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POLITICS

Battle of Attrition: Renewed “meat grinder” assaults fail to turn tide for Russian army in Ukraine

Following the capture of Avdiivka, a new phase has unfolded in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) now find themselves defending under constant glide bomb airstrikes and grappling with shortages of both artillery ammunition and personnel. Despite Russian troops' recent territorial gains, the cost of these advances in equipment and manpower has left the Kremlin’s forces struggling to translate tactical victories into operational breakthroughs. Experts predict that the AFU will likely remain on the defensive for the majority of 2024, while Russia faces challenges in mustering the resources it would need for a decisive shift in its favor. In this context, both sides are expected to intensify strikes on crucial targets in each other's rear, aiming to destabilize their opponent's economic and political foundations.

Content
  • The battle for Avdiivka and its aftermath

  • From Krynki to Belgorod

  • Aerial warfare: from the front to the rear

  • Guns and gunners

  • Plans and Forecasts

The battle for Avdiivka and its aftermath

RU

After months of intense combat around Avdiivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Russian forces eventually managed to breach the Ukrainian defenses to the east of the town’s coke and chemical plant. They swiftly advanced into the urban area, cutting off the only paved road supplying the southern part of the city. Not even reinforcement from Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade, considered one of the most capable units of the country’s armed forces, could reverse the tide. Ukrainian command hastily ordered a retreat from the city, which was not executed smoothly. Ukrainian fighters withdrew through fields and back roads, even leaving behind some vehicles. However, only “dozens” of soldiers fell into Russian captivity (the Ukrainian command cites a figure of25 POWs). Some of them, left at the “Zenith” position due to the inability to evacuate the wounded, were executed by arriving Russian soldiers. But while the battle was a costly defeat for Ukraine, the capture of Avdiivka came at a high cost for the Russian Armed Forces as well, with estimates of those killed in action reaching up to 17,000.

Besides the numerical superiority of the Russian Armed Forces in both personnel and equipment, one of the factors contributing to the fall of Avdiivka, as pointed out by both sides, was Russia’s use of (1, 2) guided air-dropped bombs equipped with the UMPK module. These bombs, ranging in size from 500 kg to 1.5 tons, have the capacity to destroy even well-built fortifications. Ukrainian forces, it seems, have yet to find an effective countermeasure to this threat. The Ukrainian Air Force Command has repeatedly claimed (1, 2, 3, 4) to have shot down Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers that deploy these bombs, but none of these alleged losses have been independently verified. It is anticipated that the arrival of F-16 fighters in Ukraine, scheduled for this summer, may alter the situation. However, as of now, Russian bombing raids pose the most pressing challenge for both the frontline troops and the logistical operations of theAFU.

UMPK stands for Universal Gliding and Guidance Module. It is a device that Russian unguided aerial bombs have been equipped with since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) to a designated target. The module consists of wings that deploy after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low precision, the system allows Russian aircraft to deploy munitions from beyond the range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

DeepState is a Ukrainian project that regularly updates a map showing control over territory along the front lines. It also publishes summaries of the situation in the combat zone based on open-source intelligence (OSINT) and information from Ukrainian soldiers.

«Meat grinder» assaults refer to the practice of sending infantry to storm enemy positions without adequate preparation or support from artillery, drones, and armored vehicles. This practice often results in heavy casualties among the attackers.

«Drop» in military jargon refers to the deployment of a munition dropped from a drone, typically of the commercial quadcopter type.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator from a first-person perspective («First Person View»). The advantage of such systems lies in the operator's clear view of where the UAV (often used as a kamikaze drone) is heading, enabling them to navigate the aircraft into protected areas and target exposed components of combat vehicles.

Armored personnel carrier.

The «barbeque grill» also known as «cope cage,» “roof screen,” or «visor,» is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian soldiers hoped it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but later both sides began using them to shield against munition drops from drones.

Direct fire and indirect fire are two methods of engaging targets with tanks and artillery. In direct fire, the target is within the direct line of sight of the operator, while in indirect fire, projectiles are launched beyond the operator's line of sight and guided using coordinates derived from tables or reconnaissance data, particularly from UAVs.

EW stands for «Electronic Warfare,» a type of military activity associated with jamming radio-electronic signals transmitted by enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, “EW” is more and more associated with systems designed to counter enemy drones.

The «Russian Volunteer Corps» (RVC) is a military unit positioning itself as a «military-political organization» of Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine. Its main goals include «restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991» and «overthrowing the current regime in the Russian Federation.» It gained wide recognition after sabotage raids in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions in the spring of 2023.

The «Freedom of Russia Legion» (FRL) is a military unit formed from Russian military personnel who have switched sides to Ukraine. It is believed that the FRL performs a function more focused on media-propaganda operations than on military activities. It is associated with former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev.

Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and public figure. He served as Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2011, Vice Premier for Defense and Space Industry from 2011 to 2018, and Director-General of Roscosmos from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he leads a group of military advisors called the «Tsar's Wolves,» which is positioned as both a «volunteer strike brigade» and a unit providing military-technical support. He also serves as a «senator» representing the Zaporizhzhia region.

«Baba Yaga» is the nickname given by the Russian military to heavy agricultural drones used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These drones are utilized for dropping large munitions ,such as anti-tank grenades PG-7 or TM-62 mines, onto Russian positions. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch that flies around at night and snatches children.

Surface-to-air missile.

OSINT — Open source intelligence.

«Shahed» is the name of a line of Iranian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models. Localized Russian versions are known as Geran-1 and Geran-2. The Geran-2 drone has a flight range of up to 2,500 km and carries a warhead weighing 50 kg.

RUSI — The Royal United Services Institute.

Russian soldier in occupied Avdiivka, March 22, 2024
Russian soldier in occupied Avdiivka, March 22, 2024
SPUTNIK / ABACA

Following its withdrawal from Avdiivka, the Ukrainian military faced another challenge: the poor state of their defensive fortifications in the rear. According to DeepState — and contrary to claims by the AFU command, the positions described as “prepared” turned out to be anything but. Consequently, retreating forces couldn't establish a solid defense along the Stepove-Lastochkyne-Opytne line west of Avdiivka. Instead, they were forced to retreat to the less fortified Berdychi-Orlivka-Tonenke-Vodiane line. While these positions also lacked adequate fortifications, a series of artificial bodies of water somewhat aided defensive efforts. It took the Russian Armed Forces over a month to “grind through” this defensive line, resulting in significant casualties for the attackers.

