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The Ukrainian War: After Six Months

The Ukraine War as of May 5, 2022
The Ukraine War as of June 6, 2022. Click for full map.

The Ukraine War as of August 30, 2022
The Ukraine War as of August 30, 2022. Click for full map.

It is now more than three months since my June update on the war in the Ukraine. It is also six months since Russia first invaded.

No new updates were necessary because little had changed, as indicated by the two maps to the right, adapted from maps created by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). For their full interactive version go here.

On both maps red indicates territory controlled by Russia, light pink areas that Russia only tentatively controlled, light blue areas recovered by the Ukraine from Russia, and blue-striped areas regions of documented Ukrainian resistance within Russian-controlled territories. The red-striped regions were regions grabbed by Russia during its 2014 invasion.

The top map is from ISW’s June 6th assessment. The bottom map comes from its August 28th assessment.

Though I don’t solely rely on ISW for information (it tends to favor the Ukraine in most of its analysis), its maps have repeatedly appeared reliable and accurate, which is why I use them here.

As you can see, in three months not much has changed. Russia continues to grind away in the middle regions, gaining territory slowly but steadily. The Ukraine meanwhile has either stopped any further Russian advance in the north or south, or has chipped away slightly at Russian holdings in these regions.

For weeks the Ukraine has hinted that it was about to begin a major counter-offensive in the south in an attempt to retake the city of Kherson and all territory Russia holds north of the Dnipro River. In preparation for that counter-offensive in the past few weeks Ukrainian forces have been attacking and destroying the bridges that cross this river, thus either preventing Russia from resupplying its forward troops, or limiting any retreat.

Yesterday Ukrainian officials announced that they had finally begun that offensive. At this time there is little confirmed information about how much success they are having, though rumors suggests they have made some breakthroughs. At the same time, Ukrainian officials have warned the public to expect progress to be slow.

All in all, the situation remains exactly as it was in June, a brutal stale-mate, with Russia so far showing the only real gains, though all those gains have been small, difficult, and costly. In fact, those gains have been so slow and difficult that Russia certainly won’t be able to conquer the Ukraine any time soon, if at all. On August 25th Putin announced an increase in Russia’s military forces by 137, 000 men, a number that is hardly enough to replace their losses, no less sufficient to fuel a more aggressive offensive.

Meanwhile, though the Ukraine has clearly shown some success at holding Russia to a standstill, it has shown little ability to retake much territory. If this new offensive in the south shows any success, it will be the first time that the Ukrainian military has actually won back territory, by its own effort. Previous Russian retreats occurred because of decisions in Moscow, not because of Ukrainian military victories.

One other factor appears to be in play. In the past few months there has appeared to be some evidence of increasing resistance to Russian occupying forces, either by Ukrainian partisans in occupied territory or by Donetsk and Luhansk forces who wanted independence from the Ukraine. These latter forces had allied with the Russians to kick the Ukrainians out, but now seem increasingly unwilling to help the Russians gain control of further Ukrainian territory. This increasing resistance in the Ukraine to Russia’s invasion only adds more difficulties to Putin’s effort.

From an American perspective, the utter failure of Russia to quickly win this war is a big win, no matter how it is eventually settled. Should the Ukraine manage to force Russia from further territories it will be an even bigger win for American interests. Russia’s failure will have clearly demonstrated that it is no longer a significant military threat to the rest of the world. Our foreign policy strategy in Europe should thus reflect this, as it makes that strategy less challenging to implement.

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  • GaryMike

    My father’s side of the family immigrated to the US in 1870-ish from a small region west of Odessa.

    The region’s history is of periodic invasions/re-invasion by the Russians, Turks or Austro-Hungarians.

    My paternal great grandparents spoke German.

    I’m not inclined to excitement over the reintroduction of Russians into the area. It won’t last more than a century.

    It never has.

  • BtB’s Original Mark

    Mr. Z. – Thank you for admitting that ISW favors Ukraine.

  • James Street

    Biden’s economic “experts” are confounded I tell you. Confounded! Their actions have caused the opposite of what they told us they would.

    “Russia Confounds the West by Recapturing Its Oil Riches
    Demand from some of the world’s largest economies has given Russian President Vladimir Putin the upper hand in the energy battle that shadows the war in Ukraine, and has confounded the West’s bid to cripple Russia’s economy with sanctions.”

