There remains no significant movement on the ground in over two weeks. Lysychansk fell July 3 to Russia. Lots of artillery shelling and missile attacks since then. More civilian deaths as a result. Not sure when and where we are going to see any real movement, though. People are talking about a renewed Russian offensive towards Slovyansk soon or a Ukrainian offensive around Kherson in August. Russia does still seem to pushing a little bit towards Slovyansk from the east, but that is about all that is happening.
The next major objectives of Russia are certainly the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. Not sure what shape that battle with take. The Ukrainians may be able to hold to the east along a river line running from Siversk to Bakhmut, but Slovyansk is also threatened from the NE, north and NW. The seizure of these two cities would give Russia control of Donetsk province. Do they then stop and dig in after that or because of the “operational pause” have they already effectively stopped advancing for this year? There does seem to be some buzz about Russia is now going to try to take Kharkov. Not sure I give that much credence.
I will put any changes/updates since my last post in italics. A link to a blow up of the map is here: Wikipedia map. Debating if I should put this post on a serious diet.
Image is from @War_Mapper, 9 July.
Other parts of the front have shifted back and forth. Fighting is still going on in around nine locales along the front. 1) It appears that Russia has halted its advance less than 20 kilometers to the north and northeast of Kharkov. There has been little movement there in the last couple of weeks. 2) Fighting continues back and forth to the west of Izyum. Have not seen much movement there in the last couple of weeks. 3) Russia threatens operations towards Barvenkove but there has been no movement there for a month or longer. 4) towards Slovyansk from Izyum and Lyman there was some minor advances two weeks ago, but nothing further. 5) Russia has taken Lysychansk and now threatens to advance on Siversk (pop. 11,068). They now occupy all of Lugansk Oblast (province). They did claim to have taken Siversk on 13 July, but this is clearly not the case. They are still several kilometers outside the town. There is fighting around the village of Verkhnokamianske, which I gather is still in Ukrainian hands. Siversk is being shelled (there are videos of it): As Ukrainian Volunteers Try To Evacuate Siversk, RFE/RL Journalists Come Under Fire (rferl.org). They are putting Soledar (pop. 10,692) under pressure. It is between Siversk and Bakhmut, but is to the east of the Bakhmutka River. 6) They threaten Bakhmut and are fighting for the village of Vershyna nearby. They are less than 10 kilometers away from Bakhmut. 7) Far to the north of Mariupol, the villages of Pavlivka and Yehorvika were taken by the Ukrainians. Russians are now claiming to have retaken the village of Solodke in this area. This is probably not a major battle front. Around Kherson, fighting continues in two areas, near Kherson and to the NE of Kherson. Although the lines in this area have not shifted significantly in the last few days, there does appear to be heavy fighting occurring. 8) Last week Ukraine took Blahodatne to the NW of Kherson but Russia took it back this weekend. Ukrainians have retaken the village of Vysokopilia in this area and on 28 June took Potomkyne. 9) The Ukrainians are near Kherson but do not appear to be advancing over the last week. Latest video from Denys Davydov showing front line traces dated 21 July (12:38): Update from Ukraine | A-10 Warthog for Ukraine Air Forces! – YouTube. He does start the video with his military map, not that it has moved much in the last couple of weeks. There are fire detection maps in this video. It is a lot less fire than before.
There was some concern that Ukraine seemed to be on the downside of the casualty exchange, primarily because of overwhelming Russian artillery. Zelenskyy did state that Russians have a numerical advantage. It is stated in the Ukranian paper, New Voice of Ukraine that they are suffering up to 1,000 casualties a day in Donbas (a casualty includes killed, wounded and missing, so maybe 200 dead a day based upon this estimate). Ukraine is calling for more heavy weapons, in particular artillery and shells. This pushing back of Ukrainian forces is certainly not helping the casualty exchange, and the advance out of Toshkivka appears to have been against significant Ukrainian forces. On 9 June a Zelensky aid told the BBC that they were losing 100 to 200 troops a day and the Ukrainian defense minister said they were losing 100 killed and 500 injured a day. I gather that now that fighting has died down in the last two weeks, losses are a lot less.
Ukraine does appear to now be hitting multiple positions behind Russian lines, going for supply depots, airports and military bases. This includes Donetsk, Kadiivka in the Lugansk region, Melitopol military bases and airfield, and Kherson. For Melitopol the mayor of Melitopol is claiming 200 killed there: https://t.me/ivan_fedorov_melitopol/228. Not sure I buy into those claims.
Right now, Slovyansk (pop. 106,972) and Kramatorsk (pop. 150,084) appear to be secure, but suspect they are the next objectives of the Russian Army after Lysychansk. Russia now occupies six cities: Lysyschansk (pop. 95,031), Severodonetsk (pop. 101,135), Mariupol (pop. 431,859), Berdyansk (pop. 107,928), Melitopol (pop. 150,768) and Kherson (pop. 283,649).
We have been looking at six major areas of operations. Only two appear to be active right now.
