The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – Day 224 (ground actions)

The two Ukrainian offensives in Lugansk and Kherson provinces continue moving forward. In the Donbas the Ukrainians took Lyman on 1 October and are now advancing towards both Kreminna and to the north towards Svatove. Not sure exactly where the front line is there. They have taken Borova (pop. 5,174), west of Svatova, as of 3 October; and are on the outskirts of Kreminna (pop. 18,417). In Kherson province, they continue rolling back the Russian positions to the far NE of Kherson. They have taken Davydiv Brid (pop. 1,223), Dudchany (pop. 2,102) and many other villages. The Russians withdrew from Davydiv Brid on 4 October. Is this a controlled withdrawal by Russia across this front or are they collapsing? With the dammed river to their east (Kakhovka Reservoir/Dnipro River), a withdrawal does simplify and shorten the Russian defense.

Russia did withdraw from Lyman and we have pictures on 1 October of Ukrainian troops there. Not sure how many forces were savaged in the retreat, but it does not appear to have been many. This was an offensive that has gone on for over a week and was slow moving, so a sudden, organized withdrawal was possible. Statement from Russian defense ministry was: “In connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement, allied troops were withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Liman to more advantageous lines.” Allied troops? Who was holding Lyman, LPR? DPR? The commentator Denys Davidov did speculate in a video dated 30 September that there are 3,000 troops in Lyman from two of the self-proclaimed republic’s armies and one Russian army regiment. Lyman (pop. 20,469 in 2021) is not exactly a major objective. It is just a village on the way to more important places. It does not appear that Russia suffered significant losses in the withdrawal.

Just to recap, Kupyansk and Izyum was taken on 10 September. They took Lyman on 1 October. Not sure what else they can take over the next couple of weeks before poor weather sets in (the continual rain has already been an issue). Breaking the line from Troitske to Svatove to Kreminna would be nice as this would set them up to take back Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. Not sure this is going to happen in October. 

Map from 4 October 2022 of Lyman region from @War_Mapper.

There does appears to be a defensive line running Troitske , 36 miles (57 kilometers) north of Svatove, near the Russian border. It then runs down from Troitske (pop. 7,241) to Svatove (pop. 16,420) and down to Kreminna (pop. 18,417). This line would be at least 62 miles (99 kilometers) in length. The Ukrainians are across the Oskil River at Kupyansk and at Borova and are also advancing south of the Oskil River at far as Lyman, Bilohorivka and Kreminna. Photographic evidence shows that Bilohorivka (pop. 828) is under control of Ukraine as of 19 September. This gives Ukraine a foothold in Lugansk province. It is 7 miles (11 kilometers) to the west of Lysychansk. Kreminna is 11 miles (18 kilometers) to the NW of Severodonetsk.

Meanwhile, after weeks of being stalled, it appears that real progress is being made as of 2 October in the attack furthest to the northeast of Kherson. The Ukrainian August Offensive is in its thirty-ninth day now. It was reported that these three Kherson area offensives stalled out because of heavy Ukrainian casualties, although this does not seem to be widely repeated. Do not know how true is, nor do I have any idea of how heavy those casualties were: Wounded Ukrainian soldiers reveal steep toll of Kherson offensive (msn.com). The Ukrainians had conducted offensives near Kherson, a second offensive to the NE of Kherson near Bruskinske and this third offensive to the far NE of Kherson near Vysopillia (pop. 3,899), which was taken on 4 September. This third one offensive area is the one that appears to now be moving again, with Dudchany being threatened on 2 October according to Russian reports. Arkhanhelske (pop. 1,769) was retaken around 2 October, Havrylivka was taken 3 October and the Russians withdrew from Davydiv Brid on 4 October. They also appear to have lost Dudchany. The Ukrainians appear to be pushing the Russians back along a broad front from the NE and from the north.

Map from 4 October of Kherson region from @War_Mapper. 

Lysychansk fell July 3 to Russia. Since then, the largest town to have changed hands is Izyum (pop. 45,884) on 10 September. The Russian advances are on the outskirts of Bakhmut (pop. 72,310) and threatening to take the city, although it does not appear likely that they will. 

I will put any changes/updates since my last post in italics. A link to a blow up of the map is here: Wikipedia mapIt is dated 5 October.

Latest video from Denys Davydov showing front line traces dated 4 October (16:45): Update from Ukraine | Ruzzia Runs from the South | Kherson will be liberated – YouTube. Fire detection maps are shown at 5:10 and xxx.. 

Slovyansk (pop. 106,972) and Kramatorsk (pop. 150,084) appear to be secure. Russia currently 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). 

My speculations on the Russian plans going forward is here: A Projected Plan for the Russo-Ukrainian War | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). I suspect this war is going to continue until at least the fall of 2023. In the end, this war is going to be won on the field of battle. It is about territory taken and territory held. Putin’s 70th birthday is on October 7.

