Russia lost its army in Ukraine in 2022, but has since rebuilt it more powerful!

On the morning of the Russian offensive against Ukraine, on February 24, 2022, few people imagined that the Ukrainian armies would be able to contain the steamroller launched by Moscow towards Kyiv.

Not only did the Ukrainian fighters manage to resist on numerous fronts, in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and in the Donbass, but after a month of intense fighting, the Russian losses were such that they had to review their objectives, and begin a retreat to prepared defensive positions.

Euphoria then spread to both the Ukrainian general staff and its Western supporters, convinced that the Russian armies had lost so much equipment and men that they would not recover for many years.

A year later, it is clear that the situation is radically different. Not only is the Russian Army still there, despite terrible losses, but they now seem more effective against Ukrainian fighters who are as worn out as their equipment.

Because if Russia did lose its Army initially engaged against Ukraine, it has since managed to rebuild a new one, more imposing and more effective in combat, creating a very worrying gradient today in the balance of power facing against Ukraine, and perhaps tomorrow, against Europe.

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The human and material losses of the Russian armies in Ukraine exceed the initial force deployment of February 2022

In February 2022, Moscow had massed, around Ukraine, a very powerful military force, composed of more than 200 men, nearly 000 tanks, a thousand artillery systems, protected by more than 1 anti-aircraft systems. The Russian air forces had, for their part, moved more than 500 combat planes near the Ukrainian borders.

Russian KA-52 shot down in Ukraine
The Russian armies have lost around a hundred combat and maneuver helicopters in Ukraine.

The Black Sea Fleet, finally, had around sixty naval combat units, including the cruiser Moskva, around ten frigates, as many large amphibious units, six submarines and around fifteen corvettes armed with missiles.

It was, then, nothing less than the largest operational military concentration deployed in Europe since the end of the Cold War, and a force almost twice the size of the device sent by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, at the height of the fighting, in 1986 and 1987.

Two years later, the vast majority of land forces, and 30% of air and naval assets, were destroyed or heavily damaged, while theThe number of Russian soldiers killed would exceed 100 to 150 men, with twice as many injuries.

Thus, the number of tanks lost by the armies in Russia is evolving from 1 to 800 depending on the sources, like that of armored vehicles, around 2, and artillery systems, from 900 to 1450. More than a hundred combat planes, and as many Russian helicopters, were shot down or destroyed on the ground, while around twenty naval units were sunk or severely damaged, including the Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, sunk on April 14, 2022.

cruiser Moskva sunk on April 4, 2022
The attack on the Moskva was the first major Ukrainian success in the naval field of war.

In fact, regardless of how documented Russian losses are counted or considered, Russia has indeed lost its Army initially sent against Ukraine. This would certainly have convinced the vast majority of countries to give up. Vladimir Putin, however, has decided to rebuild his army, by making it more imposing, and more efficient, to overcome the Ukrainian adversary. He's on his way to getting there today.

The effectiveness of the Sourovikin line in Ukraine, and the rebound of the Russian defense industry at the end of 2022

If the decision to rebuild the lost Army in Ukraine is above all political in nature, and linked to the control that Vladimir Putin ensures over the whole political, economic and social workings of the country, its execution was made possible thanks to two concurrent initiatives.

The first was the withdrawal maneuver carried out by the surviving Russian army corps deployed in Ukraine, to join, in relative good order, defensive lines previously prepared for this purpose. This is, undoubtedly, the most successful military maneuver of the Russian armies, perhaps even of the conflict, since it began.

Its planning and execution are to be credited to General Sergei Surovikin, who was appointed head of the special military operation at the beginning of October 2022, before being replaced by Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov in January. 2023, and to fall into disgrace, after having had a posture considered ambiguous, during the Wagner rebellion. Like all dictators, Putin values ​​devotion over competence.

Russian defenses Surovikin line
Russian defensive lines in May 2023 – sources The Kiyv Independent

If this maneuver allowed the Ukrainian armies to quickly recapture more than 30% of the territory previously lost, it preserved the integrity of the surviving forces, and frozen the front, which has evolved little since, giving the Russian Armies time to lick their wounds, and to reconstitute their units.

