Ukraine Invasion Day 23: fourth week and no end is in sight

The situation has become fraught with increases in attacks on civilians, amid charges and counter charges. Bombardment continues and a few Ukrainian counter attacks are offset by brutality in places like Mariupol. Russia appears to be trying to achieve the capture of the land bridge from Moldova to Donbas. Ukraine killed at least one Russian general by geolocating him on his unsecured phone and attacking the location. Casualty figures remain highly variable in a climate of competing disinformation. 3.2 million refugees with another 1.9 million displaced. Even if partition occurs, the role of right-wing Ukrainians and their militias will be another component of the post-war chaos.

The snarled up 65km Russian convoy that was stuck for days outside Kyiv neatly illustrated Moscow’s misplaced belief that it could achieve a lightning-fast victory in Ukraine.

Western military analysts say Russia’s leadership initially thought its “special military operation” would reach the capital and other big Ukrainian cities in days, forcing Volodymyr Zelensky’s government to capitulate and allow a puppet administration to be installed.

“It’s clear that Russia was pursuing regime change in Ukraine,” said Michael Kofman, Russia studies director at CNA, a US think-tank. “Regime change operations are often derived of hubris and bad assumptions — and they usually go terribly wrong.”

 “It turns out that getting there really fast is a good way to get shot in the face,”

“We’re definitely in a second phase of the war,” said Justin Bronk, research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute think-tank. “We’re increasingly seeing the Russian military starting to fight like they normally fight.”

This means it will increasingly resort to methods tried and tested in previous conflicts, an approach that can be seen in its assault on Mariupol. The port has been subject to a ferocious Russian bombardment that has flattened much of the city and killed a large number of civilians.

“They seem to be falling back on the extremely brutal, but unfortunately very successful, pattern in Syria and Grozny [in Chechnya] — besiege them, cut them off,” said Bronk. “Shell people until starvation and bombing just compels a surrender.”

ig.ft.com/…

Image

At first, Russia’s approach suggested a plan to move rapidly towards critical urban centres, where it would be able to force local Ukrainian officials into submission.

But these units quickly outran their supply lines, such as fuel ft.com/ukraine-war-ma…

The Russians not only left logistics units behind, but they also failed to protect them with infantry or air cover, creating opportunities for the Ukrainians to cut off the units out in front ft.com/ukraine-war-ma…

Image

Ukraine did not have the firepower to take on Russia when its tanks rolled into Crimea in 2014.

This time, however, the international supply of weapons has enabled Ukraine’s military to inflict significant damage ft.com/ukraine-war-ma…

Russia’s initial failures have prompted heavy bombardments of densely populated areas, such as Kharkiv and Mariupol — a tactic it used previously in Chechnya and Syria ft.com/ukraine-war-ma…

Image

Although the invasion has not gone to plan, Russia has made significant territorial gains.

Now, a new and potentially more bloody chapter of the war is under way as Russia changes its battlefield tactics ft.com/ukraine-war-ma…

Image

The Financial Times took a deep dive into what has happened since the war started in Ukraine, from Russia’s mistakes to the Ukrainian resistance.
Read the full piece here 👇ig.ft.com/russias-war-in…

• • •

  • Russian forces continue to make steady territorial gains around Mariupol and are increasingly targeting residential areas of the city.
  • Ukrainian forces northwest of Kyiv launched several local counterattacks and inflicted heavy damage on Russian forces.
  • Ukrainian forces repelled Russian operations around Kharkiv and reported killing a regimental commander.
  • Ukrainian intelligence reports that Russia may have expended nearly its entire store of precision cruise missiles in the first twenty days of its invasion.
  • Russian forces deployed unspecified reserve elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army and Baltic Fleet Naval Infantry to northeastern Ukraine on March 17.
  • Russia may be parceling out elements of the reserve force that could conduct an amphibious operation along the Black Sea coast to support ongoing assaults on Mariupol, further reducing the likelihood of a Russian amphibious assault on Odesa.
  • Ukrainian forces shot down 10 Russian aircraft—including five jets, three helicopters, and two UAVs—on March 16, and Ukrainian forces continue to successfully contest Russian air operations.

Immediate items to watch

  • Russian forces will likely capture Mariupol or force the city to capitulate within the coming weeks;
  • The Ukrainian General Staff continued to report that there is a high probability of Russian provocations aimed at involving Belarus in the war in Ukraine, though ISW continues to assess that Belarus is unlikely to open a new line of advance into Ukraine;
  • Ukrainian counterattacks and operations by Territorial Defense Forces in northeastern Ukraine threaten Russia’s exposed line of communicating, requiring Russia to redeploy forces away from the offensive toward eastern Kyiv;
  • Company and battalion-level attacks northwest of Kyiv likely represent the largest scale of offensive operations Russian forces can currently undertake to complete the encirclement of the city;
  • Russian troops may drive on Zaporizhya City itself within the next 48-72 hours, likely attempting to block it on both banks of the Dnipro River and set conditions for subsequent operations after Russian forces take Mariupol, which they are currently besieging.

www.understandingwar.org/…

The situation has become fraught with increases in attacks on civilians, amid charges and counter charges. Bombardment continues and a few Ukrainian counter attacks are offset by brutality in places like Mariupol. Russia appears to be trying to achieve the capture of the land bridge from Moldova to Donbas. Ukraine killed at least one Russian general by geolocating him on his unsecured phone and attacking the location. Casualty figures remain highly variable in a climate of competing disinformation. 3.2 million refugees with another 1.9 million displaced. Even if partition occurs, the role of right-wing Ukrainians and their militias will be another component of the post-war chaos.

