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Ukraine War, 23 September 2023
Good morning everybody!
‘Even if posting additional posts’, actually, the last few days I was ‘away’ from my office – and already looking forward to explain that the thesis along which ‘lots of things happen whenever Tom is away’, is all wrong….
Obviously, it was me who was wrong. And so, this is going to be a longer update….
The traditional and prestigious ‘Pearl of the Month’ award for September 2023, issued by the Sarcastosaur in the Great People’s Hall of the Democratic Kingdom of Schnurliland, is going to The Economist. For this article recommending Ukraine to ‘brace itself for war of attrition’. Considering this was published
just 18 months since it became crystal clear that this is going to be a war of attrition;
13-14 months since the ZSU gave up trying to hold out in the Sieverodonetsk-Lysichansk area;
9 months since the ZSU’s decision to hold out in Bakhmut as long as possible, and to defend Vuhledar;
some 5 months since the ZSU went on its ‘attritional’ counter-offensive in the Bakhmut area, and
less than 4 months since the Group of Forces Tavriya switched over to similar tactics in southern Zaporizhzhya…..
….cannot but guess, The Economist has informed its readers that Pudding invaded Ukraine - about two weeks ago?
…which brought me to the idea to start providing advices on 20 top trading strategies, starting with the end of this update: because I’ve got as much clue about that topic as The Economist about the war in Ukraine.
But wait: try to put yourself into the shoes of any poor soul still trying to follow this war with help of the mainstream media alone….for example, all the super-clever strategists (paid US$/€ 100,000-400,000 a year) advising our glorious politicians: guess, in the next volume they’re going to offer ’20 useful advices for Mr. Chamberlain’s negotiations with Hr. Hitler, next week in München’…
Narrowly missing the same award were two other instances.
First were Ukrainian intelligence services which are excelling at creating and running underground sabotage groups, and UAV-strikes on the territory of the Russian Federation, but have no means to find the culprit for the rapid loss of southern Ukraine in the first days of the Russian invasion - and that between lower-ranking Ukrainian troops (of course ‘it wasn’t Generals’)….
….and then different Experten complaining about the RUMINT originating from the French media, according to which France is secretly training 30 Ukrainians on (Dassault) Mirage 2000D strike fighters. By side that this was promptly denied by the French Ministry of Defence, but they declared the type for ‘unsuitable’, primarily because of its origins – while, actually, Mirage 2000D would be an (almost) perfect successor for Su-24M, because it was designed for that kind of missions (on an Iraqi request: if you wonder where have I got that idea, check here). The only ‘problem’ would be that the type can carry just one SCALP-EG, not two, like Su-24M can.
But, I’m biased and awarding the Pearl at own discretion: thus, I’ll keep the next one reserved for President Macron.
…for delivery of Mirage 2000Ds to Ukraine…
…sometimes in February 2032…
….right on time to participate in the victory parade for the liberation of Vladivostok.
Early on 20 September, at least one Storm Shadow released by PSU’s Su-24Ms hit the main base of the 744th Communication Centre of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Verkhnosavode, on the occupied Crimea. Around the same time, or slightly later, at least two other missiles (said to have been Neptunes modified to strike ground targets) caused explosions in an area near the Balbek AB, known as occupied by the Russian armed forces.
Late on 20 September, the SBU and the Navy run a big drone strike on the Saky AB, on the occupied Crimea, claiming to have hit their targets. According to the SBU, about 12 Su-24s and Su-30s and at least one Pantsyr SAM-system were there at the time of the strike, and this base is used for training of Russian operators of Iranian-made Mohajer UAVs (which, however, largely proved a failure in this war so far). The Russians claimed to have shot down 19 Ukrainian drones over the peninsula during the day….
During the night from 20 to 21 September, the Russians run their first big-style strike on the Ukrainian energy network ‘in this season’ (and the first of that kind in six months). In total, 9 or 10 Tu-95s are known to have been airborne – at least 5 of them from Olenya AB (southern Kola peninsula), and they have released 44 Kh-55, Kh-555, and Kh-101 cruise missiles. 36 of these were claimed as shot down by the PSU (20 of over the Kyiv-, and 2 over the Kharkiv area).
