Russian forces continue to evacuate north-central Ukraine; Armed Forces of Ukraine follow in their wake and reclaim towns that were captured just weeks ago. However, in the south, Russian forces regained control of the territory north of Mariupol, while in the east, the Russian Army captured significant amounts of territory in Kharkiv Oblast, in the region around Izyum. Compare Russian withdrawals and gains in the map above, with the territory under their control on 2 April 2022, in the map below.
Russian forces have withdrawn from areas immediately to the north and northwest of Kyiv, the capital; meanwhile, Russian withdrawals are taking place east of Kyiv; Ukrainian Army units are harassing Russian rearguards and re-occupying towns and villages as the Russian Army withdraws. It is believed that a number of the withdrawing Russian units will be sent to reinforce the efforts to capture all of the Donbass.
In the south, reports of Ukrainian recapture of most of the territory north of Kherson may have been false, as it appears that the Russian military again controls most of the region west of the Dnipro River, including Velyka Oleksandrivka and Borozenske. The town of Lyubymivka is contested between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Compare Russian control of Ukrainian territory at the end of this week on the map above, with that controlled by Russia at the beginning of this week, on the map below.
If military situation reports coming out of Ukraine are to be believed, then one will recognize that Russian arms have suffered a few reversals, since Wednesday of this week. Moreover, one will recognize that Ukraine’s military has made considerable gains, since the start of the special operation on 24 February.
On the northern front, to the east of Kyiv, the town of Slavutch and the city of Chernihiv have been relieved, with direct overland supply corridors being established to each; further east, the Mena-Shostka axis has been cleared by Ukrainian forces (or Russia withdrew from it), leaving a wide swath of hostile territory between the Russian groups operating in the Chernihiv and Konotop regions. Some of the towns that are located in this liberated zone, include: Kholmy, Pyrohivka, Shostka, Krolevets, Korop, Sosnytsya, and Borzna. This liberated corridor is approximately 105 miles (170 kilometers) in length, while varying in width, from 25 miles (40 kilometers) to 55 miles (90 kilometers).
On the southern front, Russian forces have either withdrawn, or been driven from, two areas: northwestern Kherson Oblast on the right bank of the Dnipro River: including the towns of Borozenske, Velika Oleksandrivka, Lyubymivka, Vysokopillya, Kachkarivka, and Mylove.
The second area liesfurther east, in the Mariupol region; Ukrainian forces reoccupied territory taken by the Russian Army and Donbass militias in the previous week, along a northwest-southeast axis, roughly from Pokrovske to Mariupol. If the situation map is a true representation of the situation on the ground, it means that Ukrainian forces are just 11 miles from Mariupol.
Compare Russian territorial losses on the map above, with those on the map below.
What the events of the last 24 hours tell us – if the situation reports they are based on, are faithful and true – is that the Ukrainian Armed Forces – without little or no air cover – undertook 3 widely separated offensive operations – simultaneously. Moreover, these three widely separated, simultaneous offensive operations all achieved a measure of success – simultaneously. In the opinion of this blog, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are simply incapable of such a feat on their own. They have plenty of spirit, there is no doubt there, but in the opinion of many observers prior to the 2022 invasion, the Ukrainians lacked the organizational ability to carry out offensive operations – more so, since many command, control and communications (C3) sites were destroyed by Russian bombardments. When considering the ability of the Ukrainians to counter every Russian move and to then inflict reversals on it, not just locally, but operationally in several places simultaneously, I am reminded of the Battle of Britain, which took place in the summer and autumn of 1940. Hitler’s Luftwaffe was tasked with defeating the Royal Air Force, as a pre-condition for a successful German amphibious invasion of the British Isles. The plan for that assault was code-named Operation Sea Lion. That it never came about was due entirely to the Royal Air Force’s victory over Hitler’s Luftwaffe – and much of that victory was owed to a new military technology available to the British: radar. RADAR, or Radio Detection and Ranging, allowed the British to know precisely which path attacking German aircraft were flying on. This information was relayed to Fighter Command, which was then able to concentrate its smaller force of fighters at the most vital points of air defense. As a result, the more spread out German forces were never able to establish superiority and Luftwaffe losses in bombers and aircraft mounted. Unable to defeat the Royal Air Force, the Germans were forced to postpone Operation Sea Lion, indefinitely.
Now it’s nearly a century later, and spy satellites and electronic eavesdropping have become for modern armies, what radar was to Great Britain in 1940. All those real-time images from satellites above earth, and electronic means for intercepting enemy communications, allow modern armies to know enemy intentions and plan for them accordingly. Modern communications allow command structures to be aware of battlefield events in real time, and respond swiftly. Ukraine, to the best of my knowledge, has no space program of its own, nor an independent satellite launch capability; therefore, it does not have its own top-tier, well-integrated C3 system – it has to come from elsewhere. That elsewhere is either NATO or the United States. The Ukrainian Army’s ability to first block Russian Army offensives and then launch counteroffensives – not only on one axis, but on multiple axes simultaneously in less than a month, suggests to this blog that NATO has inserted its command, control, and communications systems into those of Ukraine. NATO, with its HQ in Brussels, is effectively in command of this war and directing it against the Russian Army and Moscow.
Previously, we posted a situation map for the front lines in Ukraine, for the night of 22/23 March. That post portrayed images found on Wikipedia, which depict the military situation in Ukraine, as it has been estimated from over 600 cited news sources. Accordingly, areas west of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv were reported as having been swept of Russian troops; however, we discovered the following day, that most Russian positions west of Kyiv were portrayed as being intact. It would seem that word of a great Ukrainian military victory were premature. New military developments are being reported for 25 March, whose veracity may or may not stand in succeeding days. Those developments are as follows:
In the north near Kyiv, Ukrainian forces are reported to have recaptured the western suburb of Makariv; to the east of the capital, Ukrainian forces appear to be trying to reopen the Mena-Shostka corridor. Ukrainian forces have advanced on an east-northeast from Mena to Sosynytsya to the western approaches of the Mezynski National Park. More ominously for the Russians, Ukrainian forces appear to have infiltrated into Russian rear areas and taken control of a few cities that the Russian military had previously secured. These towns are: Slavutch, near the Russian-Ukraine border, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) west of the besieged city of Chernihiv; Shestovytsya, a southwestern suburb of Chernihiv; Krolovets, a town located 25 miles (40 kilometers) south-southwest of Shostka; Hlukhiv, located about 25 miles east-southeast of Shostka; Druzhba, located about 25 miles east-northeast of Shostka; and Pustohorod, a town located about 25 miles east of Shostka. The eastern suburbs of Shostka, Hlukhiv, Druzhba, and Pustohorod form an irregular area that roughly contains 25 x 35 square miles (40 x 60 square kilometers). If it is true that Ukrainian forces have re-infiltrated these areas, it may be as a result of Russian forces redeploying to focus their efforts on recovering the rest of the territory of the Lugansk and Donetsk Peoples’ Republics, which make up the eastern breakaway regions of the Donbass.
Ukrainian control of the towns and areas mentioned above, not only poses a threat to Russian supply lines and communications going directly from Russia to the front, but also threatens the lateral communications between the major Russian groups operating on either side of the Mena-Shostka axis.
In the south, Ukrainian forces have recaptured the eastern and southeastern suburbs of Mykolaiv, and have even crossed into Kherson Oblast.
Compare the military situation map for 25 March (above), with the military situation map for 22/23 March, below:
Local Ukrainian counterattacks have swept away Russian forces that had been deployed on the Korosten-Kyiv Highway, on a northwest-southeast line, from the town of Malyn to Borodyanka; similarly, local Ukrainian counterattacks have pushed back forward Russian elements, which had advanced into the western suburbs of Kyiv, from the north.
In the area southwest of Konotop, Russian forces have secured an 18 x 25-mile area around in the region of the town of Talalaivka.
Compare the situation of Russian forces in Ukraine in the afternoon of 22 March (below), with the situation of Russian forces in Ukraine in the night of 22/23 March (above).
During 22 March 2022, Ukrainian forces counterattacked in the Mykolaiv area, forcing the Russians to retreat several miles to the east and south of Mykolaiv. Just a few dozen miles further east, in the salient between the Russian group operating outside of Mykolaiv, and that operating south of Kryvyi Rih, Ukrainian forces pushed south and recaptured the towns of Yavkyne and Snihurivka. This action in turn reduced the Russian salient separating Ukrainian forces operating in the Mykolaiv area, and the Snihurivka salient. However, Russian forces regrouped and within hours recaptured Snihurivka, as well as a few of the eastern suburbs of Mykolaiv. Russian forces have also secured most of the peninsula, located opposite to the mouth of the Pivdenniy Buh River, that is, on the southern shore of the Dniprovska Zatoka, except for the Bilobererzhia Sviatoslava National Park. The Tendrevskyi Peninsula to the south of it, has been completely swept by Russian forces. So while Russian forces have retreated a short distance around Mykolaiv, they have also made gains, on the other side of the Dnipro Estuary. Compare the first and second maps, and the respective territorial gains and losses for the Ukrainians and Russians; then compare those maps with the third map below, in order to gain some insight into Russian gains and losses, since 20 March 2022.
