Situation Report on the Russo-Ukrainian War (3/6/22)

On February 24, 2022 at 0500 Eastern European Time (EET), the Russian Federation (RU) initiated hostilities with Ukraine. The Russian Air Force (RAF), Russian Navy (RN), and Russian Ground Force (RGF) began their campaign by targeting Ukrainian command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) facilities, airfields, ports, ground installations, and air defense positions. RGF and Russian Naval Infantry (RNI) have initiated ground multiple and amphibious operations in the north, south, and east of Ukraine in the ten days since the conflict began. Russian personnel now control or surround multiple Ukrainian cities in the east and south, and are within striking distance of Kyiv, the capital, from the north and east.



Northern Front

The Intelligence Ledger assesses that the Russian Federation took an operational pause along the Northern Front on March 5, 2021. While RGF elements continue to conduct reconnaissance and raid missions, there has not been a major operation conducted by a large ground formation in over 24 hours. This pause may have been taken in order to ensure logistical support and supply lines were solidified before renewed offensive operations.


The situation remains largely unchanged in the Kyiv area of operations (AO). RGF personnel have not advanced in large numbers past Priluky along the eastern outskirts of the capital. RGF elements in the north continue to control the severely damaged Antonov Airport in Hostomel, and appear to be establishing a new support facility for rotary airframes in Ivankiv. To the west, RGF personnel have not advanced far past Highway E40. According to press releases by the Ukrainian General Staff, Institute for the Study of War (ISW), and open source reporting, there are as many as 17 Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) in the vicinity of Kyiv.


The disposition of Ukrainian and Russian forces in both Chernihiv and Sumy remains unchanged over the past 30 hours. While small skirmishes have occurred in both municipalities as RGF and Ukrainian personnel conduct reconnaissance, ambush, and raid missions, there has not been a concerted push by either actor to drive the other from either locality.


Kharkiv has been the only site of major action over the course of the past 24 hours, with the Russian Federation reportedly surging forces to the AO and small Ukrainian elements purportedly piercing deep into Russian lines north of the city. Press releases from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Ukrainian’s General Staff indicate a belief that RGF units will either conduct a major assault on the city’s defenses or bypass it within the next 48 hours.


Southern Front

The Russian Federation has proven more successful on the Southern Front than in any other. Over the past four days, RGF and RNI elements successfully surrounded Mariupol, thus connecting the Southern and Eastern Fronts. The Intelligence Ledger has redesigned both avenues of advance under the auspice of the Southern Front for administrative purposes, as all command structures in the sector appear to be working in conjunction with one another.


The disposition of Ukrainian and Russian forces in both the Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk Oblast AOs has not shifted significantly over the past 24 hours.


The Russian Federation has successfully encircled the municipality of Mariupol, causing a humanitarian crisis and severely impairing defensive preparations in the city. Russian Naval Infantry formations have played a critical role in operational plans around the city over the course of the past 72 hours.


The municipality of Kherson is now firmly in the hands of the Russian Federation, thus endangering the Ukrainian defense of Mykolaiv and Odessa. The Russian position within the city is firm, so much so that only a minimal amount of units remain on garrison duty.


Fighting between RGF, RNI, and Ukrainian units remains fierce over the city of Mykolaiv. Mykolaiv is critical to the defense of Odessa, as its collapse would leave the road to the strategic port city open and exposed. Ukrainian forces continue to monitor the Black Sea due to fears of an RNI amphibious assault between Odessa and Mykolaiv, something which would make the defense of either metropolis considerably more difficult.


Assessment

The Intelligence Ledger assesses the situation in Ukraine may develop in the following ways over the course of the next week:


The Russian Federation will renew attempts to surround or capture Kyiv following the stabilization of supply lines and logistical support over the next 72 hours. This renewed offensive will mainly come from the Northern Front, with units attempting to secure the city from the north, west, and south, and Southern Front, with units piercing into the city from the east and south.


The Ukrainian defense of Mariupol may collapse over the course of the next 72 hours due to worsening humanitarian conditions, a lack of supplies, and renewed offensives by RGF and RNI formations. The fall of Mariupol would mark the last in a series of defeats suffered by Ukrainian forces, as Berdyansk, Melitopol, and Kherson have all fallen to the Russian Federation.


Mykolaiv will become the site of a major battle over the course of the next 48 hours, as both Ukraine and Russian Federation will rush units to the city in hopes of defending or capturing the city, respectively. The fall of Mykolaiv to RGF and RNI formations would severely impair the Ukrainian war effort, as it would leave Odessa open to a major Russian advance.


Russian Naval Infantry embarked aboard vessels in the Black Sea or stationed in Crimea may attempt a naval landing in the vicinity of Mykolaiv or Odessa in the next 72 hours. Such an operation would threaten Ukrainian defenses in both cities, and thus benefit RGF and RNI formations by splitting the attention of Ukrainian forces.


Pressure will continue to grow on policymakers in Moscow to halt operations in Ukraine, as economic action by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), European Union (EU), and other state actors is wreaking havoc on the economy of the Russian Federation. This pressure will come from government economic advisors, powerful businessmen, oligarchs, and supporters of Russian minority political parties. Demonstrations against the war within Russia are expected to grow significantly over the next five days.


The Congress of the United States may take action over the next five days to ban the importation of Russian oil and energy products into the country, halt trade relations with Moscow, and enable the executive branch to limit Russia's position in the World Trade Organization (WTO).