How Russia Messed Up Invasion Of Northern Ukraine, In One Simple Cha

Russia has pulled out of its invasion of northern Ukraine and the city of Kiev, leaving a dizzying trail of civilian casualties. But Russia is still entrenched in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where it battles for control of the entire route to Crimea in the south, which it claimed in 2014.

What goes right for Russia in the east that goes wrong in the north? Much of the answer lies in the supply chain. And you can get a better idea of ​​what that means in a data visualization at the Washington Post, which shows how a single Russian soldier needs 440 pounds of supplies a day — supplies that have to come from the Russian border to Ukraine.

View the full analysis here. [Image: The Washington Post]Four hundred and forty pounds is a lot, and most of that weight seems to be in fuel. As we reported a month ago, Russia’s fearsome tanks need constant supplies. A tank’s gas mileage is about 0.3 miles per gallon — and it’s just one of many vehicles that make up a typical tactical battalion group (which is made up of nearly 1,000 soldiers and equipment).

The Washington Post splits the battalion into a stunning illustration: 10 tanks, six armored personnel carriers, 40 armored infantry fighting vehicles, as many as 20 artillery vehicles, 10 air defense vehicles. And then about a dozen food, water, and medical trucks.

Another dozen tankers provide fuel to the group, which may seem substantial on paper, but they can only supply fuel to the gas-sucking convoy for two days. By comparison, three food trucks can feed up to 900 soldiers for almost two weeks. It’s a point you could lose in the otherwise sharp Washington Post graphics seen above if you don’t read them closely enough.

When you put it in the context of navigating bombed-out bridges and narrow roads — the latter of which is necessary because Ukraine’s infamous spring mud can swallow even treaded vehicles — you begin to understand how flawed these long battalion lines are. Support trucks must constantly carry supplies up and down a line bombarded by Ukrainian ambushes. When vehicles break down, they block roads – and more than 2,000 Russian vehicles are said to have broken down so far.

A column of Russian military vehicles is left behind in the snow on March 6, 2022, in a forest not far from Kharkov, in the east. [Photo: Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images]How could Russia sustain all this? It couldn’t. And the evidence of this mistake has led analysts to debate whether Putin’s invasion of the north was a mistake or a feint to distract the world from its real goal – not to conquer Ukraine, but to conquer the resource-rich areas to the south and east. namely the gas and oil reserves of the Donbas region, Crimea and the Black Sea. Even if Russia has verbally agreed to peace with Ukraine, its condition is continued control of Crimea.

In the eastern part of Ukraine, where Russia is still holding strong, the country supplies itself via the railways. (According to the Washington Post, because of that mud, Russia couldn’t claim railroad junctions in the north). Transporting freight by rail is four times more efficient than by road, and vehicles transported by rail do not break down as often.

Russian forces were able to exploit the trail during their siege of Mariupol, and one cannot help but wonder what would have happened to the northern city of Kiev if Russia had been able to repeat that strategy in the north.

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