Russo-Ukrainian war, day 39: Russia continues withdrawal from Kyiv axis, missile attack on Odesa, fight for Mariupol continues

Russo-Ukrainian war attack on Odesa

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun
The Ukrainian army is defending its positions in the east withstanding multiple Russian attacks. Odesa was hit by missiles targeted at the fuel depot and residential area. Russians continue to shell Kharkiv residential and industrial areas though on a lesser scale. Meanwhile, there are more reports on Russian servicemen refusing to take part in military actions and Russia plans to raise new forces by enrolling residents of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine in “volunteer” battalions.

Morning report day 39 – April 03

The report is based on media reports, expert analyses, and official information posted online.

Situation

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 03.04.2022, supplemented by its [midnight assessment]:

“The armed forces of the Russian Federation continue their armed aggression against Ukraine. The Russian occupation troops are being withdrawn in some areas.

The Russian forces continue to carry out systematic missile and airstrikes on military and civilian targets, but the intensity of missile strikes and high-precision weapons strikes has declined.

Russo-Ukrainian war, day 39: Russia continues withdrawal from Kyiv axis, missile attack on Odesa, fight for Mariupol continues ~~

Additional Russian forces units are being prepared to take part in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine. It is planned to create “volunteer” battalions of residents of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and mercenaries.

In the Volyn direction, no significant changes in the condition and position of the occupying forces and their allies were noted.

In the Polissya direction. The Russian occupiers continue to withdraw units to the territory of the Republic of Belarus. During the withdrawal of troops, the forces mines the routes of advance and individual settlements.

In the Siverskyi region, the Russian forces completed the withdrawal of units from the territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus. The main routes of the forces columns run in the direction of the settlements of the Gomel and Mogilev regions. In addition to trucks, the columns included elements of a pontoon-bridge fleet, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and Iskander launchers. The forces’ military equipment is concentrated at railway stations and facilities that have railway tracks, which allows it to be loaded and sent to the territory of the Russian federation.

Units from the 2nd All-Military Army of the Central Military District, which was operating in the direction of the city of Brovary, are being withdrawn to the Russian federation (via the Sumy oblast). The withdrawal of troops is provided by the battalion-tactical group of the 1st Tank Army of the Western Military District.]

In Slobozhansky direction, the Russian forces continue to partially block the city of Kharkiv and shell residential and industrial areas of the city with artillery systems of various types. It should be noted that the intensity of the shelling has decreased. Units of the Russian occupying forces are regrouping, probably in order to continue active operations in the Izium direction. The forces are trying to conduct reconnaissance, including the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

In the Donetsk direction, the Russian forces continued to fire on some units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and to conduct assault operations in some areas. The main efforts of the Russian occupiers continued to focus on capturing the settlements of Rubizhne, Popasna, preparing for the attack on Siverodonetsk, gaining full control over Mariupol, as well as access to Vuhledar and Marinka. They did not succeed.

  • On the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the defenders of Ukraine repulsed six enemy attacks and destroyed four tanks, six units of armoured vehicles and seven units of enemy vehicles.

Ukraine’s defence forces continue to defend our land, gradually liberating the occupied territories, inflicting significant losses on the forces.

The Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has hit 8 air targets the previous day: two planes, one helicopter, one UAV and four cruise missiles. Aircraft of the Air Force of the Armed forces of Ukraine continued to strike at enemy ranges, military equipment columns, and logistics centres.“

Odesa was attacked from the air this morning, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. Fires were recorded in some areas. Some of the missiles were shot down by air defence.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1510521131148660736?s=20&t=2_HUQIXIZ_ocXt2sQ6vm8g

During the last 24 hours, the Ukrainian General Staff has reported on the Russian manning and logistic challenges:

  • As part of the Russian occupying forces, up to 75 Batallion Task Group (BTGs) were involved in combat missions on the territory of Ukraine, up to 34 BTGs are on recovery, and 16 BTGs are completely destroyed (information to be specified).
  • According to available information, the moral and psychological condition of Russian enemy personnel and the level of motivation remains extremely low. Commanders of various levels of the 3rd Motorized Rifle Division of the 20th All-Military Army of the Western Military District refuse to take part in hostilities. In addition, the military is writing massive reports of dismissals.
  • Personnel of the 2nd Battalion Tactical Groups of the 4th Military Base of the 58th All-Military Army of the Southern Military District refused to take part in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine. It is planned to return them to the points of permanent deployment.
  • To restore the loss of personnel, the Russian leadership is campaigning for civilians to join the armed forces. Such activities are held both in the Russian Federation and in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk oblast and the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
  • Panic is spreading among the servicemen of the armed forces of the Russian Federation due to the radiation exposure of the personnel of the units based in the Chornobyl zone. The population of the Belarusian urban-type settlement of Bragin is advised to avoid contact with the Russian occupiers who withdrew from the contaminated area.
  • Due to significant losses, the Russian soldiers are demoralized, which, in turn, affects the quality of their tasks.