  • ISW pointed out the other day that over the last six weeks — since Russia announced a week-long “pause” in campaigning (due to utter exhaustion) following their overrunning of the city of Lysychansk, thereafter resuming their offensive — since then, at great cost in lives on both sides, the modern Russian successors to the Red Army have managed to conquer an additional area of Ukraine about the size of Andorra (which is to say, a couple of hundred square miles).

    While ISW is hardly neutral in this regard, it requires confirmation from both Russian and Ukrainian sources before adjusting the front-lines on their battle-map, providing end-notes with links for all. Following those daily front-line changes, it’s clear that the Russians have advanced only microscopically over the last 1-1/2 months.

    Victory is clearly imminent! Not.

    At this rate, actually conquering the remaining 3/4ths or so of Ukraine will take about a century. Generations of Ukrainians might grow up and ultimately die naturally before the bulk of the country is in much danger — except in the vicinity of the front-lines.

  • John

    It will be interesting to see if Ukraine can regain any of its territory. Ukrainian casualties are not talked about – do they have enough soldiers left? Can they mount a combined arms offensive? We shall see.

    I’d like to congratulate the Euro weenies on all their green energy. So sorry about the dirty little secret that your economy and livelihoods ran on Russian gas. Despite global warming, it’s going to be a cold winter. But you can keep the lights and heat on, like western civilization should, right?

  • BtB’s Original Mark

    Ukrainian forces are currently conducting a counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast.
    The open terrain between Kherson and Nikolaev regions is disadvantageous for the Ukrainians.
    The Russians can pound that area with artillery strikes which include laser-guided rounds.
    In my opinion, this Ukrainian counteroffensive in the South will suffer severe losses and be defeated.
    In the North the Ukrainians may have had a limited success capturing small villages, but these few kilometers of land most likely will not be held.

  • Mitch S.

    I think that ultimately Russia is better off that they failed to conquer Ukraine.
    If they overrun Ukraine they will be stuck ruling a hostile population and dealing with a resistance heavily aided by the West.
    Russian conquest of Ukraine would be a finger in the eye of the West but a knife in the lung of Russia and Putin’s regime. They’ll slowly drown in their own blood.

  • BtB’s Original Mark

    Mitch S. – I need to inform you that you are the victim of Propaganda from the Federal Government with the assistance of Major Media.
    Your comment assumes that Russian War Strategy is to conquer All of Ukraine and that is false.
    Western Governments have subtly pushed that propaganda since the war began. A related line of propaganda is that Russia wants to conquer and occupy the capital of Ukraine Kyiv.
    FYI, it is the verdict of history that LBJ’s Tonkin Gulf speech was a tissue of lies & that George W. Bush’s “weapons of mass destruction” turned out to be fiction.
    Moreover, in addition to propaganda emanating from the DC Swamp, a great deal of Western propaganda has been generated in London from their security services in alliance with British Media. The Brits are acknowledged masters of War Propaganda since the 1940’s.

  • BtB’s Original Mark: It appears you are claiming that it was never Russia’s intention to conquer all of the Ukraine. If you believe that, you are a “victim of propaganda,” though this time from Russia.

    All you need to do is take a look at the territory that Russia grabbed in the first weeks of the war, a mere five months ago:

    Update on the actual state of the Ukraine War

    The ISW map at that link show Russia controlling large swaths of the Ukraine, and pushing hard for Kiev with its forces in the city’s suburbs. If the Ukraine’s resistance had not stopped Russia, it would have eagerly taken Kiev and then the whole country. That was Putin’s original goal. When it failed, he then made believe that it was never his goal. For you to buy into that absurd lie does you no credit.

  • One might argue that the Ukraine War outs Russia as a Paper Tiger. That’s the best you can do after six months?

    It’s been noted that the air war is almost completely absent. And it is fact that Russia isn’t using all of it’s capability in all-out war (nukes, anyone?).

    Perhaps the Russian strategy is not to inflame the Ukrainian populace too much. Warfare and territory exchange have been going on for a long time in that part of the world: maybe population management is more advanced there.