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

1. Kiev (pop: 2,962,180): It appears that Kiev is secure.

2. Odessa (pop: 1,015,826): Appears to be secure. Odessa was hit by drones on 23 September. The U.S. is now reporting that Ukraine ships nearly as much grain in August as it did before the Russian invasion (five million metric tons a month). They are exporting “as much as” four million metric tons in August. There was 2.5 to 3 million tons trucked into the European Union. The Ukrainian rail gauge still is not compatible with European Union rail gauges (an old Soviet problem). The agreement between Russia, Ukraine and Turkey has resulted in over six million tons of grain shipped by sea. As of 4 October, the amount of grain shipped from Ukrainian ports and across the Black Sea is 6,120,248 metric tonnes carried in 268 ships according to recent posts on twitter by @exit266. There are still 46 days left to the agreement. 

3. Kharkov (pop: 1,433,886): Kharkov looks to be secure. Still, it came under fire on 3 October with one civilian killed. In the Kharkov region a doctor was killed and two nursed wounded when a hospital was hit. Not sure where the attacks were fired from, Lugansk province or Belgorod province.

An observation tower near the Ukrainian border in the Belgorod region was hit on the 15th with a Ukrainian “kamikaze” drone. On the 18th an ammo depot was hit at the village of Timonovo, in the Belgorod province. It is around 15 miles from the Ukrainian border with a population of around 479 (2010 estimate). Ukraine now controls the entire border with Belgorod province. They do have the option to continue offensive operations into Belgorod. Suspect they won’t. There has been some light shelling of Belgorod province.

4. The Donetsk and Lugansk provinces (the Donbas): Lysychansk has fallen as of 3 July 2022. Severodonetsk has fallen as of 25 June. According to Ukraine only 10,000 civilians remained in Severodonetsk and only 12,000 remained in Lysychansk. Severodonetsk residents as of 7 August still do not have water.

Slovyansk (pop. 106,972) and Kramatorsk (pop. 150,084) appear safe for now. It is claimed there are only about 22 – 24,000 people left in Slovyansk. 

Further south Avdiyivka (31,940) is still in Ukranian hands. 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 22 September that they had 3,138 soldiers killed and 13,270 wounded (4.23-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio). They reported 87 more killed between 28 July and 3 August, 106 more killed between 3 to 11 August, 127 more killed as of 18 August, 64 more killed as of 25 August, 79 more killed as of 1 September, another 159 killed as of 15 September and another 69 killed as of 22 September. This is 82% casualties out of an estimated initial 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.

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.

The population of the city is down to 100,000 or less. 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. 

There is some rear area resistance in Mariupol with three Russians reported injured on 13 September.

Prisoner Exchanges:

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. It appears that 53 Ukrainian prisoners were killed when the building exploded that they were housed at in Olenivka near Donetsk (actually it appears that the figure may be 42). Not sure of the source of explosion. They were under protection of the DPR.U.S.-born action actor Steven Seagal has toured the facility and produced a video that says that Ukrainian HIMARS killed the prisoners. Seagal is a Russian citizen and a friend of Putin.

It was reported by The Kyiv Independent that on 27 August that the bodies of 541 fallen Ukrainian soldiers were returned to Ukraine by Russia. Among there were 428 bodies from Mariupol, of which more than 300 were defenders of Azovstal.

The latest prisoner exchange on 2 September returned 10 Ukrainians from 58th Separate Mechanized Brigade and four from the 30th Mechanized Brigade. These were captured in the fighting in the spring and were not part of the defense of Mariupol. The 58th was engaged in the Battle of Bakhmut while the 30th was engaged in Kherson. 

Two new prisoner exchanges occurred late this month. Saudi Arabia brokered the release of ten Ukraine-supporting foreign prisoners. Not sure what Russia recieved in the exchange for this. This included five Brits, two Americans, one Swede, one Croatian, one Moroccan. We have talked about some of these prisoners before. The two Americans are Alexander Drueke, 39 and Andy Huynh, 27, both of Alabama. The five British captives released included Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 27. 

On 21 September there was a big exchange of 55 Russians and the Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk for 215 Ukrainians. This was brokered by Turkey and included five senior commanders from the defense of Mariupol. These five commanders from Mariupol are to be detained in Turkey for the duration of the war. This includes the commander, Denys Prokopenko, and the deputy commander, Svyatoslav Palamar, of the neo-fascist Azov regiment and the commander, Serhiy Voluynsky, of the 36th Marine Brigade. A 188 of the prisoners were fighters who defended Mariupol. Of these, 108 were members of the Azov regiment. There were also border guards, policemen, marines customs officer and civilians among those released. The Ukrainian Viktor Medvedchuk was the leader of a banned pro-Moscow party in Ukraine who was detained and facing trial. Not sure why Moscow was willing to give up 160 prisoners for him. He does have a Wikipedia page: Viktor Medvedchuk – Wikipedia. It is a checkered resume, he is a friend of Putin. Russian commentator, Igor Girkin, denounced the release of the Azov commanders, as have several other Russian bloggers. An article in the Washington Post about this exchange is worth reading: Putin overruled his top security service in prisoner swap with Ukraine.

It is actually good that these dialogues continue. Between these and the wheat shipments, is does show that there is some common ground that allows the two sides to negotiate. It may be a year before there are any serious negotiations about ending the war.