Despite the capture of Avdiivka, Russian forces have struggled to leverage their success into achieving and exploiting a breakthrough in the northwest of the Donetsk region. A similar scenario unfolded after the final capture of Marinka, a target of assaults since the outset of the full-scale war. Following the expansion of the zone of Russian control around Marinka, Russian forces faced heavy resistance in Heorhiivka, Pobeda, and Novomykhailivka, with uncertain prospects for advancing towards Vuhledar from the north. Several factors contributed to these setbacks, including the poor quality of reinforcements, which consisted of newly recruited contract soldiers who often lack sufficient training, and lack of relevant skills among mid-level commanders up to the brigade level. Consequently, attacks have been characterized by a lack of reconnaissance, artillery support, and UAV assistance, earning the moniker “meat grinder assaults“.

UMPK stands for Universal Gliding and Guidance Module. It is a device that Russian unguided aerial bombs have been equipped with since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) to a designated target. The module consists of wings that deploy after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low precision, the system allows Russian aircraft to deploy munitions from beyond the range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

DeepState is a Ukrainian project that regularly updates a map showing control over territory along the front lines. It also publishes summaries of the situation in the combat zone based on open-source intelligence (OSINT) and information from Ukrainian soldiers.

«Meat grinder» assaults refer to the practice of sending infantry to storm enemy positions without adequate preparation or support from artillery, drones, and armored vehicles. This practice often results in heavy casualties among the attackers.

«Drop» in military jargon refers to the deployment of a munition dropped from a drone, typically of the commercial quadcopter type.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator from a first-person perspective («First Person View»). The advantage of such systems lies in the operator's clear view of where the UAV (often used as a kamikaze drone) is heading, enabling them to navigate the aircraft into protected areas and target exposed components of combat vehicles.

Armored personnel carrier.

The «barbeque grill» also known as «cope cage,» “roof screen,” or «visor,» is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian soldiers hoped it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but later both sides began using them to shield against munition drops from drones.

Direct fire and indirect fire are two methods of engaging targets with tanks and artillery. In direct fire, the target is within the direct line of sight of the operator, while in indirect fire, projectiles are launched beyond the operator's line of sight and guided using coordinates derived from tables or reconnaissance data, particularly from UAVs.

EW stands for «Electronic Warfare,» a type of military activity associated with jamming radio-electronic signals transmitted by enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, “EW” is more and more associated with systems designed to counter enemy drones.

The «Russian Volunteer Corps» (RVC) is a military unit positioning itself as a «military-political organization» of Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine. Its main goals include «restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991» and «overthrowing the current regime in the Russian Federation.» It gained wide recognition after sabotage raids in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions in the spring of 2023.

The «Freedom of Russia Legion» (FRL) is a military unit formed from Russian military personnel who have switched sides to Ukraine. It is believed that the FRL performs a function more focused on media-propaganda operations than on military activities. It is associated with former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev.

Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and public figure. He served as Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2011, Vice Premier for Defense and Space Industry from 2011 to 2018, and Director-General of Roscosmos from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he leads a group of military advisors called the «Tsar's Wolves,» which is positioned as both a «volunteer strike brigade» and a unit providing military-technical support. He also serves as a «senator» representing the Zaporizhzhia region.

«Baba Yaga» is the nickname given by the Russian military to heavy agricultural drones used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These drones are utilized for dropping large munitions ,such as anti-tank grenades PG-7 or TM-62 mines, onto Russian positions. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch that flies around at night and snatches children.

Surface-to-air missile.

OSINT — Open source intelligence.

«Shahed» is the name of a line of Iranian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models. Localized Russian versions are known as Geran-1 and Geran-2. The Geran-2 drone has a flight range of up to 2,500 km and carries a warhead weighing 50 kg.

RUSI — The Royal United Services Institute.

Despite the capture of Avdiivka, Russian forces have struggled to leverage their success into achieving and exploiting a breakthrough

This tactic, or rather the absence thereof, results in significant losses of armored vehicles. Over the past six months of fighting on the Avdiivka front alone, visually confirmed Russian losses have exceeded 1000 units. Consequently, increasingly outdated tanks like the T-62 and T-54/55 are seen on the battlefield, often repurposed as “infantry taxis”. They are joined by “golf carts” (Chinese unarmored Desertcross all-terrain vehicles), and even motorcycles. While motorcycles offer advantages in speed and allow to stay undetected for longer, thus allowing the riders to reach enemy trenches, they leave the infantry exposed to enemy fire. Additionally, a growing number of Russian soldiers are now riding into battle on top of armored vehicles (1, 2, 3), which exposes them to shelling, munition drops, and strikes with FPV drones.

To preserve tanks, Russian forces are reinforcing armor, sometimes at the expense of turret rotation. This effectively limits their role to assault guns used to support the infantry. The situation is expected to worsen unless there is a substantial shipments of armored vehicles from a country like North Korea or China. Reports suggest that by 2026, stocks of tanks and APCs at Russian storage bases will be depleted. Moreover, the pace of restoration and modernization will inevitably decrease due to the poor condition of the remaining equipment (typically the reactivation process starts with the better-preserved vehicles).

From Krynki to Belgorod

Although Avdiivka and its surroundings have attracted most of the attention over the past six months, it's far from the only front where the Russian Armed Forces have sought to take advantage of their superiority in manpower, equipment, and ammunition. However, translating these advantages into territorial gains outside of Avdiivka has proven even more difficult.

The fighting for the Ukrainian foothold in Krynki, on the left bank of the Dnipro River, continues unabated. The village itself has been reduced to rubble, and the Ukrainian marines holding positions there spend most of their time in underground shelters. Nevertheless, the Russians have yet to fully regain control. Despite statements from Putin and Shoigu and videos showing a flag being raised over one of the village’s destroyed buildings (after completing this mission, Russian marines quickly retreated), the situation remains volatile. Losses in equipment are mounting on both sides, while Ukrainian forces are honing their drone strike capabilities, along with their skills in intercepting enemy UAVs (including with the help of their own drones). The Russian Armed Forces, meanwhile, are leveraging kamikaze UAVs with machine vision to automatically follow targets indicated by operators.

UMPK stands for Universal Gliding and Guidance Module. It is a device that Russian unguided aerial bombs have been equipped with since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) to a designated target. The module consists of wings that deploy after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low precision, the system allows Russian aircraft to deploy munitions from beyond the range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

DeepState is a Ukrainian project that regularly updates a map showing control over territory along the front lines. It also publishes summaries of the situation in the combat zone based on open-source intelligence (OSINT) and information from Ukrainian soldiers.

«Meat grinder» assaults refer to the practice of sending infantry to storm enemy positions without adequate preparation or support from artillery, drones, and armored vehicles. This practice often results in heavy casualties among the attackers.

