Irony could win the day if Russian president Putin experiences a medical complication as anomalous as Alexei Navalny’s poisoned underpants.
Ukraine has seemed to have blunted most Russian advances. 25% of Russian forces have been made battle ineffective. 600 Russian tanks have been lost. 70 of 90 M777 US howitzers have arrived in country. Combat continues and disinformation abounds. Azovstal still occupies the attention of 3-5 BTGs that would normally be deployed to the east. Two Russian patrol boats have been destroyed by drone strikes. Casualty numbers are still far too inaccurate but using a variety of official reports, the Russians have definitely sustained much higher losses than the Ukrainians at a rate at least proportional to their depleted combat capacity.
Additional detail so that you can follow values for captures and new equipment deliveries to Ukraine. Excuse the formatting
OSINT % losses of Russian Committed (Russian total) vs Ukrainian total
Personnel 35.3(7.4) vs 8.3
Armor 47.2(10.1) vs 12
Tanks 48.8(18) vs 12.3
Artillery 14.7(4.2) vs 3.4
Aircraft 7.9(1.9) vs 16
Helicopters 16.3(4.1) vs 8.1
Scale of claims vs observations
Russian claims of Ukrainian loss % vs OSINT observed loss % (factor)
Personnel 13.4* vs 8.3 (1.6x) *RU claim now 2 weeks old
Armor + Tanks 66.5 vs 12.1 (5.5x)
Artillery 74.1 vs 3.4 (21.8x)
Aircraft 100+ vs 16 (6.3x)
Helicopter 100+ vs 8.1 (12.3x)
Scale of claims vs observations
UKR claims of RU(Cmtd) loss % vs OSINT observed loss % (factor)
Personnel 50 vs 35.3 (1.4x)
Armor 83.3 vs 47.2 (1.8x)
Tanks 83.8 vs 48.8 (1.7x)
Artillery 37.4 vs 14.7 (2.5x)
Aircraft 58.2 vs 7.9 (7.4x)
Helicopters 64.6 vs 16.3 (4x)
When competing claims are made for losses, setting these claims against each other can narrow the range that actual numbers should lie within. Claims form a maximum and admissions form a minimum. NATO has stated that it uses a similar approach in forming its estimates
Examination of open source intelligence such as photos of equipment losses can further narrow the range or provide insight into which claims are closest to confirmable numbers. There are MANY limits to how much value this range has. This is not a predictive tool.
If you fail to make reference to open source evidence, you wind up with analysis like this
Setting the claimed and open source observed numbers into the context of total force size adds meaning. You probably did not know how many armored vehicles Russia has committed, other than “a lot”
Some sources update and data was collected at May 1, 10 pm EST. Not an expert. OSINT source relies on photo evidence and is an undercount. Local reporting is believed to report a smaller % of UKR losses.
Perform your own evaluation of the reliability of any information source you come across. I have tried to use reliable sources, but they do represent a range of reliability. Note that I used my own judgment in choosing among the personnel loss estimates
These numbers do not reflect motivation, leadership, terrain, weather, support of allies. These equipment numbers also do not reflect levels of crew training, equipment readiness or maintenance quality. All of which will have significant impact beyond what these numbers can show.
Other sources of error, such as losses behind enemy lines that cannot be photographed exist. There are some people attempting to put numbers on these unknown quantities. I do not include them because they cannot be independently confirmed.
Attempts to correct for known Errors
Here is an attempt to quantify losses that cannot be photographed because they occurred behind enemy lines.
For example, photographs show yards near Belgorod, Russia used to hold damaged and destroyed equipment. It is possible that these losses would not have been previously added to OSINT counts
There are undoubtedly many losses in places like Mariupol that have not been well documented
Likewise, some abandoned locations that hold equipment may not have been documented. Equipment at a repair factory
Abandoned Ukrainian equipment at a base
Here is an attempt to correct the Russian force estimates downwards to account for lack of care and maintenance of equipment, corruption and other factors
Consider the pictures of armored vehicles that are ‘in storage’. I have not included ‘in storage’ figures in any of the force totals. If you look at the pages under Major Source 5, you can see some of the ‘in storage’ figures for reference
An interesting indirect way to get insight into equipment availability is what is available for use in the May 9 Victory Day parades in Moscow and in various regions
OSINT source has a processing backlog, on April 30 estimated at just over 200 pieces of equipment
Major Sources 4/
Ukrainian force estimates from The Military Balance 2022
Major Sources 5/
Russian force estimates from The Military Balance 2022. The stated Russian total force numbers from minusrus com are very similar to values from The Military Balance 2022 within 5%
Updates repositioning and equipment resupply were getting too big to include in one thread. Please read them here. They form the backdrop within which personnel losses are considered
May 1 updates
April 24 updates
Russia: Personnel 1/
Personnel is the most complicated loss figure. It required its own thread to discuss factors. Please read it if you want to see context for the numbers
Russian Personnel thread 2
Russian Personnel thread 1
Russia: Personnel 2/
The Mar 25 RU admissions set a minimum bound of 5,176 casualties. NATO estimates of 10k-15k KIA. US estimates of 10k KIA on March 30. Ukraine is using a simple 3:1 wounded:KIA ratio. The admitted Russian ratio is 2.8:1 (Mar 25)
Russia: Personnel 3/
BBC Russia has now reported that they have confirmed the deaths of 1,899 Russian soldiers via public announcements, which exceeds the official Russian figure
Russia: Personnel 4/
It is likely that Russian losses continue to rise, despite no new specific estimates. The US has continued to update its estimate of loss of Russian combat capability from just above 80% on April 12 to 75% on April 21.