6. Crimea & Kherson (pop: 283,649): Kherson is under Russian control. The head of Ukrainian Defense Intelligence stated on 25 June that they should see “visible results” from its counteroffensive in Kherson “from August.”

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.

Melitopol still has 70,000 residents. Note that a Ukrainian drive from Zaporizhzhia down to Melitopol would unhinge Russian positions in Kherson province.

Strikes against Russian officials continue in the rear areas. In early September the Russian mayor of Berdyansk was killed by a car bomb and a Russian official in Zaporizhzhia province was also killed. Around 15 September a husband, the deputy head of Berdyansk, and his wife were killed near their garage in Berdyansk. There was also a gunfight in the streets of Kherson that left at least three dead. This may have been against Russians forces at insurgents or may have been a fight between two Russian forces (the FSB and 8th Artillery Regiment according to one claim). This is not the first such claim of a fratricidal fight between Russian units. It is claimed on @warmonitor3 that on 16 September two brigades got into a shootout around Novodruzhevsk, Shipylivka and Zolotarivka in Lugansk province that escalated into a firefight that killed 21 soldiers and wounded 53. There is no confirmation of this report.

The big news, of course, was the major strike 9 August on Saki Airbase just to the north of Sevastopol. It appears to have been shut down with three major explosions. It is about 120 miles (193 kilometers) behind the front lines. Russia lost at least 7 airplanes in this attack and most estimates range from 9 to 13.

Crimea was stuck again on 16 August, this time an ammo depot in Maiske village was hit. Big explosion and lots of secondary explosions. Again, this provides great footage. Clearly done by the Ukrainians although the source of the explosions are not known (missiles? sabotage?). It is leading to a mass migration of tourists out of Crimea via their brand new bridge across the Kerch straight (completed 2018). The depot is near the rail line that leads from Kerch and to the north of Crimea.

The Crimean airport of Belbek suffered a large explosion on 2 October. Don’t know the cause. Can be seen from the beaches around Sevastopol. Russian sources are saying it is due to an airplane going off the runway during a landing, catching fire and ammunition exploding. No one was killed. 

The rail situation in the south may be getting a little precarious for the Russians, with the rails and bridges going from Crimea to the provinces north of there mostly being interdicted. Added to that, most of the crossings on the Dnipro had been interdicted. Russia may be struggling to keep it forces north of the Dnipro properly supplied and supported and may be struggling to keep everything north of Crimea properly supplied and supported. We shall see how bad it gets. 

 

Weather: Kharkov at 3 PM: It is 56 degrees (13 Celsius) and cloudy. Low tonight 48 degrees (9 Celsius). No rain is forecasted for the next ten days. The ground is probably pretty wet from all the previous rain, but with clear temperate weather now, this is kind of perfect campaign weather. Overall, it is expected that there should be good campaign weather until the middle of October or so and then the war stalls out for over three months thanks to the mud and cold.

Ukrainian Army Build-up: 

Do not know the current strength of the deployed Ukrainian Army but am guessing that it is between 200,000 to 300,000 troops. They clearly are going to have to build it up to 400,000 or more in response to Russia’s partial mobilization.

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. I have not been tracking all the recent smaller aid packages that have been issued. This includes a new $3 billion miliary package from the U.S. that follows two other packages of around a billion $. Since January, the U.S. had provided 13.5 billion in military aid to Ukraine.

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 12 of them (others are saying 16) and as of 4 October, we have just announced we are providing them four more. We so far have not sent Ukraine any of the 300-kilometer range ATACMS missiles and as of 15 September, have indicated that we have no plans to do so. Russia has been protesting strenuously against this. 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-kilometer range. On the other hand, the Ukrainian R-360 Neptune anti-ship missiles that sunk the Russian cruiser Moskva also have a range of up to 280 kilometers (170 miles) kilometers and can certainly reach Sevastopol and I gather the well-defended bridge from Kerch to Crimea. As we have seen from the Ukrainian strike on Saki Airbase in Crimea, they do have the ability to reach out and touch the Russians well behind the lines.

Poland is now providing Ukraine with updated Soviet T-72s, the PT-91 Twardy. Some claim 200 are being provided. Poland has already provided Ukraine with 240 Polish T-72s. Turkey has provided Ukraine with 50 Kirpi APCs, and another 150 more are expected. Slovenia as of 19 September will provide Ukraine with 28 M-55S MBTs, which is a heavily upgraded version of the old Soviet T-55. There is an on-going discussion of the U.S. providing Ukraine with M1-A1s or A2s or Germany providing them with Leopard 2s. The Leopard 2 is still in production and is the M1-A2, after declining to production of one tank a month in 2016. These transfers to Ukraine have not been resolved. 

The U.S. is now considering providing fighter jets to Ukraine. I gather this means that it will happen at some point over the next couple of months. Types and number are not known. They will be western fighters, vice Russian MiGs, because of the issue of obtaining parts. It does look like the Slovakian Mig-29s are finally going to be shipped to Ukraine. They have 11 in service.

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 Azov Regiment that was holding in Mariupol was actually a National Guard 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 reliable statistics as to how many other foreign volunteers have been deployed, just individual stories.

