Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment — 20 March 2022
It was an eventful weekend in Putin’s Ukrainian Ulcer:
· The ISW assessrep for 20 March 2022.
o Another one bites the dust. The Ukrainian resistance must have Queen and Drowning Pool playing on repeat. Army generals under Putin have about the life expectancy of admirals under Darth Vader. The commander of the 8th Army, Southern Military District, was killed in a Ukrainian attack on a Russian command post in Kershon.
o Both the ISW assessrep and the @JominW graphic, included below, indicate that the Russian Army is no longer advancing. In fact now, with the exception of limited pushes in Mariupol and a suburb of Kharkiv, the Russians are actually digging into defensive positions.
o Even if they are digging in for the long haul, as seems to be the case, the Russians will have a hard time supplying their forces. They are running out of trucks and pressing civilian trucks into service. Forbes provides yet another quality analysis on the impacts of the Ukrainian decimation of Russian logistics. But the impacts of pressing civilian freight trucks into service is also going to have significant economic impacts. In the US, our supply chains are still under constant disruption from a shortage of flatbed trailers. So, in addition to the massive impacts of sanctions and technology bans, Russia is also going to experience a shortage of shipping and prime movers.
o The key question is how this transition to defense and continued sieging of Ukrainian cities will translate to the negotiating table. Putin will likely try the tactic of “finders keepers” like he has with Crimea, Donestk and Luhansk. Zelenskyy may either say, “get off my lawn,” or try to placate the dictator. As we’ve seen in the past though, any sort of peace with Russia will be temporary, and any territorial gains made by Russia as a result of this “special military operation” will only embolden the Kremlin to rearm and try again in the next five to six years (mirroring the Russian presidential election cycle).
· The exchange rate of the Russian ruble to USD is currently 104 rubles to 1 USD. This is a slight improvement from Friday, and may be an indicator of some stability that India’s oil purchases and China’s back can bring to the Russian economy. That said, Saturday, the value of the ruble plummeted to 131:1. So while the *average* value of the ruble isn’t changing a great deal, there is still a great deal of volatility.
· In an interesting plot twist, China is sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine.