Tuesday, January 18, 2022

By the numbers: the Ukrainian Russian Buildup

With the growing tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border (and Belorussian while we are at it) when Midrats regular Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg writes something, you need to pay attention. 

He recently co-authored an article with Michael Kofman at the Washington Post titled, "Here’s what we know about Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine."

What is the nature of Russia’s military buildup? And how long can Russia keep its forces in these forward positions? Our research on Russia’s military capabilities offers some clues.

This is a solid snapshot and quick read of what the Ukrainians are facing.

Russian forces near Ukraine total at most 60 battalion tactical groups (BTGs), along with support elements. BTGs are task-organized combined-arms formations, each averaging 800 personnel in size. This translates into roughly 48,000 troops. Adding the supporting units, the total number of Russian troops is likely to be 85,000 — with more on the way. Aside from these regular Russian troops, there are about 15,000 separatist forces, or Russian-led formations in Ukraine’s Donbas region. Media outlets are reporting around 100,000 troops in total, but estimates vary widely.

This means approximately 35 percent of Russia’s total available BTG formations (60 out of 168) are stationed near the Ukrainian border, ...

As the authors mention at the end of the article, this many forces cannot remain there indefinitely. At some point, due to readiness, morale, and even conscription service issues - some units will have to go home. That is what we should look for. 

If we are lucky, as spring arrives we will see a plateau of force levels, and then a decrease.


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