At the same time, from September 2022, the Russian defense industry undertook a profound transformation of both its production capacities, that of the subcontracting chain. The objective was to overcome the consequences of Western sanctions, in particular concerning technological components of US or European manufacture, widely used until then in Russian weapons systems.

At the same time, the production of these large Russian defense companies has been increased, sometimes several times, in order to compensate for the losses recorded in Ukraine, as well as to strengthen and increase the means of the Russian armies, in absolute terms.

Russia's armies have been rebuilding faster than they are eroding since January 2023

The balance point between production and instantaneous losses seems to have been reached between June and October 2023, while some large Russian companies, such as the Uralvagonzavod tank manufacturing plant, had multiplied by 2 or 3 the number of armored vehicles produced each month, compared to what they produced before the war.

uralvagonzavod
The Uralvagonzavod factory would now produce 30 to 50 T-90Ms and BMP-3Ms each month.

In January 2024, everything indicated that the Russian defense industry fully compensated for the losses in Ukraine, and at the same time made it possible to modernize the units, or even equip new ones.

It seems, in this regard, that the Russian Armies do not suffer any particular difficulties, at least until now, in replacing their human losses. They also plan to increase in size by almost 20%, in 2024 alone.

In other words, from an erosion considered, not without reason, as certainly lethal, in the fall of 2022, the Russian Armies are now firmly engaged in a dynamic of growth and increase in power, both in the field of personnel as equipment.

Conversely, Ukraine, like its Western supporters, seems incapable of stopping the decline in its military resources, human and material, even though it is supposed to rely on an economic alliance representing more than 35% of the World GDP.

More effective Russian forces, quickly adapting to Ukrainian innovations

Not only are the Russian armies rebuilding themselves, but many reports indicate that they are, today, more effective than they were previously, even if some officers continue to make gross tactical errors, opinions of specialists.

Cope cage
the protective cages against drones and Hellfire missiles, which appeared on Russian tanks at the end of March 2022, constitute an example of the very effective RETEX process within the Russian armies.

For example, if the TB-2 Bayraktar drones played a decisive role in the harassment of the armored column sent against Kyiv in February and March 2022, they have been almost useless since the summer of 2022, the Russian DCA having learned to detect them and counter them.

This ability to adapt of the Russian armies poses a problem as the Westerners bet on the technological superiority of the equipment transferred to Kyiv, to compensate for the numerical inferiority of the Ukrainian armies.

The HIMARS rockets, the Javelin missiles, like the SCALP-EG missiles entrusted to the Ukrainians, made it possible to carry out significant strikes when they entered the scene, sometimes carving out a symbolic aura of g, in Ukrainian public opinion. Since then, their effectiveness, if it has not been neutralized, is however less considerable, again, due to the adaptation of Russians, and the integration of RETEX (RETour byEXexperience).

This behavior of the Russians should not, moreover, surprise the specialists of this army. This has, in fact, on numerous occasions, demonstrated that it knows how to rely on particularly short Retex cycles, to adapt to the evolution of the threat, as was the case, for example, in Syria.

A catastrophic trajectory without a massive and very rapid reaction from the West

It is indeed this capacity for adaptation, as well as the firm and unfailing control of the Kremlin over all the workings of Russian society, but also on the minds of a large part of Russians, which largely explain the unfavorable and worrying situation of Ukraine and its armies today.

Vladimir Putin
Despite losses almost ten times greater than those recorded by the Soviet armies in Afghanistan, the war in Ukraine, and the power of Vladimir Putin, are in no way called into question in the country.

Despite numerous errors and major failures, having heavily hampered the start of this Russian Special Military Operation, and the extraordinary losses recorded since February 2022 by the Russian forces, it is this ability to adapt quickly, and massively, which will have allowed Moscow and its armies to reverse a situation which seemed almost desperate in September 2022.

If the Ukrainians often present the same qualities as the Russians, including in this area, they suffer from vastly inferior means, and an obvious lack of strategic depth, to apply the same methods.

It is therefore up to the Westerners, who proclaim be ready to do everything to prevent the defeat of Ukraine, to react quickly, and above all massively, in the hope of reversing the current dynamic.

