Seven months after the invasion, Russia holds less land than in the early days of the war. See how progress stalled.
The Ukrainian army’s sudden and successful counter-attack in the Kharkiv region this month has resulted in Russian troops holding less Ukrainian land than after their first attack on the country in February 2022, according to a DailyExpertNews analysis of exclusive data from the Ukrainian army. Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Russia’s first massive attack, which began on the night of February 23, enabled it to capture or advance one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory, or about 119,000 square kilometers (46,000 square miles) of the total 603,500 square kilometers. which Ukraine claims and regards as “temporarily occupied”. ‘, the analysis shows.
Seven months after launching an invasion — an invasion that Western officials believed would be over in days with a flooded Ukrainian capital — Russia has about 3,000 square miles less land than it had in the first five days of the war, it found. cnn. (Unverified claims are excluded from the analysis.)
In an effort to secure what it still controls, the Kremlin on Friday claimed to annex four Ukrainian regions, over which it has only partial control, contributing to the region’s seizure and annexation of Crimea in 2014.
In a ceremony attended by Russian-installed heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and of the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, Russian President Valdimir Putin signed four separate agreements on the admission of new territories to the Russian Federation. Before the announcement, Putin formally recognized Kherson and Zaporizhzhya as independent states on Thursday.
In late September, pro-Russian authorities hastily conducted so-called “referendums” in parts of Ukraine’s four occupied regions: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya. Large parts of Donetsk and Zaporizhzhya remain in Ukrainian hands.
The referenda were widely criticized by Ukraine and the international community as a bogus attempt and illegal. And while the process was underway, Ukrainian troops took back more territory in Donetsk.
Although antebellum polls conducted by DailyExpertNews in February 2022 showed that no region of Ukraine had more than one in five people who supported Ukraine’s unification with Russia, authorities in those occupied regions predictably claimed on Wednesday that residents had overwhelmingly agreed. with accession to the Russian Federation.
For the first time in the conflict, the Russian army stands in the background – the stated goal of taking all of Donetsk and Luhansk seemed further away after a disorderly withdrawal from the neighboring region of Kharkiv.
On Friday, the Kremlin reiterated that an attack on the newly annexed territories would be considered an act of aggression against Russia. Ukraine’s allies fear the move could provide a pretext for a new, dangerous phase in the war.
DailyExpertNews analysis of ISW data outlines Moscow’s military setbacks that may have contributed to the decisions made in the Kremlin this week.
In the first month of the invasion, Russia nearly quadrupled the area under its control, expanding the territory of Crimea (annexed in 2014) and the separatist-controlled republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, also established in 2014.
But that would mark the pinnacle of Russian success. Moscow decided to withdraw its troops from northern and northeast Ukraine in early April after failing to take the capital Kiev.
In the months that followed, the Kremlin military and its allies have struggled to make substantial gains. Between the beginning of May and the end of August, net profit stagnated between 200 and 1,400 square kilometers of Ukrainian land per month, the analysis shows.
And on Sept. 26, Russia’s total net territory gains since its withdrawal in early April were just over 1,000 square miles — half the size of Rhode Island, America’s smallest state, the data shows.
DailyExpertNews explores key events in the Russian invasion from the perspective of a territorial struggle in an interactive timeline.