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 24 hours):

  • Over the last week, there has been a concentration of Russian air activity towards southeastern Ukraine, likely a result of Russia focusing its military operations in this area.
  • Despite ongoing Russian efforts to diminish Ukrainian air defence capability, Ukraine continues to provide a significant challenge to Russian Air and Missile operations. As a result, Russian aircraft are still vulnerable to short and medium-range air defence systems.
  • Russia’s inability to find and destroy air defence systems has seriously hampered their efforts to gain broad control of the air, which in turn has significantly affected their ability to support the advance of their ground forces on a number of fronts.

As of Saturday 02.04.2022, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

Russian invasion Ukraine losses

  • personnel – more than 17800 people (+100),
  • tanks – 631 units (+6),
  • armoured combat vehicles – 1776 units (+25),
  • artillery systems – 317 (+1),
  • multiple rocket launchers – 100 (+4)
  • air defence means – 54 (no change),
  • aircraft – 143 (no change),
  • helicopters – 134 (+3),
  • automotive technology – 1236 (+16),
  • vessels/boats – 7 units (no change),
  • fuel and lubricant tanks – 76 (no change),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 87 (+2)
  • Special equipment – 24 (no change)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (no change)

Analytical site Oryx calculates and verifies losses based on open-source reports. This update provides both with their new assessment as well as changes since 26 March:

  • Russia has lost at least 2286 (+439) vehicles and equipment so far, of which 1158 (+248) have been destroyed, 41 (+6) damaged, 234 (+6) abandoned, and 853 (+179) captured.
  • Ukraine has lost at least 660 (+120) vehicles and equipment until now, of which 286 206 (+80) have been destroyed, 18 (+2) damaged, 37 (0) abandoned, and 319 (+38) captured.

The list only includes destroyed vehicles and equipment of which photo or video evidence is available. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed is significantly higher.”

Humanitarian

According to UNHCR 4,137,842 refugees have been registered as of 1 April. The UN says that so far Poland has taken in 2,405,703 refugees, Romania 629,917, the Republic of Moldova 391,592, Hungary 379,988, Russian Federation 350,632, Slovakia 294,885, and Belarus 12,746.

Among those who fled Ukraine are also Ukrainian nationals with dual citizenship. An additional 113,000 people moved to the Russian Federation from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions between 21 and 23 February.

As of midnight of March 31, OHCHR recorded 3,342 civilian casualties in Ukraine: 1,325 killed (including 120 children) and 2,017 injured (including 168 children).

158 children were killed and more than 258 children were injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of 8 a.m 3 April 2022. It is still impossible to establish the actual number of dead and wounded due to the ongoing combat operations happening in Ukrainian cities.

On April 2 all agreed humanitarian corridors operated and allowed for the evacuation of more than 4,200 people. 1,300 citizens travelled from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia and Berdyansk by their own transport. Meanwhile, in the Luhansk region, almost 2,700 citizens have now been evacuated from the cities of Sievierodonetsk, Rubizhne, Lysychansk, Kreminna, Popasna and the village of Nyzhne.

Environmental

Ukrainian flag flies over Chernobyl plant as Ukrainians regain control, Washington Post reports.

In the latest sign that Ukrainian personnel have regained control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the nation’s state-owned atomic energy firm Energoatom reported Saturday that the country’s flag has been raised again over the site,” Ukraine’s State Agency on Exclusion Zone Management announced Friday in a Facebook post that no Russian troops were near the site.

At the present moment there are no outsiders at the Chernobyl NPP site,” the agency wrote.”

More than 50 cultural sites in Ukraine have been damaged in the war, The New York Times reports, citing UNESCO.

Churches, historic buildings and public squares across the country are being reduced to rubble by Russian rockets, missiles, bombs and gunfire, according to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. It has identified at least 53 Ukrainian historical sites, religious buildings and museums that have suffered damage during Russia’s invasion, and says the damage is probably far more extensive given the continued assault.”

