The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – Day 50 (ground actions)

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

Week eight of the war. It appears that Kiev, Chernigov, Sumy and the northeast part of Ukraine are secure. Of course, Russia can always reintroduce troops later from Russia or Belarus.

It does appear that the war is quiet for the next week or so as Russia repositions. It is also raining for most of this week.

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 also don’t report on all the artillery shelling and missile strikes.

I gather Russia now controls the majority of isolated Mariupol. The city has been without power since 1 March. It has been fighting on for far longer than I expected but sounds like the resistance there is going to collapse in the next couple of days. It is not 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 is it the two cities of Siervierdonetsk (pop. 101,135) and Sloviansk (pop. 106,972) in the Donetsk province? 

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 and no longer in danger. 

According to the Pentagon, Russian committed around 1/3rd of its forces to taking the capital. This consisted of about 20 BTGs (Battalion Tactical Groups) 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. 

It looks like the Russian Cruiser Moskva has been picked off by two Neptune anti-ship missiles. It was set afire. Updates: Apparently, it was sunk, then it wasn’t, then it was being towed, then it sunk while being towed.

This was the biggest warship in the Black Sea and the flagship of the fleet. In the ultimate irony, it was the ship that hailed the Ukrainian defenders on Snake Island that produce a memorable Ukrainian quote. Launched in 1979, it displaced 12,490 tons and had a complement of 480 (the Russians are saying there were 510 on board). It was one of three ships of its class. As the Dardanelles is now closed to Russian warships, it will not be replaced during the war. I assume American intelligence provided some help in targeting. 

The location of the ship is not known to me. It left Sevastopol on Sunday. I gather it was somewhere near Odessa when it was hit. The range of Neptune missile is 175 miles (280 kilometers).

The ship may have been a significant anti-aircraft asset of the Russians, armed with 8 S-300Fs SAM launchers and 8 full reloads (64 missiles). Its loss may help expose Kherson and other parts of the coast to Ukrainian drones and aircraft.

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. There are reports of Russian reinforcements east of Kharkov, an eight-mile column.

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. Rumors are that the next Russian offensive is going to push from Izium. The 8-mile column that is being reported on it in the news is in position to head towards Izium or towards Kharkov.

Nice video on the Ukrainian raids into Russia (4:46): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPUpuuP6rts

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces: The Donetsk People’s Republic is reporting as of 7 April that they had 979 soldiers killed and 4,265 wounded (4.36-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio) out of a supposed strength of 20,000. This is 26% 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 is already in danger of being surrounded, with Russian or DPR forces near Bakhmut (pop. 72,310) and Soledar (pop.10,692).

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

Kramatorsk (pop. 150,084), located just to the south of Sloviansk, just had its rail station hit on 9 April with over 50 civilians killed.

It does appear like the Russia/Russian separatists are trying to take all of Lugansk and Donetsk provinces.

5. Mariupol (pop: 431,859): Day forty-four of the siege. The defenders appear to still be holding out in two pockets of resistance. Latest newspaper reports indicate it is about to fall: https://news.yahoo.com/brigade-ukrainian-marines-defending-mariupol-034629430.html. The Azov Regiment is also fighting inside the city. Unconfirmed reports of “phosphorus munitions” being used in Mariupol.

A few other videos and news reports worth watching: 

From ITV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RyhHptZmfA

France 24: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amXPr4MO7sc

Radio Free Europe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BznE6jZbHQ

Businessinsider: A British man who joined Ukraine’s marines was forced to surrender to Russian forces in Mariupol, after his unit ran out of supplies and ammunition.

 

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 10,000 people have been killed. The head of DPR (Donets People’s Republic) has said over 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. 

6. Crimea & Kherson (pop: 283,649): Kherson is under Russian control. There are reports of Ukrainian activity in area. Are the Ukrainians going to make a push to take Kherson?

There were significant anti-occupation protests by the residents of Kherson on 11 April.

Weather: Kharkov at 3 PM: 56 degrees (13 Celsius) and cloudy. Low tonight 41 degrees (5 Celsius). Weather clear tomorrow and then rain forecast for the next seven days. I assume the shuts down all major military operations for a week.

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 (see below for more details). 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.

Slovakia has now donated S-300 air defense missiles to Ukraine. According to Wikipedia, Slovakia had only one battery with up to 45 missiles. In exchange, the U.S. is deploying some Patriots to Slovakia (not that it is under attack). At the start of the war Ukraine had about 100 batteries of S-300s with as many as 300 launchers. They have lost at least 21 launchers according to video evidence. NATO members Bulgaria (4 launchers) and Greece (32 launchers, 175 missiles) also have S-300s.

The U.S. Congress just approved another aid package for Ukraine, this one for $800 million. It includes 18 155mm Howitzers, 11 Mi-17 helicopters, 300 Switchblade drones (in addition to the 100 already committed in Ukraine), 200 M-113 APCs, more Javelin AT missiles, and Claymore directed mines. On March 16 the White House approved 800 Stingers (mentioned above), 2,000 Javelins, 6,000 AT4 AT launchers, 1,000 M-72 LAW, 100 unnamed drones, etc. On 6 April the U.S. announced it was providing $100 worth of Javelins and 100 Switchblade drones.

The European Union has also provided another 500 million euros of aid. Total aid provided by the EU since the war began is 1.5 billion.