The two Chechen battalions include the older established Dudayev Battalion of several hundred men and a new battalion of men formed mostly from Chechen emigrees from other parts of Europe. These units are not under formal command of the Ukrainian military.

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 was created in March 2022. It is reported to be more than 500 people. It has been joined by the ex-vice chairman of Gazprombank, Igor Volobuyev. Among its stated goals is the disposition of Russia president Putin. See: 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).

On 31 August the Svoboda Rossii (Freedom of Russia) Legion that is part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the newly appearing National Republican Army (NRA) have created a political union headed a Russian former deputy of the Duma, Ilya Ponomarev. The NRA is the mysterious new opposition movement inside of Russia that is known only to the Kiev-based Ponomarev. They claim to have assassinated Darya Dugina. There is also a “Russian Volunteer Corps” in Ukraine that has not yet agreed to this political union. Still, this does indicate that some permanent Russian opposition is forming in Ukraine, however insignificant. It could become significant given time. 

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. The Russian defense minister claimed around 2 September that since the beginning of the operations that 2,831 foreign mercenaries have been “demilitarized.”

Outside support for Ukraine is considerable and reported in a separate blog post: Outside Support for Ukraine | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). Additional material has been sent since I first posted this. I am not sure I am going to update this. 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). They admitted that U.S. intel helped with tracking the sunk Russian cruiser Moskva, which we had also assumed: Official: US gave intel before Ukraine sank Russian warship. Apparently, they did not provide specific targeting information. So far eleven named generals have been reported killed in this war. Four deaths have been confirmed and three are still alive. No generals have been reported killed since 5 June 2022. The current claims of a Lt. General being captured in the fighting at Balakliya appears to have been a Lt. Colonel. Still, capturing a Lt. Colonel is no small deal.  On 20 September, a Russian Major General, Oleg Tsokov, was wounded near Svatove and evacuated.

Russian Army Build-up:  

I am guessing the Russian has around 200,000 troops deployed in Ukraine. They are now, as of 21 September, calling up 300,000 reservistsSo potentially, they could be looking at up to 500,000 troops in Ukraine come this spring (it will probably be less than that as deployed).

This partial mobilization is clearly not popular with on-going protests in various parts of Russia and a mass migration of young Russian males to neighboring countries. Forbes Russia is claiming 600,000 to 700,000 people have left Russia since mobilization has begun. There were over 8,500 that crossed the border into Finland on 24 February, and most are heading to Finland, Georgia and Kazakhstan. It is claimed in Ukrainskaya Pravda that 200,000 people have migrated to Khazakhstan. Not sure that the draftees that remain and have been mobilized are all that motivated. Some are being immediately moved down to the battlefield, which I suspect is also not a particularly good idea. My bias would be to train them for a three-six months before deploying them in Ukraine. The Putin has announced the call up of 300,000 reservists, some say he is calling up a lot more than that (up to a million?), and they are continuing the periodic drafting of 100,000 or more young men every six months. So, they are certainly going to have a lot of manpower. They now need to train, organize, equip and supply them. This is no small job.

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. The Chechen leader is claiming on 28 June that he is assembling four more large battalions to send to Ukraine. These efforts were obviously not enough.

They are reporting to be also recruiting 1,500 prisoners for their army. The videos of some of these efforts are on the internet. Still, 1,500 prisoners out of army of 200,000+ is hardly a game changer.

In the end Russia’s effort is a partial mobilization that was needed to maintain parity on the battlefield. We shall see if this is enough, because, you know, half-measures have worked so well in the history of warfare.

It does appear that Iran has provided drones to Russia. Still not sure to what extent or how many drones will be provided, but it does appear that two Iranian drones have been shot down by the Ukrainian army in the first half of September. The Iranians have an active drone industry with a range of smaller and larger drones for various missions. 

Russia was previously planning to add another 137,000 service members to its armed forces (not just army), pushing their armed forces up to 1,150,628.

The Russian defense budget for 2023 is $159 billion, up from $111 billion in 2022. This appears to now be around 9% of GDP.

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.

I first made the statement that “At some point, Russia will have to mobilized to continue this war” in my Day 16 post as of 11 March 2022. That post is here: The Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 – Day 16 (ground actions) | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org). I have chosen not to revise the above paragraph in light of the current partial mobilization by Russia of 300,000 reservists.

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.

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. The IMF has just made a forecast as of 27 July that the Russian economy will only shrink 6% this year. This is not a lot. The previous IMF forecast in April was an 8.5% contraction. The IMF is still looking at a 3.5% contraction in 2023. According to a study from Yale, foreign companies accounted for 40% of Russia’s GDP.  Russia is going to be hurt by this in the long run.

Latest updates on the Russian economy has inflation running at 12-15% for the year. The Russian central bank in August revised it GDP forecast to shrink by 4-6%. Back in April it was saying 8-10% contraction. The IMF is also currently predicting a 6% contraction. The problem for Russia is that much of the decline appears permanent and will continue into 2023 and for as long as the war continues. 