1. Kiev – secure
2. Odessa – secure
3. Kharkov – secure
4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces (the Donbas)
5. Mariupol – operations completed
6. Crimean border/Kherson
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. They are supposed to have around 20 BTGs in Russia. A Ukranian border guard was killed on 16 May near Sumy. The U.S. DOD is reporting that the Russian forces in Ukraine are now 106 BTGs.
Here is what I have heard/seen from open sources:
1. Kiev (pop: 2,962,180): It appears that Kiev is secure. It was hit by rockets on 26 June, the first time it has been shelled since 5 June. It is not known what military facilities, if any, were being targeted. One civilian was killed.
2. Odessa (pop: 1,015,826): Appears to be secure. Now that Snake Island has been cleared, there does appear to be eight internationally owned ships have arrived in Ukrainian ports to pick up and transport grain. I gather this is at Bystre estuary canal of the Danube-Black Sea waterway along the Ukrainian-Romanian border, as opposed to going all the way to Odessa. We shall see if they are interfered with. There are currently meetings in Istanbul between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN to address the transfer of grain. It appears that they are about to reach an agreement later today which would significantly help the situation if it were held to. Details of the agreement are not published yet.
Russia withdrew from Snake Island on 30 June. The Ukrainians planted the flag on the island on 7 July but does not maintain forces on the island. At this point, as I gather Ukraine now has significant defensive systems in the area, that operations in the western Black Sea (i.e. west of Sevastopol) are going to cease. Russia does claim that their departure was a “gesture of goodwill” so food could be exported from Ukraine. We shall see if that actually happens. Russia does have seven submarines in their Black Sea fleet, four currently deployed for combat operations according to Ukrainian sources: https://www.yahoo.com/news/russia-puts-5-submarines-sea-080415137.html. Photo of 17 July showed three submarines in harbor at Novorossysk (see 18 July photo at twitter @osint88). It was a submarine launched missile that just hit Vinnytsia killing 23 civilians on 14 July.
3. Kharkov (pop: 1,433,886): Kharkov looks to be securely held but is still being hit by both missiles and artillery with civilian casualties becoming common. Three or four people were killed 27 June and another two people were reported killed 28 June in the Kharkov region. As the Russian Army is still some 20 kilometers aways from Kharkov, one wonders what is the military purpose of this shelling?
The governor of the Belgorod region reported on 2 July that 3 people were killed in Belgorod (pop. 384,425 2015 estimate), 11 apartment buildings and 39 private houses were damaged as a result of a Ukrainian missile attack. These claims have not been independently confirmed. So far in this war, one Russian civilian in Russia has been killed.
A Russan-appointed administrator of a small town in the Kharkov region was killed 11 July by a car bomb by Ukrainian saboteurs. Not sure if this was a special operation or local insurgents.
The Russian push to the southwest towards Barvinkove (pop. 8,110), vice the south or southeast, has been stalled out for weeks. It was either a broader encirclement of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, or the rumored drive on Dnipro (which I really don’t believe they are going to try). Still, no villages have been reported taken in this area for the last few weeks. A video from Sky News from Barvinkove (3:58): Ukraine War: Ukrainian soldiers stand firm in Barvinkove. Trench warfare (2:14)? I also found this more recent France 24 English video to be interesting, showing the war in the area from the Ukrainian point of view (15:05): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TclDu76p7ng. It shows the three-day rotation to the front lines, some of the Ukrainian missile artillery operations and the mix of people fighting for Ukraine (including a Russian).
The Russian have now taken most of the areas north of the Severskii Donets River. Another map cribbed from @War_Mapper dated 9 May. The Ukrainians still have the river between them and Slovyansk.
4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces (the Donbas): Lysychansk has fallen as of 3 July 2022. Severodonetsk has fallen as of 25 June. The order was given on 24 June to withdraw from Severodonetsk. The mayor said on 25 June that the Russians had control of the city. It appears that the last defenders pulled out by boat on the night of 24/25 June. It is claimed by one participate that as far as he is aware no one was killed in the pullback.
The Russian push through Toshkivka (pop. 4088) appears to have undone the Ukrainian defensive positions in Lugansk province. They withdrew from Severodonetsk, withdrew from Zolote, and then were able to take Lysychansk a week after they took Severodonetsk. LPR is claiming that they entered Lysychansk on 25 June and that street fighting is taking place. This appears to be an overstatement, but they clearly had advanced to the SW outskirts of the city last week. Russia had also claimed on 30 June to have captured the region of Pryvillia (pop. 6.679), which is part of the Lysychansk municipality and to the NW of Lysychansk. This appears to have unhinged the Ukrainian defensive positions from the north.
The Ukrainians withdrew under increasing pressure from Russian advances to the north and south of the city. This gave Russia control of all of Lugansk province. It took them over a month to take Severodonetsk. It took them a less than two weeks to take Lysychansk. They also claimed to have taken Bilohorivka on 3 July. They tried to take this village from the north in May, crossing the Seversky Donetsk River with pontoon bridges, but failed with considerable losses. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Siverskyi_Donets.
According to Ukraine only 10,000 civilians remained in Severodonetsk and only 12,000 remained in Lysychansk.