  • BtB’s Original Mark

    Mr. Z. – In reference to the map I understand that there is some evidence for the proposition that Russia & Putin expected a quick victory in Ukraine. They may have hoped that military pressure on Kyiv would cause the Zelensky government to fall.
    But I do not believe Russia’s strategy was to completely overrun, conquer, and occupy the entirety of Ukraine.
    An alternative explanation is that the initial Russia military movement towards the capital of Ukraine was a military feint to ensure the success of military moves in the Donbas.
    There is a decent argument against that – Feints, from a western military perspective, are supposed to be low-cost maneuvers not expected to last for weeks and result in a high loss of manpower and logistics. But the Russian ‘Way of War’ is fundamentally different from the American ‘Way of War’ so we cannot know for sure at this point.
    I hope we can agree that Historians will need access to primary documents & truthful interviews with War decision makers before the history of this war can be written.
    Furthermore I hope we can agree that all parties in this conflict – Russians, Ukrainians, Americans, Brits, & Europeans – have employed State Propaganda.

  • Original Mark: I don’t fall for propaganda. It appears that you do.

    The bottom line is blunt: Russia made an unprovoked military invasion against a neighboring country that posed zero threat to Russia. It acted with the same strategy and goals that Hitler used when he attacked Poland.

    Unlike Hitler, Russia failed in that strategy and goals, and has since tried to make believe it never had any intention of conquering the Ukraine. To buy into these lies for even a second is to buy into childish propaganda.

    Russia now is paying badly for this aggression. As Blair Ivey above correctly pointed out, it has been revealed to be a paper tiger.

  • Andrew_W

    It looks like, from unofficial street surveys in Russia over the last 6 months, that the Russian population is increasingly suffering from war fatigue. I expect the Russian efforts will ultimately be killed by domestic discontent.
    Please don’t say “but Putin’s a dictator, he’ll take no notice of Russian public opinion” Putin has stayed popular by either manipulating the news or adjusting to popular views when lies wore thin.

  • pzatchok

    Russia would leave the northern territories if the Ukraine attacked the oil refineries and wells there.
    Russia would have no reason to take the region if it could not protect the region. It would have to take twice the area just to build a buffer zone against Ukrainian artillery. Just like Israel and its territory push back the attackers until they can no longer reach the targets.

    The Ukraine could also attack ALL the pipelines and power lines going into and out of Russia even close to their territory.

    They do not do this because the rest of Europe begs them not to.
    Destroy the power lines to every Nuclear power plant the Russians take.

    And here is a question. Why has Russia not installed their own techs in those power plants instead of Using Ukrainian techs? Are they just working hostages or does Russia not have any qualified techs. Or even a few that could be trained?

    Russia would lose everything if NATO went to war. Maybe that is why they do not push harder.

    Russia (Putin) wanted the oil wealth. Next they will go for the grain wealth. Give it a few years of this stalemate then the new offensive will start. Just like Crimea.
    How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time.

  • LocalFluff

    This is like saying 5 weeks into the UN air bombardments of Iraq in 1990/91:
    “- An utter and total defeat for the UN forces! Not any kind of progress at all.”

    All NATO officers who have made public statements about the war in Ukraine have revealed that they have not even the slightest understanding of warfare at all. It must be extremely demoralizing for all soldiers serving in NATO to know that they are led by complete idiots! In war you first destroy the enemy’s forces. Then you take territory. Not the other way around. The US wages war in exactly the same way. By chance I suppose since not one of their officers seems to know about it.

    This is a very one-sided victory for Russia and allies. Ukrainian losses are 10-15 times higher than that of the Russians and their allies. Ukraine never managed to perform any operational scale maneuver. No offensive, no retreat. They just stand and die in the trenches/graves they have dug since this civil war began 8½ years ago. The allied forces kill them all with artillery, poke the trenches and fortified villages with scouts, kill what’s left there with more artillery and then move in without any resistance or losses. Just like the US uses airforce to win the war, and then move in the ground forces risk free.

  • LocalFluff

    The US arranged a coup that disposed of the democratically president of Ukraine in February 2014. The nazis (yes, they wear tattoos of swastikas and portraits of Adolf Hitler) stormed the parliament. The US-nazi coup government immediately forbid the use of the Russian dialect of their language. People in Lugansk and Donetsk, who overwhelmingly speak Russian, refused to comply and demanded independence. The US-nazi government went to war against them. It didn’t go so well for them since half the troops were Russian speakers and went to fight the separatists by the battalions.

