The Debacle in Makariv
How, over the course of two weeks in March, the Russian military got rinsed outside of Kyiv
Highlights from today’s post:
How the Russian military lost a lot more materiel outside Kyiv than previously known
Lots of Facebook and Telegram posts from regular Ukrainian folks
Mapping and visualization of the Russian military’s equipment losses
Before we get into today’s post, do you need to convert geo coordinates into useful location information?
Over the course of the war in Ukraine, groups of sleuths have teamed up to track exactly what equipment the Russian army has lost. Their work has been impressive. Note, for instance, the thousands of pins on the Center for Information Resilience’s map or the intricate detail put into the Institute for the Study of War’s front line assessments.
However, I’ve noticed that these efforts sometimes leave out a very important area of research: what regular Ukrainian folks are seeing in their towns, villages, and neighborhoods after the Russians depart.
Over the last month, I’ve trawled through several Ukrainian Facebook and Telegram pages for towns in western Kyiv that were formerly occupied by the Russian military. These pages show that the battle for western Kyiv, in particular for a town called Makariv, were far more destructive for the Russian military than previously reported.
As folks who lived in the area trickled back to their homes after the Ukrainian military drove Russian forces out in mid-March, residents found (and posted about) dozens of blasted or abandoned pieces of Russian military equipment in their basements, gardens, forests, and farmland. Many of these losses are previously unreported in either the news media or on conflict-tracking maps.
In particular, Ukrainians posted over 40 previously unreported Russian or likely Russian1 vehicles in and around the Makariv area. These vehicles mean Russia may have lost up to one additional battalion tactical group out of the approximately 170 currently fielded by Russian forces. While that may not sound like a massive loss, these vehicles cannot be easily replaced and were lost during an engagement in which Russia gained no ground or strategic advantage.
One area where Russia lost several vehicles was the Severinivka Forest, located near a sleepy town just south of one of the main highways to Kyiv. Throughout several weeks in April and May, one old man, evidently looking out across his back yard, saw Ukrainian forces remove two Russian armored vehicles, three trucks, and one unidentified vehicle from the nearby forest.
Across town, news reports and other aggregators revealed evidence of a massive battle north of Makariv near the Kyiv Stream Golf Club.
When the dust settled, locals found not just those vehicles above, but also an encampment containing at least four additional Russian trucks dug into the grounds in and around the golf course.
Above all, however, residents of the village of Andriivka must have been astonished at the destruction they saw when they returned to their homes. No less than seven Russian vehicles were found along the main road of this tiny village of less than 600 people.
They ranged from a tank captured in relatively good condition, to BTR and BMP armored vehicles, to a self-propelled artillery piece, to an advanced Tigr personnel carrier, and a few others that were too damaged to identify.
All told, near Makariv, Russia lost an additional2:
16 armored vehicles (BTRs, BMPs, etc)
Four unidentified tracked vehicles
Two staff cars
One fuel truck
One MLRS rocket launching vehicle
One self-propelled artillery piece
One towed trailer
These previously unreported losses are distributed across the region, with noticeable clusters in Andriivka, the Severinivka forest, along the E40 highway, and in and around Makariv itself.
What’s more, these losses don’t account for the obvious counterfactual: what vehicles have been destroyed that haven’t been documented? Did Russia lose more than one additional battalion tactical group around Makariv? If so, how many more?
Since March and April, the focus of the war in Ukraine has shifted from Kyiv to eastern Ukraine. Once again, when normal life resumes in the east, we should expect regular people to find the wreckage of war in their shops, farms, and backyards.
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Sometimes the vehicles were too badly damaged to tell for sure.
It’s possible that the count is slightly lower than this, as I’ve included a few vehicles with strong circumstantial evidence, but no strong proof, they belonged to Russia and a few that were also likely Russian but, as mentioned above, were too damaged to tell.