Russo-Ukraine War - April 2022
On 24 February 2022, Ukraine was suddenly and deliberately attacked by land, naval and air forces of Russia, igniting the largest European war since the Great Patriotic War. The military buildup in preceeding months makes it obvious that the unprovoked and dastardly Russian attack was deliberately planned long in advance. During the intervening time, the Russian government had deliberately sought to deceive the world by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
"To initiate a war of aggression... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." [Judgment of the International Military Tribunal]
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine in response to the appeal of the leaders of the "Donbass republics" for help. That attack is a blatant violation of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Putin stressed that Moscow's goal is the demilitarization and denazification of the country.
According to the Ministry of Defense, by the end of March, the Russian army had completed the main tasks of the first stage - it significantly reduced the combat potential of Ukraine. The main goal in the department was called the liberation of Donbass. Russia's army was not strong enough to attack Ukraine in all directions at once , and Putin began to look at the military situation more realistically. Russia failed to capture a single large Ukrainian city in five weeks of war, eventually claiming it is moving from northern Ukraine and shifting attention to the southeast, including Mariupol. Russia portrayed its move from northern Ukraine as a gesture of goodwill to help the peace talks. However, Ukraine and its allies claimed that Russian forces were being forced to regroup because they had suffered heavy losses due to poor logistics and strong resistance from Ukrainians.
Komsomolskaya Pravda military observer Viktor Baranets tried to predict what scenario a special operation in Ukraine could now follow. Scenario #1: "BOILER" - Russian troops are reducing combat activity in the area of Kiev and Chernigov (as announced at the talks in Istanbul). Consequently, it is not rational to keep a powerful group "idle" near the walls of these cities. Therefore, it is logical to assume that there will be a regrouping - part of our troops will be withdrawn from Kyiv and Chernigov and transferred to the south-east of Ukraine - the Kharkov and Donbas direction to speed up the solution of tasks there. And in the Donbass, two largest groupings of Ukrainian troops dug in (several brigades!). According to some reports, only 45-60 thousand infantry personnel accumulated there. After the regrouping, the main task of the Russian troops and the forces of the DPR with the LPR will be the encirclement of the Ukrainian group in the Donbass, so as not to leave such a crowd of the enemy in the rear. This may take up to a month. In the event of the liquidation of the brigades that fell into the "cauldron", Kyiv will lose its strongest and most motivated military fist. This will allow the Russian command to release up to 50 thousand bayonets (2 corps of the LPR / DPR, plus parts of the Russian Federation) and direct them to other tasks.
Scenario #2. "PEARL BY THE SEA" - It is very possible that after the complete liberation of Donbass, all the forces of the Southern Front will be thrown into solving another strategic task - taking Nikolaev, Odessa and other Black Sea cities of Ukraine under control. For it would be unreasonable to "drive" the Russian units from the south again to Kyiv and Chernigov. The Black Sea Fleet is already prepared for these tasks, but it needs support from the land. At a minimum, Odessa will first have to be cut off from supply routes from central and western Ukraine. The liberation of Odessa - could not only become a landmark stage of the entire special operation, but would also solve 2 more strategic tasks. First - Ukraine will be cut off from the entire Black Sea coast, having lost all ports on it. The second is that Russia would physically reach Transnistria, which has been asking for a long time to become part of the Russian Federation and where our group of troops and peacekeepers are stationed.
Scenario #3. "HORSESHOE" - This is the most unexpected scenario for the headquarters in Kyiv and Washington. And one of the most annoying. Russian troops from the south, from Nikolaev and Odessa, are moving towards the group moving from the north - from Kyiv. As a result, a giant "horseshoe" closes up somewhere in the Uman region. As a result, Kyiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye and Poltava remain surrounded, cut off from the supply of weapons from Poland. Without replenishment of NATO countries, Ukrainian troops will be able to hold out for no more than a month. The new front line will actually separate the main part of Ukraine from 5-7 "Zapadensky" regions - the same ideological fly in the ointment that muddied the rest of the territory of Independence. Of course, the giant "cauldron" into which all of central Ukraine will fall will not immediately cool down. Apparently, here, to restore order, it will be necessary to use the troops of the Russian Guard or volunteers.
