Three maps juxtaposed in one collage are worth at least three-thousand words and tell the bigger picture of the war in Ukraine
By Brian E. Frydenborg (Twitter @bfry1981, LinkedIn, Facebook), July 14, 2022; UPDATE February 14, 2023 to replace third map with February 13, 2023 map; see July 30 follow-up article Russia’s Defeat in Ukraine May Take Some Time, But It’s Coming and Sooner Than You Think and related January 14, 2023 article THE TWO MAPS SHOWING WHY RUSSIA’S BAKHMUT CAMPAIGN IS UNDENIABLY A MISERABLE FAILURE (including Soledar)
SILVER SPRING—Too often, analysis presented to the public is micro instead of macro. Sometimes, looking at the big picture over time is absolutely necessary but in our ever-increasingly myopic, Twitter-cycle-driven news media, bigger picture analysis is one of the biggest casualties, as I have lamented repeatedly. The degree to which Ukraine has dominated Russia’s unprovoked, atrocity-filled, imperialist war against it since the beginning of April is one of the more important overall trends in this conflict and is yet one of the least recognized in day-to-day reporting.
Often, a picture is worth a thousand words or more. Thus, here I present a collage I created, titled, and captioned of three telling maps produced by the Institute for the Study of War in partnership with Critical Threats: one from March 31, one from April 7, and the latest, from July 13. Placed side-by-side as I have arranged them, they tell the most important shifts in the balance of the war since the beginning: how much territory Russia had taken five weeks into the war, how much of that newly taken territory Russia lost one week later, and—most remarkably—how incredibly little the Russian military has accomplished relative to the first five weeks of the war in the nearly-100 days since Russia’s forces collapsed on three major fronts at Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy during the sixth week. Ukraine, in fact, took more territory in that one week in April than Russia has in the last three months and then some. This means that Ukraine has been for months and is currently more on the offensive than Russia is, never a good sign when you are the supposed invader, as Russia is.
Ukraine is winning handily—though not without tragic cost—and Russia is losing resoundingly when this larger picture is considered, its mighty army incapable of doing more than killing defenseless civilians or picking away small bits and pieces of Ukrainian territory over the course of more than three months at very high cost (adding to its horrendous, historic casualties from earlier in the war) and hardly any guarantee it can hold such territory over time, even as a massive Ukrainian counteroffensive now looms in the south (one that could lead to Ukraine retaking Kherson and even open the path to retaking Crimea, as I noted back in April).
As I will elaborate soon in related upcoming work, these fine maps from ISW/CT tell the deeper story of a conflict that, since early April, has seen the driving dynamics behind how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war is unfolding shift dramatically in Ukraine’s favor at the expense of Russia, with little on the horizon to alter this momentum, and, indeed, much to reinforce it.
You can also see an interactive, up-to-date version of the ISW/CT map here and each map individually and in a slide show below:
See July 30 follow-up article Russia’s Defeat in Ukraine May Take Some Time, But It’s Coming and Sooner Than You Think and see all Brian’s Ukraine coverage here
See all Brian’s Ukraine coverage here
Brian’s Ukraine analysis has been praised by: Mykhailo Podolyak, a top advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; the Ukraine Territorial Defense Forces; Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, U.S. Army (Ret.), former commanding general, U.S. Army Europe; Scott Shane, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist formerly of The New York Times & Baltimore Sun (and featured in HBO’s The Wire, playing himself); Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), one of the only Republicans to stand up to Trump and member of the January 6th Committee; and Orwell Prize-winning journalist Jenni Russell, among others.
© 2022-2023 Brian E. Frydenborg all rights reserved, permission required for republication, attributed quotations welcome
Also see Brian’s eBook, A Song of Gas and Politics: How Ukraine Is at the Center of Trump-Russia, or, Ukrainegate: A “New” Phase in the Trump-Russia Saga Made from Recycled Materials, available for Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook (preview here).
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