«Drop» in military jargon refers to the deployment of a munition dropped from a drone, typically of the commercial quadcopter type.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator from a first-person perspective («First Person View»). The advantage of such systems lies in the operator's clear view of where the UAV (often used as a kamikaze drone) is heading, enabling them to navigate the aircraft into protected areas and target exposed components of combat vehicles.

Armored personnel carrier.

The «barbeque grill» also known as «cope cage,» “roof screen,” or «visor,» is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian soldiers hoped it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but later both sides began using them to shield against munition drops from drones.

Direct fire and indirect fire are two methods of engaging targets with tanks and artillery. In direct fire, the target is within the direct line of sight of the operator, while in indirect fire, projectiles are launched beyond the operator's line of sight and guided using coordinates derived from tables or reconnaissance data, particularly from UAVs.

EW stands for «Electronic Warfare,» a type of military activity associated with jamming radio-electronic signals transmitted by enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, “EW” is more and more associated with systems designed to counter enemy drones.

The «Russian Volunteer Corps» (RVC) is a military unit positioning itself as a «military-political organization» of Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine. Its main goals include «restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991» and «overthrowing the current regime in the Russian Federation.» It gained wide recognition after sabotage raids in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions in the spring of 2023.

The «Freedom of Russia Legion» (FRL) is a military unit formed from Russian military personnel who have switched sides to Ukraine. It is believed that the FRL performs a function more focused on media-propaganda operations than on military activities. It is associated with former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev.

Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and public figure. He served as Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2011, Vice Premier for Defense and Space Industry from 2011 to 2018, and Director-General of Roscosmos from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he leads a group of military advisors called the «Tsar's Wolves,» which is positioned as both a «volunteer strike brigade» and a unit providing military-technical support. He also serves as a «senator» representing the Zaporizhzhia region.

«Baba Yaga» is the nickname given by the Russian military to heavy agricultural drones used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These drones are utilized for dropping large munitions ,such as anti-tank grenades PG-7 or TM-62 mines, onto Russian positions. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch that flies around at night and snatches children.

Surface-to-air missile.

OSINT — Open source intelligence.

«Shahed» is the name of a line of Iranian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models. Localized Russian versions are known as Geran-1 and Geran-2. The Geran-2 drone has a flight range of up to 2,500 km and carries a warhead weighing 50 kg.

RUSI — The Royal United Services Institute.

Ukrainian Marine infantry unit on the Dnipro River shore, October 14, 2023
Ukrainian Marine infantry unit on the Dnipro River shore, October 14, 2023
Alex Babenko / AP

In the Zaporizhzhia and western Donetsk regions, Russian forces are striving to push back the Ukrainians from the limited areas they were able to take control of during counteroffensive operations in the summer of 2023. However, the Russians have yet to reclaim control over any (formerly) populated areas, despite DeepState's warnings about the potential Ukrainian loss of Robotyne, which was liberated following fierce fighting last year. It is worth noting that it was near Robotyne that Russian T-55 tanks, rigged with “barbecue grills,” were first observed on the battlefield. Until then, these antiquated machines had served as makeshift self-propelled artillery systems, delivering indirect fire, while the assaults involved more modern tanks.

Near Bakhmut, Russian forces have managed to push Ukrainian troops back in some areas, advancing beyond many of the positions from which the Ukrainian counteroffensive began in this region. Russian forces have reached the town of Chasiv Yar and even penetrated its eastern outskirts. Situated atop elevated terrain, Chasiv Yar holds strategic importance for the AFU. Its capture is essential for any Russian offensive towards Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, and Kostiantynivka — the largest cities in the Donetsk region still under Ukrainian control. The town is subject to constant bombardment by guided bombs. It could eventually fall to Russian forces in a way similar to Avdiivka, though likely not in the near future.

UMPK stands for Universal Gliding and Guidance Module. It is a device that Russian unguided aerial bombs have been equipped with since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) to a designated target. The module consists of wings that deploy after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low precision, the system allows Russian aircraft to deploy munitions from beyond the range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

DeepState is a Ukrainian project that regularly updates a map showing control over territory along the front lines. It also publishes summaries of the situation in the combat zone based on open-source intelligence (OSINT) and information from Ukrainian soldiers.

«Meat grinder» assaults refer to the practice of sending infantry to storm enemy positions without adequate preparation or support from artillery, drones, and armored vehicles. This practice often results in heavy casualties among the attackers.

«Drop» in military jargon refers to the deployment of a munition dropped from a drone, typically of the commercial quadcopter type.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator from a first-person perspective («First Person View»). The advantage of such systems lies in the operator's clear view of where the UAV (often used as a kamikaze drone) is heading, enabling them to navigate the aircraft into protected areas and target exposed components of combat vehicles.

Armored personnel carrier.

The «barbeque grill» also known as «cope cage,» “roof screen,” or «visor,» is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian soldiers hoped it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but later both sides began using them to shield against munition drops from drones.

Direct fire and indirect fire are two methods of engaging targets with tanks and artillery. In direct fire, the target is within the direct line of sight of the operator, while in indirect fire, projectiles are launched beyond the operator's line of sight and guided using coordinates derived from tables or reconnaissance data, particularly from UAVs.

EW stands for «Electronic Warfare,» a type of military activity associated with jamming radio-electronic signals transmitted by enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, “EW” is more and more associated with systems designed to counter enemy drones.

The «Russian Volunteer Corps» (RVC) is a military unit positioning itself as a «military-political organization» of Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine. Its main goals include «restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991» and «overthrowing the current regime in the Russian Federation.» It gained wide recognition after sabotage raids in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions in the spring of 2023.

The «Freedom of Russia Legion» (FRL) is a military unit formed from Russian military personnel who have switched sides to Ukraine. It is believed that the FRL performs a function more focused on media-propaganda operations than on military activities. It is associated with former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev.

Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and public figure. He served as Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2011, Vice Premier for Defense and Space Industry from 2011 to 2018, and Director-General of Roscosmos from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he leads a group of military advisors called the «Tsar's Wolves,» which is positioned as both a «volunteer strike brigade» and a unit providing military-technical support. He also serves as a «senator» representing the Zaporizhzhia region.

«Baba Yaga» is the nickname given by the Russian military to heavy agricultural drones used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These drones are utilized for dropping large munitions ,such as anti-tank grenades PG-7 or TM-62 mines, onto Russian positions. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch that flies around at night and snatches children.

Surface-to-air missile.

OSINT — Open source intelligence.