Scenario #4. "GREAT SECTION" - Western Ukraine is the last phase of a special military operation. And perhaps the most difficult. Western Ukraine is the birthplace of Bandera. This region is difficult to "re-educate". The anti-Russian ideology has been introduced here for more than a hundred years, since the time of the possession of these lands by Austria-Hungary. Here it will be necessary to use not "Caliber" and "Daggers", but fighter battalions to catch Bandera groups in the forests and Carpathian mountains.
Scenario #5. "WE GO TO THE END" - It cannot be ruled out that Zelensky, with his ministers and national generals, will officially flee to Lviv at the last stage of the special operation. And the United States will be ready to declare Lviv the temporary capital of Ukraine with a government in exile. Such a quasi-state will hang over the rest of Ukraine, constantly threatening it with revenge. Therefore, Western Ukraine will also have to be "cleaned up" to the end.
Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the head of the Ukraine President's Office, said 02 April 2022 that there would be no "Afghanization" and no long-term conflict . "Russia will leave all territories, except the south and the east, will try to dig deep, put air defense, sharply reduce losses and dictate conditions. We can't do without heavy weapons if we want to take the Russians away, "Podoliak wrote. Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny said: “Ukrainians have forgotten how to be afraid. Our goal is victory! ”
The President of the Russian Federation has long and strongly thought about the possibility of radical steps in relation to Ukrainian statehood in its current form. Creating a belt of Moscow-friendly "people's republics" along the entire Black Sea coast of present-day Ukraine may well be one such step - Kherson People's Republic. Kharkov People's Republic. Odessa People's Republic. Zaporozhye People's Republic.
The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi said 02 April 2022 in an interview with the American channel Fox News that Ukraine will not make concessions regarding its territorial integrity. "We are not trading our territory. The issue of territorial integrity and sovereignty is not being discussed, "Zelensky replied.
The war delivered a sizable blow to the global economy through multiple channels, including commodity and financial markets, trade linkages, and investor and consumer confidence. The spillovers to commodity and financial markets have been immediate, through higher commodity prices and pronounced market volatility. Second-round impacts are also likely to be damaging to the global economy, especially in the context of heightened geopolitical and policy uncertainty. Weakening external demand and tighter global financing conditions will weigh on emerging markets and developing economies, including those in Europe and Central Asia. Increasing expenditure shares and high import dependence left households exposed to commodity price shocks, with higher commodity prices eroding household incomes. War-related trade disruptions and commodity/input shortages — combined with already high commodity prices — cascaded through global value chains and weigh on global trade growth. These bottlenecks are adversely affecting a wide range of industries, including food, automobile, construction, petrochemical, and transport.
Together, higher commodity prices and additional strains on global value chains further fueled inflationary pressures. The impact of the war on the global economy immediately propagated through higher commodity prices, reflecting Russia’s and Ukraine’s outsized roles in global commodity markets. Price increases were especially large this year for commodities in which Russia and Ukraine are key exporters, including natural gas, coal, crude oil, wheat, aluminum, iron ore, and palladium. Since the beginning of the war, prices had risen sharply, at one point increasing by 70 percent for European natural gas, 65 percent for coal, 40 percent for wheat, and 30 percent for Brent crude oil. The increase in European natural gas prices has been particularly sharp because of limited spare capacity, including that of import and export terminals, and the constraint that natural gas must be transported as liquified natural gas.
Oil prices have been extremely volatile, with large intraday moves. After trading at around $80/barrel (bbl) at the start of the year, the price of Brent crude oil surpassed $100/bbl in late February, rising to nearly $130/bbl in March — its highest level since 2008. Oil prices were already rising prior to the war alongside a rebound in demand that accompanied the global economic recovery and after supply concerns reemerged when OPEC+ production fell short of expectations amid limited spare capacity (IEA 2022). Oil prices jumped further because of the war, especially after the United States and the United Kingdom announced bans on Russian oil, prompting some large oil companies, including BP and Shell, to exit from Russian operations. Reluctance to buy Russian oil caused the price of Urals to trade at a discount of more than $20/bbl relative to Brent. By late March, the price of Brent crude oil eased somewhat, to above $100/bbl, with the price falling after the United States announced plans to release from its reserves about 1 million barrels of oil per day over a period of six months.