    In 2015 Ukraine signed the Minsk Agreement, guaranteed by France and Germany, which gave all Ukrainian citizens the right to speak their mother tongue and promised negotiations for some domestic self determination in Lugansk and Donetsk. But Ukraine totally ignored this agreement and continued its nazi oppression against the human rights of ethnic minorities. And they got full support for this by their NATO supporters. 14,000 have been killed by the US-nazi shelling of civilians in Lugansk and Donetsk during these 8 years. The US-nazis last year grouped over 100,000 soldiers at the front line apparently preparing an invasion. Then Russia set up a fraction of their peacetime professional forces at the border. And almost a year ago they intervened in this long civil war in order to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine and to restore basic human rights there.

    NATO governments pay the salaries of their nazi soldiers with the aim of prolonging the losing war and maximize the killings. In their grotesque propaganda they claim that it is weakening Russia. Instead it is the West that is now in utter economic collapse and diplomatic isolation. This is a story about the total incompetence, hateful amorality and bankruptcy of western societies. Russia now leads the new multi polar world order based on laws instead of on the US dictates that have failed so catastrophically without exception during the last 30 years.

  • LocalFluff: Your comment above, buying entirely into Russia’s false propaganda about the Ukraine, reminds me of this short description of a 1943 communist directive to American communists:

    No past Soviet province is free from neo-Nazi elements, especially because the Nazi party was a socialist organization, and bigotry has been an integral part of leftist ideology from day one. To consider the Russians as liberators of the Ukraine from such a thing is utterly laughable.

    Bottom line remains, and cannot be rationalized unless you wish to live in a pure fantasy world: The Ukraine posed no threat to Russia, in the slightest. Russia invaded them, unprovoked, with the goal of conquering them. Such aggression is always wrong.

  • Andrew_W

    Localfluff: “14,000 have been killed by the US-nazi shelling of civilians in Lugansk and Donetsk during these 8 years.”

    That’s the toll on both sides including military. The reason Putin invaded in February was that the conflict was dieing out, there has been a rapidly declining death rate in recent years with civilian deaths from active military action being only around 20 people a year on both sides with that declining trend continuing.

  • Andrew_W

    “Total conflict-related civilian casualties in 2014-2021
    During the entire conflict period, from 14 April
    2014 to 31 December 2021, OHCHR recorded a
    total of 3,106 conflict-related civilian deaths
    (1,852 men, 1,072 women, 102 boys, 50 girls,
    and 30 adults whose sex is unknown). Taking
    into account the 298 deaths on board Malaysian
    Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July 2014, the total
    death toll of the conflict on civilians has reached
    at least 3,404.”

    And the trend?
    2014: 2084
    2015: 955
    2016: 112
    2017: 117
    2018: 58
    2019: 27
    2020: 26
    2021: 25

    Those are the civilian deaths recorded on both sides, in reality there’s been a steady decline in the violence and a rapid decline in civilian causalities.

    If we look at the civilian deaths from land mines and handling ERD’s (explosive remnants of war) from 2018, deaths likely not a result of targeting, but likely from previously expended or deployed munitions:
    2018: 35
    2019: 17
    2020: 17
    2021: 12

    So from 2018 the civilian deaths on both sides that could have been a result of active military actions by both sides is, by year:
    2018: 58-35=23
    2019: 27-17=10
    2020: 26-17=9
    2021: 25-12=13

    The truth is that rather than being a genocide as Putin claims, the Dombas conflict itself was dieing out with static front lines and little actual conflict, and that is why Putin launched his attack on Ukraine, those actually involved in the Dombas conflict weren’t doing enough killing for Putin’s aims, an excuse for an all-out war against Ukraine.

  • LocalFluff

    I might be sloppy, I don’t read the extremely censored western MSM that all always lies the same grotesque lies at the same time. I refer to US government sources instead:
    “Let us also pause to think about what war actually means. It means carnage. It means humanitarian disaster. It means the deaths of civilians: innocent men, women and children. Like the 14,000 who have already died in this war since 2014. War also means occupation, imprisonment, torture.”

    And do you wanna see who the US is financing and arming? Here’s one example. Somehow this gives me an association to something, but I just can’t figure it out what it is right now… It’s not exactly vanilla ice cream anyway.