«Shahed» is the name of a line of Iranian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models. Localized Russian versions are known as Geran-1 and Geran-2. The Geran-2 drone has a flight range of up to 2,500 km and carries a warhead weighing 50 kg.

RUSI — The Royal United Services Institute.

Ukrainian soldier in Chasiv Yar, March 5, 2024
Ukrainian soldier in Chasiv Yar, March 5, 2024
Oleksandr Ratushniak / Reuters

North of Bakhmut, along the banks of the Seversky Donets River, Russian forces are putting increasing pressure on Bilohorivka, one of the few villages in the Luhansk region still held by Ukraine. Reports suggest the Russians have UAV superiority in this area, yet they have not managed to capture Bilohorivka, which was liberated during the Ukrainian counteroffensive east of Kharkiv in autumn 2022. The situation is similarly challenging to the north of the river, where the Russian advancing group has been weakened due to some of its troops having been redeployed to Avdiivka. And yet Russian forces persist in their attempts to advance towards the settlement of Terny, which have so far proved unsuccessful despite heavy losses. Even unprecedented defensive measures against UAVs have not shifted the outcome — notably, a Russian tank equipped with “Tsar-EW” was struck and subsequently captured in this area, even though it had initially been successful in blocking Ukrainian FPV drones.

In the vicinity of the Russian border, where Russian forces still hold a small section of Kharkiv Oblast, there are no signs of a renewed offensive towards Kupiansk. This may partly be due to the actions of AFU units in the Belgorod region, which publicize their missions as efforts by Russian nationals to liberate their country from Putin’s rule. Although it was claimed that the Russians had to divert some forces to cover the border, overall, the raids were far less successful than similar actions in 2023 — the RVC, FRL, the Siberian Battalion, and Ichkerian units all but completely failed to gain footholds in populated areas. Additionally, confirmed AFU equipment losses during the operation significantly exceeded Russian losses, although they paled in comparison to the utterly exaggerated figures of losses claimed by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Aerial warfare: from the front to the rear

Following the seizure of Avdiivka, the frontline has seen minimal territorial shifts, partly due to the increasing presence of drones overhead. These unmanned aerial vehicles, including both FPV drones and bombers for munition drops, effectively transform the neutral zone between opposing positions into a precarious “no-man's land,” impeding movement around the clock. Both sides lament the proliferation of enemy drones. Dmitry Rogozin, for instance, vividly describes packs of Ukrainian drones scouring Russian rear areas in search of targets. Meanwhile, Russian forces are advancing their proficiency with heavy multi-copter UAVs akin to the Ukrainian “Baba Yaga,” while Ukrainian forces employ such systems as carriers for FPV drones and as airborne signal relay stations.

In the rear areas, Russian forces are leveraging their edge in long-range precision weaponry and fixed-wing reconnaissance drones. Footage has surfaced online showcasing Russian UAV strikes on Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv. Other strikes have sought to disrupt Ukrainian Armed Forces logistics by targeting vital bridges and river crossings. Moreover, it appears that the Russians have streamlined the process from target detection to engagement (known as the “killchain” in the West), enabling strikes on HIMARS artillery rocket systems and Patriot SAM systems, albeit infrequently. Conversely, the Ukrainian Armed Forces persist in launching attacks with Western-made cruise missiles and guided bombs, albeit constrained by limited munitions stockpiles.

UMPK stands for Universal Gliding and Guidance Module. It is a device that Russian unguided aerial bombs have been equipped with since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) to a designated target. The module consists of wings that deploy after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low precision, the system allows Russian aircraft to deploy munitions from beyond the range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

DeepState is a Ukrainian project that regularly updates a map showing control over territory along the front lines. It also publishes summaries of the situation in the combat zone based on open-source intelligence (OSINT) and information from Ukrainian soldiers.

«Meat grinder» assaults refer to the practice of sending infantry to storm enemy positions without adequate preparation or support from artillery, drones, and armored vehicles. This practice often results in heavy casualties among the attackers.

«Drop» in military jargon refers to the deployment of a munition dropped from a drone, typically of the commercial quadcopter type.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator from a first-person perspective («First Person View»). The advantage of such systems lies in the operator's clear view of where the UAV (often used as a kamikaze drone) is heading, enabling them to navigate the aircraft into protected areas and target exposed components of combat vehicles.

Armored personnel carrier.

The «barbeque grill» also known as «cope cage,» “roof screen,” or «visor,» is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian soldiers hoped it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but later both sides began using them to shield against munition drops from drones.

Direct fire and indirect fire are two methods of engaging targets with tanks and artillery. In direct fire, the target is within the direct line of sight of the operator, while in indirect fire, projectiles are launched beyond the operator's line of sight and guided using coordinates derived from tables or reconnaissance data, particularly from UAVs.

EW stands for «Electronic Warfare,» a type of military activity associated with jamming radio-electronic signals transmitted by enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, “EW” is more and more associated with systems designed to counter enemy drones.

The «Russian Volunteer Corps» (RVC) is a military unit positioning itself as a «military-political organization» of Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine. Its main goals include «restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991» and «overthrowing the current regime in the Russian Federation.» It gained wide recognition after sabotage raids in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions in the spring of 2023.

The «Freedom of Russia Legion» (FRL) is a military unit formed from Russian military personnel who have switched sides to Ukraine. It is believed that the FRL performs a function more focused on media-propaganda operations than on military activities. It is associated with former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev.

Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and public figure. He served as Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2011, Vice Premier for Defense and Space Industry from 2011 to 2018, and Director-General of Roscosmos from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he leads a group of military advisors called the «Tsar's Wolves,» which is positioned as both a «volunteer strike brigade» and a unit providing military-technical support. He also serves as a «senator» representing the Zaporizhzhia region.

«Baba Yaga» is the nickname given by the Russian military to heavy agricultural drones used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These drones are utilized for dropping large munitions ,such as anti-tank grenades PG-7 or TM-62 mines, onto Russian positions. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch that flies around at night and snatches children.

Surface-to-air missile.

OSINT — Open source intelligence.

«Shahed» is the name of a line of Iranian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models. Localized Russian versions are known as Geran-1 and Geran-2. The Geran-2 drone has a flight range of up to 2,500 km and carries a warhead weighing 50 kg.

RUSI — The Royal United Services Institute.

Russian forces have begun to leverage their advantage in long-range strike capabilities and reconnaissance drones

The strategic aspect of aerial warfare has also undergone significant changes. Ukrainian UAV raids into Russian territory have become almost daily occurrences, at least according to reports from the Russian Ministry of Defense. The Ukrainians have achieved significant success in targeting Russian oil refining capacities, leading to limitations in gasoline exports and reduced production. Other strikes, such as those on Russian airfields, have been generally less effective (1, 2, 3).

