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Ukraine - Russian war update - Day 60
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Ukraine - Russian war update - Day 60

emoji_events [14]
Apr 25, 2022, 4:12 PM
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I've been delaying posting any new updates on this conflict because, quite frankly, trying to sort out what is actually happening is a total mess right now. In the early parts of the conflict there was an abundance of open source information (US and foreign press situated in Kyiv - close to the action) that provided some moderation to the propaganda being produced by both Russia and Ukraine. Once the Russian ground assault on Kyiv was defeated most of that moderating and amplifying reporting has remained in Kyiv or gone home and has not traveled to the East/South of Ukraine where this conflict is now being fought.

So... most of the current sources of information on this conflict are now coming from Russian media (which is state controlled) and press releases from the Ukrainian Government. Russian reporting is totally unreliable and while Ukraine's press releases have a track record of being fairly accurate, they also tend to gloss over "bad news". Furthermore, Ukraine is doing a very good job of keeping their unit identifications and locations hidden from the public which is the smart thing to do but makes it tough to discern what is going on.

All that being said, I thought I would give a best guess as to what is happening. I'll start at Kharkiv in the Northeast and work down to Kherson in the South...

Kharkiv has largely been under constant bombardment since this thing started back in February. Because of its location close to the Russian border, Kharkiv has remained within artillery range of Russian forces and has suffered accordingly. The Russian forces affecting Kharkiv are generally situated North and Northeast of the city; East of the E105 road and Northeast of the E40 road. It appears there are no Russian forces remaining West of the E105 road which should open up a lot of evacuation routes and resupply routes to Kharkiv. A couple days ago, the Ukrainian 92nd Mech Brigade (I love these guys) turned North from their Chuhuiv base of ops and started tearing a hole in the Russian Northeast sector of their Kharkiv siege. The 92nd Mech liberated the towns of Bezruky, Slatyne, and Prudyanka - all along the T2117 road. This is why the Russians are no longer along the Western side of the E105 roadway. I will be curious to see if the Ukrainians continue to press towards the East with the 92nd in an attempt to push the Russians back towards the Donets River or back across the Russian border.

The area of biggest concern for the Ukrainians is around Izyum which is about 75 miles Southeast of Kharkiv. The Russians are using Izyum as a base of operations for the Donbass fight and have a direct unimpeded supply route from Valuyki Russia to Izyum. The commander of Russian forces (Dvornikov) has been reconstituting forces to the degree Russia can in the Izyum area and has slowly made some progress towards the Russian goal of isolating the Ukrainian forces in the Severodonetsk pocket. The Ukraine Government has downplayed some of these advances but the slow creep of Russian forces to occupying Rubizhne and Kreminna Northwest of Severodonetsk and Borviske, Popasna and Horlivka to the South is troubling. Add to that mix the Russian forces out of Izyum that have taken Nova Dmytrivka, Kurulka, and Pashkvoe and things are not looking good for Ukraine in the Severodonetsk pocket. I think the Russians are trying a slow roll to Slovyansk from Izyum as that would really put the Ukrainians in a bind. If we also see the Russians making a move out of Popasna in the direction of Bakhmut/Bakhmutske you can bet the bank they are in fact trying a classic pincer movement to seal off the Severodonetsk pocket. If the Russians succeed they will have effectively obtained their objective of securing the whole of the Luhansk Oblast.

While I mention the above is troubling, I do think that Russia has somewhat grabbed "low hanging fruit" by using the big advantage they have in artillery. Russia has been largely piecemealing their attacks and have shown no ability to mass a large scale offensive. I believe the Russians are having a hard time reconstituting from their previous losses (particularly armor) and are rushing personnel and units into the fight as soon as they arrive. IMO Russia is trying to apply constant pressure on the Ukrainian forces through the use of reduced strength Russian units that are supported by Russia's overwhelming advantage in artillery. This method has yielded some success for the Russians but will probably fall short in taking the more fortified Ukrainian defensive positions. On the other side, Ukraine may be trading some battlespace to bait the Russians into overextending themselves (string the Russians out) in order to get some Russian units out from underneath of their overwhelming artillery umbrella in order to hammer them.

Another interesting tidbit shaping up around Izyum is that the Russian 64th MRB (the butchers of Bucha) have supposedly arrived in the AO and will now have to fight a real armed force instead of slaughtering unarmed civilians. The Ukrainian 95th Airborne along with the local Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces are sure to be on the lookout for these war criminals and judging by the damage they have already inflicted on the Russians (have already destroyed 6 Russian BTGs) you can bet the butchers of Bucha will be shown no mercy.

Further South in the Donetsk AO things have really not changed a whole lot. Russian forces have attempted some small level attacks but have been largely repelled by the Ukrainian forces. Mariupol is still under siege (regardless of what Putin is telling his public) as the remaining Ukrainian forces have occupied the Azovstal Metallurgical Zone, with the Azovstal Steel Plant being the focal point of Ukrainian defense.