They have also lost over 500,000 professional workers to flight from the country. The Russian FSS estimates that 3.8 million Russians left from January-March of 2022. A recent non-governmental survey states the the average age of Russians who left the county after Feb. 24 is 32 years old, while 80% of them have a higher education degree. Between January and May of 2022, the population of the Russian Federation fell by over 430,000 people, 20% of those having left the country according to Rosstat. The long-term impact on Russia of this is significant and it may affect the country for decades. This article is worthwhile: ‘We realized that there’s no way we can return’: Russia’s best and brightest are leaving the country in record numbers. 6 young Russians explain why they left (msn.com).

A major part of this war is about who is getting hurt the worst economically and how long people can stand the pain. The IMF predictions for the EU is 2.6% growth for 2022 and 2.3% growth for the U.S. This is down from the over 5% growth both experienced last year.

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). 

Price of oil (Brent Crude) is back up some at 92.38 as of 9:22. Lower is better for Ukraine and the west. Saudia Arabia and friends have found an additional 2.7 billion spare capacity that they can pump this winter. This is a big, big help. Saudi currently produces 10.6 million barrels a day. It means that Russia is limited in its ability to pressure the EU over the winter. I guess we will have to look the other way about their use of bone-saws. 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. Needless to say, low oil prices starve the Russian war machine. Now the rumors are that the price of oil may go back to $120 over the winter, but that is still some way off. The Ruble is back down to 60.50 to the dollar. Not sure how meaningful this is. The Ukrainian Hryvnia is steady at 36.93 to a dollar. What percent of the Ukrainian economy is now foreign aid?

There has been a reduction in Russian energy imports from the west. This reduction in energy imports had led to a $5.9 billion budget shortfall for Russia in August, as their government budget is mostly tied to taxes on their energy sector. They previously were running in the black. They are now reporting that the Russian government is having to do a 10% across the board cut because of the budget shortfalls. 

The cost to the west of this war includes, in part, an inflation rate that last month was 9.1% in the U.S. (but is currently at 0%), was 8.6% in the EU (is currently at 8.9%) and was 9.4% in UK. 

The daughter of Russia oligarch and nationalist Alexander Dugin, Daria Dugina (age 29), was blown up in her car on 20 August by what appears to be a remote-controlled detonated bomb. While the most likely option was that is was just business and Dugin was the target, it might be something more politically related. 

A new outfit called the National Republican Army (NRA) has taken credit for this through a pronouncement read by a Ukrainian-based former Russian Duma member Ilya Ponomarev. Nobody has heard of these people before. It is an alleged partisan group working to overthrow the government of Putin. Ponomarev (b. 1975) was only member of the Russian Duma to vote against the annexation of Crimea back in March 2014. Needless to say, he no longer lives in Russia. The NRA’s leader is “Aleksandr.” Don’t know how many people are in the organization besides him.

Meanwhile, a municipal council in St. Petersburg have proposed to Duma to remove Putin and charge him with high treason. So far, the Russian response has been moderate, with the people involved being fined but not being arrested. According to OVD-Info, so far 16,437 people have been arrested or detained in Russia for anti-war activism since the start of the invasion. Now a municipal council in Moscow has done the same, claiming that Putin’s ideas are “hopelessly outdated.” Two local political councils does not a revolution make, but it does clearly show that Putin’s grip on power is weakening in the two cities of Russia that matter the most. There has also been a petition called for Putin to resign signed by over 30 municipal officials. These are not big political players, but clearly shows significant discontent with the war and Putin’s rule in Moscow and St. Petersburg. These two cities have traditionally dominated Russian politics. 

Finally, the singer Alla Pugacheva, 73, has clearly broken with Putin on Ukraine. Pugacheva, who dates back to the Soviet-era, is by far the biggest and most enduring singer in the Russian music scene. She returned this month for Gorbachev’s funeral and then remained in Moscow and spoke out this month against the invasion. She traditionally is a-political.

There were extensive protests in Moscow, St. Petersburg and elsewhere in Russia on the night of 21 September in response to the general mobilization. From my viewing of the videos, it looked like there were thousands of protestors in Moscow, but not sure there were tens of thousands. Some 1,300 were reported as detained or arrested. This does not look to be large enough of a series of protests to topple a government. Protests have continued across Russia, with hundreds having been detained/arrested since then. A lot of female protestors are being arrested as the rumor is that male protestors are being enlisted into the army. I can’t imagine that these guys will be make highly motivated soldiers. Many are voting with their feet, by leaving the country. It is certainly thousands, if not more, who have left.

Meanwhile, on Russian TV a commentator, Andrey Gurulyov, stated that in a discussion on the failure to defend Lyman ”The problem we have is the constant delivery of good reports, or you can call it constant lying. This system does not go from bottom to the top, but top to bottom.” He was then cut off due to connectivity issues. In my various books on the Battle of Kursk this was a major theme in my criticism of the Soviet Army in 1943. I guess history is still relevant.

Casualties: The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian miliary, Valeriy Zaluzhny, on 21 August stated that almost 9,000 Ukrainian military have died in the war. This is a lower estimate than most people have given (although we have leaned towards the lower estimates). Not sure if these figures included militia losses (like Azov Regiment). If Ukraine lost almost 9,000, then hard to believe the Russian losses are that much higher.

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). 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).