Meanwhile, Russian forces have launched their own campaign of airstrikes on Ukrainian territory. Until March, official reports mainly focused on the destruction of targets connected with the military-industrial complex. Later on, however, attacks on power infrastructure resumed, with more devastating effects than the air campaign of last winter. Part of this relative Russian success is due to the use of new munitions, such as the UMPB D-30 bomb and the Kh-69 missile. The range of targets this year also appears to have shifted, with Russian forces hitting not distribution substations but rather power-generating facilities, primarily hydroelectric and thermal power plants.

UMPK stands for Universal Gliding and Guidance Module. It is a device that Russian unguided aerial bombs have been equipped with since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) to a designated target. The module consists of wings that deploy after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low precision, the system allows Russian aircraft to deploy munitions from beyond the range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

DeepState is a Ukrainian project that regularly updates a map showing control over territory along the front lines. It also publishes summaries of the situation in the combat zone based on open-source intelligence (OSINT) and information from Ukrainian soldiers.

«Meat grinder» assaults refer to the practice of sending infantry to storm enemy positions without adequate preparation or support from artillery, drones, and armored vehicles. This practice often results in heavy casualties among the attackers.

«Drop» in military jargon refers to the deployment of a munition dropped from a drone, typically of the commercial quadcopter type.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator from a first-person perspective («First Person View»). The advantage of such systems lies in the operator's clear view of where the UAV (often used as a kamikaze drone) is heading, enabling them to navigate the aircraft into protected areas and target exposed components of combat vehicles.

Armored personnel carrier.

The «barbeque grill» also known as «cope cage,» “roof screen,” or «visor,» is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian soldiers hoped it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but later both sides began using them to shield against munition drops from drones.

Direct fire and indirect fire are two methods of engaging targets with tanks and artillery. In direct fire, the target is within the direct line of sight of the operator, while in indirect fire, projectiles are launched beyond the operator's line of sight and guided using coordinates derived from tables or reconnaissance data, particularly from UAVs.

EW stands for «Electronic Warfare,» a type of military activity associated with jamming radio-electronic signals transmitted by enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, “EW” is more and more associated with systems designed to counter enemy drones.

The «Russian Volunteer Corps» (RVC) is a military unit positioning itself as a «military-political organization» of Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine. Its main goals include «restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991» and «overthrowing the current regime in the Russian Federation.» It gained wide recognition after sabotage raids in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions in the spring of 2023.

The «Freedom of Russia Legion» (FRL) is a military unit formed from Russian military personnel who have switched sides to Ukraine. It is believed that the FRL performs a function more focused on media-propaganda operations than on military activities. It is associated with former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev.

Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and public figure. He served as Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2011, Vice Premier for Defense and Space Industry from 2011 to 2018, and Director-General of Roscosmos from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he leads a group of military advisors called the «Tsar's Wolves,» which is positioned as both a «volunteer strike brigade» and a unit providing military-technical support. He also serves as a «senator» representing the Zaporizhzhia region.

«Baba Yaga» is the nickname given by the Russian military to heavy agricultural drones used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These drones are utilized for dropping large munitions ,such as anti-tank grenades PG-7 or TM-62 mines, onto Russian positions. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch that flies around at night and snatches children.

Surface-to-air missile.

OSINT — Open source intelligence.

«Shahed» is the name of a line of Iranian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models. Localized Russian versions are known as Geran-1 and Geran-2. The Geran-2 drone has a flight range of up to 2,500 km and carries a warhead weighing 50 kg.

RUSI — The Royal United Services Institute.

Aftermath of a missile strike on one of the Ukrainian thermal power plants, April 2024
Aftermath of a missile strike on one of the Ukrainian thermal power plants, April 2024
DTEK - official channel / TG

Attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have resulted in temporary power outages in various regions, including the hard-hit areas around Kharkiv. This has prompted calls for Ukrainians to conserve electricity during peak demand periods, which were previously managed by the power stations that have been rendered inoperable. Ukrainian military specialist Serhiy “Flash” Beskrestnov suggests that these new strikes are aimed at powering down the Ukrainian defense industry, a campaign that comes after previous attempts to directly destroy it failed due to the dispersed and inconspicuous nature of production facilities. Vladimir Putin indirectly confirmed this objective, referring to the strikes as part of Ukraine's “demilitarization.”

Guns and gunners

It's no wonder that the Russian leadership is keen on powering down Ukrainian defense industries (apparently without regard to the risks of causing a humanitarian crisis). The strategy of attritional warfare compels the sides to destroy as much enemy equipment and personnel as possible while simultaneously impeding the replenishment of these losses. In the latter context, Ukrainian defense production efforts are the only aspect that can be directly influenced by Russia, and they've recently been gaining momentum.

Minister of Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshin reports a significant surge in ammunition production, with some of the manufacturing facilities moved abroad. Ukraine is said to be churning out eight units of the “Bohdana” self-propelled artillery system monthly. Ambitious plans to produce one million drones of various types this year appear to have increased to two million. Additionally, programs for developing ground robotic systems capable of tasks such as evacuating the wounded, delivering ammunition, or remote mining are also under development.

UMPK stands for Universal Gliding and Guidance Module. It is a device that Russian unguided aerial bombs have been equipped with since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) to a designated target. The module consists of wings that deploy after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low precision, the system allows Russian aircraft to deploy munitions from beyond the range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

DeepState is a Ukrainian project that regularly updates a map showing control over territory along the front lines. It also publishes summaries of the situation in the combat zone based on open-source intelligence (OSINT) and information from Ukrainian soldiers.

«Meat grinder» assaults refer to the practice of sending infantry to storm enemy positions without adequate preparation or support from artillery, drones, and armored vehicles. This practice often results in heavy casualties among the attackers.

«Drop» in military jargon refers to the deployment of a munition dropped from a drone, typically of the commercial quadcopter type.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator from a first-person perspective («First Person View»). The advantage of such systems lies in the operator's clear view of where the UAV (often used as a kamikaze drone) is heading, enabling them to navigate the aircraft into protected areas and target exposed components of combat vehicles.

Armored personnel carrier.

The «barbeque grill» also known as «cope cage,» “roof screen,” or «visor,» is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian soldiers hoped it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but later both sides began using them to shield against munition drops from drones.

Direct fire and indirect fire are two methods of engaging targets with tanks and artillery. In direct fire, the target is within the direct line of sight of the operator, while in indirect fire, projectiles are launched beyond the operator's line of sight and guided using coordinates derived from tables or reconnaissance data, particularly from UAVs.

