Center for Defense Strategies: Overview of Russia’s war against Ukraine. March 3rd expert briefing

4 March 2022, 10:04 AM

War crimes of Russian federation

Russian troops commit war crimes and violate the Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. 

In Ukrainian cities and towns, Russian artillery and aircraft continue to kill civilians
and destroy critical infrastructure and residential buildings. As a result of the shelling, dozens of
people died today in Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.

According to the Russian authorities of temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, it is also planned to use mobilized Ukrainian citizens with Russian passports in the 1st and 2nd Army corpses (so called DNR/LNR) in the attack, in particular, to storm Kyiv and Odesa as advancing units (which are most likely to die first). There are more and more video recordings of regular looting by the occupiers in different regions of Ukraine.

Video of day

The second round of Ukrainian-Russian negotiations

On March 3rd, another meeting of Ukrainian and Russian representatives has commenced in Belarus. Considering the rhetoric of high-ranking Russian officials on the eve of the meeting, no special progress is expected in resolving the issue of ending the war through diplomatic means during the talks.

Belarus threat

Belarusian troops are stationed in columns on the border with Ukraine ready to invade with the support of Russian troops, which have shown a significant slow-down in the pace of the offence.
Since information regarding the unexpected resistance by the Ukrainian Armed Forces to the aggressor keeps spreading in official channels in Belarus and on the Internet, there is a possibility that Belarusian servicemen will refuse to carry out criminal orders and put themselves in mortal danger considering the example of Russian Marines in Crimea. At the same time, the entry of the most morally and psychologically prepared units of the assault troops of the Republic of Belarus and individual units of other kinds of troops is not excluded.

The Status of the Strategic Deterrence Forces of the Russian Federation

The forces of strategic deterrence of the Russian Federation remain to continue to be on special duty regime by Putin’s order. It is considered as a continuation of nuclear intimidation as a part of the preparation for peace talks with Ukrainian officials and negotiations with representatives of the West.

Operational situation:

Efforts are still being made to create a semicircle around the capital from the north, west and east. The greatest danger now remains from the north and northwest of Kyiv (towns of Ivankiv, Vorzel, Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel). Intense battles continue the approaches to Kyiv at a distance of 10-40 km, in which the enemy loses equipment and personnel.

Major of Hostomel has been executed by Russians. In the west direction, the Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated and held the city of Makarov. Kyiv is well protected by its defense forces including Armed forces, Territorial defense, police etc. Kyiv is holding strongly with very strong capabilities. Situation in Kyiv is stable. Kyiv had experienced some airstrikes during last night, which all were blocked by its air defense.

Regional centers

The siege of Mariupol by the Russian occupants continues. There is continuous destruction of civilian infrastructure by artillery and MLRS fire. The city keeps resisting. At the same time, the city has no electric power and other basic utilities, it suffers from the lack of any living conditions and there are discussions now of setting up a corridor for civilians to leave. City has 400,000 inhabitants. A siege of Mariupol reminds some observers a blockade of Leningrad during WWII.

Russian troops are stationed in Kherson and control the city's main roads and facilities. At the end of the day they have announced that Kherson is occupied and some buses of people were transported from Crimea to “settle a new group of residents”.

Estimated losses of the enemy as of 20:00 03.03.
Tanks - more than 200 units,
Armoured combat vehicles of various types - more than 800 units,
Helicopters - more than 30,
Aircraft - more than 30,
Personnel - about 9,000 people.

Introduction of Martial Law in Russia
The Russian government plans to introduce country-wide martial law on March 4th. To this end, on
March 3rd, the Security Council of Russia held a session. The introduction of martial law will allow
preventing possible large aggregation of people at potential anti-war demonstrations and sanctionsrelated protests.

Also, martial law can help Russia carry out concealed mobilization to create
necessary reserves of troops to continue the war with Ukraine.

International relations

After an hour-and-a-half phone conversation between the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and
President of France Emmanuel Macron, the latter said that Putin “has not provided any assurances”,
and instead, given that Ukraine does not accede to his conditions, will go on with the military
intervention, and thus “the worst is to be expected”. That unfortunately means that at the moment we shall expect enhancement of air strikes, which would include attacks on Kyiv and some other major cities.
U.S. President Joe Biden submitted a request to Congress for an additional $10 billion of aid for
Ukraine and regions dealing with the consequences of Russian aggression.

