Curated news, analysis, and commentary about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, tactical situation on the ground, Ukrainian defense, and NATO.
Do you receive our daily newsletter? If not, you can sign up here and enjoy it five (almost) days a week with your morning coffee (or afternoon tea depending on where in the world you are).
Russian Campaign Update. Russian casualties have been in the thousands. Some estimates say that there have been 5,800 casualties. It may be less. Russian troops are grappling with shortages of food, fuel, and morale in Ukraine. Road conditions and vehicle maintenance is having an effect on the ability of the Russians to move; this is affecting their logistics and sustainment operations. Over the past few days the Russians have been consolidating and resupplying their units – so in some areas of the conflict there has been an operational pause. Russia has reported that the invasion has cost its military almost 500 killed and 1,600 wounded. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry puts the Russian casualties at ten times that number.
Air Dominance. Many military analysts are wondering what happened to Russia’s Air Force – U.S. officials and other national security experts are stumped. The inability to rapidly win Ukraine’s airspace has limited the Russian war gains thus far. The Russian air force has played a surprisingly limited role in the first week of the Ukraine invasion. However, many experts believe that the Russians will assume a more prominent role in the air in the coming days. Most of the Russian aircraft attacking Ukraine are coming out of Belarus from the north. The Russians have launched (as of Mar 2) roughly 450 short-range and medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles since the start of the war.
Kyiv. The Russians continued their advance on Kyiv along two axes. One approach has been from Belarus, moving south along the west bank of the Dnieper River and the other from Russia moving south along the east bank of the Dnieper River. The capital city appears to be Russia’s main effort. The intent of the Russians is to take the capital and then announce the establishment of a puppet regime. Kyiv experienced some heavy shelling in the early morning hours of Thursday (Mar 3). The forward elements of the long convoy watched by the world has reached the outskirts of Kyiv.
Kharkiv and Mariupol. The border city of Kharkiv in the northeast of the country also was subjected to shelling by the Russians and is almost encircled. The coastal city of Mariupol is also besieged, being attacked from the south by forces coming from Russian-occupied Crimea and from Donetsk in the east. The capture of Mariupol would go a long way to establishing a ‘land bridge’ between Russia and Crimea – surely one of the main goals of the Russian invasion. The siege of Kharkiv is tying down Ukrainian forces in the east.
Kherson. A city north of the Crimea peninsular has fallen to the Russians. The mayor of Kherson has met with the Russian commander who plans to set up a military administration. This city on the coast of the Black Sea is a jumping off point to the city of Odessa further west along the coast of the Black Sea. After heavy fighting Ukrainian forces pulled out of the city toward Mykolaiv, a city to the northwest of Kherson. The Russians, once reinforced with more troops, fuel, food, and ammunition, may strike out towards Mykolayiv and Odessa. There is a Russian amphibious landing force posed to strike the Odessa region consisting of four large landing ships and three missile boats. It is unknown if this poses a real threat or if it is just a feint to tie down Ukrainian forces in the Odessa region.
Current Russian Disposition and Future Operations. The farther the Russians get into Ukraine the longer its supply lines are. Ammunition, fuel, food, and reinforcements will take longer to get to the center of Ukraine. Along the way they will be subject to attacks and ambushes by cutoff Ukrainian soldiers. Many Russian advances are constrained to main avenues of approach because of the muddy conditions of the countryside. The Russians have deployed about 82% of the combat power that was initially staged on the Ukraine borders into Ukraine.
Russian EW Capabilities. A recent article provides details on Russian Army electronic warfare capabilities, doctrine, and activities in Ukraine at the operational and tactical levels. The Russians are attempting to electronically attack Ukrainian airborne radars, military radio nets, civilian cell phone networks, and civilian radio traffic. Currently, it appears that cellphone coverage in Ukraine has not been diminished to a great extent. The author of this article concludes that “So far, the Russian Army’s electronic warfare acumen seems a shadow of its former self. Russian Army EW equipment maybe under-performing and may not have the confidence of army commanders.” “Rah Rah Rash Putin?”, by Dr. Thomas Withington, Armada International, March 2, 2022.
