Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment — 3 Mar 22

Here are some of the “highlights” of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

· Here is the ISW assessrep for today.

· Putin spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday. Putin, who is probably already a killjoy at parties, stated that he intends to occupy the whole of Ukraine and “denazify” it. WTOP reported this morning that Putin may also be preparing for “mass mobilization”.

· New Russian laws outlawing “fake news” are now forcing independent Russian news agencies to close their doors lest their journalists take a 15-year sabbatical to a cozy Siberian gulag. This is now in addition to barring the words “war” and “invasion” within the press. This is likely in response to mass protests and announcements of severe casualties.

· China shows its true colors by sticking to Russia’s side. In other news: water is wet.

· Some Russian oligarchs are reportedly offering a $1 million bounty on Putin.

· Not sure who needs to hear this, but “Please don’t shoot artillery at the nuclear power plant.” In an act of baffling stupidity, Russian Army units rocketed the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine which also happens to be the largest in Europe. Thankfully, the building that they struck was an out building used for training. Despite the fact that it caught on fire, the Russians also attacked the firefighters trying to respond to the emergency. According to the IAEA, no other damage occurred to the plant. Still the Russian Army should be the automatic winners of the 2022 Darwin Awards.

· Yesterday, I offered an explanation for the absence of Russian air power. Here is a better explanation. Though the Russian Air Force has the basing to support air operations, it suffers from critical incompetence in airspace deconfliction (i.e. high risk of Russian SAMs shooting down Russian aircraft), severe shortage in precision guided munitions, and woefully undertrained pilots. According to this RUSI report, Russian pilots tend to average about 100 flight hours per year for combat aircraft. That is less than half that US pilots require for minimum proficiency. The conservation of the Russian Airforce is likely a strategic risk mitigation factor against UA SAMs and St. Stinger on the part of its generals.

· Reference graphics below: Advance to encircle Kyiv is still slow. From the Northeast, Russian forces continue to advance west towards the Dnieper while bypassing pockets of UA resistance. Heavy bombardment of Kharkiv continues. In the East, the UA continues to give ground, and it appears that the Northeast and East fronts are now joined. In the South, Russians have also captured the town of Mariupol. This effectively joins the South to the East and eliminates any Ukrainian port access east of Odessa.

· The pause around Kyiv is giving the city’s residents time to set up anti-armor fortifications. As with Kharkiv, it is highly unlikely that the RA will push into the city with armor until they’ve bombarded it for a few days with artillery.

· Overall, despite lack of logistics, comms, airpower, or even morale, the Russian Army is still poised to win through brute force and a great deal of ignorance.

· As President Macron said after his chat with Poutain, “the worst is yet to come.”

Happy Friday,

Eric B (token Army guy)

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Eric Balough

Former infantry officer, and current military analyst. Lover of coffee, dogs, Jeeps, hockey and my family.