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Namely, $5 billion for emergency economic and food security, $30 million for integration with the European electricity network, as well as $91 million for strengthening sanctions, $59 million for the search of Russian
oligarchs’ property and $21 million for increasing export control restrictions.
Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and U.S. Secretary of State discussed security assistance,
namely, strengthening Ukraine’s air defense capabilities in a telephone conversation.

On Friday, the Finnish president will make an unscheduled visit to the US, during which parties will discuss Russian aggression against Ukraine and its consequences for European security. Likely, parties will also talk about supplies of the newest weapons to Finland, including aircraft and missile rockets.

On March 4th, an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council is scheduled to take place on the level of Foreign Ministers, including heads of foreign affairs sections of Finland and Sweden, as well as an EU representative. Ukrainian Foreign Minister will take part in the event via video connection and will lobby the issue of supplying new air-defense systems to Ukraine.

A need for air defense systems (most important!)
Ukraine is in a serious need of air defense systems. A massive undertaking by many parties (including governments, experts, think tanks, activists, journalists and pressure groups, including our Centre) is advocating a provision of some enhanced air defense systems for Ukraine. It is clear that Ukraine is stronger on land despite Russian quantities of forces and brutal tactics, they are losing in most of operational directions.

They areas acquisitions are minimal considering capabilities invested and losses. (Losses of Russians are getting close to both Chechen wars combined). However, despite Russia still could not establish air superiority and loses a lot of forces from Ukrainian air attacks by combat aviation and T2 drones attacks, Ukraine’s air defense capabilities are the main shortage.

Commonly the western world needs to find an urgent solution to enhance Ukraine’s air defense. We call for all interested parties to help in resolving this critical matter.

What Putin wants now? And what can he do?
Putin’s whole operation was based on the one critical assumption – Russian ability to perform a quick “lightning” attack on Kyiv (supported by attacks in the East (Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy) and South (line between Kherson and Mariupol). The main idea was to quickly take Kyiv and capture and overthrow the government.

Only in this case the other elements of the campaign made sense, otherwise there would be no obvious operational gains, but more importantly no resources to successfully hold the acquired territories (apart from securing the access to Crimean channel and possibly a ‘land bridge’ to Crimea, which would be extremely difficult to hold if the rest of campaign fails).

Thus, the whole operation looked more like a raid, not the occupational full scale invasion. Since the reaching of the key goal (quick Kyiv takeover) has failed, the rest elements of operation do not hold together. There are examples, like shortages of fuel, disruption of other supplies, soldiers’ no knowledge of the mission shows that there has been no well worked out plan B.

Which is very strange since Russian planning (prior to this campaign) always had number of plans, which Russia could choose from.

The introduction of the tactic of bombing cities shows also the will of Putin not to go for real negotiations and win at all costs. But how do we define the winning? The biggest question is what is the political goal from the current operational plan? Putin clearly is not winning hearts and minds of people – after horrendous cases of destruction of the normal peaceful life, almost all Ukrainian population fiercely hate Russians.

Whatever is the final outcome of this operation, Putin is not going to bring Russia and Ukraine anywhere close. Two nations once friendly and historically/culturally/ethnically close are broken now for many years (or decades). Too many Russians consciously carry and express the guilt for what is happening. Lots are wondering why they need to lose their men in the needless and senseless war.

That is damaging Russian society from within. Putin’s continuous repeating of the ‘Nazi’ narrative, which makes no sense to anyone except his clique, obsession with Ukraine undertaking as a whole, his cold-blooded killings of civilians in strikes and armed attacks, ignorant today’s statement that the ‘operation is going in accordance with the plan’ and obsessive desire to continue no matter what, raises serious questions about his general rationality.

His personal emotional state and newly adopted lifestyle add to those questions.
Whatever happens, huge compensations are already due. Russia is now a pariah state for the whole democratic world and is being excluded from multiple commercial transactions. It becomes isolated from global social activities.

The recent UN General Council resolution demonstrates global condemnation. An unprecedented support of Ukraine movement around the world dominates in today’s agenda. Putin personally already alienated himself from the world, made up a massive case for war crimes tribunal, tremendously weakened its economy and humiliated the image of great Russian army.

Whatever the outcome of this war, those facts have already been established. That
puts lots of questions of the outcomes, which Putin can consider as a victory. Even if he declares some results as a victory, his losses are already far greater.

Putin has already become an unaffordable liability for majority of population and, importantly, for the country’s top elite, which enjoyed the decades of stability and money-making opportunities.

Centre for Defense strategies is the Ukrainian security think tank working in security and defense. Currently all our activity is focused on stopping the ongoing Putin’s war. You can reach us for commentary and media request at

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