The next defensive line in the east appears to run down the Bakhmutka River from Siversk (pop. 11,068) to Bakhmut (pop. 72,310), but they are also directly threatening Slovyansk from the NE, north and NW. These positions are closer to Slovyansk. Right now, they appear to be pushing towards Bakhmut, with them now fighting over the village of Vershyna. The Russians claimed to have taken the village of Spirne last week and took the village of Verknokamianske this week. The Ukrainian General Staff was reporting as 15 July the villages of Spirne and Vershyna were still in their hands.
Slovyansk (pop. 106,972) and Kramatorsk (pop. 150,084) appear safe for now. Slovyansk, Kramatorsk and Bakhmut are being shelled. It is claimed there are only about 22 – 24,000 people left in Slovyansk. Kramatorsk had its rail station hit on 9 April with over 50 civilians killed.
Further south Avdiyivka (31,940) is still in Ukranian hands but is being shelled. Ukraine claimed on 27 April that Avdiyivka was hit twice by phosphorus munitions.
To the southwest of this fight, the Ukrainians have retaken Maryinka (pop. 9,256) on 19 April, which had been taken by the DPR on 17 March.
The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) is reporting as of 7 July that they had 2,343 soldiers killed and 9,663 wounded (4.12-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio). This is 60% casualties out of an estimated force of 20,000. They have been surprisingly diligent about regularly reporting their casualty figures. One wonders if some Russian losses or contractors are being included in these figures. Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) is reported as of 5 April to have had 500-600 killed out of an estimated force of 14,000. This is 21% casualties, assuming a 4-to-1 killed ratio. Don’t know how many of DPR and LPR forces are Russians from Russia as opposed to locals.
Zelensky in an interview on CNN on 17 April said they had 44,000 professional military men in the Donbas.
5. Mariupol (pop: 431,859): The siege lasted seventy-seven days. As of 17 May, Mariupol is under control of Russia although they declared on 20 May that they had “completely liberated” the steel works. It apparently took a couple of days for everyone to surrender, including the final 531 Ukranian troops. The Alamo held out for 13 days. The Germans surrounded in Stalingrad held out for 72 days. The Russian defense minister said 1,908 at that same time, and they have now upped their claimed prisoners to 2,439 (note that 1908 + 531 = 2,439). This is more prisoners that some of the previous Russian claims of defender strength. So far, none have been exchanged. Denys Prokopenkop, the senior commander in the Azovstal steel mill, is being held in Russian controlled territory and was able to have brief conversation with his wife.
There was a prisoner exchange of 144 soldiers on 30 June. This included 95 that were defending Mariupol, including 43 from the neo-fascist militia unit the Azov regiment.
The population of the city is down to 100,000 or less. I assume the civilians are not planning to return. The mayor, who is no longer in the city, claimed 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. Ukraine is now claiming at least 22,000 civilians have been killed there. We have no evidence supporting a number this high. The city has been decimated, lots of buildings and houses destroyed. Mariupol has no power, gas or water.
There is a mass grave being reported outside of Mariupol near the town of Manhush. It looks like around 200 graves have been dug. Another mass grave is also being reported on 23 April. So far, they appear to be graves for hundreds of people, vice thousands. A third mass grave has been reported. I do have my doubts about some of the higher claims of civilians dead at Mariupol. They are reporting as of 7 July additional “mass burials” at Staryi Krym. Article is attached: https://www.ibtimes.com/mass-burial-site-near-mariupol-doubles-size-15000-ukrainians-likely-buried-there-3566928. Still not convinced that this demonstrates tens of thousands killed in Mariupol.
6. Crimea & Kherson (pop: 283,649): Kherson is under Russian control. Attacks towards Kherson have taken back the villages of Soldatski, Pravdyne, and Oleksandrivka. It is claimed that Ukraine took Kyselivka on 14 June but these claims appear to be questionable, as do several other claims of Ukrainian advances. There were claims of advances closer to Kherson, and it is reported that there were fires burning in Kyselvika (pop. 2,494). This town is just 9 miles NW of Kherson airport and six miles form Kherson.
It appears the Ukrainians have taken Blahodatne to the NW of Kherson last week and the Russians took it back this weekend. Ukrainians have retaken the village of Vysokopilia in this area.
The head of Ukrainian Defense Intelligence stated on 25 June that they should see “visible results” from its counteroffensive in Kherson “from August.” OK, good to know.
Mykoliav, which is still sometimes hit by Russian ordnance, is reportedly down to about 230,000 residents out of its pre-war population of 480,000.
The more interesting operation is the one to the NE of Kherson, where Ukraine has driven down a road that goes behind the city. towards the Dnipro River. This advance towards Kostromka threatens to cut off the Russian forces to the NE of there. This could result is a significant gain of ground by Ukraine. It also could start the process of isolating Kherson. This advance appears to be stalled. The Russians appear to have pushed back against the Ukrainian forces to the NE of Kharkov, indicating that the Ukrainian offensive there is completely stalled out. It may not have been that large of an operation, as I think by default, most of the forces are both sides are concentrated in the Donbas.