    There’s no lack of overt nazism in Ukraine. If one does like Robert here and searches outside of the censored MSM. Or simply listen to what their government officials say.

  • LocalFluff

    @Robert Zimmerman
    Russia was founded in Ukraine in the 800s. They are exactly the same people. The nazis have with US support tried to construct an ethnic divide since the coup in 2014. But over 70+% voted for Zelensky because he promised to respect the Minsk agreement and allow citizens to speak Russian if they want to. Pentagon ordered Kiev to do no such thing and instead start a war “to weaken Russia”, as is the US official policy. And utterly failed such, of course.

    Are you accusing John F Kennedy for opposing Soviet placing nuclear weapons on Cuba in 1961? A sovereign state like Cuba or Ukraine is allowed to accept foreign nuclear weapons on its territory, right? Or what do you imagine that the difference is with NATO expanding into the heart of Russia? What did you think they would do if not defend themselves against this extreme aggression? Why does NATO even exist, if not to invade Russia? Russia is a conservative country with much more sound values than what one finds in any Western country. The globalists want to exterminate every Russian person because of that.

    And they are failing HAAARD! The West is militarily incapable of fighting a war like that in Ukraine now. The West has since 30 years focused on colonial occupation wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. All of which have been humiliatingly defeated. And the West has since 30 years sent all of their industry to China, who now are Russia’s closest allies because of US aggressive provocations on Taiwan. And the West is completely bankrupt because of 0% interest rates. And the West is socially extremely segregated and divided across several dividing lines. And the West is isolated from the rest of the world that prefers the Russian led new multi polar world order based on international law rather than the “rule based world order” that the failed US has preached which means: “WE rule!”

    You should actually listen to a speech by Putin once. It’s a revelation! He talks very knowingly and purposefully and he always refers to good moral values. I have never heard any Western politicians do any of that.

    The West is over and done with. The US has reduced itself to a minor player in world politics. You better try to take care of your domestic problems while you can. The world ignores you. And, by the way, no one will use your dollars anymore, so look forward to hyperinflation when those trillions come trickling back home again.

    Globalism and the whole concept of voting for psychopathic idiots failed in catastrophe. Most predictably.

  • LocalFluff

    Stepan Bandera is a national hero for the nazi Ukrainians. Because he managed to murder 100,000 civilians during WW2, mostly Jews and Poles. He liked to burn them alive. Zelensky’s ambassador to Germany denied any of his crimes when interviewed in German TV this Spring. And already in 2007 Bandera got a huge statue under a nazy rune in the city of Lviv:

    It is so very very obvious that Ukraine is ruled by overt plain NAZIS that I have to wonder what mental condition those are in who support it. How can anyone who support Ukraine today ever again blame those who voted for Adolf Hitler in 1933? They are exactly as blind.

  • pzatchok

    Did anyone know that America has supported the North Korean government before?

    Yep we sent them thousands of tons of rice and other food to feed the citizens.

    Yep we even supported the Soviet Union the very same way. WW2 lend lease.

    Now we are even supporting Nazi’s.

    We are just an equal opportunity oppressor.. God I love being an American. We tick everyone off by helping everyone else.

  • Andrew_W

    Localfluff, nothing in your comment or link contradicts the information in the link I offered, so your comment appears to be a useless distraction.

    The fact is that since 2014 the levels of conflict and death, especially of civilian deaths, has dropped rapidly to the point at which active military action is down to the point of causing only around a dozen civilian deaths each year. Compare that with the situation that now exists, a situation in which the civilian death rate due to active military action is over a thousand times as high.
    There is no reasonable or rational person who values human life who could justify Putin’s February invasion, anymore than any reasonable or rational person could justify Hitler’s invasions of neighboring countries in the later 1930s

  • Edward

    pzatchok asked: “Did anyone know that America has supported the North Korean government before? Yep we sent them thousands of tons of rice and other food to feed the citizens. Yep we even supported the Soviet Union the very same way. WW2 lend lease.

    The idea, at the time, was to prevent a desperate North Korea from commencing hostilities. It is only a cease fire, not an actual peace.

    We even sent food to the Soviet Union after WWII and for a similar reason: to prevent war.

  • Col Beausabre

    Looks like it’s become unstuck and returned to mobile warfare

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