EW stands for «Electronic Warfare,» a type of military activity associated with jamming radio-electronic signals transmitted by enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, “EW” is more and more associated with systems designed to counter enemy drones.

The «Russian Volunteer Corps» (RVC) is a military unit positioning itself as a «military-political organization» of Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine. Its main goals include «restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991» and «overthrowing the current regime in the Russian Federation.» It gained wide recognition after sabotage raids in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions in the spring of 2023.

The «Freedom of Russia Legion» (FRL) is a military unit formed from Russian military personnel who have switched sides to Ukraine. It is believed that the FRL performs a function more focused on media-propaganda operations than on military activities. It is associated with former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev.

Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and public figure. He served as Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2011, Vice Premier for Defense and Space Industry from 2011 to 2018, and Director-General of Roscosmos from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he leads a group of military advisors called the «Tsar's Wolves,» which is positioned as both a «volunteer strike brigade» and a unit providing military-technical support. He also serves as a «senator» representing the Zaporizhzhia region.

«Baba Yaga» is the nickname given by the Russian military to heavy agricultural drones used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These drones are utilized for dropping large munitions ,such as anti-tank grenades PG-7 or TM-62 mines, onto Russian positions. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch that flies around at night and snatches children.

Surface-to-air missile.

OSINT — Open source intelligence.

«Shahed» is the name of a line of Iranian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models. Localized Russian versions are known as Geran-1 and Geran-2. The Geran-2 drone has a flight range of up to 2,500 km and carries a warhead weighing 50 kg.

RUSI — The Royal United Services Institute.

Ukrainian 2S22 “Bohdana” Self-Propelled Artillery System
Ukrainian 2S22 “Bohdana” Self-Propelled Artillery System
ArmyInform

However, Ukraine's domestic efforts appear insufficient to replenish losses on the frontlines, with the Ukrainian Armed Forces heavily relying on Western military assistance. The primary component of this support — U.S. legislation allocating over $60 billion for aid to Ukraine — was approved just days ago. At the same time, European countries are striving to provide military aid and training to Ukrainian forces to the best of their (limited) abilities. Several intergovernmental coalitions have been formed for various types of weaponry (1, 2, 3), facilitating joint production, procurement, and supply. The production of artillery guns and ammunition is increasing, with the latter also being purchased outside the EU as part of an initiative spearheaded by Czech authorities.

Meanwhile, the Russian Armed Forces also face challenges in replenishing their losses. The announced deliveries of tanks and armored vehicles for 2023 are impressive (1530 and 2518 units respectively), but they likely fail to cover losses on the frontlines. This explains the appearance on the battlefield of outdated tanks and equipment, which often carry troops on top of their armor. According to Ukrainian OSINT investigators, the number of tanks pulled out of storage each month has not been increasing, suggesting that Russian efforts to restore equipment from its vast warehouses full of largely Soviet era stocks may have reached their limit. However, the Russian defense sector managed to increase the production of artillery ammunition, supplemented by deliveries from Iran and North Korea, ensuring continued superiority in this component of the battlefield balance (even if there are quality issues with DPRK rounds). Moreover, the number of Russian launches of guided bombs has exceeded 2000 per month, and the production of missiles and Shahed-type drones enables regular airstrikes on Ukrainian territory. The only area in which the Russian Armed Forces have yet to achieve at least parity with the Ukrainian Armed Forces is in small attack drones, with pro-war Z-bloggers blaming procurement errors that have purportedly resulted in the purchase of “1 million drones with a firmware that the enemy is able to jam, rendering these 1 million drones useless piles of parts.”

UMPK stands for Universal Gliding and Guidance Module. It is a device that Russian unguided aerial bombs have been equipped with since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) to a designated target. The module consists of wings that deploy after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low precision, the system allows Russian aircraft to deploy munitions from beyond the range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

DeepState is a Ukrainian project that regularly updates a map showing control over territory along the front lines. It also publishes summaries of the situation in the combat zone based on open-source intelligence (OSINT) and information from Ukrainian soldiers.

«Meat grinder» assaults refer to the practice of sending infantry to storm enemy positions without adequate preparation or support from artillery, drones, and armored vehicles. This practice often results in heavy casualties among the attackers.

«Drop» in military jargon refers to the deployment of a munition dropped from a drone, typically of the commercial quadcopter type.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator from a first-person perspective («First Person View»). The advantage of such systems lies in the operator's clear view of where the UAV (often used as a kamikaze drone) is heading, enabling them to navigate the aircraft into protected areas and target exposed components of combat vehicles.

Armored personnel carrier.

The «barbeque grill» also known as «cope cage,» “roof screen,” or «visor,» is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian soldiers hoped it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but later both sides began using them to shield against munition drops from drones.

Direct fire and indirect fire are two methods of engaging targets with tanks and artillery. In direct fire, the target is within the direct line of sight of the operator, while in indirect fire, projectiles are launched beyond the operator's line of sight and guided using coordinates derived from tables or reconnaissance data, particularly from UAVs.

EW stands for «Electronic Warfare,» a type of military activity associated with jamming radio-electronic signals transmitted by enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, “EW” is more and more associated with systems designed to counter enemy drones.

The «Russian Volunteer Corps» (RVC) is a military unit positioning itself as a «military-political organization» of Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine. Its main goals include «restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991» and «overthrowing the current regime in the Russian Federation.» It gained wide recognition after sabotage raids in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions in the spring of 2023.

The «Freedom of Russia Legion» (FRL) is a military unit formed from Russian military personnel who have switched sides to Ukraine. It is believed that the FRL performs a function more focused on media-propaganda operations than on military activities. It is associated with former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev.

Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and public figure. He served as Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2011, Vice Premier for Defense and Space Industry from 2011 to 2018, and Director-General of Roscosmos from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he leads a group of military advisors called the «Tsar's Wolves,» which is positioned as both a «volunteer strike brigade» and a unit providing military-technical support. He also serves as a «senator» representing the Zaporizhzhia region.

«Baba Yaga» is the nickname given by the Russian military to heavy agricultural drones used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These drones are utilized for dropping large munitions ,such as anti-tank grenades PG-7 or TM-62 mines, onto Russian positions. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch that flies around at night and snatches children.

Surface-to-air missile.

OSINT — Open source intelligence.

«Shahed» is the name of a line of Iranian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models. Localized Russian versions are known as Geran-1 and Geran-2. The Geran-2 drone has a flight range of up to 2,500 km and carries a warhead weighing 50 kg.

