Espreso. Global

Russia builds up troops in occupied Ukraine but has problems with supply. Column by Serhiy Zgurets

4 April, 2024 Thursday

Continuous Russian troop replenishment compensates for battlefield losses and boosts military presence, with 474,000 servicemen in occupied territories, yet Russia faces provisioning challenges

Russia plans to mobilize more than 300,000 troops from June 1

During a joint press conference with the President of Finland in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the signing of a security agreement between the two countries, stating that Russia is preparing to mobilize over 300,000 additional servicemen from June 1st. This is new but entirely expected information about the Russian  actions. It is worth noting that against this backdrop, Russia has announced a spring draft of over 150,000 soldiers, with a similar number to be discharged from the Russian Armed Forces. However, most of these conscripts are likely to be transformed into contractors or volunteers, as the financial incentives to fight for Putin in Ukraine are quite attractive compared to earnings in depressed regions of Russia.

It is also worth noting that a few days ago, the Deputy Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Vadym Skibitskyi, explained some changes in the preparation for Russian combat actions. He stated that the Russians have developed training programs for units formed from scratch. For example, it takes 27 days to form an infantry battalion. This is a relatively short period for training, indicating the low quality of such troop replenishment. However, Russia deliberately resorts to using these cannon fodder troops to achieve its goals.

Russia faces difficulties in supplying occupation troops

The regular replenishment of Russian troops enables the occupiers to compensate for losses on the battlefield and increase the size of their forces. It is noteworthy that the Russian land forces stationed in temporarily occupied territories amount to 474,000 servicemen. Before the beginning of 2024, this figure fluctuated around 450-460,000 military personnel. Therefore, Russia has a certain buildup of troops, allowing the formation of reserve units and additional formations. However, it is important to understand that troop numbers are one aspect, while ensuring the provision of these forces is another. The Russian forces indeed face challenges in supplying their troops, as over 80% of the equipment supplied to these units comes from reserves or undergoes repairs from arsenals that are gradually being depleted.

Therefore, the minimum time required to form new units and formations of the Russian Armed Forces is within three months. It can be concluded that enemy actions aimed at preparing for a new stage of the offensive operation may be carried out at the end of summer or the beginning of autumn.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the mobilization of 500,000 individuals into the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is an exaggerated figure. However, we must understand that reducing the mobilization age is insufficient to accelerate the process of preparing our reserves.

Russian forces continue offensive in the Avdiivka sector

Fighter Oleh (call sign Azimuth) of the 47th Separate Motorized Brigade revealed that the enemy has not ceased its offensive and assault actions since the Ukrainian Defense Forces left Avdiivka. According to him, during the entire six months that the 47th Brigade has been stationed in the Avdiivka direction, the Russian troops have been conducting offensive operations. Just a few months ago, the occupiers attacked in large platoons, moving in columns. Today, the tactics of the Russians have changed. They attack in small groups of 4-5 individuals. The Ukrainian Defense Forces repel all enemy attempts to storm our positions. However, the significant number of occupiers constantly assaulting Ukrainian positions allows them to gradually advance. Oleh also reported that initially, the Russians conducted offensive actions during the day. Now they attack both during the day and at night.

Map of fighting in Avdiivka sector                                                                               Map of hostilities in the Avdiivka direction as of April 3

Additionally, according to Oleh, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to use Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams tanks in combat operations. However, after the Russian forces infiltrated and entrenched the Coke Chemical Plant, they gained the capability to deploy anti-tank crews. Therefore, the Defense Forces' tanks and armored personnel carriers began engaging the Russians from a greater distance.

Oleh reported that the 47th Separate Motorized Brigade has rendered the 137th Assault Brigade, based at the coke chemical plant and attempting to capture Berdychi, completely ineffective. Currently, the 74th Motorized Infantry Brigade has taken their place. During March, fighters from the 47th Brigade destroyed one Russian tank, 17 armored personnel carriers of various types, 3 MT-LBs, and 4 artillery systems. Oleh noted that despite the significant amount of destroyed equipment and personnel, it still does not deter the occupiers.

FPV drones compensate lack of ammunition in Ukrainian Armed Forces

Oleh also noted that the Russian troops reduced the use of multiple rocket launchers by 2-2.5 times compared to active hostilities in Avdiivka. Now the Russian forces are trying to stretch the use of multiple rocket launchers along the entire frontline. As for ammunition, the enemy has a sufficient number of artillery shells. The Ukrainian defense forces lack ammunition. While the Russian occupiers can make disturbing fire or cover certain squares with artillery, the Ukrainian Defense Forces are trying to hit precisely. That is, to destroy the Russian equipment and manpower approaching the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces with fewer shots. Oleh noted that a sufficient number of FPV drones is helping to solve this problem so far. The Russian forces also have a several-fold advantage in the use of mortars.

Strengthening defense lines with fortifications

Oleh emphasized that the military will hold their positions in Berdychi as long as necessary. He noted that it is currently extremely difficult to restore and create fortifications in this settlement. In particular, because of the Russian heavy daily fire and the use of anti-aircraft guns, which the Russian forces continue to use against the Ukrainian positions. However, he also emphasized that the engineer troops are working daily to create defensive lines. According to him, these fortifications have recently begun to turn into a serious echeloned line of defense.

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