"Propaganda Does Not Change The War - The Ukraine Is Still Losing - Updated"
Moon of Alabama (March 25, 2022)
Updated below (17:30 UTC)
This map of the situation in Ukraine on March 24 is provided by the French Ministry of Defense.
It is likely the most realistic and neutral one available. It comes with short notes about the numbered theaters.
Here are my own takes:
1. The Russian forces around Kiev are making no offensive moves but defend against minor unsuccessful counterattacks from the Ukrainian side (see below). I have seen no hint that Russian forces strives to get into Kiev. It would be too costly to do that and for little strategic gain.
But the forces east and west of Kiev are binding a big part of the Ukrainian army and prevent it from sending reserves towards Donbas.
Yesterday an air attack or missile strike destroyed the largest Ukrainian fuel depot left near Kiev. The Ukrainian army will soon lose its mobility (if it hasn't yet done so).
2. Kharkiv is about to get encircled.
3. Dnipro is a strategic target that the Russian forces will like to isolate or take by coming up from the south on both sides of the Dnieper river as well as from the north.
Russian forces destroyed a railway station between Dnipro and Donbas from where resupplies were flowing to the Ukrainian forces fighting there.
4. After large progress yesterday Mariupol is now in a mop-up situation. The Azov forces still there have no chance to survive.
5. Russian passage through Mykolayiv towards Odessa has proven to be difficult. Artillery is now softening up the Ukrainian defense lines.
There are unconfirmed reports of large Ukrainian losses in Mykolayiv (300+) due to a missile strike on their barracks.
The U.S. has tried to use yesterday's NATO and G-7 meeting to push the Europeans towards sanctioning Russian hydrocarbon exports. It also tried to attach China to Russia and to get the Europeans to sanction its biggest trading partner. Both attempts failed. There will be no additional sanctions on Russia. And while the NATO communique mentions China it only urges it to leave its neutral position. Everyone knows that that is not going to happen.
The only thing NATO agreed on is the release of a new load of fresh propaganda.
NATO: 7,000 to 15,000 Russian troops dead in Ukraine - AP
A senior NATO military official said the alliance’s estimate was based on information from Ukrainian authorities, what Russia has released — intentionally or not — and intelligence gathered from open sources. The official spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by NATO.
Andrei Martyanov looks back at the casualties Soviet forces suffered in 1943 when they liberated Donbas from then still first class German Wehrmacht forces. Back then there were more than 1,000,000 Soviet soldiers involved against some 600,000 Germans. Some 1,600 Soviet soldiers were killed each day in fierce fighting. We are now supposed to believe that the much smaller operation against a less fierce and less capable enemy in the Ukraine is killing 550 Russian soldiers per day? That's obviously nonsense.
As one anonymous Pentagon officer said about the NATO number:
"We continue to have low confidence in those estimates"
For the record Russia's Defense Ministry just announced that as of today 1,351 Russian servicemen have been killed and 3,825 wounded. (The losses of the Lugansk and Donetsk militia are not included in those numbers.)
There is more propaganda bullshit out there like this from the New York Times:
Counteroffensive in Ukraine Shifts Dynamic of War
Sure, the headline gives that impression. But only to those who do not read down into the report:
The asserted gains in territory are hard to quantify, or verify. In at least one crucial battle in a suburb of Kyiv, where Russian troops had made their closest approach to the capital, brutal street fighting still raged on Thursday and it was not clear that Ukraine had regained any ground.
But even this muddied picture of Ukrainian progress is helpful for the country’s messaging to its citizens, and to the world — that it is taking the fight to a foe with superior numbers and weaponry, and not just hunkering down to play defense.
... In Makariv, another battleground town to the west of Kyiv that Ukrainian officials claimed to have recaptured this week, the fighting was also ongoing, Vadym Tokar, the mayor, said in a telephone interview.
“I don’t understand where this nonsense came from,” he said of reports his town had been liberated. “It is not true. We have shelling and we have Russian tanks shooting into the town right now.”
Here is more 'western' media nonsense:
The Ukrainian Army Has More Tanks Now Than When The War Began—Because It Keeps Capturing Them From Russia - Forbes
Ukraine has lost at least 74 tanks—destroyed or captured—since Russia widened its war on the country starting the night of Feb. 23.
But Ukraine has captured at least 117 Russian tanks, according to open-source-intelligence analysts who scrutinize photos and videos on social media.
In other words, the Ukrainian army might actually have more tanks now than a month ago—all without building a single brand-new tank or pulling some older vehicle out of storage.
The Dutch "open-source-intelligence analysts" who came up with those stupid numbers are the people who run the Oryx website and who were also the source for this Economist bullshit:
Stijn Mitzer, an analyst in Amsterdam, and his colleagues at Oryx, a blog, track losses by surveying openly published photos and videos of the war. Nearly three weeks into Vladimir Putin’s reckless campaign, Ukraine has destroyed, damaged or captured at least 1,054 pieces of Russian equipment, about four times as many as it has lost to Russia.
Counting published photos from dubious sources in a war where both sides use the same equipment is as dumb as it gets. As even the Economist notes:
These figures are far from perfect. They are a lower bound, only counting losses confirmed by photographic or video evidence. Ukrainians are far more likely to capture such evidence and disseminate it than Russian soldiers who have probably had their phones confiscated and are, according to the Kremlin’s propaganda, on a peacekeeping mission. Nevertheless the figures provide a glimpse through the fog of war.
The figures and pictures do not provide "a glimpse through the fog of war". They ARE the fog of war.
Russian soldiers are prohibited from carrying cellphones and from taking pictures. (The Russian-Chechen militia currently cleaning up Mariupol is an exception). Ukrainian soldiers do carry cellphones and upload pictures of all kind. There are often several of each disabled vehicle from different perspectives which makes for a lot of double and triple counts. There is also the inconvenient fact that both sides use the same Soviet weapon systems which often makes it impossible to identify the side to which a vehicle belongs.
Last but not least the authors of Onyx are obviously taking sides in the conflict arguing to send more arms to the Ukraine as if that would change the inevitable outcome.
Update - 17:30 UTC
About an hour ago the Russian Ministry of Defense published the text below.
Speech of the Head of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy
The speech sets a frame for the Russian operation in the Ukraine, explains the battle plan and the so far achieved results.
As the mil.ru site is blocked or difficult to reach from several countries I have uploaded the speech as a text file.