There remains no significant movement on the ground for over a month. Lysychansk fell July 3 to Russia. Lots of artillery shelling and missile attacks since then. More civilian deaths as a result.
The Russian advances are now on the outskirts of Bakhmut (pop. 72.310) and threatening to take the city. 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.
Both sides are rumored to be starting major offensives this month. People are talking about a renewed Russian offensive towards Slovyansk or Bakhmut soon or a Ukrainian offensive around Kherson in late August. Russia does still seem to pushing a little bit towards Slovyansk, Soledad and Bakhmut from the east, but that is about all that is happening. People are talking about Russia moving forces from Donbas to Kherson. Does this mean that all operations in Donbas are going to stall out as will the possible Ukrainian counterattack in Kherson? People are also talking about Russian forces moving towards Kharkov and into Belarus. People are also talking about a major Russian offensive in the Kherson area.
The next major objectives of Russia was 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?
Image is from @War_Mapper, 9 July.
Looking at potential action in ten locales along the front, the ten areas being: 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 weeks, but the Russian did just take the village of Chervona Zoria. 2) Fighting continues back and forth to the west of Izyum. Have not seen much movement there in weeks. 3) Russia threatens operations towards Barvenkove but there has been no movement there for over a month. Ukrainians are pushing back in the area south of Izyum and took the village of Dovhenke on 4 August. The Russians have just taken the village of Sulyhivka. 4) Towards Slovyansk from Izyum and Lyman there was some minor advances several weeks ago, but nothing further. The Ukrainians have pushed back recently, taking Dibrivne on 26 July and pushing north several kilometers towards the village of Pasika. 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 Verkhnokamyanske, which I gather is still in Ukrainian hands. Still not certain as to who controls Bilohorivka and Spirne, probably Russia. 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 and have made small gains near it. The Chechens claim on 11 August to have taken the Knauf industrial plant near Soledar. It is also claimed to have been taken by the Wagner Group. Soledar is between Siversk and Bakhmut, but is to the east of the Bakhmutka River. Army command building in Lysychansk was hit by Ukrainians. 6) They have taken the village of Vesela Dolyna and are out the outskirts of Bakhmut. They are threatening an assault to take Bakhmut but nothing has developed in the last couple of days. Meanwhile, the Wagner Group headquarters at Poposna (16 miles/26 kilometers due east of Bakhmut) was targeted and hit by the Ukrainians. 7) Further south, near Donetsk, there is fighting around the well-fortified Avdiivka and Marinka and between those two points, the Russians have taken most of the village of Pisky on 14 August, but the Ukrainians still hold out in parts. It is just to the NW of the Donetsk airport. Not sure how significant this operation is. It might be just clearing the areas around Donets. It appears that these operations are employing the Russian Wagner group. 8) Due north of Mariupol, the village of Yehorvika was also recently retaken by the Russians. 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 couple of weeks, it does appear that some heavy fighting occurred. Multiple bridges in the area have been attacked by the Ukrainians and Russia is deploying pontoon bridges in response. There are reports that Russia is transferring troops to this area in response to the expected Ukrainian offensive. 8) Ukrainians are now threatening Russian positions around Vysokopilia (pop. 3,899) to the NE of Kherson and on 28 June took Potomkyne. Russia may be forced to withdraw. There are supposedly 1,000 to 1,500 Russian troops there isolated by artillery fire. 9) The Ukrainians are near Kherson but do not appear to be advancing over the last week. The interesting challenge here is the rather broad Dnipro River. One wonders as the Russians build up their forces and places them on the north bank of the river, are they leaving them vulnerable to being isolated. Is there a limit to how much forces Russia can place north of the Dnipro River due to supply concerns. Ukraine has taken down most of the bridges there and took out a train in Kherson a few days ago. Denys Davydov clamed in his last two videos that the Russians have 25,000 troops north of the Dnipro River near Kherson.
Latest video from Denys Davydov showing front line traces dated 23 August (11:48): Update from Ukraine | Big Ruzzian Attack is Possible | USA Gift to Ukraine Independence – YouTube. The frontline maps do not start until 10:08. There are no changes. No fire detection maps are shown. Also, this video is worthwhile, which is a tour of Russian tanks in downtown Kiev (which was the Russian objective back in February): Update from Ukraine | Their Tanks are in the Capital city of Ukraine – YouTube.
Also entertaining are some recent 1420 videos: Rural Russians name a country they don’t like – YouTube and Do you think Iran and North Korea are good allies? – YouTube.
Right now, Slovyansk (pop. 106,972) and Kramatorsk (pop. 150,084) appear to be secure, but suspect they are the next prime 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
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. The U.S. is now reporting that Ukraine ships nearly as much grain this month 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. The agreement between Russia, Ukraine and Turkey has resulted in 720,000 tons of grain from ports through 33 ships. 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).
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. The Russian Army is still some 20 kilometers aways from Kharkov. On 17 August twelve civilians were killed in Kharkov from the Russian shelling.
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).
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. 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.
Slovansk and Kramatorsk are threatened from the north in addition to the east. This front has not moved for a while. This is a cribbed from @War_Mapper dated 9 May. The Russian have now taken most of the areas north of the Severskii Donets River. The Ukrainians still have the river between them and Slovyansk.
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 18 August that they had 2,767 soldiers killed and 11,595 wounded (4.19-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 and now 127 more killed as of 18 August. This seems like a lot (plus the wounded). It is 72% 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.
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. She now believes he has been transferred to Russia, having been out of commo for a week.
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.
