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Ukraine War, 13 September 2023
Sorry for another ‘break’: life and work came in between. Moreover, must admit I’ve ‘intentionally delayed’ this report for at least 24 hours, in expectation of possible news ‘from the south’, which then didn’t turn up. Anyway, here a summary for the last few days.
On 9 September, a Russian military warehouses outside Staryi Krym and Fedosya were hit by ‘something’…
On 10 September, the Russians released 33 Shaheds at Ukraine: 26 were claimed shot down.
On 11 September, the Russians released a stream of 11 Shahed LPGMs: all 11 were claimed as shot down by the PSU. They are also known to have deployed one Kh-31P and one Kh-59 missile from their Su-34s. I guess it was one of the latter two that knocked out Ukrainian ST-68U early warning radar outside Kryvorizhzhya, in the Donetsk Oblast – some 70km from the nearest point on the frontline.
Some 5-6 days ago (though, officially: ‘on 11 September’), Ukrainian special forces have recovered the Boyko offshore oil rigs in the Black sea, east of the Zmiyni Island. These were occupied by the Russians already in 2014, and were helping them control a large chunk of airspace over north-western Black Sea.
During the night from 11 to 12 September, several Ukrainian UAVs seem to have hit targets in the Kursk and Rylsk areas. However, it was the way that 12 September ended that was ‘spectacular’ – at least for Ukraine, its air force, and for much of population of Sevastopol (less so for the sailors of the Russian Black Sea Fleet). Using Storm Shadow or SCALP-EG missiles, the PSU hit the area of two drydocks in the port, destroying amphibious assault ship Minsk (Ropucha-class), and a Kilo-class submarine B-237 Rostov-na-Donu (‘destroying’ because I doubt the Russians can repair either with locally-available means). There are contradictory reports about the weapon used, some citing Neptune anti-ship missiles modified for land-attacks, others Storm Shadows. I’m leaning towards the latter version alone because of the range: me thinks, the weapons in question were air-launched. Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG is air-launched, Neptune not. The Keystone Cops in Moscow have confirmed ‘damage’, ‘two killed and 26 wounded’, but nothing else.
Around the same time, the Russians released a stream of 44 Shaheds: 32 were claimed shot down, but the rest came through. Most have pounded the grain storage sites around Izmail. In the Kyiv area, one hit an ammunition storage dump in Rokytne.
BATTLE OF DONBASS
Kupyansk-Svatove…that big Russian push between Serhivka and Novoprokopivka might have gained the VSRF some 100-500 metres, but not much more. Essentially, two of their brigades and two tank regiments run into Ukrainian 43rd Mech and 68th Jäger, and was smashed to pieces. Pity is only that most of destroyed Russian T-80s and BMPs are behind their line, and thus there are too few photos and videos of their wreckage. Guess, with this, things are going to get quieter for a while, because the VSRF is meanwhile busy rebuilding units of the 41st CAA mauled in the last two months, and replacing them with the newly-established 25th CAA.
Kremina…. Essentially, since the withdrawal and re-deployment of VDV units from this area, Ukrainians are making small, slow advances through the Serebriyansky Forest. It’s 100m one day, 50m the other. The Russians have limited their activity to torching what’s left of the forest with incendiaries.
Bakhmut….south….no idea why are there still reports about ‘Russian attacks’ in this area (at least in the social media), because the Russian side of the frontline fell very silent since the failure of their counterattacks, about a week ago. Thus, the 3rd and 5th Assault of the ZSU were able to completely secure, mop-up, and heavily fortify both Klishchivka and Andriivka, in the last few days, and then work on further expansion of their bridgeheads east of the railway berm. IN Kurdyumivka… not exactly sure who is in control, only that the Russian 11th VDV and (what was left of) 72nd MRB have suffered losses there, the last few days.
Avdiivka….on 8-9 September, the 53rd Mech ZSU did something ‘really unexpected’ and launched an attack on the Russian positions in Opytne and Spartak, south of the town and on northern fringes of the (completely ruined, already since 2014) Donetsk International. As first, a diversionary attack hit the 287th MRR (one of former DPR-units) in Spartak, causing it heavy losses. Then, supported not only by its own the 53rd assaulted the 1439th MRR in Opytne, prompting it into a panicky retreat. The Russian artillery at the airport misunderstood that for an Ukrainian advance, and opened fire, killing dozens of fleeing Russians. Ever since, fighting is going on inside Opytne: the place was not yet entirely under Ukrainian control as of this morning.
AFAIK, and sadly, that is as far as Ukrainians have managed to get. Meanwhile, the Russians have rushed all the possible reinforcements from some 6-7 different brigades and regiments to stabilise their frontline – and Ukrainians are lacking the amount of armour necessary for a bigger breakthrough. As said so often: they can only advance at the pace of their infantry, which is leaving enough time for the Russians to bring in reinforcements and create a new defence line. I do find it pity Ukrainians haven’t had another 2-3 brigades to support this attack with stronger push against the Russian 111th MRR in Pisky: such a ‘pincer’ push could have caused a massive trouble for the Russians in Vodyane, because they were taken completely by surprise. At least it was ‘nice’ to see the local VSRF commander lost the control of the battle, early on.
When it comes to this sector of the frontline, for me, the last few days were something like ‘days of uncertainty’. Guess, Ukrainian troops experienced them as days of heavy pressure. The reason is that over the last two weeks the Russians deployed no less than four VDV divisions to rebuild the mauled 58th CAA. And while many of ‘desantniki’ of these divisions are reservists, they are still a full magnitude better trained than what’s left of the VSRF, nowadays. Generally, the ZSU reacted with vicious artillery barrages. From what I’ve got to hear, some of artillery units shot more shells in the first 10 days of this month, than back in entire June, just for example.
Staromlynivka…The presence of the VDV was most heavily felt by troops of the 23rd Mech in Pryyutne: indeed, these have helped the remnants of the Russian 60th MRB and the 349th MRR to force Ukrainians out of the village and into the field fortifications north and west of it.
In the Zavitne Bazhanya, Ukrainian naval infantry didn’t make any further advances, the last few days.
That said, fresh VDV troops didn’t help the Russian garrison in Novodonetske: this has suffered heavy losses to a three-prong Ukrainian attack, and is meanwhile driven into the southern side of this village – plus under pressure from west and even south-west (i.e. almost cut off). Further east, Ukrainians (35th Naval Infantry Brigade) have expanded their bridgehead over the Shaitanka River in the Novomayorske area, and forced the 131st and 1466th MRRs into the central and southern parts of that village.
Robotyne-Verbove… On 8-9 September, the Russians run a counterattack into south-western Robotyne: this was repelled, though. In another counterattack they claimed a ‘major success’ north of Verbove, when they counterattacked the 118th Mech and reported the recovery of some 2,5 fields there. Whether they really recovered something is unclear, though.
Still, these two counterattacks were enough to slow down Ukrainians and thus there’s not much in terms of ‘advances’ to report from this area. The last I’ve heard,
- the 47th Mech was pushing into Kopani;
- the 46th Airborne was in the first few houses of northern Novoprokopivka; perhaps in first few houses of eastern Novoprokopivka, too….and it continued pushing from the 1st anti-tank ditch in southern direction, towards Hills 162, 166, and 169, east of Novorprokopivka.
- 82nd Airborne is pushing into Verbove (might have been forced to withdraw from its centre, though), against the 247th VDV and 417th Recce Regiments.
That’s about it for today: hope to have time for ‘much more’ in the coming two days.