Russian Army and militia units of the Lugansk People’s Republic have swept Ukrainian forces from the Severodonetsk region. They have also advanced to the western border of the Luhansk People’s Republic, from the regions of Svatovo and Novobelaya. More than 90% of the Luhansk People’s Republic is now under the control of the Luhansk government. Compare the area under the control of the Russian Army and LPR Militia in the evening of 20 March, with the territory that was under their control in the morning, as depicted in the map below.
Russian forces operating between Mikolaiv and Kherson have reduced the Ukrainian salient that has been separating the two groups. Russian forces pushed the southern edge of the salient about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northward, occupying the town of Snihurivka. Russian forces have also pushed westward, from the Velyka Oleksandrivka and Vysokopillya areas, towards the Vysun River, thus further reducing the salient from the east. Compare the territory under Russian control, northwest of Kherson on 20 March on the map above, with the territory under Russian control northwest of Kherson, on 19 March, on the map below.
Russian forces have swept out a corridor along the Sea of Azov, that extends about 60 miles (nearly 100 kilometers) inland, from Vasylivka to Donetsk. Ukrainian forces are still disputing control of the coastal city of Mariupol, but Russian forces there are steadily reducing the Ukrainian perimeter. North of Kherson, Russian forces have shifted their efforts from advancing northwest along the Bug River, to advancing northeast toward Bashtanka and Bereznehuvate. A Ukrainian-held salient separates that effort, from another Russian force advancing in the direction of Kryvyi Rih. Compare Russian gains in the last 24 hours, as shown on the map above, with the territory they controlled on 18 March, on the map below. Also, see the following link for a zoom-in map of Ukraine at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2022_Russian_invasion_of_Ukraine.svg
Compare the areas of Ukraine under Russian control for 18 March on the map above, with those illustrated on the map below, for 14 March.
Ukrainian forces launched a counterattack from the Voznessensk Region, forcing a Russian armored battalion to retreat through Nova Odessa, leaving behind many KIA and WIA, as well as damaged and destroyed vehicles; the Russian retreat continued for a distance of about 40 miles.
Russian successes elsewhere in Ukraine more than made up for the setback at Voznessensk: to the north, advancing west-southwest on the Shostka-Mena axis, the Russians swept the area of Ukrainian resistance, while pushing about 20 miles further west-southwest from Mena; the Russian Army also invested the city of Chernihiv from all sides, while other formations maintained a close hold on the capital of Kyiv.
In the south, the Russians widened and deepened their bridgehead in the Kherson region, on the right bank of the Dnipro River, suggesting that their next objective might be the city of Krivoy Rih. These formations may be part of the Russian 58th Combined Arms Army. Russian advance parties are moving east from the Melitopol region, presumably to make contact with Russian Army and Donetsk Peoples Republic militia advancing toward the west.
In the Donbass, Russian Army and militia from the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics are threatening Ukrainian Army formations with encirclement, particularly in the areas of Lysyshansk and Severodonetsk. About 70% of the Luhansk Peoples Republic has been taken by LPR forces, while only about 50% of Donetsk Peoples Republic has been taken under DPR control.
News carried by the Russian newspaper Izvestiya, reports the following:
During a special operation in Ukraine, the Russian military advanced to a depth of up to six kilometers in a day and reached the Novoukrainka-Shakhterskoye line, Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said at a briefing.
The Russian Armed Forces destroyed Ukrainian combat aircraft in Lviv, the Defense Ministry said. “On the morning of March 18, high-precision long-range weapons struck at the military infrastructure of Ukraine. As a result of the strike, a parking lot with Ukrainian combat aircraft at an aircraft repair plant in the city of Lviv was destroyed, as well as ammunition depots and Ukrainian military equipment in the suburbs of Nikolaev and Voznesensk,” said Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry.
Militias interacting with the Russian Armed Forces took the village of Tsirkuny, adjacent to Kharkov.
The head of the Lugansk Peoples Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, allowed men from the liberated regions to travel outside the republic, which was prohibited due to mobilization in Ukraine.