Legal

Human Rights Watch has documented several cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations against civilians in occupied areas of the Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kyiv regions of Ukraine. These include a case of repeated rape; two cases of summary execution, one of six men, the other of one man; and other cases of unlawful violence and threats against civilians between February 27 and March 14, 2022. Soldiers were also implicated in looting civilian property, including food, clothing, and firewood. Those who carried out these abuses are responsible for war crimes.

The cases we documented amount to unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Rape, murder, and other violent acts against people in the Russian forces’ custody should be investigated as war crimes.”

When the Ukrainian Armed Forces retook Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, a mass grave was found in the city, in which at least 280 people are buried, Ukrayinska Pravda reports.

According to the mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk, the destroyed streets of the city are littered with corpses. In just one of them, AFP journalists counted 20 civilian bodies. An adviser to the head of the Security Service said that many of the victims shot by the occupiers had their hands tied. These are unarmed men killed by the Russians.

According to the General Staff of Ukraine:

  • The so-called “evacuation” of civilian vehicles stolen by the Russians in Hostomel, Irpin, Bucha and Ivankiv continues. In addition, looters of the Russian occupation forces are trying to send the looted property from the territory of Belarus to the SDEK express delivery service before being transferred to other directions.
  • Systematic violations of the requirements of International Humanitarian Law on the conduct of war continue. The Russian occupiers continue to deploy weapons and military equipment in the immediate vicinity of the housing infrastructure of settlements, carry out filtration measures in temporarily occupied territories, commit violence against local residents, and engage in looting and plundering.


The Defence Intelligence of Ukraine has once again published the list of servicemen belonging to a Russian unit. This time servicemen of the 291st Artillery Brigade of the 58th Combined Arms Army of the Southern Military District (military unit 64670) are revealed.

Support

The UK wants to buy and supply anti-ship missiles to protect Odesa and thwart Putin’s plans in southern Ukraine, the Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing a statement by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson in The Times.

Pentagon commits another $300 million to Ukraine for security assistance, the Washington Post reports.

The Pentagon will provide up to $300 million in military supplies to Ukraine, including drones, armoured vehicles and machine guns, as part of a broader effort to boost Ukrainian forces fighting Russia’s invasion. The aid will be sent under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a program that lets the United States procure arms directly from manufacturers instead of delivering weapons from its own stockpiles to Ukraine, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday.”

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has called on the US and its allies to deliver heavier weaponry, CNN reports. It needs heavy weapons to both meet the forthcoming new offensive in the east, as well as to “unblock the east and Kherson and send [back] the Russians as far as possible.” The US is expected to help facilitate the transfer of T-72 tanks to Ukraine, a source familiar with the plan told CNN on Saturday, declining to divulge numbers. Those tanks will be delivered “within days, not weeks,” the official said, from NATO partner countries.

Eastern Europeans push for new penalties as EU sanctions fail to end Putin’s war, Politico reports.

“In the days after the invasion, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised to “cripple Putin’s ability to finance his war machine” and to ruin Russia’s economy. But frustration is running high that the Russian leader is still keeping his head well above water financially; Europe still pays Russia hundreds of millions of euros a day for energy, and the ruble has bounced back to pre-war levels.

The Central and Eastern Europeans are at odds with their Western European counterparts over how hard to turn the screws now. Poland is proposing a prohibitively high tariff on Russian fuels, while Estonia is suggesting a special escrow account that will hold some of the payments for Russian energy until Russian forces withdraw from Ukraine.

The Western Europeans, by contrast, want to avoid such drastic steps and officials in Brussels are now preparing compliance measures to enforce existing penalties. European leaders last week agreed only to focus on the implementation of the current sanctions and closing loopholes in them. “All our efforts should be on enforcing these sanctions and preventing circumvention and evasion,” von der Leyen said last week.”

Russo-Ukrainian war Odesa

Russia has exported 7,700,000 tons of oil from the Black Sea in the period 14-31 March, BlackSeaNews reports. The estimated value is about $ 5.24 billion. This amount of export revenue of approximately equal to the value of 770 Caliber cruise missiles.

Turkey was the destination of 32 out of the 116 tankers (almost 28%), while Greece received 16 tankers (almost 14%). The full list includes no less than 12 NATO countries: Turkey – 32; Greece – 16; Egypt – 15; Italy – 9; Malta – 8; France – 5; India – 5; UK – 3; Israel – 3; Germany – 2; Spain – 2; Gibraltar – 2; Croatia – 2; Korea – 2; USA – 2; Lebanon – 1; Lithuania – 1; Morocco – 1; Netherlands – 1; Poland – 1; Senegal – 1; Tunisia – 1; Libya – 1.