The snarled up 65km Russian convoy that was stuck for days outside Kyiv neatly illustrated Moscow’s misplaced belief that it could achieve a lightning-fast victory in Ukraine.

Western military analysts say Russia’s leadership initially thought its “special military operation” would reach the capital and other big Ukrainian cities in days, forcing Volodymyr Zelensky’s government to capitulate and allow a puppet administration to be installed.

“It’s clear that Russia was pursuing regime change in Ukraine,” said Michael Kofman, Russia studies director at CNA, a US think-tank. “Regime change operations are often derived of hubris and bad assumptions — and they usually go terribly wrong.”

 “It turns out that getting there really fast is a good way to get shot in the face,”

“We’re definitely in a second phase of the war,” said Justin Bronk, research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute think-tank. “We’re increasingly seeing the Russian military starting to fight like they normally fight.”

This means it will increasingly resort to methods tried and tested in previous conflicts, an approach that can be seen in its assault on Mariupol. The port has been subject to a ferocious Russian bombardment that has flattened much of the city and killed a large number of civilians.

“They seem to be falling back on the extremely brutal, but unfortunately very successful, pattern in Syria and Grozny [in Chechnya] — besiege them, cut them off,” said Bronk. “Shell people until starvation and bombing just compels a surrender.”

ig.ft.com/…

Image

At first, Russia’s approach suggested a plan to move rapidly towards critical urban centres, where it would be able to force local Ukrainian officials into submission.

But these units quickly outran their supply lines, such as fuel ft.com/ukraine-war-ma…

The Russians not only left logistics units behind, but they also failed to protect them with infantry or air cover, creating opportunities for the Ukrainians to cut off the units out in front ft.com/ukraine-war-ma…

Image

Ukraine did not have the firepower to take on Russia when its tanks rolled into Crimea in 2014.

This time, however, the international supply of weapons has enabled Ukraine’s military to inflict significant damage ft.com/ukraine-war-ma…

Russia’s initial failures have prompted heavy bombardments of densely populated areas, such as Kharkiv and Mariupol — a tactic it used previously in Chechnya and Syria ft.com/ukraine-war-ma…

Image

Although the invasion has not gone to plan, Russia has made significant territorial gains.

Now, a new and potentially more bloody chapter of the war is under way as Russia changes its battlefield tactics ft.com/ukraine-war-ma…

Image

The Financial Times took a deep dive into what has happened since the war started in Ukraine, from Russia’s mistakes to the Ukrainian resistance.
Read the full piece here 👇ig.ft.com/russias-war-in…

• • •

  • Russian forces continue to make steady territorial gains around Mariupol and are increasingly targeting residential areas of the city.
  • Ukrainian forces northwest of Kyiv launched several local counterattacks and inflicted heavy damage on Russian forces.
  • Ukrainian forces repelled Russian operations around Kharkiv and reported killing a regimental commander.
  • Ukrainian intelligence reports that Russia may have expended nearly its entire store of precision cruise missiles in the first twenty days of its invasion.
  • Russian forces deployed unspecified reserve elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army and Baltic Fleet Naval Infantry to northeastern Ukraine on March 17.
  • Russia may be parceling out elements of the reserve force that could conduct an amphibious operation along the Black Sea coast to support ongoing assaults on Mariupol, further reducing the likelihood of a Russian amphibious assault on Odesa.
  • Ukrainian forces shot down 10 Russian aircraft—including five jets, three helicopters, and two UAVs—on March 16, and Ukrainian forces continue to successfully contest Russian air operations.

Immediate items to watch

  • Russian forces will likely capture Mariupol or force the city to capitulate within the coming weeks;
  • The Ukrainian General Staff continued to report that there is a high probability of Russian provocations aimed at involving Belarus in the war in Ukraine, though ISW continues to assess that Belarus is unlikely to open a new line of advance into Ukraine;
  • Ukrainian counterattacks and operations by Territorial Defense Forces in northeastern Ukraine threaten Russia’s exposed line of communicating, requiring Russia to redeploy forces away from the offensive toward eastern Kyiv;
  • Company and battalion-level attacks northwest of Kyiv likely represent the largest scale of offensive operations Russian forces can currently undertake to complete the encirclement of the city;
  • Russian troops may drive on Zaporizhya City itself within the next 48-72 hours, likely attempting to block it on both banks of the Dnipro River and set conditions for subsequent operations after Russian forces take Mariupol, which they are currently besieging.

www.understandingwar.org/…

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