Mariupol airport came under the control of the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic, RIA Novosti reports.
The People’s Militia of the LPR announced 70 Ukrainian soldiers were KIA on March 17.
For there being a definitive lack of information about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this page will be presenting some information of the war, as the Russian/State Media sees it, for the benefit of readers who want to compare and contrast reports on the progress of the war. To begin with, Anti-Comintern Blog will display a military situation map, as published by Wikipedia, followed by a map published by Russian media. Following this, we will post excerpts of Russian reporting from the front, from various newspapers, such as Izvestia. For Western media narratives, the reader may find them in the New York Post, the Washington Times, and other outlets.
NEWS FROM IZVESTIA, ABOUT THE FIGHTING IN UKRAINE:
The special military operation to protect the Donbass is in its 19th day. The operation was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24. Up to 180 foreign fighters and a large batch of foreign weapons have been liquidated in Ukraine. According to sources, Kyiv has now suspended the recruitment of mercenaries.
According to the People’s Militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic, seven divisional subunits of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have lost 1211 people since the beginning of the special operation. The 53rd mechanized brigade suffered the greatest losses – 279 people.
During the special operation, Russian troops destroyed 145 drones, 1,298 tanks, 124 multiple rocket launchers, almost 500 artillery pieces and more than a thousand vehicles, said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov.
DonetskPeople’s Militia: Since the beginning of the special operation, 170 Ukrainian soldiers have defected to the side of the DPR; 20 of them are in medical facilities.
Russian troops took control of the settlement of Stepnoe, the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov, informed.
People’s militia of the DPR: the shelling of Donetsk with “Tochka-U” missiles, was carried out by nationalists of the 19th Ukrainian Missile Brigade from the vicinity of Krasnoarmeysk. The DPR also reported that they got a laptop from Ukrainian troops, with data on the targets of the Tochka-U strikes, including the Government House, a radio and television center and a military registration and enlistment office.
The troops of Russia and the people’s republics of Donbass continue to move forward. LPR units blocked the eastern and southern parts of Severodonetsk. During the liberation of the settlement of Nikolskoye, the Russian military clashed with Aidar militants who were holding civilians and monks hostage.
In the Donetsk Oblast, Russian and separatist forces advanced as far as Volnovakha, Khersones and Kamensk.
In the Kyiv region, Russian forces to the east and northeast of the capital of Kyiv strengthened their lateral communications, in the wake of a Ukrainian counterattack a few days before, which has separated Russian task forces from the main body coming down toward Kyiv from the north, on the left bank of the Dnipro River.
A New York Post article issued on 8 March 2022 included footage of a Russian armored vehicle destroying a car near an intersection, which had a driver and passenger; this was evidently included to demonstrate Russian war crimes – however, a similar vehicle is seen in Ukrainian footage, transporting English NLAW anti-tank weapons to Ukrainian fighters.
For comparison of Russian armed forces’ progress in Ukraine, compare the above map, with that of 8 March 2022, below:
And for further comparison, the reader may refer to a map depicting the military situation from 5/6 March 2022, below. An examination of the map at top, with the map below, demonstrates the Russians have made clear territorial gains in the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, since last week.
Russian forces advanced toward Mikolaiv in the south, and captured Izyum in the east, in addition to significant portions of Luhansk Oblast. Russian forces also maneuvered to isolate the capital Kyiv, from the east. Compare the situation with that portrayed on the map below, for 5/6 March 2022.
Russian forces operating in the region of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, attempted to circumvent the city by advancing southeast and southwest of it; however, a local Ukrainian counterattack driving north from Kiev, cut off the flanking Russian column engaged in the maneuver. Another Russian column, advancing southwest from the region of Konotop, came to the relief of the isolated group. Moreover, Ukrainian forces withdrew from the salient on the Mena-Shostka axis, allowing Russian forces to gain control of the corridor for a second time. Russian forces east of the capital region thus appear poised to isolate Chernihiv; meanwhile, Russian forces west of Kyiv have remained more or less static.
In the south, a Russian column from the Mikhailov area advanced northwest, going as far as Voznessensk, a town situated on the Dnistro River. Russian forces between Nova Kakhovka and Melitopol appear to be consolidating their conquests, before advancing further. Compare Russian positions at end of 5 March (above), with those of 3 March 2022 (below).
According to recent reports, the port city of Kherson, located at the mouth of the Dnipro River, has fallen to Russian forces.