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 Zelensky, 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 Russian Defense Minister is now claiming as of 21 September that they have lost 5,937 killed in this war. This is their first update since March. This figure is probably low. A BBC News effort to count Russian casualties by name from open sources has come up with a figure of 6,476 as of 15 Seeptember. There are also losses of 3,069 for the DPR and at least 600 for the LPR (and I suspect the figure is higher). So, it appears that Russia and their allied losses are at least 9,606 killed and this probably does not include Chechens or the Wagner Group. He also claimed that almost 90% of the wounded have already returned to service and Ukrainian losses were 61,207 dead and 49,368 wounded. On 21 September, the Ukrainian General Staff put Russian killed at 55,110. On 25 March the Russian Defense Ministry stated that their losses were 1,351 Russians killed and 3,825 wounded (a 2.83-to-1 wounded-to-killed ratio). 

The UN is reporting as of 25 September at least 5,996 civilians confirmed dead in the war. Of those 3,591 of the deaths are in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk with 378 killed in territory controlled by Russian separatists. One wonders if the claimed Mariupol casualties are included in these figures. 

It is clear that more than 25,000 people have died in this conflict [5,937 or more (Russian Army) + 9,000 or more (Ukrainian Army) + 5,996 (Civilians) + 3,138 (DPR) + 600 (LPR) = 24,671]. It is probably in excess of 30,000 total deaths depending on Ukrainian and Russian military deaths and the real count of civilian losses.

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 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. Ukrainian president Zelenskyy stated on 18 September that the Russians held more prisoners than Ukraine did. This, of course, means Ukrainian battle casualties (KIA + DOW + WIA + MIA + CIA) may be as high as Russian casualties or even higher. They are still “analysts” throwing out the Ukrainian claims of over 55,000 Russians killed yet Ukraine has stated on 21 August they have had around 9,000 killed. Is the Ukrainian army really achieving over 5-to-1 killed ratios, which was better than the German army did to Soviet Union in WWII?

A more detailed discussion is provided here: Losses during the Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org).

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. For 24 August Ukraine reported 200 Russian sorties over Ukraine. 

On 3 September is it stated that Ukraine did 40 sorties, which is a record. On 18 September they claimed to have launched 20 air strikes and on 22 September 25.

@Oryx, which is a twitter account worth following, is reporting as of 14 September that since the start of the war 53 Russian aircraft have been destroyed as have 42 Ukrainian aircraft. This is all counted by photo confirmation. On 19 September, U.S. General James Hecker stated that Ukraine has shot down 55 Russian aircraft in the war. He stated that he was pretty sure that all of those losses were due to surface-to-air missiles, SA-10s and SA-11s. This count does not include non-battle losses and accidents (of which there are some). It appears no Russian planes have been shot down in air-to-air combat and maybe only a handful of Ukrainian planes. According to the Kyiv Independent, the F-16s are still going to be sent to Ukraine soon. It does appear that one of the issues is that the front wheel of the F-16 is not robust enough for landing on many of the rough Ukrainian airfields.

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. Latest reports as of 12 September is that in defense of Dnipro province, 9 of 12 incoming missiles were shot down.

It is now claimed that over a dozen of the new Iranian drones have been shot down. Not sure how much of this is a sign of extensive use, poor use, and good Ukrainian AA. Ukraine also claimed four aircraft over the last couple of weeks, two of which have been confirmed by photos.

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):

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

We have had the referendums done in Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson province and to no one’s surprise, they all voted to join Russia. Russia has now annexed them. This was one of the least believable referendums I have seen. For example, the capital and the majority of the population of Zaporizhzhia province is not under Russian control. Yet the province “voted” to join Russia with 93.11% of the vote. How does one annex territory they don’t occupy? Anyhow, the world will ignore this joke. I do believe that Russia (or at least Putin) believes they are getting some kind of negotiating leverage from this. I think from a practical point of view it means that no negotiations are now going to occur, and the issues will have to be resolved on the battlefield first. It just reinforced by notice that this war is going to continue until at least the fall of 2023. The annexation of these four provinces clearly makes this a war of occupation and conquest, in case anyone thought otherwise. 

What they are willing to later negotiate away to achieve peace or a ceasefire is unknown. Russia has now annexed Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in addition to Crimea and Sevastopol. This sort of indicates that there is no basis for a negotiated settlement. Ukraine is now saying the war will continue until all areas are freed. This looks like an extended war and I don’t think will be over before the end of summer 2023. 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).

Atrocities: 

Latest war atrocity report is a video of a Russian soldier mutilating a captured Ukrainian soldier. Gather this video is recent and from the area of Severodonetsk. This of course, just reinforces the popularly perceived image of Russians as particularly brutal and “orc-like.” These types of reports, along with all the civilians being killed by shelling, only goes to further isolate Russia. It also shows a lack of discipline by command. 

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.”

As of July, the police in the Kiev region have exhumed 1,346 bodies and 300 people are still missing. 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.

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.

