Saturday, March 19, 2022

Ukraine Notes

US Defense Department estimates at least 7,000 Russian fatalities, and they called this "conservative." That would imply at least 21,000 wounded; the ratio is usually 3:1 to 4:1. Call it 30,000 casualties out of 190,000, which is 16%, enough to seriously impact operations. And that's without factoring in desertions, which seem to be common. A high estimate of Russian losses could easily reach 50,000, which right there would explain why the Russian offensive has ground to a halt.

And here is a count of visually confirmed Russian vehicle losses:

  • 252 tanks (out of about 1200 on February 23) 
  • 488 armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, etc. (out of about 3000)
  • 54 Tigr armored jeeps (heavily used by airborne and special forces)
  • 38 self-propelled artillery
  • 30 multiple launch rocket systems
  • 36 surface-to-air missile systems
  • 13 jet aircraft
  • 34 helicopters
  • 521 trucks
  • 2 trains

Those numbers have been going up even as I go back and forth to the list. Meanwhile Ukraine has lost at least 67 tanks but captured 106 Russian tanks.

And this from the Institute for the Study of War:

Ukrainian forces have defeated the initial Russian campaign of this war. That campaign aimed to conduct airborne and mechanized operations to seize Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and other major Ukrainian cities to force a change of government in Ukraine. That campaign has culminated. [Gone as far as it can go, in military lingo.] Russian forces continue to make limited advances in some parts of the theater but are very unlikely to be able to seize their objectives in this way. The doctrinally sound Russian response to this situation would be to end this campaign, accept a possibly lengthy operational pause, develop the plan for a new campaign, build up resources for that new campaign, and launch it when the resources and other conditions are ready. The Russian military has not yet adopted this approach. It is instead continuing to feed small collections of reinforcements into an ongoing effort to keep the current campaign alive. We assess that that effort will fail.

The ultimate fall of Mariupol is increasingly unlikely to free up enough Russian combat power to change the outcome of the initial campaign dramatically. Russian forces concentrated considerable combat power around Mariupol drawn from the 8th Combined Arms Army to the east and from the group of Russian forces in Crimea to the west. Had the Russians taken Mariupol quickly or with relatively few losses they would likely have been able to move enough combat power west toward Zaporizhiya and Dnipro to threaten those cities. The protracted siege of Mariupol is seriously weakening Russian forces on that axis, however. The confirmed death of the commander of the Russian 150th Motorized Rifle Division likely indicates the scale of the damage Ukrainian defenders are inflicting on those formations. The block-by-block fighting in Mariupol itself is costing the Russian military time, initiative, and combat power. If and when Mariupol ultimately falls the Russian forces now besieging it may not be strong enough to change the course of the campaign dramatically by attacking to the west. . . .

The culmination of the initial Russian campaign is creating conditions of stalemate throughout most of Ukraine. Russian forces are digging in around the periphery of Kyiv and elsewhere, attempting to consolidate political control over areas they currently occupy, resupplying and attempting to reinforce units in static positions, and generally beginning to set conditions to hold in approximately their current forward positions for an indefinite time. Maxar imagery of Russian forces digging trenches and revetments in Kyiv Oblast over the past several days supports this assessment. Comments by Duma members about forcing Ukraine to surrender by exhaustion in May could reflect a revised Russian approach to ending this conflict on terms favorable to Moscow.

Stalemate will likely be very violent and bloody, especially if it protracts. Stalemate is not armistice or ceasefire. It is a condition in war in which each side conducts offensive operations that do not fundamentally alter the situation. Those operations can be very damaging and cause enormous casualties. The World War I battles of the Somme, Verdun, and Passchendaele were all fought in conditions of stalemate and did not break the stalemate. If the war in Ukraine settles into a stalemate condition Russian forces will continue to bomb and bombard Ukrainian cities, devastating them and killing civilians, even as Ukrainian forces impose losses on Russian attackers and conduct counter-attacks of their own. The Russians could hope to break Ukrainians’ will to continue fighting under such circumstances by demonstrating Kyiv’s inability to expel Russian forces or stop their attacks even if the Russians are demonstrably unable to take Ukraine’s cities. Ukraine’s defeat of the initial Russian campaign may therefore set conditions for a devastating protraction of the conflict and a dangerous new period testing the resolve of Ukraine and the West. Continued and expanded Western support to Ukraine will be vital to seeing Ukraine through that new period.


Shadow said...

I follow two state news media outlets from China. They tweet in English. Most of the time they are promoting economic successes in China. But I came across this tweet a couple of days back regarding Xi-Biden tensions over Russia. Paraphrasing "You want us to help you fight our friend so later you can fight us."

szopen said...

I must say Ukraine is fighting shockingly well, given what were opinions of their chances of success at the very beginning of the campaign. The bloody stalemate is quite real - but if Ukrainians will receive AA-weapons, this might radically change the situation on the ground. It might be that perspective which is forcing Russian command to push for unrealistic goals. Maybe Russians still think it's one more effort, one more effort and Ukrainian army will break. The question is whether they are getting reliable intel at all.

This seems increasingly a war driven by political, not military realities.

Shadow said...

Some possible consequences of financial sanctions

1. India and Russia discussing rupee-ruble swap for oil.

2. Saudi Arabia and China discussing oil for yuan.

Up until now, almost all international oil purchases have been done in U.S. dollars -- the Petro-dollar. The more countries that do this, it is likely the U.S. dollar becomes weaker.

Anonymous said...

Russians lost 15K men in ten years in Afghanistan. Now lost 7K in three weeks. Tank losses like this haven't been seen since WWII.

John said...

@David- I remember you pointing out to me years ago that small proxy states sometimes get very good at manipulating their bigger backers, like the way South Vietnam kept the US from making peace with the north for years. So far, anyway, Ukraine has no interest in a peace deal that cedes one inch of territory to Russia. The US and the EU may want them to accept a such a deal to limit the threat of nuclear escalation, but they are doing all the fighting and therefore have all the leverage they need to prevent that from happening. Much of this is beyond US or EU control.