Official Kyiv wouldn’t say what exactly was targeted: it must keep the Russians in darkness over what did they try to hit, you know…
What is known is that six impacts were observed in Kharkiv, and that electricity was – partially – cut off in Rivne and Zhytomyr oblasts, and that some installations were damaged in Dnipropetrovsk and Kyivv. Also damaged were some 21 private homes and a warehouse of the PepsiCo plant in the Kyiv Oblast, nearly all of these by the debris of downed missiles. In Cherkasy, a Kh-101 aimed at a local substation hit and blew up a hotel: 11 people were wounded, and six of them hospitalised, but seems that nobody was killed.
(BTW, PepsiCo is on the official Ukrainian list of the ‘international sponsors of war’ – because it resumed its production and sales in Russia. Its products – now branded ‘Russian Gift’ – have been found in captured Russian positions: perhaps the Keystone Cops in Moscow decided to extract a revenge for bad stomachs of too many mobiks…?)
Furthermore, the Russians launched at least one Iskander and six S-300s in ballistic mode – apparently: all at the Kharkiv Oblast. At least the Iskander was reported as shot down somewhere outside the city (no S-300s, though).
Finally, the Russians have targeted the Odesa area with Onyx cruise missiles. Except that the air-raid warning was cancelled around 19.08hrs, nothing is known about what did these target. In the evening, a Su-34 of the VKS then targeted the Odesa area again, hitting – according to official Kyiv - ‘recreational infrastructure’.
(…really, is anybody there trying to convince us the Russians are aiming to destroy Ukraine through imposing a nation-wide…’unfitness’ – and thus ‘systematically targeting recreational infrastructure’ of Odesa, only, and all the time, for one year already? Or would it be the time to change the cover-story?)
Elsewhere during 20 and 21 September, the Russians run about 20 MPK/UMPK air strikes on the Kherson Oblast. Known to have been hit were the village of Lvove (Beryslav) and Bilozerka. This ‘round’ seems to have taken the PSU by surprise, because reports have it that six civilians were killed and 10 wounded.
….obviously, the PSU still needs at least two additional MIM-104 Patriot systems (not to talk about additional IRIS-Ts and NASAAMs….).
During the afternoon of 22 September, the PSU hit the HQ of the Russian Black Sea in the port of Sevastopol with two missiles. Since there were lots of related reports in the Russian social media (here one of typical videos), the Keystone Cops in Moscow could not avoid admitting ‘one’ attack, but promptly claimed to have shot down one missile and two drones. According to official Moscow, one person was killed… Certainly enough, the detonations in Sevastopol were strong enough to prompt even the Austrian ORF to report this strike: of course, and because the building was on fire even as of this evening (as recorded on this video released by the TASS), neutral Austrians cannot confirm nor deny any related reports with help of neutral sources…
My hat’s off for this PSU-operation. I mean: outplaying S-400s, blasting one or another SAM-site: ‘OK, doable’. But, running this kind of strike is stunning – and was certainly neither easy nor without dangers. And yes: this is leaving the impression the major Russian naval base in the Black Sea being protected by teenagers on dope, armed with bows and arrows…
Overall, the situation on the Crimea yesterday was…’quite explosive’…. – because Ukrainian air strikes and resulting detonations were heard and reported not only from Sevastopol, but also Krasnogvardiysk, Bachtishissarai, Simferopol, Rodolne, Sakas, Cap Fiolent/Cossack Bay… Even the Kerch Bridge was closed for traffic, in the afternoon.
The ‘revenge’ came around 17.30hrs, when air-raid alert was sounded in almost all of eastern Ukraine. AFAIK, late on 22 September the VKS attacked Kremenchuk with two…. ‘missiles’ (according to official Kyiv). One was claimed as shot down, the other hit ‘civil infrastructure’, killing and wounding three.
BATTLE OF DONBAS
Kupyansk-Svatove-Kremina… could discuss this ‘for hours’, I guess, but, the ‘bottom line’ is: the Russian 1st Tank Army, 6th and 20th Combined Arms Army - all ‘elite’ of the VSRF (and having some 41 battalions in the Kupyansk area alone) - haven’t managed anything at all over the first three weeks of this month. Attacked a lot, lost even more, and were often forced further back than their starting positions. Think, such ‘famous’ units like the 2nd and 4th Guards Motor-Rifle would do better to return to the business of running 1st May parades in Moscow… unless somebody considers ‘gaining 200m of ground’ in the Synkivka area is a new level of ‘strategic success’ for Russia, of course…
Bakhmut….The Russians still have a major problem just comprehending what happened to three of their brigades in the area between Klishchivka and Kurdyumivka (south of Bakhmut), the last two weeks. They’re complaining about superior Ukrainian artillery, about cluster shells, about these being deployed within 50 metres of ZSU-positions, so they can’t ‘hug’ these for own safety), about Ukrainian exhausting them with their continuous attacks in small assault groups, supported by lots of combat engineers and good technical support, with air support (yes, from the PSU’s helicopters, too: seems, these have hit, badly, few Russian units moving in to counterattack), and how superior the ZSU is in regards of UAVs…. Simply unfair, these Ukrainian sons of a gun…
Meanwhile, fighting is going on inside Kurdyumivka, and there’s a ZSU advance in he Ozaryanivka area.
