Russia managed to increase the amount of territory it controls in Ukraine by less than 0.04% in February, the same month it launched its long-awaited new offensive, experts say, Insider reports.
Washington DC-based think tank The Institute for the Study of War told Insider that its mapping data showed Russia had gained just 0.039% more territory in Ukraine between January 31 and February 28.
This was the equivalent of around 233.94 square kilometers (90.3 square miles).
That territory increase is similar to what was reported by tracking group War Mapper, which said that Russia managed to increase the territory it controls in Ukraine by around 0.01% in February, or about 85 square kilometers (32.8 square miles).
Russia gained this tiny amount of land while losing thousands of soldiers and hemorrhaging military equipment.
The ISW told Insider that «both numbers are small enough» that a tiny miscalculation could be the reason why they are different, but that ultimately both accurately portray the limited state of Russia’s territory gains.
NATO said on February 14 that Russia had begun its long-awaited offensive, after months of winter stalemate and after it was pushed back to the east of the country earlier in the war.
The UK Ministry of Defence said a few days later that Russia was «advancing, if at all, in metres not kilometres.»
And a senior US diplomat was also scathing about Russia’s progress, saying: «Russia has declared that it is launching a new offensive. Well, if this is it, it is very pathetic.»
Russia has also not made any notable territory gains in March. It’s army has been fighting along the eastern front line, including inching forward in the city of Bakhmut, considered one of the war’s bloodiest and longest-running battles. But Russia has not yet taken the city.
And its losses have been huge.
US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley told Politico in late February that around 1,200 soldiers had recently been killed in a single day of fighting in Bakhmut.
It’s also losing important equipment. The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated in mid-February that Russia had lost half of its main battle tanks since the start of the invasion.
On Tuesday, the UK Ministry of Defence said one of the reasons Russia had made little progress was that it had to ration artillery shells due to ammunition shortages.
The MOD also suggested earlier this month that Russia had changed its tactics away from trying to gain new territory towards focusing on exhausting Ukraine, in the hope that its bigger population and larger resources will eventually gain it victory.
Wearing down Ukraine in this way could potentially lead to a peace deal where Russia gains territory, or a situation where Ukraine’s allies tire of giving it new weapons and its military then becomes easier to defeat.