Ukraine has sentenced a 21-year old POW, Vadim Shishimarin, to life in prison for shooting a civilian on 28 Feb. in the Sumy region who was talking on his phone. His sentence was reduced to 15 years on an appeal. He is one of fifteen people in Ukraine facing war crime trails while another 120 people charged remain at large. Thirteen cases have been submitted to courts and seven verdicts have been issued. Two POWs pleaded guilty on 26 May of firing Grad rockets from Russia’s Belgorod region towards Kharkov on 24 Feb. Three suspects are charged with sexual violence and 64 for willful killing or ill-treatment of civilians. As of July, they are investigating 20,100 alleged offenses. The Ukrainian officials have a list of about 6000 suspects. Ukraine is now reporting for September that they are investigating 34,000 war crimes. This whole process actually does seem to be systematic, legal and properly doneUnfortunately, I have been concerned about the wisdom of doing these trials while the war is still going on, and we have seen the result of that with the DPR trials discussed below.

Up until the recent prison exchange (see above under Mariupol) the head of the DPR was saying that the fighters who surrendered at the Azovstal steel mill are to be put on trial. On 21 September, 188 of them were traded back to Ukraine, included their commanders. The DPR had convicted and sentenced three captured foreign fighters to death by firing squad. They were two UK citizens and a Moroccan. They have now both been traded back in POW deal in late September that freed ten foreign fighters. So, Ukraine had convicted three POWs for war crimes and DPR then sentenced three people for execution. As I have stated for months: “One wonders if this will be the subject for the next prisoner exchange.” We still don’t know what/who Russian received as part of the deal for ten foreign fighters. 

Meanwhile, the DPR is building prison cages in a concert hall in Mariupol. They are apparently planning for a large show trail of the captured Ukrainian Mariupol defenders in September. Now Russia is trading away the people that were going to be tried. So, I assume this trial now will not happen. Already a reported 53 of these prisoners have already died from an attack on their barracks (actually it appears that the figure may be 42). Zelenskyy did state on 21 August that any such trial will mean that Ukraine will not discuss any peace arrangements in the future.

They have exhumed 447 bodies from the mass grave site at Izyum, 425 civilians and 22 Ukrainian servicemen. Of those, 30 are reported to have shown signs of torture. This is according to the Ukrainian government but is probably a reasonable assessment. It does not appear to be another Bucha. 

Ukrainian reforms:

As I suspect this is going to be a multi-year war and the critical element is going be whether the west continues to support Ukraine year-after-year, then Ukraine is going to need to continue providing accountability to the west for its actions if it expects to continue receiving aid. Ukraine currently does not have universal support in the U.S. congress.

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.

Amnesty international has called out Ukraine for endangering civilians. This is probably a valid criticism and needs to be responded to. Those Ukrainian supporters who are dismissing the Amnesty International report are probably doing a disservice to Ukraine. 

I do believe that Ukraine needs to hold their troops accountable for any actions that violate the laws of war. Attacking the critics does not do that. The fact that the number of such actions done by Russia is much, much greater does not obviate this need or somehow become anti-Ukrainian. For example, I have not heard the results of any investigation into the Russian prisoners that were kneecapped back in March. There is also the issue of corruption. In 2021 The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions index ranked Ukraine at 122 out of 180 countries with a score of 32 out of 100. Ukraine has a Global Corruption Barometer of 23%, which is the percentage of public service users paid a bribe in the previous 12 months. Russia is ranked lower than Ukraine with a rank of 136, score of 27 and barometer of 27%. Many of the former CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) tend to be riddled with corruption and unwarranted influence on the government by businesses.

Ukraine did extend martial law for another 90 days until 21 November. This was done by vote from the parliament of 328 voting for it (out of 450). It would be good to have let it expire.

Other Issues: 

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. According to the Kyiv Independent on 2 October, Russian currently only have 1,000 troops in Belarus and are preparing to put 20,000 there. Not sure if this is true or why they would do that.

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 have resolved their issues just before the summit in Madrid in early July. As of 1 October, 28 NATO members have ratified the accession protocol. 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 and Norway abuts Russia above the arctic circle. Also, Denmark has joined the common EU defense cooperation, something which it has stayed out of for three decades. The United States voted on 4 August to the accession of Finland and Sweden into NATO by 95-1. The remaining two states that need to vote for this are Hungary (in recess until October) and Turkey (in recess until 1 October). Four other states have voted for accession but have not submitted their approval to NATO. So far the largest opposition to this has been in France, which had 63 deputies opposed, 61 abstain, and 532 vote for it. The U.S. had one senator oppose, one abstain, and 95 vote for it. Albania, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Romania had no opposing votes. The primary hold up now appears to be that the assemblies in Hungary and Turkey are in recess until October. Meanwhile, on 30 September, the president of Ukraine formally applied to join NATO. 

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. The command unit of around 100 soldiers arrived on 4 September. A NATO battalion of about 1,500-1,600 has been stationed there since 2017 and is under command of a German officer. There is also a NATO battle groups in Estonia and Poland. 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.

Lithuania has also completed a barrier between itself and Belarus. It is mostly a 4 meter (13 foot) tall steel wire fence topped by concertina barbed wire. It covers approximately 550 kilometers (342 miles) and costs 152M euros. See twitter @LinasKojala post for 29 August for a picture of the fence.

