Russia/Ukraine INTSUM 07MAR22–1; 0930 Eastern/1630 Kyiv
I took a day off from reporting yesterday. Back at it today.
1.) Yesterday, there were reports of attacks on the Russian convoy, though I’ve not seen any battle damage assessment (BDA) at this time. The convoy still appears stalled, and according to US officials, has not made any significant movement in something like five days. Additionally, Ukrainian forces appear to be prioritizing Russian fuel trucks, and are now making broad use of an indigenously produced drone called The Punisher (made by UA Dynamics). This drone is small and difficult to detect, carrying several small bomblets. An even smaller drone called Spectre conducts reconnaissance for Punisher. These drones are force multipliers for UA forces, allowing them to strike RU targets from afar, at little risk. They are undoubtedly a demoralizer for those RU troops seeing their logistics destroyed almost without warning.
1.a.) Maps depicting Russian progress in Ukraine reveal long, thin tendrils worming their way into the country. These, of course, represent avenue of advance. But they also represent lengthy logistical lines that are vulnerable as they pass through great swaths of territory that are not under Russian control. Nor do these logistical lines, through which supply convoys must travel, seem to have adequate security or escorts. This is why we’re seeing trucks with logs attached to their front, and why we’re seeing reports of Russian forces using civilian vehicles in the hopes that they won’t be attacked.
2.) Russian electronic warfare (EW) assets, such as direction finding and jamming equipment, remains largely absent despite having been forward deployed in Belarus and along the Ukrainian border with Russia. We’ve discussed this in the past. The reasons are hard to determine, but reports of RU troops having to use civilian radios may be an indicator that RU is simply not capable of operating in an EW environment. Russian communications have been jammed by something as simple as Ukrainians playing their national anthem over the same frequencies used by RU forces. Pictures of RU Su-34 cockpits have in the past shown the use of commercial GPS units of the type you’d find in a civilian vehicle. Or GLONASS units, rather. GLONASS is the Russian version of GPS.
3.) Members of Congress seem to be advocating for a deal that would send MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine from Poland in exchange for US F-16s. Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that the US is actively working to get Polish/Anyone’s MiG-29s into the hands of Ukrainian pilots. Poland has continued to deny any intention of sending Polish MiGs to Ukraine.
4.) According to Christo Grozev, Russia had proposed to Ukraine a potential solution to the invasion. This would include Zelenskyy remaining the president, but that Russia would appoint a Prime Minister; Ukraine must recognize the two break away republics and the loss of Crimea; and that Ukraine must change its constitution to indicate that it would join neither NATO nor the EU. Reportedly, Zelenskyy was emphatic in his answer: No. If true, however, this does indicate a shift, even if unofficially, away from complete regime change in Ukraine. Russian propaganda is still indicating that regime change is the desired end state, as well as the continued talk of “de-Nazification.”
5.) Kharkiv was targeted overnight with substantial bombardment of an unknown type, possibly artillery. There were 21 large fires observed in the central city, and at least 11 residential structures destroyed. The situation in other cities is remarkably similar, with ordnance hitting residential buildings in Mykolaiv resulting in fires. At this point, I think that it’s safe to say that Russian forces are no longer even attempting precision fires against legitimate military targets and have shifted entirely to indiscriminate bombing and artillery strikes. A Ukrainian news site compiled photos from numerous cities comparing how numerous buildings looked eleven days ago with how they look now.
6.) Official Russian media releases are showing Russian planes equipped with unguided munitions, which may help reinforce earlier assessments regarding RU air force PGM usage. Or lack thereof. Alternatively, the footage released could be older, and unrelated to the current war, for propaganda purposes.
7.) For the second consecutive day, the cease fire allowing civilians to evacuate Mariupol failed. Each side blamed the other for the failure.
8.) Recent fighting in vicinity of (IVO) Mariupol have resulted in RU losses of 4 x T-72B3 main battle tanks (MBT) and 6 x BMP-3 armored vehicles. Seventeen thousand anti-tank munitions have been delivered to Ukraine in the last week alone. Continued use of mechanized forces in urban areas, such as that seen in Mariupol and the suburbs northwest of Kyiv, will likely result in further losses of Russian tanks and armored vehicles. As of this writing, Oryx confirms that Russia has lost 132 x tanks, 85 x armored fighting vehicles, 123 x infantry fighting vehicles, and 53 x armored personnel carriers. Video shows an entire battery of Russian D-30 122mm howitzers neutralized on 06 March 2022.
8.a.) It has also been confirmed that RU lost 1 x Su-34 over Kharkiv yesterday (the third Su-34 lost in three days). US officials state that Russia still does not have anything approaching air superiority, and Russian suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) seems to be non-existent. There does not appear to have been any reported uses of anti-radiation missiles (ARM), which are used to attack and destroy air defense radars, since the end of February. At this point, Russia has lost 11 x fixed-wing combat aircraft and 11 x helicopters.
8.b.) UA forces claim to have fired rockets at, and struck, a Russian navy patrol ship, the Vasily Bykov. There are reports that the ship was sunk, but this is not confirmed. The Vasily Bykov, displacing 1,300 tons, was commissioned in 2018.
9.) Two US B-52H bombers are currently flying in circles northeast of Bucharest. NATO aircraft continue to fly combat air patrols over NATO states in Eastern Europe, supported by KC-135 tanker aircraft. I think it likely that NATO will maintain this presence for the foreseeable future, and it is very interesting that B-52Hs have been observed flying on multiple days over Romania.
9.a.) Speaking of US/NATO defense postures, I think that we need to begin paying closer attention to the Dardanelles, especially as we begin to see an increased US presence in that region. The USS Truman, CVN-75 (Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier) and the USS San Jacinto, CG-56 (Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser), are currently in the Northern Aegean. Six other NATO ships are in the Southern Aegean (5 x US of unknown type, 1 x Norwegian of unknown type). Turkey, which controls the straits, is a NATO Alliance member, and tensions between Turkey and Russia may increase should Russia attempt to reinforce its naval presence in the Black Sea. US officials have suggested that it may be necessary to ramp up the long-term US military presence in Europe.
10.) A Russian-owned tanker has reportedly adopted the Syrian flag, which is evidence about how hard the sanctions might be hitting Russia.
10.a.) Visa and MasterCard have suspended operations in Russia. PayPal, too.
11.) The Z has seemingly become a popular emblem on Russian social media accounts, being put on all sorts of things.
12.) Poutine is evidently being renamed because some people seem to think it’s somehow related to President Putin.
More later. Thanks for reading.