions who have been there all along). Not sure if the foreign volunteers that have arrived since the war started number more than a few hundred that have been deployed. Lots of individual stories, I don’t see any statistics.

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.Czech Republic is providing them with “dozens” of T-72 tanks and BMP-1s. I gather other members of NATO are going to follow shortly. As of 1 Jan 2019, the Czech Army had 86 T-72M1, 30 T-72M4CZ, 145 BVP-1 (BMP-1 variant) and 185 BVP-2 (BMP-1 variant). They had no other tanks in their inventory, so were certainly due for an upgrade.

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 seventh 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? 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 81.57 to a dollar as of 11:54 AM EST. This is much stronger than it has been since the war began. Not sure what the exchange rate will be if Russia ever opens its stock market. 

Price of oil (Brent crude): $99.12 as of 11:55 AM EST. Several years ago, if the price of oil dropped below $80, the Russian budget would go into the red.

Note that Russia says it received $3.6 million less (302 billion rubles) than it forecast from March old and gas sales. Russia forecasted energy revenue of 790 billion rubles ($9.4 billion) but received around 488 billion rubles., a drop of 38%. The last report I saw, 52% of the Russian government revenue comes from oil (even though it makes up only 7% of their economy).

The value of the ruble continues to creep down slowly, while oil prices continue to drop. 

Casualties: The UN is reporting on 7 April 1,563 civilians confirmed dead in the war. Not sure this figure picks up all the claims from newly liberated Bucha. They previously reported that 23 were in territory controlled by Russian separatists. Ukraine is claiming almost 5,000 civilians killed in Mariupol alone. Zelensky (President of Ukraine) is reporting on 12 March that around 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed. Russia claimed by 2 March 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. There have been no updates on Ukrainian Army losses since 12 March.

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 31 March that they had 767 soldiers killed and 3,559 wounded (4.64-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio) out of a supposed strength of 20,000. The Ukrainians are as of 20 March to hold 562 Russian soldiers as prisoners, with 10 previously released in prisoner exchanged for 5 Ukrainian soldiers and the Mayor of Melitopol. Subsequent exchanges have released 96 Russian soldiers and 11 Russian civilians, in exchange for 96 Ukrainian soldiers and 19 Ukrainian civilian sailors. 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 is more believable than some other estimates. 

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. A BTG typically consists of 800-1000 troops, maybe ten tanks and 40 IFVs. 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 (age 49). 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

                   0900, 30 March

Tanks:            336                  

AFVs:             239          

IFVs:               320

APCs:               79

Jet aircraft:      15

Helicopters:     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:

                 0900, 30 March

Tanks:           79

AFVs:            62

IFVs:              60

APCs:            29

Jet aircraft:   10

Helicopters:    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 5,000 people have died in this conflict (1,351 + 1,300 + 1,563 + 767 = 4,981). It may be more like 9,000 total deaths as I think both Ukrainian and Russian military deaths are being underreported. 

Ukrainian and Russian military deaths are a very uncertain subject. Pretty hard not to believe that the Ukrainians have not suffered at least 3,000 to 4,000 combatants killed since the start of the war. It may be higher. I have seen no new reports or estimates since 12 March. 

The Russian claims are also very nebulous with lots of people hanging onto a figure of 10,000 or 15,000 killed. There are lots of reasons to doubt these high claims. It is clear the Russian military deaths are 3,000 killed or higher. How much higher is not well supported by any reliable claims.

Both sides have claimed a similar number of troops captured (572 Ukrainians captured by 2 March vs 572 Russians captured by 20 March).

There are people doing a more detailed job of tracking losses 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. 

I gather they have reached a compromise on Crimea, which is to discuss it in 15 years from now, but that is all.

It is clear that Russia has withdrawn from the areas of Kiev, Chernigov and Sumy. Not sure how much of this is military strategy or negotiating strategy.  The rumor is that they are going to withdraw from Kherson and hold behind the Dnieper River. We shall see.

Atrocities: The stories coming out of Bucha are pretty appalling. At least seven civilians have been reported killed in incidents not related to combat, 18 civilians were found dead in a basement, and another 20 civilians were found lying dead in the street, two with hands bound. The mayor of Bucha says they were executed. There are other claims scattered about Ukraine. How extensive and widespread this is still not certain, but this appears to be well beyond what one would expect from “collateral damage” from combat, and some appears to be deliberate. It does indicate, as a minimum, a lack of military discipline in some Russian units. This story is continually being updated right now, with over 400 civilians claimed to have been found dead between Bucha and Hostomel. The deputy mayor of Bucha says that 50 of the victims have been confirmed as extrajudicially executed.

There is also a video out there of Ukrainian soldiers shooting several Russian prisoners in their legs. There is a second video showing Ukrainian troops executing what appears to be four Russian prisoners seven miles SW of Bucha. See: https://news.yahoo.com/video-appears-show-ukrainian-soldiers-192219323.html. More detailed description from BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/61025388. It is on youtube, if you want to look it up. I believe they are members of the Georgian Legion, a group of Georgian volunteers fighting for Ukraine.

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 Map: The attached map is from Wikipedia, which is under pressure from the Russian government to change its articles. It is dated 7 April. The map is showing all of Ukraine to the west and northwest of Kharkov cleared.

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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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