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Ukraine War, 13 July 2023: Popov’s Gladiators
Relatively short one for today, with ‘full focus’ on analysis of ‘just a relatively limited segment of the frontlines’ – the one in southern Zaporizhzhya.
(And sorry for the - originally - wrong date [15 July]: this came into being while preparing what was planned for release on 15 July.)
After knocking out a better part of a Russian S-400 SAM-site plus several Buk TELARs of the Russian 71st SAM-Brigade (here’s a hit on the second of two that were video-documented), between 9 and 11 July, the PSU flew a series of Storm Shadow strikes. As far as can be counted, a total of some 17-18 missiles were released on 9 and 10 July alone (means: at least 9 aircraft were involved; or 4-5 aircraft, each flying 2 sorties) including:
- 3 against Skradovsk
- 6 against Berdaynsk
- 7 against Tokmak
- 1 against Novooleksiivka (between Melitopol and Dzhankoy)
The Russians claimed 3 Storm Shadows as shot down, then an Ukrainian Mi-24 (reportedly claimed by their interceptors, but in the Chervkovka area, which is in south-eastern outskirts of Sloviansk, far away from southern Zaproizhzhya), and two Su-25s (reportedly: in the Sadovoe and Tyginka area, both in the Kherson Oblast).
However, one of Ukrainian missiles seems to have hit the new HQ of the 58th CAA, killing – between others - the Deputy Commander South OSK, Lieutenant-General Tsokov.
Now, RUMINT has it, some people are very angry – emphasis on very - about my analysis that Russia is suffering massive personnel losses and thus, in long term, losing this battle.
…must be then, the C-in-C 58th CAA, Major-General Popov, was – in his own words – relieved of duty (read: fired) for ‘not’ complaining to the Keystone Cops about heavy losses (indeed ‘mass deaths’), for ‘not’ complaining about enemy artillery, about lack of supplies and counter-battery fire, lack of intelligence and even reconnaissance for artillery, for ‘not’ complaining about the need for replacement and rotation of his mauled units, and what he calls ‘treachery and vile’ on the part of the higher command (see Keystone Cops in Moscow)….
There you have it: the (ex) commander 58th CAA…that son of a gun… complaining about things I’ve explained repeatedly…
But hey, Pudding-fans: there’s help. And it’s very simple. See here: the Russian Armed Forces are doing great. Simply great. They just couldn’t get any better. And everything is going along the plan for the special military operation.
So easy to type and post such rubbish in the social media – and promptly making you feeling so much better, isn’t it?
Having satisfied Pudding-fans (I hope), now to some analysis.
OK, so: Major-General Denis Igorevhich Lyamin was ordered to take over the 58th CAA. AFAIK, his last post was that of Commander XXII Army Corps. You might recall that about a year ago, the XXII was responsible for northern Kherson (from memory, the sector from Davydiv Brid to Osokorivka). Since the ‘goodwill gesture’ from the right bank of the Dnipro, back in November last year, it’s responsible for the defence of the left bank of the Dnipro, from the Black Sea up to the Oleshky area.
What can be expected from Lyamin?
As far as I can say, the primary area of 58th CAA’s responsibility is the Robotyne sector, south of Orikhiv (AFAIK, responsibility for the Staromaiorske-Staromlynivka sector – the former seam between the 58th CAA in the West and the 36th CAA in the East - is now in the hands of the HQ 5th CAA). The last 7-10 days, and in reaction to heavy losses of the 70th, 291st and 1430th Motor Rifle Regiments, Popov spent pumping ever more of his reserves into the 1st Line of Defence. Ended up stuffing some 10km of the frontline with BARS-1, BARS-3, BARS-11, and BARS-14, plus the 100th Reconnaissance Brigade…
…and no-no: please, in no way should this remind anybody about the mess the ZSU created when pumping 20+ battalions from as many different brigades into Bakhmut, back in January-February this year…
But I digress… if all these units are fully staffed, that’s something like 3,500 troops.
Add some 300-400 survivors of each of the other three units: 4,000-4,500 troops.
….supported by about 70 tanks, some 70 artillery pieces (almost certainly some 50% less, actually, but lets remain cautious).