However, they seem far from displaying the same adaptability and responsiveness as the Russians, or the Ukrainians. Despite considerable resources, and an obvious strategic depth not being directly threatened by Moscow, they have continued, for two years, to procrastinate with half-measures and announcement effects, hoping, probably , let someone else come and save the situation.

Conclusion

One thing is certain from now on: unless we radically review the nature, timetable and volume of Western military aid sent to Kyiv, in the coming months, the worst is to be feared concerning Ukrainian resistance, in the face of the rise in power of the Russian armies.

caesar Ukraine
Westerners will have to massively and quickly deliver the defense equipment necessary to stabilize the front. Otherwise, Europeans risk having to deal with a wave of Ukrainian refugees without any historical equivalence, and the destabilizing power could be much more important than the Covid crisis, or than the 1 or 2% of GDP necessary to prevent it.

The operational level that the latter now reach is not surprising. All of the parameters that gave rise to it have been detailed and commented on for more than a year, as have the risks that the evolution of the defense industry and Russian doctrine would create for the conflict.

If Ukraine were to fall, which is within the realm of possibility, the responsibility for this defeat would fall fully and exclusively on the Westerners, led by the Americans and the British, as guarantors of the Budapest Memorandum. Mutual confidence in the strength of the alliance, and in the signature of these great powers, will certainly be long and significantly altered.

At the same time, Europeans must expect to welcome several million Ukrainian refugees, certainly more than ten, perhaps fifteen or twenty, followed quickly by Moldovan refugees, which will cause a socio-economic earthquake, as well as a partial disintegration of the European Union, which will cost much more than the 0,5 to 1 point of GDP necessary to prevent it.

It is therefore appropriate for European and American leaders to compare these two scenarios, neither of which is perfectly satisfactory, but which have every chance of excluding each other, without offering other alternatives.

Because the excuse of surprise, when 15 million Ukrainian and Moldovan refugees arrive in Poland and Romania, and the Russian armies mass against the Baltic countries, stronger than ever, will have little chance of convincing anyone either, and no chance of providing any solution.

Article from April 4 in full version until May 26

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14 Comments

  1. The USA, under the control of Trump, partly created this situation, by blocking the $60M envelope for almost 2 months. But it is true that the EU has not completely taken ownership of the situation, even if this is not distributed for example the Eastern countries (Poland, Baltics, Finland) are aware of the risks, France or rather Macron is more aware today of the risks of this war, Germany will surely be the main responsible for its inaction and its half-measures, Italy barely better. But many EU countries have disarmed since the end of the 90s, miniaturizing their military industry and their stocks. The economic situation of many EU countries whose aid capacities France minimizes, the far right plays a role of ostrich, convinced of taking advantage of the situation to regain the reins of power more quickly. Western Europe and its inhabitants are not convinced of the existence of a risk coming from Russia, considering that the social problems, economic and ecological are more serious and more urgent.

  2. nice political fiction
    OSINT does not suggest that, as you say, armaments are returning en masse to the line on the Russian side.
    Their progression has only two explanations: the lack of Ukrainian ammunition (a real problem) and the fact that a Russian life has no value.
    For everything else, we see the same skirmishes on the front with the same consequences as for 18 months
    As for armored vehicles, we only see BMP 1/2 and upgraded T72 (old stock). Not so much seen from new T90.
    Ha if I forgot the children who make shaeds with Chinese chips whose serial number is hidden.

  3. as usual, the analysis is clear and without appeal, but I have the impression of having as a framework "a voice cries in the desert" there is clearly no political will to save Ukraine, the policy of giving 2-3 tanks, 2-3 planes of different models (what's more), is clearly hypocritical. our leaders absolutely do not want to take up the challenge imposed on them and unfortunately the one who generally emerges victorious is the one who imposes his own pace…. 2027 risks being crucial (if mistakes are not made by then…) when Xi will want to blow the embers out of Taiwan and the US will be involved there and will not be able to get more involved than that in Europe. of course our resistance fighters of 46 will have ensured that we are not ready and the opportunity will be too good for Putin not to seize it. Putin and Xi work together (this is nothing new) one will have a completely free hand in the West and the other in the Pacific being sure that they will not attack each other therefore able to strip their common borders, auxiliaries like Iran and the CDN will do the rest, without forgetting the troubled role of some (Ethiopia, but especially Algeria, which still maintains joint training with the Russians).