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. I gather Kyselvika (pop. 2,494) is still under Russian control. This town is just 9 miles NW of Kherson airport and six miles from Kherson.
Ukrainians are now threatening Russian positions around Vysokopilia (pop. 3,899) to the NE of Kherson and on 28 June took Potomkyne. Russia may be forced to withdraw. There are supposedly a 1,000 to 1,500 Russian troops there isolated by artillery fire.
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.
There has a been a couple of internal attacks against figures in Kherson in the last two weeks. The last week the Russian governor there was poisoned through his meal and a couple of weeks ago a car with occupants was blown up. So it appears there is a functioning resistance effort there.
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 Zaporozhzhia down to Melitopol would unhinge Russian positions in Kherson province.
There was a drone attack on a military event this week in Sevastopol. It may have been launched inside of Crimea.
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.
On 18 August there were reported four or more large blasts at Belbek airport just to the north of Sevastopol. Belbek airport is 9 kilometers (6 miles) north of Sevastopol and is also known as Sevastopol International Airport, although it has not been an operating commercial airport since 2007. There does not appear to be any supporting evidence of Ukrainian strikes that hit this airport. There were also blasts reported over the Belbek again on the evening of 21 August. Again, it does not appear the airport has been hit, but this is not helping the tourist industry in Crimea.
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 89 degrees (32 Celsius) and sunny cloudy. Low tonight 67 degrees (19 Celsius). Rain is forecasted for Sunday (70%) and Monday (40%). Good campaign weather if anyone is ever going to actually start anything.
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 so far have not sent Ukraine any of the 300-kilometer range ATACMS missiles. This is still in discussion. 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.
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.
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 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). 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. 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. They are adding some new forces, but not the type of build-up one they would need to turn this quagmire into a victory. Do not know the details of what they are raising or how much. I gather it is at best tens of thousands of new recruits and volunteers, vice anything overwhelming.
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.
It does appear that Iran will be providing drones to Russia. Still not sure to what extent or how many drones will be provided. The Iranians have an active drone industry with a range of smaller and larger drones for various missions.
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.
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.
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 artcle 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).
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/. Still, this is a long way from full mobilization.
Price of oil (Brent Crude) has gone up to 100.04 as of 9:17. 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 at 59.80 to the dollar. Not sure how meaningful this is. The Ukrainian Hryvnia is at 36.50 to a dollar. What percent of the Ukrainian economy is now foreign aid?
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. Many options here:
- It was business and Dugin was the target.
- It was politics and Dugin was the target.
- It was done by Ukrainian special ops are Dugin was the target.
- It was done by independent pro-Ukrainians actors and Dugin was the target.
- Daria Dugina was the target.
- This was some false flag operation for some reason.
- This was done by Russian-based National Republican Army (NRA).
I consider the least likely option to be Ukrainian special ops (or independent pro-Ukrainian actors). I consider the most likely option was that it was business. I think the most intriguing option is it was political. One can only imagine what those options would be, especially if Putin is terminally ill.
The claims it was some sort of false flag operation are ridiculous, as is the case with most claims like this. The Russian claims that the Ukrainian lady who went to Estonia conducted the assassination is also pretty hard to believe. Most Mom’s don’t conduct their assassinations with their twelve-year old daughter in tow.
A new outfit called the National Republican Army 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 not longer lives in Russia.
Casualties: The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian miliary, Valeriy Zaluzhny, on 21 August stated that almost 9,000 Ukrainians 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 UN is reporting as of 21 August at least 5,587 civilians confirmed dead in the war. Of those 3,317 of the deaths are in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk with 302 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 21 August):
|August 1-21: 207 634
It is clear that more than 28,000 people have died in this conflict (10,000 or more (Russian Army) + 10,000 or more (Ukrainian Army) + 5,587 (Civilians) + 2,767 (DPR) + 600 (LPR) = 28,954). This is assuming at least 10,000 soldiers killed on each side. It is probably in excess of 30,000 total deaths depending on Ukrainian and Russian military deaths and the real count of civilian losses, and it could be in excess of 40,000 total deaths. 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 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.
Last weekend it was reported that two Americans were killed fighting for Ukraine in the Donbas on July 18, along with one Swede and a Canadian. A Polish citizen was also identified as killed in a separate incident. The two Americans have been identified as Luke Lucyszyn, 31, and Bryan Young. Two other Americans are known to have been killed fighting for Ukraine: Willy Cancel, 22, in April and Stephen Zabielski, 52, in June. Two American civilians, James Hill and filmmaker Brent Renaud, were killed in March.
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.
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. This whole process actually does seem to be systematic, legal and properly done. Unfortunately, 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.
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.
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. Seriously doubt this will be proper and legal. 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 yesterday (21 August) that any such trial will mean that Ukraine will not discuss any peace arrangements in the future.
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.
I also note that martial law in Ukraine is set to expire on 23 August. It would be good to let it expire, although I am not sure that they will do that.
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. As of 4 August, 23 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 seven states that need to vote for this are Czechia, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey.
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 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 since. The 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.
Kosovo just got into a spat over license plates. 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. This turned into an issue and they deferred their effort Sunday. The Russian Foreign Ministry called it “groundless discriminatory rules” imposed by Kosovo. Some people were beat up over the rising tensions and shots were fired. 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 has also been another round of conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. This has 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 by Muslim fundamentalist. Azerbaijan is a secular state. The Muslim fundamentalists may be supported by Iran.
The Map: The map at the top of this post is from Wikipedia. It is dated 22 August, meaning their maps are now lagging by two days.