Russian military advances elsewhere in the Ukraine appear to have stalled, either for lack of fuel and supplies, or do to unanticipated, stubborn resistance on the part of Ukraine’s soldiers and citizens.
In the Kyiv region, Russian columns are attempting to go enclose Kyiv, while others are diverging toward other objectives. Belarussian soldiers have entered combat near Chernihiv, while other Belarussian columns appear to be driving in the direction of Korosten-Zhytomyr, perhaps in an effort to isolate the capital region from foreign supplies.
Reports coming from the Ukrainian side, paint a picture of Russian troops who are in many cases, inexperienced, poorly supplied, and poorly led. Little news is coming from the Russian side, in part because some Western media agencies are banning their broadcasts, or limiting the content which they may provide.
A comparison with the above situation map, with that of 1 March 2022, demonstrates that the front lines between Chernihiv and Kharkiv have remained mostly static, as have those around the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This suggests that the Russian invasion may have stalled, or has paused, in order to replenish supplies and regroup forces.
Russian forces continued to consolidate their hold on the territory bounding the southern bank of the Dnipro River, between Kakhovka and Zaporizhzhia, while also pushing west towards the Tendrivska Gulf and the mouth of the Dnipro River. Contact was re-established between Russian forces advancing east along the Sea of Azov, and those advancing west from Donetsk Oblast. Fighting continues in Mariupol.
In the north, Russian forces continue to develop the offensive against Kyiv, with spearheads advancing to the northeast and northwest of Kyiv, in evident attempts to isolate the Ukrainian capital. Compare the positions of Russian forces towards the end of 1 March 2022 (above), with those in the first half of 1 March 2022 (below).
The Russian Army remains stalled in its offensives at Kyiv, Chernihiv, Konotop, Sumy, and Kharkiv. Russian forces operating in the areas of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces also have made little gain and may be pausing to rest the troops. In the south, the Russian Army recovered most of the territories on the southern bank of the Dnipro River, between Kokhovka and Zaporizhzhia, but the junction of forces at Mariupol was broken by Ukrainian forces. Also, Russian forces have been pushed back from Mikolaiv. Compare today’s military situation, with that of late 28 February/early 1 March, displayed on the map below.
Russian forces in southern Ukraine, south of Zaporizhzhia, appear to have lost some territory to Ukrainian counterattacks. On the other hand, Russian forces advancing along the Sea of Azov have linked up with Russian and separatist forces advancing west from Donetsk province, in the region of Mariupol. In the north, Russian forces have been stalled by Ukrainian resistance, and in a sign that the Russian military operation may be seriously behind schedule, there is talk that Russian forces in the north will be supported by Belarussian forces, probably in the form of airborne units. Compare the above map and the apparent setbacks it depicts, with Russian gains on the last day of February 2022.
Russian forces in northern Ukraine appear to have experienced some setbacks, particularly in the region between Sumy and Kyiv. As seen on the map below, on 25-26 February, Russian forces were occupying a continuous stretch of territory, 30-40 miles deep in some places. However, in a series of counterattacks and ambushes, Ukrainian military units and popular militias broke contact between Russian forces along the Mena-Shostka direction, and forced open a wedge between Russian groups, all the way to the international border. Ukrainian forces also broke the encirclements of Konotop and Sumy, though Konotop was once again surrounded. Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv continue to thwart attempts at encirclement, though Russian forces have expanded their control of the territory between Sumy and Kharkiv.
In the east, Russian forces have gradually expanded control of the oblasts [provinces] of Luhansk and Donetsk, though the Luhansk and Donetsk separatist militias appear to have been of little assistance in this area, other than holding the territory they already occupy and holding the attention of Ukrainian government forces opposite them.
In the south, Russian forces advancing out of Crimea have made the most steady progress. Russian forces are nowoutside of, or have entered, Mykolaiv, a port which well-known for its naval-building shipyards. Russian units are in the process of securing the southern bank of the Dnepr River, between Nova Kakhovka and Zaporizhzhia, which forms a water course that is 8-10 miles wide in places. Russian spearheads have advanced eastwards toward the towns of Orikhiv and Poholy, as well as along the coast toward Berdyansk. A Ukrainian-controlled salient separates these two efforts. Russian-controlled Melitopol is located at the western end of this salient. Russian forces in Berdyansk will likely link up with those advancing west from Mariupol, in the coming days, while those from Poholy will continue towards Donetsk; the junction of forces in this area north of the Sea of Azov will allow the Russian military to consolidate its forces in the south and regroup for the next effort.