There is a report that a Russian official in Kherson was killed when his car blew up on 24 June. Not sure if this is a partisan operation.
A car bombing occurred two weeks ago in Melitopol. Either the work of a developing Ukrainian insurgency or special operations. On July 9 two tractors and three truck trailers were burned. On July 11, a Russian ministry staffer was stabbed to death. It was reported on 16 June that the locals had feed poisoned cherries to the Russian troops. On Saturday (18 June) an explosion seriously injured a local Russian official in Melitopol, Evgeny Sobolev. Melitopol still has 70,000 residents. Note that a Ukrainian drive from Zaporozhzhia down to Melitopol would unhinge Russian positions in Kherson province.
Weather: Kharkov at 3 PM: It is 69 degrees (21 Celsius) and cloudy. Low tonight 58 degrees (14 Celsius). Rain is forecasted for today (90%), Saturday (40%), Monday (90%) and Tuesday (70%).
Ukrainian Army Build-up:
The big news is what is occurring off the battlefield, where U.S. and other international aid is now providing more than $90 billion in aid to Ukraine. Over the long run this will change the military balance between Ukraine and Russia, unless Russia fully mobilizes for war. They seem hesitant to do this. The lasts G-7 meeting has committed to providing indefinite support to Ukraine for its defense against the Russian invasion. The reality is that they will have to dish out $100 billion a year for 2023 and maybe 2024 or longer to make this work.
The U.S. M142 Himars (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) have arrived in Ukraine. This is an updated version of the MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) and has 6 rockets. They have built over 500 of them. I gather Ukraine currently has at least 8 of them (others are saying 12 or 16), and on 9 July it was announced we would be providing four more. We are also talking about sending them the 300-kilometer range ATACMS missiles. This range would give Ukraine the ability to completely cover Sevastopol and strike at the bridge on the Kerch straight connection the rest of the Russia to Crimea. Russia has been moving many of its ships from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk in Russia, out of the 300-kilomoter range.
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. Wikipedia was reporting 209,000 in their armed forces and 102,000 paramilitary. They are now reporting their armed forces at 196,600. President Zelensky said on 21 May that 700,000 soldiers are defending Ukraine. Most of those are militia. The Ukrainian army is around 200,000 and I gather is going to grow to 300,000. It does take a while to build up an army. The upper limited of mobilization is around 5% of the population (there have been cases where it has been higher). So Ukraine with a population of 40 million can build up an army of 2 million, especially if it continues to receive significant outside help. The Russia commentor Col. Kodaryonok stated in his outburst on Russian TV a couple of days ago that “But the situation from the overall strategic position is that the Ukrainian armed forces are able to arm a million people. They’re saying it themselves, that for us, there’s no difficulty in mobilizing a million people. The whole issue is to what extent they’re able to supply this army of modern weapons and military hardware… so a million armed Ukrainian soldiers needs to be viewed as a reality of the very near future.” I would also add that they need to be trained, which takes a while.
The Azov Regiment that was holding in Mariupol was actually a militia unit. That is the case with some of the foreign volunteer battalions also. There are some foreign volunteer units that have been there a while, including two Chechen battalions and a Georgian unit. I have yet to any statistics as to how many other foreign volunteers have been deployed, just individual stories.
There also the independent Belarussian Kastus Kalinouski Battalion, which as of 5 March is reported to have 200 members. They were serving in Irpin (near Kiev). It is reported that they have had thousands of volunteers. The deputy commander of the battalion (age 31) was killed on action on 13 March and another member was lost on 24 March in Irpin. On 16 May it was reported that a company commander had been killed. They state that a total of six Belarussians had died in this battalion since February. Ukrayinska Pravda reports on 6 July that six Belarussian soldiers from the regiment were killed or captured fighting near Lysychansk. The existence of this unit, of course, threatens to bring the war into Belarus at some point. One can envision a number of such scenarios in a few months or a few years.
There is also a group of Russian defectors and dissidents fighting for Ukraine, called the Freedom of Russia Legion. It is reported to be more than 500 people. It has been joined by the ex-vice chairman of Gazprombank, Igor Volobuyev. Among it stated goals is the disposition of Russia president Putin. A few related articles: https://web.archive.org/web/20220408160703/https://time.com/6165422/russians-in-ukraine/ and Former Gazprombank executive Igor Volobuev joins the Freedom to Russia Legion within the Ukrainian Armed Forces (novayagazeta.eu).
A Russian propaganda twitter account (AZ Osint) did provide a detailed listing on 17 June of “Number of Foreign Mercenaries in Ukraine.” Their source is the Russia Ministry of Defense. They claim that there were a total of 6,956 foreign fighters of which 3,221 remain as of June 17. This includes 4,866 from Europe (2,515 remain as of 17 June), 671 from Asia (266 remain), 147 from Africa (29 remain), 5 from Australian and New Zealand (one remains from each country) and 1,267 from “America” (North and South America) (409 remain). They do list the count of fighters by 64 different countries, including 1,831 from Poland, 601 from Canada (162 “eliminated”), 530 from the USA (214 “eliminated”), 504 from Romania and 422 from the United Kingdom (101 “eliminated”) and 355 (145 remain) from Georgia (which seems low). The rest of the countries are listed as 204 fighters or less. Now if some 477 people were eliminated from the U.S., Canada and UK, I think we would have heard about this. They do not list any foreign fighters from Russia, Belarus or Chechnya, although I know they exist (see the paragraphs above). Now, this is a likely Russian propaganda site, and probably the data offered is between 50% to 100% false (certainly the 3rd column is), but it is the first detailed estimate I have seen of the number of foreign fighters provided. If I was doing propaganda, I would not really want to admit that individuals from 64 countries are in Ukraine providing them help. This sort of reinforces that narrative that the whole world condemns Russia.