FYI, the Azovstal Steel Plant is a nuclear hardened facility that has bunkers and tunnels stretching six storeys underground. The facility was built to house the steel plant's 40,000 workers in the event of a nuclear attack during the cold war. Because of this, the Russian bombing of the Azovstal Steel Plant has probably reached a point of diminishing returns. Depending on how much supplies the Ukrainians have stored in this facility (if it still has provisions for 40,000 people then the 1500 fighters won't run short anytime soon), they may be able to hold out for quite some time and conduct raids out of this maze of tunnels that slowly bleed the Russian forces remaining in the city. Russia is trying to avoid going into this complex with ground forces because if they do they will suffer high casualties. It will be interesting to see how this plays out...

In the Kherson AO, Russian forces continue to hold Kherson City proper but Ukrainian forces are slowly making progress liberating small towns on the outskirts of Kherson. Recently Ukraine reported that they have taken the town of Chornobaivka which is only about 5 miles from the center of Kherson. If the Izyum AO is the most tenuous for Ukraine, Kherson is the most tenuous for Russia. Several days ago the Russian 49th CAA was hosting a meeting of top officers in Kherson and somehow the Ukrainians found out about it. (Word on the street is that a NATO intercept in Romania picked up the information on this meeting and passed it to the Ukrainians). Regardless of how they found out, the Ukrainians targeted this "meeting place" and ended up killing the 49th CAA Commander (Lieutenant General Yakov Rezantsev). If Ukraine keeps having success nipping away at Kherson they may be able to push the Russians back across the Dnipro River and start rolling up this Southern flank.

This is as much as I can make out of the messy reporting in regards to this war. I think the Russian armor advantage is waning (thanks to the numerous anti-armor systems supplied to Ukraine by the West) but their advantage in artillery and air is massive. The Ukrainians have got to find a way to either destroy more of the Russian artillery or separate Russian units from their artillery support.

It looks like most of NATO (and the West) is waking up to the fact that Ukraine can actually win this thing if the West supplies them with enough of the right arms. Most recently the US upped its support to include 155mm howitzers and additional armed UAV's (supposedly we are already training Ukrainians on this equipment). In another positive development - earlier today Sec Def Austin (who I've been very critical of) said the goal for the Ukraine-Russia War is Ukrainian sovereignty and a weakened Russia. He further stated that the U.S. is committed to helping Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy win the war. I certainly welcome this change in tone from the Biden Administration - but we have to continue to follow the rhetoric with the weapons systems to enable Ukraine to win.


Here is the latest "professional analysis" from ISW:
https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-24


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Re: Ukraine - Russian war update - Day 60

[1]
Apr 25, 2022, 5:10 PM
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Mucho thanks for these updates Tabby. Keep'em coming!

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Re: Ukraine - Russian war update - Day 60


Apr 25, 2022, 5:47 PM
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I've really missed these reports. Trying to sort out what's been happening from the news reports has been, as you mentioned, really difficult, because after that flurry of activity, until they capped those generals in Kherson a couple days back, not a lot has really happened.

I actually heard it was "generals", plural, BTW. The newsies have said two generals were killed and a third badly wounded and had to be evacuated...and the command center was filled with 50+ high-level officers. Is this correct or was it just the one?

https://www.19fortyfive.com/2022/04/putin-has-a-problem-ukraine-just-killed-two-russian-generals-in-kherson/


It's interesting how the Russians are still using the old Soviet-era playbook, roll forth under massive slow-moving columns of artillery, and pound, pound, and pound some more. For all that they've allegedly advanced that's still really all they seem to know how to do, and outside their artillery umbrella they looked like a herd of a$$clowns. I saw one breakdown of a GoPro-style helmet video of a Russian platoon that got ambushed, and the ex-Special Forces guy providing commentary noted that he'd seen paintball teams with more tactical sense than the Russian unit, and he started keeping a running tally of the number of times they'd point guns at each other's heads while sort of waving their AK's around like Super Soaker water guns. It was...not good.

https://taskandpurpose.com/news/video-russian-troops-ambush-ukraine-everything-wrong/


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I've seen a report that other Russian Officers were

[1]
Apr 26, 2022, 8:54 AM
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killed/wounded in the attack in Kherson but haven't seen any names other than the 49th CAA commander. Chances are that a bunch of the high ranking Orcs were either killed or wounded but just don't have the proof of it yet. In a couple of weeks when their funerals happen back in Russia we'll know for sure.

The Orcs in the ambush video definitely look like a bunch of "green" troops. No one seems to be taking charge nor do they seem to have any muzzle awareness. Their reaction to ambush training seems to be lacking. One thing is for sure in high intensity combat - they'll either learn quickly or won't survive many more encounters...

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Re: I've seen a report that other Russian Officers were


Apr 26, 2022, 10:52 AM
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killing their generals may not be the best move, they seem incompetent

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Re: I've seen a report that other Russian Officers were


Apr 26, 2022, 7:16 PM
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Well, they had something like 23 generals in Ukraine at the beginning of the war.

As many as 10 of those have now been killed, and another has reportedly been badly wounded and evacuated.

So...half of their top brass are gone, and numerous other top officers are gone as well. That's Soviet-Army-In-WW2-type bad. One Colonel apparently got run over by his own men in a tank because they were mad at how many of their buddies he got killed. This suggests there is not exactly a deep bench of quality officers ready to leap into the breach.

And who would want the job, anyhow?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV2DLkDPwM8

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