RUSI — The Royal United Services Institute.

The Russian military-industrial complex has reached its peak capacity in terms of sending armored vehicles to the front lines

When it comes to personnel, the Russian army isn't facing a shortage so severe that it would limit its offensive actions. The influx of new contract soldiers (albeit decreased compared to 2023) combined with ex-convicts and foreign mercenaries (1, 2) generally allows for the replenishment of losses on the front lines. However, the quality of training for new recruits leaves much to be desired. At the current pace of advances, the Kremlin apparently does not see the need to announce a new wave of mobilization. Still, it is unclear how exactly the multiple new units recently announced by the Russian military leadership will be staffed.

The situation is much worse for the AFU, where complaints about manpower shortages (1, 2, 3) are as frequent as those about ammunition deficiencies. It remains unknown how effectively the new Ukrainian mobilization law, which imposes significant restrictions on draft dodgers, will work, especially considering the hundreds of thousands of potential evaders. This recruitment issue has forced Kyiv to at least postpone the promised demobilization of soldiers fighting since February 2022. In contrast, in Russia, such demobilization wasn't even considered, despite protests from the families of those mobilized.

Plans and Forecasts

Despite claims of a forthcoming Ukrainian counteroffensive, it's evident that the AFU will predominantly be on the defensive throughout 2024. In anticipation, Kyiv is allocating resources to construct rear defensive lines reminiscent of the «Surovikin Line,» which successfully halted the Ukrainian advance in the south in 2023. Michael Kofman, a prominent Western expert on the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, suggests that with adequate Western support and resolution of personnel replenishment issues, Ukraine can maintain its position in 2024, potentially marking the beginning of a decline in Russian advantage. However, pessimistic outlooks are also voiced within Ukraine. For instance, Taras Chmut, head of the Come Back Alive charitable foundation dedicated to supplying the Ukrainian military, believes victory in the war is unlikely. Nevertheless, he argues that there's still an opportunity to mobilize societal forces to avoid defeat, thereby concluding the conflict on the most favorable terms with minimal territorial losses.

UMPK stands for Universal Gliding and Guidance Module. It is a device that Russian unguided aerial bombs have been equipped with since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) to a designated target. The module consists of wings that deploy after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low precision, the system allows Russian aircraft to deploy munitions from beyond the range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

DeepState is a Ukrainian project that regularly updates a map showing control over territory along the front lines. It also publishes summaries of the situation in the combat zone based on open-source intelligence (OSINT) and information from Ukrainian soldiers.

«Meat grinder» assaults refer to the practice of sending infantry to storm enemy positions without adequate preparation or support from artillery, drones, and armored vehicles. This practice often results in heavy casualties among the attackers.

«Drop» in military jargon refers to the deployment of a munition dropped from a drone, typically of the commercial quadcopter type.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator from a first-person perspective («First Person View»). The advantage of such systems lies in the operator's clear view of where the UAV (often used as a kamikaze drone) is heading, enabling them to navigate the aircraft into protected areas and target exposed components of combat vehicles.

Armored personnel carrier.

The «barbeque grill» also known as «cope cage,» “roof screen,” or «visor,» is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian soldiers hoped it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but later both sides began using them to shield against munition drops from drones.

Direct fire and indirect fire are two methods of engaging targets with tanks and artillery. In direct fire, the target is within the direct line of sight of the operator, while in indirect fire, projectiles are launched beyond the operator's line of sight and guided using coordinates derived from tables or reconnaissance data, particularly from UAVs.

EW stands for «Electronic Warfare,» a type of military activity associated with jamming radio-electronic signals transmitted by enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, “EW” is more and more associated with systems designed to counter enemy drones.

The «Russian Volunteer Corps» (RVC) is a military unit positioning itself as a «military-political organization» of Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine. Its main goals include «restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991» and «overthrowing the current regime in the Russian Federation.» It gained wide recognition after sabotage raids in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions in the spring of 2023.

The «Freedom of Russia Legion» (FRL) is a military unit formed from Russian military personnel who have switched sides to Ukraine. It is believed that the FRL performs a function more focused on media-propaganda operations than on military activities. It is associated with former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev.

Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and public figure. He served as Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2011, Vice Premier for Defense and Space Industry from 2011 to 2018, and Director-General of Roscosmos from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he leads a group of military advisors called the «Tsar's Wolves,» which is positioned as both a «volunteer strike brigade» and a unit providing military-technical support. He also serves as a «senator» representing the Zaporizhzhia region.

«Baba Yaga» is the nickname given by the Russian military to heavy agricultural drones used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These drones are utilized for dropping large munitions ,such as anti-tank grenades PG-7 or TM-62 mines, onto Russian positions. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch that flies around at night and snatches children.

Surface-to-air missile.

OSINT — Open source intelligence.

«Shahed» is the name of a line of Iranian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models. Localized Russian versions are known as Geran-1 and Geran-2. The Geran-2 drone has a flight range of up to 2,500 km and carries a warhead weighing 50 kg.

RUSI — The Royal United Services Institute.

The AFU will predominantly be on the defensive throughout 2024

How Russia intends to secure victory in the war remains somewhat unclear. Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a think tank closely tied to the Russian Ministry of Defense, views the Ukrainian defense as «sufficiently resilient.» He suggests that potential Russian advances hinge on the necessity of implementing new mobilization measures. This new mobilization effort is seen as contingent upon the possibility of an offensive towards Kharkiv, a feat deemed unattainable with contract forces alone. However, the Russian leadership might hesitate to pursue such measures, given the logistical challenges of adequately equipping new recruits. Alternatively, they may opt to maintain the current intensity of the conflict, with immediate objectives focused on fully occupying the Donetsk region.

At the same time, the Russian leadership may feel pressured to consider more decisive actions on the front, as there's a growing awareness that time may not be on their side. According to experts at RUSI, Russia's military strength is expected to peak in 2024, with potential issues in weapon supplies emerging by 2025. By 2026, reserves of Soviet-era weapons at Russian storage bases will have depleted, and domestic production won't be able to keep up with frontline demands. Consequently, Russian authorities face the daunting task of compelling Ukraine to surrender, or at least agree to a favorable peace deal for Russia, within this narrow timeframe.

How exactly to achieve this, given the current pace of advance, remains unclear. Therefore, the Kremlin's hopes rest either on the complete exhaustion of the AFU due to a failed mobilization and/or insufficient military aid from the West, or on a humanitarian catastrophe resulting from the destruction of energy infrastructure and a failure to heat Ukrainian homes through the winter.