Together, Russia and Ukraine account for a quarter of global wheat exports, with several countries — including those in Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa—importing 75 percent or more of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine. The war pushed wheat prices higher as it disrupted Ukraine’s planting and harvest seasons, including for other crops such as corn, barley, and sunflowers; destroys critical fields, stores, infrastructure, and production, especially in eastern Ukraine; and halted shipping from the Black Sea, from which about 90 percent of Ukraine’s grains are exported.
The ongoing conflict between Kiev and Moscow entered a new phase after the Russian withdrawal from northern Ukraine in an effort to focus on eastern part of the country, which has seen on and off clashes since 2014. Experts believe that this new phase, which Russians call the second phase of their “special military operations” and Westerners call it the second offensive, marks a radical shift in the Russian military strategy in Ukraine. The Russians have now appointed a new single military leader to oversee their second attack.
“The important thing is not necessarily that a particular general has been picked to command. The important thing is that the Russians now appear to have a single commander with the authority to coordinate an operational level offensive campaign (involving several field armies),” said Edward Erickson, a former US army officer and a retired professor of Military History from the Department of War Studies at the Marine Corps University. “This is bad news for Ukraine because it means that the Russians will focus massive combat power (soldiers, equipment, air power, etc.) on one or two avenues of attack (rather than the 6-9 previous avenues of attack),” Erickson told TRT World, indicating Russia’s shifting focus to eastern Ukraine in a centralised and more forceful approach.
According to Erickson, the new strategy’s “massive firepower” component might be conducted in a way that “the world has not seen since 1945,” referring to the Allied attack on Nazi Germany during World War II. “This means that the war will become larger and more costly in casualties and losses,” he said. “The Russians have made a significant strategic investment in this war and, so far, they have had a ‘bloody nose’ as a result. Putin cannot afford (politically, militarily, and economically) to fail a second time,” he argued.
Despite the Russian leader’s denial of any changes, Putin’s language changed significantly from its initial rhetoric, which demanded the total surrender of Ukrainian armed forces, whose resistance might put “the future of Ukrainian statehood” in danger. On 12 April 2022, Putin appeared to diminish his objectives to securing eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region rather than taking over the entire Ukraine, signalling Moscow’s new approach. “Our goal is to help the people who live in the Donbass, who feel their unbreakable bond with Russia,” he said. Russia claims that Russian-speaking people in the Donbass region suffer under Ukrainian rule, but Kiev denies the charge.
Ioannis Koskinas, a former American officer and a senior fellow at the international security program of New America said that Western analysts are probably “miscalculating President Putin’s time table”, asserting that he is desperate to achieve some sort of “win” by the 9 May Victory Parade, which commemorates Russia's WWII victory over Nazi Germany. “To me, this is just a guess, and while perhaps Putin wants to achieve some success by then, his propaganda machine will spin a narrative that suits him, whether there’s progress on the ground or not. Ultimately, I don’t anticipate that this is going to be a phase that will be resolved quickly. And sadly, I think the carnage will get even more severe.”
Russia concentrated its forces in Donbas, yet by the end of April the battlefield was in a stalemate, a situation that Russia did not want to see. Ukraine wants to drag Russia into a protracted war and consume Russia's economic and military strength, in the hope that the latter will ultimately withdraw its troops. Russia has made it clear it cannot lose. If both sides maintain the toughness, the battlefield could be the entire Europe. US demands are completely unacceptable for Russia and room for negotiation is basically closed.
Western countries continued to send military assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine, the range of weapons was gradually shifting to heavier types of weapons. In particular, deliveries of more than 10 different artillery systems had been announced.
The Russian military began to strike at the transport infrastructure of Ukraine - several traction substations were damaged, as well as a railway bridge in the Odessa region, which greatly complicated the delivery of people and goods from the West to the war zone. Tensions were growing in Transnistria. After a series of terrorist attacks, traces of the organizers of which lead to Kyiv, information appeared about a possible invasion of Ukrainian troops into the territory of the PPR.
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