Avdiivka & Mariinka….AFAIK, ‘no news’.
Russian reports from southern Zaporizhzhya and south-western Donetsk are quite similar to those from the (southern) Bakhmut: massive Ukrainian artillery barrages, heavy use of cluster shells, ‘burning everything’; pesky Ukrainians wouldn’t let even Russian helicopters target them at will any more; highly-competent clearing of Russian minefields; own artillery suffering from counter-battery fire of two Ukrainian artillery brigades (which are constantly changing their positions) – both shooting from outside the Russian range; lots of Ukrainian drones… and then there are lies everywhere, especially in reporting by Russian officers up the chain of command….but, don’t worry, the Russians are stronk, and more professional, too, and victory is certain…
That said, and sector-wise:
Vuhledar….Ukrainians did have up to two thirds of Novomaiorske under their control, sometimes earlier this week, but were then forced back by a series of counterattacks with strong air support. This area is the closest to the Russian air bases further south, and the ZSU is feeling that, strongly. That said, as of Thursday morning, Ukrainians were back in the centre… but I can’t confirm claims about complete liberation of this village plus Novodonetske, which are making circles for two days.
Staromaiorske-Staromlynivka… seems, most of fighting is meanwhile focusing on the Novodonetske area, where Ukrainians are clearing multiple paths through the Russian minefields: this village is still within the ‘main Russian mine-belt’, and the Russians have reinforced the same since June.
Novoprokopivka-Verbove… over the last 7-10 days, and despite attacks by a combination including the 291st MRR and 104th VDV on Robotyne, the ZSU has pushed the Russians away from western Robotyne (by 500-1000m), and away from southern Robotyne (some 1000m), but remains inside first homes of northern and eastern Novoprokopivka and seems not to have managed any further advance there.
Ukrainians did manage to secure most of the so-called ‘Ilchenkov Line’ (that’s the line of strong Russian fortifications north and south of the first anti-tank ditch) east and south-east of Novoprokopivka.
….and the Russian 810th Naval Infantry Brigade seems to have suffered such losses in the Kopani area, it was withdrawn back to Tokmak, some 5-6 days ago. While after experiencing a few volleys of Ukrainian DPICMS, the 108th VDV (‘the unit’ reportedly ‘driving deep into Ukrainian eastern flank’, north of Verbove) began refusing orders to attack, even fled from some of its positions - and had to be replaced by the 234th VDV….
When it comes to Verbove: Russians deployed new, massive minefields north and south of the village, and the 387th VDV (44th VDV Division) so Ukrainians are simultaneously clearing these and advancing – foremost south and south-west of Verbove.
Another attempt at making few things ‘clear’: problem for the ZSU on this sector of the battlefield are neither the Russian anti-tank trenches, nor ‘dragon teeth’. Not even the huge minefields. Not they alone. As strange as this might sound: such obstacles on their own are ‘no problem’ – as long as they are not heavily defended. Clear them away and they’re no obstacles any more.
But, they are heavily defended, and then by entire complexes of fortifications, stuffed full with thousands of Russian troops. This combination is taking lots of time to overcome – because it’s tough and dangerous enough to clear millions of Russian mines: if somebody is shooting at you while you’re removing mines – even more so. The ZSU is meanwhile excelling at clearing mines, eliminating most of the Russian supply trucks and APCs used to move supplies (this is why so many of VSRF units are complaining about the lack of equipment, food, water, ammunition etc.). It’s at least as good in eliminating whatever machinery the Russians deploy in attempt to construct additional fortifications. But, there are still ‘thousands’ of these in their way. One should have no trace of doubts that the Russians are going to continue doing everything in their powers to hold on their ‘1st’ (and only) defence line and prevent Ukrainian advance in direction of Tokmak.