More Ukrainian News. Civilians, when they can, are being evacuated from the battle zone areas. All trains from eastern and southern Ukraine are evacuation trains and people can travel for free. Ukrainian authorities say citizens don’t need to declare captured tanks and military equipment for tax purposes. Seized tanks and other military equipment would not be counted as part of a citizen’s income. (Business Insider, Mar 2, 2022).
Maps and Other Resources
Russia-Ukraine Monitor Map. This map is a crowdsourced effort by the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR) and the wider open source community to provide reliable information for policymakers, journalists, and justice organizations about the evolving situations both on the ground and online.
UK Ministry of Defence. Check out the map posted by @DefenceHQ on Twitter.
Ukraine Graphics by Reuters. “Russia Invades Ukraine”
Ukraine Conflict Info. The Ukrainians have launched a new website that will provide information about the war. It is entitled Russia Invaded Ukraine and can be found at https://war.ukraine.ua/.
Janes Equipment Profile – Ukraine Conflict. An 81-page PDF provides information on the military equipment of the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces. Covers naval, air, electronic warfare, C4ISR, communications, night vision, radar, and armored fighting vehicles, Ukraine Conflict Equipment Profile, February 28, 2022.
Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces. A former commander of Special Operations Command – Europe (SOCEUR), Mike Repass, provides us his thoughts on the many Ukrainian civilians that are stepping up to fight the Russian invasion. Repass says that this didn’t ‘just happen’ – careful planning, coordination, and training took place over the past several years to ensure this would happen. Read “Ukraine’s stirring self-defense is no accident”, The Washington Post, March 1, 2022.
The Resistance and Legal Status. A lot of print is being given to a future Russian occupation and growth of a Ukrainian insurgency. A recent article explores the legal questions of a resistance comprised of civilian volunteers. Two Army officers who work in the Department of Law at the United States Military Academy at West Point provide some answers. “Legal Status of Ukraine’s Resistance Forces”, Lieber Institute West Point, February 28, 2022.
A Miscalculation. Alan Malcher reaches back into history to set the stage for what awaits Russia if it stays on as an occupying force in Ukraine. “Resistance in Ukraine: Putin’s dangerous miscalculation”, LinkedIn, March 2, 2022.
Cyber and Information Operations
Starlink is Active. Elon Musk promised to supply Starlink kits to Ukraine to provide an internet capability via satellite. It didn’t take long to make good on his promise. The country is facing some connectivity problems but the SpaceX founder says that his satellites will help out a bit. Starlink has a network of about 2,000 satellites in low earth orbit that provide high-speed broadband internet by connecting with user terminals around the world. “Elon Musk says Starlink is active in Ukraine amid internet disruptions”, Fox Business, February 26, 2022.
VOA – Not Welcome. The Voice of America Russian-language news site may be blocked. It has received notice to remove content that Moscow deems ‘illegal’. “Russia Media Regulator Moves to Block VOA”, Voice of America, March 2, 2022. Read more about the Russian lid on social media in “Media Crackdown in Russia”, U.S. Department of State, March 2, 2022. 45 minutes.
British Shortwave Radio Service. The BBC is launching a shortwave radio service for Russia and Ukraine. The service will reach audiences with a daily shortwave transmission for two hours in the evening and two hours in the morning. It will be difficult to disrupt this type of radio signal.
Podcast – Waging War in a Networked Age. A podcast aired that was devoted to how modern networks and media are influencing what has become a major shooting war between Russia and Ukraine. Cyberlaw Podcast – Lawfare, March 1, 2022,
UN Vote. The United Nations Assembly voted on a resolution demanding that Russia withdraw from Ukraine. 141 nations voted for the resolution. The countries of North Korea, Eritrea, Syria, and Belarus voted against the resolution.