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 on 27 April 2010 (The Kharkiv Pact) to extend Russian leave on naval facilities in Crimea. Two other former ministers have now also been charged with treason as of 25 July. 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 sinceThe two other charged ministers are also there. 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 parties 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. 

Conflict between Israel and Syria is brewing up, with a Russian operated S-300 air defense missile fired at Israeli jets (U.S. built F-16s) over Syria on 13 May. To date, Israel has been hesitant to impose sanctions on Russia. There is a very large population of Russian immigrants in Israel.

Russia has said that it will leave the International Space Station after 2024. Not sure this means 2025. It is the highest visibility joint project we still have going on with Russia.

Looks like the spat between Kosovo and Sebia over license plates and ID was resolved with a compromise to recognize each other’s IDs (including those issued by Serbia to citizens of Kosovo). Some 50,000 Serbs living in the north still use license plates and documents issued by Serbia authorities. Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia 14 years ago, wanted to license all cars in Kosovo. The NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR does still exist after 23 years with 3,770 troops on the ground. Italy makes up the largest contingent with 638 troops and the U.S. is second with 635. Russia withdrew from the force back in 2003.

There are now credible reports and videos of Azerbaijanis executing Armenian prisoners. Significant fighting has erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia on 13 September. There has been a cease-fire as of 15 September. Armenia has said that at least 49 of its soldiers have been killed since fighting erupted early Tuesday.They are now saying 105. Azerbaijan has said it has lost 50 troops. Russia is serving as the peacekeeper force with about 2,000 troops. I gather most of the fighting is artillery shelling. There have been large protests the last few days in the capital of Yerevan, Armenia against the prime minister. Meanwhile, U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is in Yerevan as of 18 September. This visit was then followed by protests in Yerevan against the Russian dominated military alliance CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), which Armenia, Russia, Belarus and three other post-Soviet states are members of.

Previous recent fights have resulted in at least 2 Armenians killed and more than a dozen wounded and 1 Azeri killed and 3 wounded. Azerbaijan took the border position. Russia is the Armenian-leaning peacekeepers in this area. One wonders if many of the outlying areas of the Soviet empire are going to turn into disorder over the next few months. The Azerbaijan embassy in London was also seized a few months ago by Muslim fundamentalists. Azerbaijan is a secular state. The Muslim fundamentalists may be supported by Iran.

Meanwhile, in Central Asia there is now shooting and shelling across the borders between the former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tadjikistan.

The Russians did manage on 3 September to produce a large demonstration of 70,000 people (police estimate) in the Czech Republic calling for “Czech Republic in the first place” and held placards against the EU and NATO, rising energy prices, calls for neutrality and dialogue with Russia. Some also shouted anti-vaccination slogans and protests against the EU climate neutrality efforts. There was also a smaller demonstration a few days ago in Cologne Germany. While the size of the demonstrations is notable, it is uncertain how many of the protesters are Russians, members of the communist parties (which still seem to be pro-Russian) and other Russian supported partisan groups. The Czech demonstration included members of the Communist Party of the Czech Republic, the Eurosceptic Tricolor Citizens’ Movement, the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party. The first two parties do not hold any seats among the 281 members of the Czech Senate and Chamber of Deputies. The Freedom and Direct Democracy Party hold 20 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The Tricolor party has a membership of 1,774 in 2020. The Tricolor leader called for canceling anti-Russian sanctions and an end of supply of weapons to Ukraine. Hard to say how many rank-and-file normal citizens are among the protesters. I gather not a whole lot but have seen no supporting data on that. Of course, it is essential for Russia to undermine support among the 60+ countries that are providing support to Ukraine. It may be Russia’s only hope for stabilizing the situation, especially if the Ukrainian Army can continue advancing. There were also protests in Vienna on 17/18 September. I do not think that all these protests in Europe will amount to much. On the other hand, the leadership of Hungary clearly has expressed a desire to end the sanctions on Russia to bring the price of gas and oil down. Not sure what the stance of the new Italian government will be, but Italian elections occurred on 25 September and the “national-conservative” or “center-right” party Brothers of Italy led by Giorgia Meloni won.

There are some serious demonstrations going on in Iran since 16 September. It is said that at least nine protesters died in the first five days and Iran is now stating as of 24 September that 41 protesters have been killed. The count is certainly higher than that. These are larger and more virulent than the protests related to the Russo-Ukrainian War. These protests may topple the current Iranian government, which would be a significant event. There are also an armed group (separatists?) that conducted an attack on 30 September in southeastern Iran (city of Zahedan) that killed 19 people.

Also, corrupt Navy-contractor “Fat Leonard” Francis, 57, was detained last Tuesday by Interpol in Venezuela trying to flee to Russia. He had escaped house arrest in San Diego, fled to Mexico then Cuba and was intercepted at the Venezuelan airport. He was not using an alias and is now going to be extradited back to the U.S.

There were two pipelines that were bombed in international waters. Not sure who did this, but pretty hard to make an argument that it was anyone other than Russia. It was a weird event, as it is hard to imagine what advantage they gained from that.

This entry was posted in Eastern Europe, Russia by Christopher A. Lawrence. Bookmark the permalink.

About 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. ... 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. ... 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). ... Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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