Foremost: if one adds the survivors of the ‘highly-skilled professionals’ (greetings to Wiener Neustadt) of the 22nd and 45th Spetsnaz Brigades (that’s another 2,000 troops or so), that’s about 100 ATGM-teams - which seem to be the most effective Russian weapons in this sector.
Point is: all together, that’s about 7,000, perhaps 8,000 troops compressed into something like 10km wide and 5km deep sector of the frontline (say: 10km, if one includes all the artillery [50th and 292nd Artillery Regiments], air defences [71st SAM Brigade], and support services…but then we’re already talking about 10,000+ troops!).
All of this to fight – essentially – two Ukrainian mechanised brigades (47th and 65th). Say: 3,000 troops.
Hey! Isn’t that undisputable evidence for exceptional professionalism of Russian generals, superior Russian military strategy, and superiority of Russian arms? And in no way should anybody come to the idea that the VSRF is nowadays depending on sheer numbers of troops to continue fighting. No-no.
After all, everybody knows, meanwhile, that the 58th CAA has recently captured its first intact M2/3 Bradley (see below). There’s no evidence yet they’ve managed to recover it from the battlefield, too, but: alone that one captured Bradley is winning everything, and driving aggressive, expansionist and useless NATO straight back to where it belongs. Which is the line Brüssel - Strassbourg…
(Even more so considering that the Russian PRBS-machinery has released far more videos from recent fighting than the ZSU did: doesn’t matter if 60-70% of these are shown fighting from back in early-to-mid June. Indeed the very same scenes we’ve seen so often already, ‘just from a different direction’. Important is: they’ve released more videos. Which automatically means: Russia is winning the wa….erm… special military operation, and Ukraine ‘can’t advance’….indeed, Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed…. already back on 5 June…)
But, seriously: what can Lyamin do?
Or, what can he do better (than Popov)?
By now, the 47th and the 65th have reached the southern edge of the massive Russian minefields they’ve been clearing for over a month. This is why Popov reacted by throwing all his reserves into their way: the more Russian troops Ukrainians have to shot away, the slower is their advance.
Lyamin’s last reserve would be divisional elements of the 42nd Motor Rifle Division, plus the Redut and Plamya PMCs. All are deployed in the Tokmak area. He might decide to re-deploy the 165th and 291st Artillery brigades from the Hulayipole sector to the Robotyne. Perhaps even move the 336th Naval Infantry Brigade (if this is still assigned to the 58th CAA, and not acting as reserve of the 5th CAA), all the way from Volodyne. That would bring him about 4,000 troops, 20-30 tanks, and 50 guns.
Alternativelly, the Keystone Cops in Moscow could continue weakening positions of the XXII Corps and 49th CAA, and sending yet more of their units to southern Zaporizhzhya.
…and what then…?
Foremost: any such move would almost certainly be detected by the Ukrainians, in turn prompting them into re-directing their attention to some other sector of the frontline. Meanwhile, they’ve had enough time to clear numerous lanes through different of Russian minefields: thus, the choice of potential alternative routes is constantly increasing.
All of this is why, dear reader, the above-listed Ukrainian ‘Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG/HIMARS/MLRS’-onslaught on Russian headquarters, supply depots, the railway line and – lately – air defences in the area between the occupied Crimea, Melitopol and Tokmak is as important.
As long as these remain under similar pressure like the last few weeks, the VSRF has no means to significantly bolster the 58th CAA: even the port of Berdyansk and local Russian military bases are blown up to Mars, one after the other…
No doubt, Ukrainian 47th Mech has suffered quite some unpleasant losses by now. Even ‘heavy’ losses, if you like. At least in its US-supplied infantry fighting vehicles (less so in troops, which are regularly emerging out of vehicles that drove over mines or were hit by Russian ATGMs). But, Popov’s ‘gladiators’ (as he’s calling his own troops in his ‘farewell message’), are dying in scores, and left to bleed to death.
And all the Keystone Cops can do is to replace its commander. Well, there are advantages from that: one mouth less to feed in the southern Zaporizhzhya…
ADD-ON: finally a decent ‘TV-documentation’ of this kind (and to that topic, in particular), with an excellent English-translation: Popasna...
No BS by 'journalists' nor social media: just letting vets talk. Simply a 'must watch':