Outside support for Ukraine is considerable and reported in a separate blog post: Outside Support for Ukraine | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). Not sure I am going to update this. Additional material is being sent, including Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark. Bulgaria has been hesitant to provide Soviet-era heavy weapons to Ukraine due to internal politics.
The proposed U.S. defense budget has been increased to $847 billion as a result of Senate action. Last year’s budget was $768 billion. This proposed defense budget is around half the GDP of Russia.
The U.S. is now admitting that it helped target Russian generals. See: American intel used to kill Russian generals in Ukraine: US officials. This is something we had assumed for a while. See: How Much is U.S. Intelligence helping Ukraine? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and How Much is U.S. intelligence helping Ukraine? – part 2 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). And then yesterday they admitted that U.S. intel helped with tracking the sunk Russian cruiser Moskva, some we also assumed: Official: US gave intel before Ukraine sank Russian warship. Apparently, they did not provide specific targeting information. A group of Russian officers were hit 17 May in the Russian occupied city of Melitopol. Ukraine claims it was done by “partisans.” They are also reporting attacking an armored train. If true, this opens a whole new dimension to this war, although other reports indicate that this was a “special operation” as opposed to partisans. Major General Kanamat Botashev was reported killed while flying an Su-25. This has been confirmed. Two more generals reported killed recently, General Roman Kutuzov and Roman Berdnikov. Kutuzov has been confirmed.
So far twelve named generals have been reported killed in this war. Five deaths have been confirmed and three are still alive.
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 started up on 1 April, and Putin signed a decree ordering up 134,500 new conscripts into the army. 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. Still have not seen any indications of major build-up, although they are rebuilding and refitting their units. With the slow pace of the Russian offensive, it does not appear that they significantly added to their forces.
The Chechen leader is claiming on 28 June that he is assembling four more large battalions to send to Ukraine. I gather this is not going to happen in the next couple of weeks.
Iran claims that it is not preparing to provide drones to Russia, contrary to U.S. intelligence. Putin is traveling to Iran next week.
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. Russia appears to be hesitant to do so. I suspect with full mobilization; we could be looking at a Ukrainian army larger than 300,000. People are now even talking about a Ukrainian armed force of 700,000 to 1,000,000. At some point, Russia will have to mobilize to continue this war. I do not think Russia can win this war without further mobilization. If fact, with the increased aid flowing into Ukraine, Russia may very well end up losing territory it currently holds without additional mobilization. The failure to mobilize is hard to explain from a military point of view. It is clearly a result of domestic political concerns.
Economics and the Home Fronts: The U.S. congress has approved a $40 billion aid bill for Ukraine. That along with previous aid from dozens of other countries ($20-$25 billion), new economic aid from the G-7 (now reported at $19.8 billion), the previous U.S. aid bill in March ($13 billion), and so forth, is pushing the amount of aid this year towards $100 billion (40.1 + 25 + 19.8 + 13 + 0.7 = 99). This is enough to match the entire Russian 2021 defense budget of 61.7 billion and keep the Ukrainian economy afloat. It means that Ukraine can stay in this war for an extended fight. It changes the strategic balance and strategic considerations.
Video has been released around 28 June by 16 Russians from Eastern Siberia region of Buryatia, mostly wives of Russian soldiers, calling for Russia to bring their men home. One called the war “unjust.” As this is not from Moscow or St. Petersburg, this gets my attention. Russia did just sentence an opposition leader, Alexei Gorinov, to seven years in jail for criticizing the war. He was a lawyer and a member of a Moscow district council. He was the first person sentenced under the new laws restricting criticism. See: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jul/08/moscow-councillor-jailed-seven-years-criticising-ukraine-war-alexei-gorinov. I am still watching the 1420 videos. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M8vBZseFt0. This particular video gets a little rude towards the end, inappropriate language starting 5:06. I wonder how long much longer he will be able to continue interviewing before getting into trouble for asking the wrong questions.
The discussion of the economic situation and the home fronts has been updated in a separate rambling blog post: The Home Fronts during the Russo-Ukrainian War – update 2 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). The IIF (Institute of International Finance) is estimating that the Russian economy will shrink by 15% this year and 3% in 2023. This is in line with previously reported estimates of an 8-12% decline in the Russian economy. I have seen and estimated for Ukraine was a 45% decline and IMF has estimated a 35% decline (and 8.5% for Russia). Not sure that is the case anymore with $100 billion in aid coming in (Ukrainian GDP was $181 billion).