New developments

President Zelensky and Putin are likely to meet in Istanbul or Ankara soon, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing David Arahamiya, the head of the Ukrainian negotiating team “And we are preparing for that – the most important point – they confirmed our thesis that the draft (drafts, previous versions – ed.) Documents have been developed enough to hold a direct consultation between the two leaders, ie between the President of Ukraine and President of the Russian Federation” Arachmiya said. He hinted that the delegations are working on a preliminary version of the compromise positions, which will be personally discussed by President Zelensky and President Putin.

Assessment

On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Friday 02 April:

Continuing Russian operations along their new main effort in eastern Ukraine made little progress on April 2, and Russian forces likely require some time to redeploy and integrate reinforcements from other axes. Ukrainian forces repelled likely large-scale Russian assaults in Donbas on April 2 and inflicted heavy casualties. Russian forces continued to capture territory in central Mariupol and will likely capture the city in the coming days. Russian units around Kyiv and in northeastern Ukraine continued to successfully withdraw into Belarus and Russia, and heavy mining in previously Russian-occupied areas is forcing Ukrainian forces to conduct slow clearing operations.

However, the Russian units withdrawn from northeastern Ukraine for redeployment to eastern Ukraine are heavily damaged. Russian forces likely require an extensive operational pause to refit existing units in Donbas, refit and redeploy reinforcements from other axes, and integrate these forces—pulled from several military districts that have not yet operated on a single axis—into a cohesive fighting force. We have observed no indicators of Russian plans to carry out such a pause, and Russian forces will likely fail to break through Ukrainian defences if they continue to steadily funnel already damaged units into fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces continued to capture territory in central Mariupol on April 2 and will likely capture the city within days.
  • Ukrainian forces repelled several possibly large-scale Russian assaults in Donbas, claiming to destroy almost 70 Russian vehicles.
  • Russian forces will likely require a lengthy operational pause to integrate reinforcements into existing force structures in eastern Ukraine and enable successful operations but appear unlikely to do so and will continue to bleed their forces in ineffective daily attacks.
  • Russian forces in Izium conducted an operational pause after successfully capturing the city on April 1 and will likely resume offensive operations to link up with Russian forces in Donbas in the coming days.
  • Russia continued to withdraw forces from the Kyiv axis into Belarus and Russia. Ukrainian forces primarily conducted operations to sweep and clear previously Russian-occupied territory.
  • Ukrainian forces likely repelled limited Russian attacks in Kherson Oblast.
  • The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces have rendered two-thirds of the 75 Russian Battalion Tactical Groups it assesses have fought in Ukraine either temporarily or permanently combat ineffective.”

Kremlin forces have run out of vital weapons and cannot now replenish their stocks, UK defence sources revealed, the Daily Mail report. Ukraine had previously supplied Russia with components for cruise missiles, helicopter engines and fighter jets. It also produced the fire control systems used by Russian tanks. When these systems fail, they cannot be replaced. Russia is unable to source these items or alternatives from other countries due to international sanctions.

“Given Russia’s reliance on Ukraine for military components, UK defence sources say Russia’s war effort is in serious trouble. Last night a source said: ‘Serious amounts of components for Russian weapons systems were made there [Ukraine]. That won’t be happening anymore. ‘Russia cannot manufacture this equipment itself or import it, so it won’t be getting any of these materials any time soon. The hardware expended in Ukraine came from historic stockpiles, developed when there was greater cooperation between Russia and Ukraine.”

Assessment by Hans Petter Midttun:

Ukraine made the exact same experience in 2014 and immediately started a process to find alternative sources, start its own production or in some cases, strip platforms to allow others to function. If Russia failed to do the same 8 years ago, it’s a clear sign of logistical ineptitude.

Consequences and what to do?

According to the UK Defence Intelligence,

Russia’s inability to find and destroy air defence systems has seriously hampered their efforts to gain broad control of the air, which in turn has significantly affected their ability to support the advance of their ground forces on a number of fronts.”

The assessment is accurate because it is written in the past tense. Yesterday, the Ukrainian Air Force debunked the notion that (1) Ukraine’s air force is equipped to effectively defend the country against Russia; (2) Stingers will make up for the Ukrainian Air Force equipment shortfalls and (3) The US and NATO are providing Ukraine with needed weapons.

