Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment — 7 Mar 22

Here are some of today’s topics of interest regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

· ISW assessrep for 7 Mar ’22.

· The recruitment drive for foreign fighters is in full swing for Ukraine… and Russia.

o Outside of the shift in the global balance of power, this will probably have some far reaching effects for future conflicts involving counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations. There are already memes on social media making light of the very real possibility of OIF/OEF veterans finding themselves on the same side as foreign fighters that supported Jaesh Al-Mahdi (Iraq) and the Taliban. We saw this same phenomena in the Afghan National Army with Russian trained NCOs and officers working alongside former mujahadeen. Further, these sorts of formations tend to attract folks already pre-disposed to some form of radicalization, so the outgrowth of this may very well be well-connected, combat-hardened extremists of various varieties. The conflict in Ukraine will likely be the LinkedIn for future insurgents for the next two decades.

· Speaking of the global balance of power. Putin has likely thrown a spanner in the works for his ol’ pal Xi. China’s global and one-China ambitions just got a lot more complicated.

· Putin is making a list and checking it twice. 43 countries are “naughty”, and not very many are nice.

· LTC (US Army — retired) Gene Vindman gives his thoughts about the future of Poutain’s regime.

· Vindman’s assessment is consistent with other reports from inside Russia.

· John K sent some timely and relevant articles in other emails.

· Apparently, FM Lavrov has no clue what “irony” means. See “tweet” below.

· Now, around the battlefield with our (my) favorite OSINT integrator on Twitter, Jomini of the West:

o The Russian advances on Kyiv and Kharkiv are largely at a standstill. Russian frustration in Kharkiv continues to manifest itself in the form of heavy artillery bombardments with the possible inclusion of cluster munitions and thermobaric rockets (also called “vacuum bombs” in the press). Given the slow pace of operations here, this is likely where the bulk of Ukraine’s resistance is also focused, and where Russian logistics seems to be experiencing the most problems.

o In the East and South, Mariupol continues to hold out. It is the last barrier for the Russians to join up the Southern and Eastern fronts. Once that happens, they will free up considerable forces and can either allocate them to the East against Kharkiv or the South in Mykolaiv. Pushing through Mykolaiv clears the path to advance to Ukraine’s last free port in Odessa, whereas applying more pressure to crack Kharkiv would free up forces for the final push on Kyiv. Either one will result in dire situations for the Ukrainian defense.

o Still little indication as to Ukraine’s actual combat losses. Even if their losses are half of Russia’s, which are estimated to be as high as 10,000 KIA/WIA/MIA, that would represent close to 13% of their total combat force. Whereas 10,000 Russian casualties still only comprises between 5–7% of the total force committed. So even with a 2.0 K/D ratio (ask your kids or a gamer nerd), attrition is going to wear out the Ukrainian defense more quickly. Transitioning to an insurgency will be more advantageous to Ukraine in the long run.

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Eric Balough

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