It is reported that Russia is now doing a partial economic mobilization for the war. Don’t really know what that means or what it entails. For example: https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/07/russia-duma-tightens-domestic-economic-controls-to-support-war-operations/.
Some restaurants in the newly reconstituted Russian McDonalds chain are having a shortage of French fries because of a potato shortage caused by poor harvest in 2021 and an inability to import potatoes. As I am part Irish American, we know all about potato shortages.
Price of oil continues to go down lower. It is at 101.35 as of 9:33. It has declined to below $100 today several times. Not sure why. As I pointed out in my old post (link is above “Home Fronts”), below $80 a barrel used to be the point where the Russian government budget would go into the red. It does not appear that the price of oil is going to continue to drop as a result of President Biden’s trip to the middle east. The ruble is at 57.88 to the dollar. Not sure how meaningful this is. The Ukrainian Hryvnia has dropped to 36.57 to a dollar.
The cost to the west of this war includes, in part, an inflation rate currently at 9.1% in the U.S., 8.6% in the EU and 9.4% in UK. I assume this is the current figure for the month multiplied by 12 and will not be the figure for the year.
Casualties: William Burns, the Director of the CIA, on 20 July and Mi-6 in the UK are both now putting Russian dead in this war at 15,000. Lots of other people have published much higher figures. Still, this is in line with what I was pointing out a while back: The Ukrainian casualty claims are inflated – part 1 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). Glad to see a little reality is starting to creep back into the estimates. I am surprised that any professional historian and defense analyst let themselves get sucked into the higher figures. Overestimation of enemy casualties is kind of a constant in military history.
The CIA is claiming 45,000 wounded, which is the old 3-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio. I won’t comment on that at the moment (was drafting up a separate blog post on the subject). Update: On 22 July, Zelensky stated they were now losing around 30 killed a day and 250 wounded. See: Ukraines losses have fallen to 30 dead per day Zelenskyy (yahoo.com). This is an 8.33-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio. This is not particular surprising if most of the casualties are from artillery shelling and high explosives, especially with people wearing body armor and being able to quickly receive medical aid or be evacuated. It is part of the reason the wounded-to-killed ratios were so high in Iraq and Afghanistan. See: Wounded-to-killed ratios in Ukraine in 2022 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and Wounded-To-Killed Ratios | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).
Ukraine admitted on 29 April that they have suffered “serious losses” in battles. Zelensky is now saying that between “50 to 100 Ukrainians could be killed” each day in the Battle for Donbas. We take these claims at face value. They also claim that Russian losses are “colossal.” That claim has not been confirmed. Zelensky told CNN on 15 April that Ukrainian Army had lost between 2,500-3,000 troops since the fighting has begun and about 10,000 have been wounded (wounded-to-killed ratio of 4.00- or 3.33-to-1). According to NYT the U.S. intelligence estimates as of 19 April are between 5,500 to 11,000 Ukrainians killed and between 7,000 to 10,000 Russians killed. Der Spiegel has claimed on 11 June that according to an advisor to Zelenskii, about 10,000 Ukranian soldiers have been killed since the start of this war. This seems entirely reasonable and believable (thanks to commenter Ulenspiegel for this reference).
Zelensky stated in an interview on 1 June that between 60 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers are lost on the battlefield each week, with an additional 500 wounded. This would make for a wounded-to-killed ratio of 5-to-1 or 8.33-to-1.
The UN is reporting as of 17 July at least 5,110 civilians confirmed dead in the war. Of those 3,002 of the deaths are in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk with 236 killed in territory controlled by Russian separatists. One wonders if the claimed Mariupol casualties are included in these figures.
The civilian casualties per month are reported as (as of 3 July):
It is clear that more than 14,000 people have died in this conflict (1,351 (Russian Army) + at least 2,000 more (Russian Army) + 3,000 (Ukrainian Army) + 5,110 (Civilians) + 2,343 (DPR) + 600 (LPR) = 14,404). It is probably in excess of 30,000 total deaths depending on Ukrainian and Russian military deaths and the real count of civilian losses. We are probably looking at 10,000 or more killed in each army. We are probably looking at additional civilian deaths in Mariupol.
As of June 7 Ukraine is claiming to have killed 31,250 Russian soldiers, while Russia is claiming to have killed 38,257 Ukrainian soldiers (as calculated by @HelloMrBond). I have questioned the Ukrainian claims: The Ukrainian casualty claims are inflated – part 1 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). Needless to say, I also doubt the Russian claims. The UK Defense secretary is now estimating that the Russians have lost 25,000 killed in the first 115 days of the war. The Russian Defense Ministry is claiming as of 30 June to be holding 6,000 Ukrainian soldiers in captivity. I have no reason to doubt this claim. In early July, the Ukrainian missing person commissioner stated on TV that more that 7,000 people are missing, including soldiers, national guardsmen, border guards and intelligence officers.
A more detailed discussion is provided here: Losses during the Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).