According to Oryx, which calculates and verifies losses based on open-source reports, the number of Ukrainian Air Defence Systems destroyed in the last 7 days has dramatically increased and is close to equal to what Ukraine lost during its first 31 days of the war (14 last week versus 19 during the previous 4,5 weeks). This trend will probably accelerate as the Air Defence becomes depleted. Unless supplied by the West, this will have a huge impact on the Ukrainian Land Forces’ ability to operate.

Ukraine needs Patriot systems from the USA or the cheaper, more mobile NASAMS systems from Norway. In addition, Ukraine could also use more Soviet-era S-300 and BUK-M1 systems, which are also currently effective against the Russian Air Forces.

Ukraine has won the information war. Russia has met fierce resistance by both a professional and determined Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as both civil peaceful resistance and armed insurgency. The Russian Armed Forces have been dressed down, having demonstrated multiple and critical shortcomings in both leadership, planning and execution of operations, logistics, technical status, motivation and more. They have suffered huge losses, possibly rendering two-thirds of the 75 Russian Battalion Tactical Groups which has fought in Ukraine either temporarily or permanently unavailable for further combat.

Ukraine has, however, maintained operational security since 24 February and little is known of its losses. According to open-source reporting, however, it has lost at least 660 vehicles and equipment until now. While that constitutes only 29% of the Russian losses, the numbers are still high given the relative size of the two Armed Forces. The severity of the losses is partially reflected in the request for support from the West, which during the last weeks has changed in scope and substance.

If 29% is translated into casualties, UAF alone might have 10-15,000 either killed or wounded in action.

The official number of civilians casualties is close to 3,500. The real numbers, however, are likely far higher as little is known from the cities in eastern Ukraine. Nearly 5,000 people have been killed in Mariupol alone since Russian forces laid siege to it a month ago, a spokesperson for Mayor Vadym Boichenko said on Monday, Reuters reports.

After 5,5 weeks of airstrikes, missile and bomb attacks targeting Ukrainian fuel and ammunition depots, it is most likely also facing logistical challenges of its own.

Given the Russian losses, its structural challenges, and the unprecedented level of sanctions imposed to cripple its economy, as well as the support Ukraine receives from the international community, time should be on the Ukrainian side. Russia has already lost the war but has yet to acknowledge the fact.

The ongoing negotiations, however, might reflect another reality. Ukraine is pursuing a peace plan which includes Ukrainian concessions with the knowledge that Russia cannot be trusted and that the plan by no means changes the Russian strategic ambitions for Great Power status. Like the last so-called peace agreement (Minsk Agreement), it does not stop Russia from continuing its Hybrid Warfare. It will still occupy Ukrainian territory and control the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. Worse still, Russia will be given the chance to learn from its mistakes and prepare for its next war.

In the excellent article “The risks of a Russian ceasefire offer,” Nataliya Bugayova (IWS) argues that:

Ukraine may soon face a new threat in this war—Russia’s ceasefire offer. It seems odd to say that a ceasefire is a threat. Once war begins, the default position in the West is to seize the earliest opportunity to “stop the fighting.” But while some ceasefires lead to peace, others lead to more war—as the Russians have repeatedly shown. The frontlines frozen in a ceasefire set the conditions for the negotiations and reconstruction that follow. They also set conditions for future conflict. Those seeking enduring peace in Ukraine must resist the temptation to accept a Russian ceasefire offer that sets conditions for renewed conflict on Russia’s terms or gives Russia leverage on Ukraine with which to force concessions and surrenders.

Russia is on the ropes in Ukraine today. It has not achieved any of Putin’s central objectives. The Russian army is suffering damage that will take years to repair if repair is even possible. Ukrainian forces are conducting counteroffensive operations, steadily pushing the Russians back from their positions around Kyiv and Kharkiv. A ceasefire can stop the fighting, for a time, but it will also give Moscow a chance to reset and prepare to renew the fighting on more advantageous terms. Vladimir Putin has used this approach successfully in Syria and Ukraine since 2014. He will likely try to use it again soon, and we must recognize it for what it is—a trap.

Properly supported, the Ukrainians may well be able to reclaim much of their territory from the exhausted and demoralized Russian forces. The West must back Kyiv in that endeavour, providing military aid that Ukraine needs and disregarding Russian ceasefire offers meant to freeze the battlefield in what is likely close to the best configuration Putin can hope for and in a way that supports maximalist Russian “peace” demands that have only one goal—stripping Ukraine of its sovereignty.”

As previously stated, a peace plan will not fix the cause of the war: Russia. The joint effort of both Ukraine and the West will.

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