Russia: Personnel 5/
Kremlin spokesman Peskov also described that Russia has suffered “significant losses” of troops and that it was “huge tragedy” for Russia
Russia: Personnel 6/
UKR claim 95,000 (23,500; 70,500; 1000) (KIA; wounded; POW)
95,000/190,000 = 50% cmtd
95,000/900,000 = 10.6% total
My evaluation is 16,500 Russian KIA.
OS 67,000 (16,500; x3=49,500; 1000(per UKR))
67,000/190,000 = 35.3% cmtd
67,000/900,000 = 7.4% total
Ukraine: Personnel 1/
Total regular force was 196,600 (IISS 2022) before invasion. Russia asserts that “at the start of the special military operation, the armed forces of Ukraine, together with the National Guard, numbered 260,200 servicemen”
Ukraine: Personnel 2/
"We have brought the additional reserves of more than 100,000 people. Currently, the whole country joined the efforts against the aggressor" - Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, Ukraine Defense Ministry spokesman, March 26, 2022 per Anadolu Agency
Ukraine: Personnel 3/
The addition of 100,000 new personnel to the Ukrainian forces is plausible. Ukraine had 900,000 people with prior military service within the last 5 years per The Military Balance. Therefore, I increased Ukrainian personnel by 100,000 to 296,600 on April 24
Ukraine: Personnel 4/
On April 15, President Zelensky admitted to 2,500-3,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed and 10,000 wounded
A US official said on March 10 that 2,000-4,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed
Ukraine: Personnel 5/
On April 16 the Russian Ministry of Defense made a claim for Ukrainian personnel losses of 23,367 killed. There was no estimate of wounded at the time. A previous Russian statement claimed 16,000 wounded. I combine these statements
Ukraine: Personnel 6/
Zelensky’s April 15 admission of losses is still below the US estimate from more than a month ago. I will provide a personal estimate since official estimates appear to be outdated. My estimate is intentionally conservative to yield a larger possible range
Ukraine: Personnel 7/
Russia has not made any new claims of Ukrainian personnel losses that I am aware of since April 16
39,867 (23,367,000; 16,000; 500)(KIA; wounded; POW)
39,867/296,600 = 13.4%
Ukraine: Personnel 8/
My evaluation is 6,000 Ukrainian KIA and three times that number wounded
OS 24,500 (6,000; x3=18,000; 500(per RU)) (KIA; wounded; POW)
24,500/296,600 = 8.3%
RU claim 145/125 = 100+%
OS Photo 20/125 = 16%
OS Expert* 70/125 = 56%
*‘roughly 55 operational fighter jets’ - Dave Deptula, Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies nytimes.com/2022/03/22/wor…
IISS starting point of 125 jets, this implies a loss of 70 jets
Here is the March 19 thread
Here is the March 25 thread
I think these are the latest time series graphs from @Lee__Drake
. Check him out for updates
Ongoing visual breakdown of RU tank losses by @hippke
For a different style of visual comparison of the raw losses, check out the work by @SirBib
Captures – As there have been enough anecdotal examples of captured equipment put back into service, I have begun accounting for this on the assumption that 1/3 of equipment captured has been suitable for quick re-use. I consider this a conservative estimate.
Ukrainian Military Aid – I have adjusted my spreadsheets to add in military aid as reported by Oryx in Major Source 3. However, most promised equipment has not yet been delivered or quantities are unknown.
Both Russian and Ukrainian Personnel figures are subject to further update if I can find reliable sources on the evolving force levels. The new source on Ukrainian personnel additions only came to my attention last week. If you have any sources, please send them to me.
