The average person trying to decipher the meaning from the daily briefing of the Russian Minister of Defense (aka MOD) is likely overwhelmed by the long list of Ukrainian military units being hit and the variety of weapon systems employed against the Ukrainians. Let me break it down for you. I have taken the liberty of putting the identities of the Ukrainian units and their locations into a spreadsheet. The result is eye-opening and, I think, will help you grasp what Russia is doing.
The following is based on the Russian MOD briefing for the period 4-9 July 2022.
A total of 20 specific Ukrainian military forces were hit with missile and artillery strikes during this 6 day period (the numbers include locations identified as a base for foreign mercenaries). Fifty percent of the strikes occurred in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Here is the list of the units/targets:
- 57th Mechanized Brigade
- South Operational Group
- 14th Mechanized Brigade
- 10th Mountain Assault Brigade
- Ammo Depot
- 72nd Mechanized Brigade
- 24th Mechanized Brigade
- 79th Airborne Assault Brigade
- 25th Air Assault Brigade 226th Battalion
Twenty-five percent (5) of the targets were in the Nikolaev (aka Mykolayiv) against the following units:
- 241st Territorial Defence Brigade
- 188th Battalion of 123rd Territorial Defence Brigade
- Foreign Mercenary
- 107th Battalion of 63rd Mechanised Brigade
- 99th Mechanised Battalion from 61st Chaser Infantry Brigade
Kharkov, which is about 300 miles northeast of Donetsk, accounted for three strikes (4-6 July, which hit the following units:
- 22nd Motorized Infantry Battalion of 92nd Mechanized Brigade
- 93rd Mechanized Brigade
- 40th Artillery Brigade
There was one strike in Zelenodolsk, which is in the Dnepropetrovsk oblast. That missile strike killed 40.
In the Donetsk People’s Republic, Russia hit 13 Command Posts between 4 and 6 July. Why hit Command Posts? The Ukrainian military leadership directing the fight against Russia in the Donetsk. If you kill or wound the leadership you disrupt the command and control of the units operating in the Donetsk. It is the equivalent of cutting the head off of the chicken.
How did the Russians locate these sites? Intelligence. This includes collecting the signals from the radio traffic and cell phone activity. It also may include human source information from captured Ukrainian soldiers. In the days following the attacks on the CPs, Russia then hit the positions of specific Ukrainian units listed above. The reported KIA is significant–at least 6650 Ukrainian troops according to the Russian MOD.
We see a similar pattern in Nikolaev–i.e., hit the Command Posts first and then hit the deployed units (see above). Russia hit 6 CPs and killed 375 Ukrainians. A Foreign Mercenary base also was hit but no casualties were announced by the Russian MOD. Attacks in the Nikolaev area signal that Russia is softening up that area for a movement east towards Odessa. This is not imminent, but Russia is not leaving the area alone.
The Russian MOD did not report hitting any CPs in the Kharkov region. However, the missile strikes did result in 535 dead Ukrainian troops.
The Russian MOD briefing also is providing a summary of military equipment destroyed. For example, the MOD reports that 3,995 tanks and armored combat vehicles have been destroyed. Ukraine started the war with 1472 tanks and 20 tank destroyers. We do not have the specific breakdown of how many tanks have been destroyed but a conservative guess is that the majority of Ukraine’s tanks are no longer combat effective.
Russia is playing its cards very close to its vest. While the MOD briefings provide a handy laundry list for tracking the kinds of losses the Ukrainians are suffering in men and materiel, Russia is not telling the full story of the devastation they are unleashing on Ukraine’s military. But the goal set by Putin–i.e., demilitarization–is being realized.
Up to this point Russia has not targeted the command headquarters of Ukraine’s military in Kiev. If the U.S. and NATO persist in ramping up the weaponry they send to Ukraine, Russia has the ability to hit the top level command posts. If Russia does this they will likely kill and wound U.S. and other NATO officers. Russia has avoided launching such an attack, but if U.S. supplied weapons continue to kill civilians in the Donbass Russian patience may reach its end and they will send a devastating message.