New DOJ Task Force. The U.S. Justice Department has established a task force to enforce U.S. sanctions against Russia. The new interagency law enforcement effort would enforce the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures aimed at Moscow. This new organization would be targeting the crimes of Russian officials, government-aligned elites, and those who aid or conceal their unlawful conduct. “DOJ launches ‘KleptoCapture’ task force to target Russian oligarchs”, Washington Examiner, March 2, 2022.
U.S. Missile Test Postponed. The Pentagon has delayed a long-planned test launch of an American Minuteman III rocket. The SECDEF has decided on this action so that the launch could not be misunderstood or misconstrued. Air Force crews test four Minuteman III rockets per year from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. The tests are planned years in advance and publicized to avoid miscalculations. The dummy warheads splash down near Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. “Austin Postpones Test of Minuteman III Missile”, DoD News, March 2, 2022.
Russian Billionaire Loses Yacht. A very rich Russian is one yacht short now. His 512-foot long boat, valued at $600 million, has been seized by the Germans in the northern city of Hamburg. European Union sanctions are what set in motion the seizure. “Germans Seize Russian Billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s Mega-Yacht”, Forbes, March 2, 2022.
Waltz on Ukraine. Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL) provides his perspective on the likelihood of Ukraine’s success in stopping the Russians. He says that the west “. . . must continue the flow of food, medical supplies, small armaments, stinger missiles, night vision, secure communications, body armor, and deployable radar systems to stall Russian armor in the cities and cut off their supply lines”, “Ukraine vs. Russia: Here’s How Zelensky and his country win”, Fox News, March 2, 2022.
Rubio on Ukraine and Twitter. The senator from Florida is doing a lot of tweeting about the Ukraine and people are following his Twitter account to stay abreast of the changing situation of the conflict. “Marco Rubio is tweeting through the Russia-Ukraine war – for a reason”, Politico, March 2, 2022.
Seth Jones – What the West Should Provide. Sanctions and diplomacy alone will not save Ukraine. It needs weapons and intelligence to oppose the Russians and ultimately, down the road, Russian-installed puppet rulers. Read more in “How the U.S. Can Back Its Promises to Ukraine”, The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2022.
Intel and Putin. Many observers are speculating on the intentions of Putin with regard to Ukraine. Is it possible that the U.S. intelligence community knows what’s up? “Can Intelligence Tell How Far Putin Will Go?”, War on the Rocks, February 28, 2022.
OSINT and Ukraine. From high-resolution satellite images to TikTok videos, governments no longer control information from the front lines. Open source intelligence has changed the geopolitical and military environment. Governments no longer control the technology that puts eyes on the battlefield, which means they no longer can control the narrative. Read more in “How Open-Source Intelligence is Helping Clear the Fog of War in Ukraine”, BuzzFeed.News, March 2, 2022.
Russia’s Economy and Military Power. There have been various academic efforts to measure military power based on economic strength. David Uren, a senior fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, breaks this down for us in “Measuring Russia’s Economic and Military Power”, The Strategist, March 3, 2022.
Wishful Thinking. The editor of FDD’s Long War Journal, Bill Roggio, has some disquieting news to share. He believes that “Wishful thinking has the upper hand in the battle to shape Western perceptions of the war in Ukraine”. He says the sympathy for the Ukrainians has blinded people to the fact that the Ukrainians are outnumbered in troops and outgunned in weapons. While Russia may have hoped for a knockout punch, they will quickly transition to careful follow-on assaults following Russian doctrine. “The West’s delusions about this war”, FDD Long War Journal, March 2, 2022.
Declassifying Intel. Jack Harrington, an intelligence fellow with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in D.C., provides us with an informative article about the pros and cons of revealing intelligence information in an attempt to shape world events. “Intelligence Disclosures in the Ukraine Crisis and Beyond”, War on the Rocks, March 1, 2022.
Photo: F-35 Lightning II on patrol in eastern Europe. USAF Senior Airman Ali Stewart.