While Russia is certainly adding personnel and equipment into the war, the quantity within Ukraine is still only estimated by the US as 92 BTGs.
Until committed force size in Ukraine clearly exceeds estimated losses or I find more specific sources on newly committed Russian forces, the committed Russian force numbers will remain the same
Also note that Russian force numbers discussed here reflect official Russian values and do not generally include equipment of the self-proclaimed breakaway portions of Luhansk and Donetsk.
The OSINT analysis of losses does not recognize these forces separately, therefore total Russian aligned force sizes may be slightly higher than shown.
For rough estimates of their equipment, see
The "LNR" has a staff of 14,727 people. Lugansk have 196 tanks, 357 armored vehicles, 204 artillery cannons, 105 mortars, 86 MLRS”
“DPR is 20,840 servicemen and 1,020 civilians. Tanks - 285, armored fighting vehicles - 557, guns - 240, mortars - 171, MLRS - 122 units”
Open Source Intelligence group Bellingcat reported to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament that nearly 8000 fighters associated with the Russian proxy Wagner group were in Ukraine and that nearly 3000 of them had been killed
Wagner group fighters are not believed to be included in Russian force estimates, but may figure into Ukrainian claims of Russian personnel casualties. Their inclusion would increase the Russian personnel total slightly
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2/20 It was a fascinating week for those who analyse the war in #Ukraine
. First, President Biden sent a request to Congress for US$33 billion dollars in military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. Then, the US Congress approved new Lend Lease legislation.
3/20 Additionally, US Secretary of Defense Austin described how “we want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine. They can win if they have the right equipment, and the right support.”
4/20 The Russians are now struggling to make a breakthrough in their ‘anaemic’ eastern offensive. Given this, the battlefield effectiveness of the Ukrainians and the huge flow of western aid, a Ukrainian counter offensive to retake their territory is a near certainty.
5/20 This is a nightmare scenario for the Russian military high command. Ukrainian success on the battlefield in the east and the south could mean that Russia may have to request an immediate ceasefire or withdraw its forces to its early February positions.
6/20 Russia's conventional forces have been found wanting in the north, and on the eastern plains of Ukraine. Henceforth, they will have little credibility as a tool of international influence (or bullying) for Russia.
7/20 Another option to avoid total Russian failure on the battlefield is the use of chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons. These might be used to stem Russian loses by destroying concentrations of Ukrainian soldiers or perhaps to force a rapid ceasefire.
8/20 Either way, Russia still ‘loses’. The use of weapons of mass destruction, if Russia’s generals don’t remove Putin first, would mean that Russia would be a pariah state for years, if not decades, into the future.
9/20 But, we should also remember that in the past half century, both Russia (Afghanistan) and the United States (Vietnam, Afghanistan) have lost wars without resorting to nuclear weapons.
10/20 What of the geopolitical impacts of a Russian loss? Perhaps the biggest loser would be China.
11/20 The Russia-China ‘friendship’ over the past several years has been constructed on a shared world view that the West is in decline & the need for a different world order than the post-World War 2 system built by the victors (which included Russia & China).
12/20 A Russian loss would upset President Xi’s efforts to persuade other nations that there are other forms of governance that work besides Western democratic models.
13/20 It would be a blow to Xi’s personal credibility – at home and abroad - because he invested in a relationship with a Russian President who is now a proven loser.
14/20 And it would also have an impact on Chinese aspirations for Taiwan – Ukraine’s tenacious defence has inspired the Taiwanese, and re-energised international support for the small island democracy.
15/20 Finally, the unity achieved in Europe and many other western nations in supporting Ukraine is a setback to Xi’s narrative about the decline of the west. It has sidelined Chinese influence.
16/20 As Craig Singleton has written recently, “Chinese President Xi Jinping has been reduced to a bystander seemingly at the mercy of decisions made not in Beijing but in Washington, Brussels, and, more importantly, Moscow.”
17/20 Even if the war ended tomorrow, Russia would be a much weaker and poorer nation than it was on 24 February. The magnitude of its losses in Ukraine – physical, moral and reputational – will take years to overcome.
18/20 It is likely, regardless of the outcome, to be a much more embittered nation, fuelled with narratives of NATO predations on Russia, while struggling to juggle the impacts of western sanctions. This makes it weak but also dangerous.
19/20 While the intention of the US administration may be to weaken Russia so that it can no longer threaten its neighbours, this must be a very carefully calibrated victory. The twentieth century has examples of the right ways and wrong ways to treat defeated nations.
20/20 We must learn from these examples. Because, if Russia (which retains nuclear weapons) is weakened too much in defeat, they may become a much more dangerous nation. And that is in none of our interests. End
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