The war progress
Let’s summarise the events of ten days of our holy war for freedom.
It has been over 10 days of the Russo-Ukrainian War. From the military strategy point of view, it is a defensive operation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces against Russian aggression.
Russian forces have managed to reach deep into Ukraine’s territory. But because of the lack of resources, remote and stretched communications (food, fuel), the advance is struggling, and capabilities to fight Ukrainians are limited. The aggressor cannot fully control the newly occupied land on its backside (Northern Chernihiv region, North-East of Luhansk region (Novopskov, Markivka), in Tavriya). Local Ukrainians hold the equipment up and come to the streets, and shooting civilians only reinforces people’s resistance.
In general, the formation and usage of the territorial defense to back the Armed Forces is successful, even though there are some organizational issues.
Attempts to encircle Kyiv and Kharkiv are still failing; however, the aggressor managed to approach the capital from the West and South. Fights are continuing on the North-West (Irpin-Bucha-Hostomel). Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Mariupol are bombed and shelled to terrorize the civilians. The deficit of ballistic missiles makes them use more aircraft, leading to problems (on March 5 nine jets and helicopters were destroyed).
Full-scale war between Ukraine and Russia (that uses Belarus’s logistics network).
According to Ukrainian data, as of March 5, the aggressor lost over 11,000 as killed and wounded.
The aggressor initiated the negotiations because he could not reach planned objectives. Two rounds of talks in Gomel did not deliver any results; the following is expected on March 7. The only agreement about humanitarian corridors has not been fulfilled because of shellings by the aggressor.
The negotiations are joined by France’s Emmanual Macron, Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, and Israel’s Naftali Bennett. For now, Putin demands Ukraine to stop fighting, but the aggressor’s losses and lack of resources will impact Moscow’s position.
Turkey has the most potential to become the mediator (the highest-level negotiations in Belarus are obviously impossible). Ankara avoids stiff sanctions and sticks to peaceful rhetoric so far but in fact, helps Kyiv by supplying Bayraktars and other equipment.
The aggressor openly breaks the wartime rules, covers itself with Ukrainian and white flags, and tries to gather civilians for fake evacuations to put them in front of tank columns. The agreement about humanitarian corridors from Mariupol were broken, and civilians were shot while exiting Irpin. Since February 24, several hundred civilians have been killed.
About 1.5 million refugees left Ukraine in the Western direction.
Control over territory
As of March 6, the aggressor’s forces hold lands in Southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, Eastern Mykolaiv region, and Northern Chernihiv, Sumy, Kyiv, and Kharkiv regions. There are attempts to advance in Donbas, but Russian do not control backside towns and villages even in the Luhansk region. The aggressor intensifies its war against civilians, as shown by March 5-6 demonstrations in Melitopol, Kherson, Berdyansk, and Nova Kakhovka.
In perspective, freeing the territories will be determined by the Ukrainian Forces’ outreach and how effectively they can hit.
In fact, Moscow has lost the information war in Ukraine and the world. On its own land, most Russians support the aggression due to total control and censorship over the media. However, Ukraine’s informational activity in social media delivers results. The situation is critical in the Far East (Vladivostok, Yakutia, Buryatia), and some issues are developing in the Volga republics. The hardship is illustrated by Roskomnadzor banning Facebook and Twitter and limiting so-called opposition media.
Russia tries to find alternative markets to trade in Asia and Latin America, but their products do not survive the competition given no access to Western technologies. The falling economy reinforces the disappointment of the elites with the government’s course of action.
Over a few days, the intensity was dropping as the enemy had exhausted its resources. As the initial plans failed, it looked for alternatives to strengthen Moscow’s positions in the upcoming negotiations. Since March 3-4, the strategy is focused on capturing nuclear power plants: Zaporizhzhya (successfully), and Pivdennoukrainsk (so far unsuccessful as groups near Voznesensk and Bashtanka were destroyed; Mykolaiv’s encirclement failed too). It is possible that they may approach from Belarus and try to capture the Rivne nuclear plant (45 km from the border). It will allow to weaken Ukraine’s energy system, intimidate the world, and possibly justify the future withdrawal (say, to save the world from nuclear disaster). Also, there they may put military bases covered by nuclear plants infrastructure.
Ukraine needs to keep holding the enemy and counterattack on the essential directions before the reserves are ready; brigades that cover vital territory (Belarus border in Volyn, Odessa region) are being reinforced by newly mobilized men.
It is essential to avoid surrounding the most capable Ukrainian forces in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The USA and NATO are not ready to intervene. However, Ukraine’s support is increasing among people in Western countries; it will prompt the governments to give Ukraine more financial and military help.
From 7 to 10 more days of active actions. Then will come an armistice or Russians to try keeping partially controlled land, shifting to positional war, accompanied with permanent air bombing (though with lower intensity) to undermine the Ukraine government’s position. As Russians do not get support from local civilians, their hope is an economic catastrophe or anti-government spirit. For now, it is not working.
Yurii Syrotiuk, Director, NAC «Ukrainian Studies of Strategic Disquisitions»
Yurii Oliinyk, Head of Research Programs, NAC «Ukrainian Studies of Strategic Disquisitions»