Poland is reported to have provided 100 T-72s with improved IR sights to Ukraine and also some BWP-1 IFVs. The transferred may have occurred a few days ago.

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 eighth 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. The U.S. DOD told reporters on 8 April that the Russia could be looking to recruit as many as 60,000 soldiers to join the fight. I don’t know what that really means. Who? From where? What will be their training? How long will it take?

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. Have not seen any reports of protest for the last couple of weeks. An anti-war protest concert was held in Moscow 13 April. It ended with the musicians arrested. 

Exchange rate: The Ruble is at 83.33 to a dollar as of 9:34 AM EST. This is “better” than it was before the war began. We gather the Russian government is propping the ruble up. Not sure what the exchange rate will be if Russia ever opens its stock market. 

Price of oil (Brent crude): $107.71 as of 9:34 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 current Wikipedia article on the Russian economy says that roughly 40% of Russian federal budget comes from the oil and gas sector.

The value of the ruble seems to have stabilized at around 82 per dollar and oil prices at around $100. Lower oil prices due undercut the Russian government budget.

It has been estimated by the World Bank that Ukraine’s economy will shrink by an estimated 45.1% this year (which is a surprising precise estimate in the middle of a war). 

Casualties: The UN is reporting on 13 April 1,932 civilians confirmed dead in the war, 77 are in territory controlled by Russian separatists. Ukraine is claiming more than 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 7 April March that they had 979 soldiers killed and 4,265 wounded (436-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. A third prisoner exchange has just been announced that released 12 Ukrainian soldiers and 14 civilians. A fourth prisoner exchange has just been concluded that released 22 soldiers and officers and 8 civilians. The number of Russians released in these last two exchanges has not been provided. BBC Russian Service as of 5 April has counted 1,083 confirmed killed, of which 217 are officers. This includes 10 colonels, 20 lieutenant colonels and 31 majors. This is certainly an undercount. 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. The Kremlin spokesperson Peskov is now saying “We have significant losses of troops. It’s a huge tragedy for us.” Not sure how to convert “significant losses” into a numerical value. It is interesting that they announced this. I assume this is to “prep the audience” for a proper casualty report or to set the stage for a negotiated settlement with Ukraine.

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 a 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     0800, 13 April

Tanks:            336                         485   

AFVs:             239                         258       

IFVs:               320                         516

APCs:               79                           95

Jet aircraft:      15                           18

Helicopters:     32                           30

 

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. They claimed as of 13 April they have destroyed 739 tanks, 1,964 armored personnel vehicles, 158 aircraft and 143 helicopters. They also claim 19,800 Russian soldiers killed. These figures look to be inflated, especially the aircraft and helicopter claims. We assume personnel claims are also inflated.

 

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

                 0900, 30 March       0800, 13 April

Tanks:           79                               107

AFVs:            62                                 73

IFVs:              60                                 82

APCs:            29                                 39

Jet aircraft:   10                                 13

Helicopters:    1                                   3

 

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 more than 5,000 people have died in this conflict (1,351 + 1,300 + 1,932 + 979 = 5,562). It may be more like 10,000 total deaths as I think both Ukrainian and Russian military deaths are not being reported/underreported. The number of deaths of Mariupol are unverified and unknown.

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. If Donbass has lost 979 reported killed, then Russian losses would be expected to be higher than that, maybe three times or more? 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: Putin has declared that the peace talks are at a “dead end.” Not sure if that is a negotiating tactic and a new determination to drag a victory out of an otherwise not particularly successful war. I lean towards to the latter. This is his first public remarks on the war in almost a month, so it does appear that he intends to continue it.

Now, I did not expect any serious progress on negotiations until after they took Mariupol. It is still hanging on. On the other hand, it does look like they intend to take and hold onto all of Donetsk and Lugansk provinces, and possibly all of Kherson province and four-fifths of Zaporizhzhia province. The capital Zaporizhzhia (pop. 722,713) may not be on their list of areas to take. So, four out of Ukraine’s 24 provinces and Crimea.

Populations of partly or completely occupied areas (2019 estimates):

Donetsk: 4,165,901

Lugansk: 2,151,833

Crimea: 2,033,700 (2001 census)

Zaporizhzhia: 1,705,836

Kherson: 1,037,640

Sevastopol: 509,992 (2021 estimate)

 

Population of Ukraine (excluding Crimea), 2022 estimate: 41,167,336

What they are willing to later negotiate away to achieve peace or a ceasefire is unknown. When they are ready to return to talks is unknown. This beginning to look like an extended war.

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. They were saying up to 410 civilians claimed to have been found dead between Bucha and Hostomel, with 150 to 300 in a mass grave in Bucha. The deputy mayor of Bucha says that 50 of the victims have been confirmed as extrajudicially executed. The reported body count from Bucha so far is 164. Additional reports from Ukraine have put the body count of civilians found in the towns and villages surround Kiev at 1,222. This has not been independently confirmed.

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.

Finland and Sweden are seriously discussing joining NATO later this year. I assume NATO will welcome them with open arms.

Ukraine may be on the fast track to join the European Union (which was the issue that started all the turmoil in 2013). 

The Map: The attached map is from Wikipedia, which is under pressure from the Russian government to change its articles. It is dated 14 April. Starting with the 12 April map, it has shown Ukrainians near the town of Kivsharivka (pop. 18,302), to the north of Izium. 

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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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