UMPK stands for Universal Gliding and Guidance Module. It is a device that Russian unguided aerial bombs have been equipped with since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) to a designated target. The module consists of wings that deploy after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low precision, the system allows Russian aircraft to deploy munitions from beyond the range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

DeepState is a Ukrainian project that regularly updates a map showing control over territory along the front lines. It also publishes summaries of the situation in the combat zone based on open-source intelligence (OSINT) and information from Ukrainian soldiers.

«Meat grinder» assaults refer to the practice of sending infantry to storm enemy positions without adequate preparation or support from artillery, drones, and armored vehicles. This practice often results in heavy casualties among the attackers.

«Drop» in military jargon refers to the deployment of a munition dropped from a drone, typically of the commercial quadcopter type.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator from a first-person perspective («First Person View»). The advantage of such systems lies in the operator's clear view of where the UAV (often used as a kamikaze drone) is heading, enabling them to navigate the aircraft into protected areas and target exposed components of combat vehicles.

Armored personnel carrier.

The «barbeque grill» also known as «cope cage,» “roof screen,” or «visor,» is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian soldiers hoped it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but later both sides began using them to shield against munition drops from drones.

Direct fire and indirect fire are two methods of engaging targets with tanks and artillery. In direct fire, the target is within the direct line of sight of the operator, while in indirect fire, projectiles are launched beyond the operator's line of sight and guided using coordinates derived from tables or reconnaissance data, particularly from UAVs.

EW stands for «Electronic Warfare,» a type of military activity associated with jamming radio-electronic signals transmitted by enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, “EW” is more and more associated with systems designed to counter enemy drones.

The «Russian Volunteer Corps» (RVC) is a military unit positioning itself as a «military-political organization» of Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine. Its main goals include «restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991» and «overthrowing the current regime in the Russian Federation.» It gained wide recognition after sabotage raids in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions in the spring of 2023.

The «Freedom of Russia Legion» (FRL) is a military unit formed from Russian military personnel who have switched sides to Ukraine. It is believed that the FRL performs a function more focused on media-propaganda operations than on military activities. It is associated with former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev.

Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and public figure. He served as Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2011, Vice Premier for Defense and Space Industry from 2011 to 2018, and Director-General of Roscosmos from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he leads a group of military advisors called the «Tsar's Wolves,» which is positioned as both a «volunteer strike brigade» and a unit providing military-technical support. He also serves as a «senator» representing the Zaporizhzhia region.

«Baba Yaga» is the nickname given by the Russian military to heavy agricultural drones used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These drones are utilized for dropping large munitions ,such as anti-tank grenades PG-7 or TM-62 mines, onto Russian positions. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch that flies around at night and snatches children.

Surface-to-air missile.

OSINT — Open source intelligence.

«Shahed» is the name of a line of Iranian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models. Localized Russian versions are known as Geran-1 and Geran-2. The Geran-2 drone has a flight range of up to 2,500 km and carries a warhead weighing 50 kg.

RUSI — The Royal United Services Institute.

In any case, the Russo-Ukrainian war appears to have definitively shifted towards a war of attrition. Here, the primary focus lies not on large-scale operations on the front lines, but rather on the combat losses of both sides and the speed of their replenishment. Additionally, the ability to mobilize societal and economic resources, as well as the political will of the warring parties and their partners, play crucial roles. In such conditions, both sides are likely to intensify strikes on «sensitive» rear targets, aiming to undermine the economic and political stability of the opponent and compel them to negotiate. However, it seems that neither side is currently prepared to engage in negotiations on terms acceptable to the other.

UMPK stands for Universal Gliding and Guidance Module. It is a device that Russian unguided aerial bombs have been equipped with since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) to a designated target. The module consists of wings that deploy after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low precision, the system allows Russian aircraft to deploy munitions from beyond the range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

DeepState is a Ukrainian project that regularly updates a map showing control over territory along the front lines. It also publishes summaries of the situation in the combat zone based on open-source intelligence (OSINT) and information from Ukrainian soldiers.

«Meat grinder» assaults refer to the practice of sending infantry to storm enemy positions without adequate preparation or support from artillery, drones, and armored vehicles. This practice often results in heavy casualties among the attackers.

«Drop» in military jargon refers to the deployment of a munition dropped from a drone, typically of the commercial quadcopter type.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator from a first-person perspective («First Person View»). The advantage of such systems lies in the operator's clear view of where the UAV (often used as a kamikaze drone) is heading, enabling them to navigate the aircraft into protected areas and target exposed components of combat vehicles.

Armored personnel carrier.

The «barbeque grill» also known as «cope cage,» “roof screen,” or «visor,» is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian soldiers hoped it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), but later both sides began using them to shield against munition drops from drones.

Direct fire and indirect fire are two methods of engaging targets with tanks and artillery. In direct fire, the target is within the direct line of sight of the operator, while in indirect fire, projectiles are launched beyond the operator's line of sight and guided using coordinates derived from tables or reconnaissance data, particularly from UAVs.

EW stands for «Electronic Warfare,» a type of military activity associated with jamming radio-electronic signals transmitted by enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, “EW” is more and more associated with systems designed to counter enemy drones.

The «Russian Volunteer Corps» (RVC) is a military unit positioning itself as a «military-political organization» of Russian volunteers fighting on the side of Ukraine. Its main goals include «restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991» and «overthrowing the current regime in the Russian Federation.» It gained wide recognition after sabotage raids in the Bryansk and Belgorod regions in the spring of 2023.

The «Freedom of Russia Legion» (FRL) is a military unit formed from Russian military personnel who have switched sides to Ukraine. It is believed that the FRL performs a function more focused on media-propaganda operations than on military activities. It is associated with former Russian State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev.

Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and public figure. He served as Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2011, Vice Premier for Defense and Space Industry from 2011 to 2018, and Director-General of Roscosmos from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he leads a group of military advisors called the «Tsar's Wolves,» which is positioned as both a «volunteer strike brigade» and a unit providing military-technical support. He also serves as a «senator» representing the Zaporizhzhia region.

«Baba Yaga» is the nickname given by the Russian military to heavy agricultural drones used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These drones are utilized for dropping large munitions ,such as anti-tank grenades PG-7 or TM-62 mines, onto Russian positions. In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch that flies around at night and snatches children.

Surface-to-air missile.

OSINT — Open source intelligence.

«Shahed» is the name of a line of Iranian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models. Localized Russian versions are known as Geran-1 and Geran-2. The Geran-2 drone has a flight range of up to 2,500 km and carries a warhead weighing 50 kg.

RUSI — The Royal United Services Institute.

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