Two Americans have been captured and another is missing. The captured Americans are Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, of Hartselle Alabama (just north of where my father was born), and Alexander Drueke, 39 of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They were captured in the fighting in northeastern of Kharkov on 9 June or later. Drueke was a former staff sergeant in the U.S. Army that had done two tours in Iraq. He left the U.S. for Poland in mid-April. Huynh is a former U.S. Marine with four years of service, but no combat service. He flew to Eastern Europe sometime after 7 April. They have been shown on Russian TV and they both spoke in the video. They are believed to be the first two Americans captured in this conflict. The DPR has sentenced to death two captured Brits and a captured Moroccan. These sentences are currently under appeal. See: Two American dead, two captured and one missing in Ukraine | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). Two additional British citizens have been captured, with one dying in captivity.
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. On 12 May, the U.S. was claiming that the Russians flew 300 sorties over Ukraine in the last 24 hours. On 14 May they were claiming 250 Russian sorties. It has been pretty consistent reporting of 250-300 sorties a day for quite some time now.
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. On the morning of 16 April in the Lvov region, Ukraine claimed it downed four cruise missiles fired by Su-35s operating from Belarus. Zelensky claimed on 26 April that Russians have fired more than 1,100 missiles at Ukraine. The U.S. DOD claimed on 29 April that more than 1,950 missiles have been fired at Ukraine since the start of the war and they are currently firing about 50 a day. In his 5 July video, Denys Davydov states almost 80% of Russian missiles are being intercepted by anti-missile defenses. I have seen this claim repeated elsewhere but have no idea as to its validity.
End of the War: It does look like Russia intends 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):
Crimea: 2,033,700 (2001 census)
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. What Ukraine is willing to negotiate away is also unknown, although they are now saying the war will continue until all areas are freed. Does that include the LPR, DPR and Crimea? When they are ready to return to talks is unknown. This looks like an extended war and I don’t think will be over before the end of summer. It may continue for years: So How Long is this War Going to Last? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org) and Possible Outcomes of the War? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).
At this point, unless Russia mobilizes, I do think that it will slowly turn to Ukraine’s advantage.
Reports every week of significant civilian casualties in strikes against cities not near the front line. Russia is claiming it is striking at military targets in and around these cities, but there does not seem to be a lot of discrimination in their target selection or the weapons that they use.
Amnesty International has published a new report on the attack on the theater in Mariupol that killed hundreds, declaring it a war crime where the theater was the intended target. The death toll for this attack is often given as 600, but Amnesty International does state that it is likely much smaller than previously reported: “at least a dozen people died in the attack, but also that it is likely that many additional fatalities remain unreported.”
Reports from Ukraine have put the body count of civilians found in the towns and villages surround Kiev at 1,222. Not sure if this has been independently confirmed, but I assume the UN counting efforts have now picked up most of these civilian deaths. Ukraine has identified ten Russian soldiers wanted for “pre-mediated murder” in Bucha. They are all enlisted from the 64th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade. These are the first charges unveiled of over 8,000 criminal investigations. The U.S. is claiming it has “credible information” of Russians killing Ukrainians in the vicinity of Donetsk who were trying to surrender.
There are also various accusations against the Russian Army Chechen unit operating around Bucha: Brutal Sect of Putin’s Army Accused of Murdering Their Own Comrades.
More claims of atrocities coming out with videos of Russian troops shooting two civilians outside of Kiev in March. Ukraine has sentenced a 21-year old POW to life in prison for shooting a civilian who was talking on his phone. Ukraine is now charging 48 more Russian soldiers (currently POWs) and investigating around 13,000 alleged offenses. The Ukrainian officials have a list of about 6000 suspects. Two POWs pleaded guilty on 26 May of firing Grad rockets from Russia’s Belgorod region towards Kharkov on 24 Feb.
Meanwhile, the head of the DPR is saying that the fighters who surrendered at the Azovstal steel mill are to be put on trial. Somehow, this response does not surprise me. The DPR has now convicted and sentenced three captured foreign fighters to death by firing squad. They are two UK citizens and a Moroccan. They have a month to appeal their sentences. So Ukraine has convicted three POWs for war crimes and now DPR has now sentence three people for execution. One wonders if this will be the subject for the next prisoner exchange. As the two sides are still conducting exchanges of prisoners and bodies of killed soldiers, there is some hope for some resolution here.
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.
There are also some retribution killings going on: Ukrainian Chief Intelligence Directorate: another traitor of Ukraine found shot. Ukraine stated on 8 June that they are investigating nearly 480 people for treason and collaboration.
Belarus continues making noise, although I still doubt that they will join the war. Belarus has 60,000 troops and now they are trying to recruit another 20,000. This is from a country that the government was almost overthrown two years ago by popular acclaim. Ukraine has an 891-kilometer border (554 miles) with Belarus, so Ukraine must maintain some forces there.
Ukraine has been made a candidate member of the European Union as of 23 June. It still means that it will be years before Ukraine becomes part of the EU, but this is a big first step. The Ukraine government applied for EU membership less than week after Russia first invaded them. Moldova was also granted candidate membership. Georgia has not (and it is not on good terms with Russia).