    Thank you again for the accuracy of the analysis (as is often the case) and the article.

    • well no... Eurenco brought out the heavy artillery, so to speak. Nexter releases 10 more armored vehicles every month as well as more and more Caesars
      We are relocating small caliber. We are relaunching the SCALP which has not been manufactured for 5 years. We've never released as much A2SM as right now
      And we talk about rafales ?
      We cannot say objectively that we are doing nothing. It may not be enough because of the catastrophic legacy of Mitterand and co but in any case it is gaining momentum

      • Two, three small details:
        “We are relaunching the SCALP” –> where did you read that? I think you misunderstood. We will take 40 SCALPs out of stock and send them to Ukraine.
        “Nexter releases 10 groins of armored vehicles” -> 10 griffons and 2 jaguars each month, that’s not “dozens”
        “And we talk about rafales » -> 70% for export (from 8 to 12 per year for France). In the end, we will still only have 225 combat aircraft, 185 for the AAE, 40 for the MN. compared to 1200 between the VVS and the VKS.

  4. For several weeks your articles have been very pessimistic about Westerners and very positive about Russians, I suspected that behind these articles you wanted to attract attention. Perhaps decision-makers read your articles, I hope so.
    As for the Anglo-Saxons, unsurprisingly they abandoned France after signing the Treaty of Versailles, I would not be surprised if they did the same with Ukraine.

    • I admit that I am not confident about the future of this conflict, and more generally, of the balance of power between the West and the bloc that is being built around Russia and China. But it's been more than a few weeks... And the deterioration of the situation in Ukraine over time seems more to prove me right than wrong.

  5. Your concern seems laudable to me, but I think you are exaggerating Russia's capabilities. The main explanation for their, very relative, recent success is above all the disappearance of American aid and the fact that European aid takes time to arrive. Ukraine is at the bottom of the wave, its situation is the worst since the start of the conflict but is about to improve (Czech shells, rise in power and European awareness, construction of real lines of defense, etc.) . However, the Russians did not really take advantage of the situation. They have eaten away 500 km2 in three months, the fall of Avdivka did not have the dramatic consequences that Russia would have liked to see happen and both OSINT and official Ukrainian sources do not show an improvement in the quality of the material. The Russians are repairing old equipment, rebuilding a significant margin of maneuver, but do not have a crazy production of recent equipment. Their ammunition stocks are not that gigantic considering their abysmal consumption for limited gains.

    However, I agree with half of your conclusions: Western support is too timid and our societies do not seem to see the threat. If Ukraine loses, it will be our fault (American in the lead). However, the Russians are not celebrating either, their recent equipment is difficult to produce and for many absent from the front (T14, SU57, etc.) because it is of course based on Western components that are difficult to obtain. And their recent tactical gains are mediocre despite a profusion of artillery and bombing resources.

  6. Hello, thank you again for this very interesting article. I had a question regarding the rise in power of the Russian land army (the navy and air force having been relatively spared):

    Certainly it has become more powerful (reconstruction of the mass) but has it not lost its fighting quality? Indeed there are now many volunteers (perhaps even a majority) who no longer have anything to do with the professional soldiers of the first army before it was destroyed.

    Do you think this factor can give the Ukrainian an advantage?

    Learning to use a weapon and quickly understanding and practicing military tactics is another and requires more time.

    Thanks to you for your reply.

    cordially

    SB

    • Bonsoir
      It's hard to say. Let's remember that everyone (including me) was very surprised by the bad behavior of the Russian forces at the start of the war. Since then, they seem to have corrected many of their problems observed then. So, certainly, they lost many officers and non-commissioned officers who formed the backbone of this army before the war. But when you are in such a war for two years, you see new profiles emerge who rise quickly, and who are better adapted than their elders were. It's a bit of Darwinism: it's not the strongest who survives, it's the one who adapts best.
      Good night

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