This was the issue that started all the turmoil in 2013. This is the issue that fueled all the conflict over the last nine years, for the Euromaidan revolt occurred when Ukrainian President Yanukovich decided to join Putin’s Eurasian Union vice the EU. The subsequent conflicts included the whole three-month Euromaidan revolt in the dead of winter of 2013-2014 that led to over 100 Ukrainians being killed, many protesters shot in the street by President Yanokovich’s security forces; the seizure of Crimea; the creation of LPR and DPR; the subsequent war; and now this war. Ukraine certainly has paid a much higher cost to join the EU than anyone else ever has. Current polling (Reuters April 5) shows that 91% of the Ukrainians support joining the EU.
Finland and Sweden signed the accession protocol to join NATO on 5 July, along with all 30 members of NATO. They officially applied to join NATO on May 18. There was an objection from Turkey, but Sweden and Finland has resolved their issues just before the summit in Madrid in early July. It then must be ratified by all 30 NATO members, which may take months. As of 16 July, 15 NATO members have ratified the accession protocol. This does include Germany and the UK. It does require unanimous consent of all 30 members for them to join NATO. It does add an 810-mile (1300 km) border with Russia, but NATO already abuts Russian and Belarussian territory in the Baltic states. Also, Denmark has joined the common EU defense cooperation, something which it has stayed out of for three decades.
Also, the United States will be establishing a permanent troop presence in Poland, maintain a rotational brigade in Romania, and enhance its rotational deployment in the Baltic States, among other expansions. Canada is leading a NATO battlegroup of Latvia of around 2,000 soldiers, including troops from Canada, Albania, Czech Republic, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Germany is to lead a combat brigade in Lithuania of 3,000 – 5,000 soldiers. A NATO battalion of about 1,600 has been stationed there since 2017. Germany is also now talking about an armored division for protection of NATO’s eastern border.
Poland has completed on 30 June a steel wall on its border with Belarus to curb the flow of asylum seekers from Belarus. The wall is 115 miles long (186 km), 18 feet tall (5.5 meters) and cost $407 million to build (353M Euros). The Polish border with Belarus is 258 miles long (416 km). Poland also announced around 15 July that it will be increasing its defense budget to be 5% of the GDP and building up its army to 300,000 troops. Poland is currently spending 2.4% of its GDP on defense. It is going to increase it next year to 3%. The U.S. currently spends 3.5% of our GDP on defense.
A Ukrainian court on 23 May order the arrest of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich. He is accused of treason over the agreement he signed in 2010 (The Kharkiv Pact) to extend Russian leave on naval facilities in Crimea. In 2014 Russian forces in Sevastopol seized all of Crimea and Victor Yanukovich left Ukraine for Russia and was in Moscow by 25 February 2014. He has remained in Russia ever since. He had already received a 13-year jail sentence over a letter he sent to Vladimir Putin on 1 March 2014 asking for Russia to use Russian army and police forces to restore order in Ukraine.
The Communist Party of Ukraine has been banned again as of 5 July and its assets seized. This is like the third time Ukraine has banned various forms of it (in 1991, 2015 and now 2022). In the last election it was allowed to stand, in 2012, it won 13% of the vote. I gather 13 political parties have now been banned in Ukraine. Zelensky signed a decree on May 14 outlawing all political parted deemed to be “pro-Russian.” I will point out that even during the height of the cold war and McCarthyism, the Soviet Union funded American Communist Party, founded 1919, was not banned. The U.S. did put into place the Alien Registration Act/Smith Act in 1940 which indicted 215 people until a number of convictions were ruled unconstitutional in 1957 by the Supreme Count. The Kyiv Independent is twittering on 7 July that the authorities have detained a 63-year-old woman in Kharkov for supporting Russia’s war on social media. One must be careful that while fighting for their own freedom, that the government does not become yet another source of oppression. Ukraine is arresting hundreds of people for security reasons and Zelensky reported on 17 July that 651 criminal proceedings have been registered for “treason and collaboration” against law enforcement employees They have also replaced on 17 July the head of the SBU (the Ukrainian security service) who was a childhood friend and business partner of Zelenskyy and the Prosecutor General, who had been in office since 2020.
A Russian spy, Victor Muller (real name Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov), was arrested by the Dutch with FBI assistance. He went to John Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies in Washington D.C. and had arranged an internship at the International Criminal Court (ICC). This I find interesting.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria has announced the mass expulsion of 70 of the Russian diplomatic staff. This is half their staff in the country. On 22 June, the strongly leaning pro-EU and pro-NATO Harvard educated Bulgarian Prime Minister lost a motion of no confidence. He is still ruling, but new elections are being scheduled. They are a member of both EU and NATO. There are strong pro-Russian groups in Bulgaria.
Violent protests in Uzbek in early July. Previously, there were protests in Kazakhstan in January 2022 that required Russian intervention. Don’t know enough about this region to know if this is going to be a continued issue.
The Map: The map at the top of this post is from Wikipedia. It is dated 22 July. It does show some updates to the west of Izyum on 13 June. It is showing Lysychansk under Russian control as of 3 July.