Ukraine War, 24 October 2023
Good morning everybody!
A short review for this morning, focusing on the, meanwhile, three-four ‘usual’ sectors of the battlefield.
Reports from early this morning are indicating a number of explosions at the entry to the (heavily protected, meanwhile), port of Sevastopol.
US-made MIM-23 HAWK SAMs have been confirmed as – finally – in operational service with the PSU. In the night from 22 to 23 October, they should have shot down two or three out of some 13 Shahed UAVs and one Kh-59 claimed as shot down.
Deliveries of MIM-23s took ‘just’ about a year. Reason: most of missiles and launchers (manufactured 40 and more years ago) were in bad condition and required extensive refurbishing and repairs. Also, Spain, Taiwan, and other providers were operating very different versions. On the positive side: there should be lots of both missiles and M197 launchers in stock, so their availability is likely to make things significantly easier for the PSU during the coming winter.
Bakhmut….south… east of the railway berm in the Andriivka area, Ukrainians made a good advance (about 1,000m) in direction of Odradivka. Further south, bitter fighting is reported from Zelenopillya: my guess is that the 28th Mech is trying to push south, into the rear of the Russian line down the eastern side of Kurdyumivka.
Avidiivka… supported by air strikes (primarily by MPK/UMPK glide bombs), the Russians continued assaulting the slag heap/Hill 230, yesterday, and further north, in direction of the railway berm north-east of Stepove. Effectively, the entire area from Krasnohorivka in the north to the peak of the Hill 230 is ‘no-man’s land’ (or ‘grey zone’, in the slang of the social media of our days): under Ukrainian fire-control, but not under the control of the ZSU infantry, and with Russians constantly ‘pumping’ additional troops into near-continuous assaults. Ukrainian artillery is meanwhile excelling in forcing the Russians to stop by its barrages, and then heavily mining the areas where it stopped them, so that the Russians – regardless if vehicles or infantry – can’t move. But, and sadly, this battle is costly for Ukrainians too; many of ZSU’s defensive positions have been completely demolished by days-long Russian air strikes and artillery fire; and the combination of terrain and the Russian aerial superiority are preventing the ZSU from launching counterattacks into enemy flanks, for example somewhere from the north.
There are lots of ‘good reasons’ why Putin and the Keystone Cops decided to launch this big offensive precisely in this area…
Robotyne-Verbove-Novoprokopivka… after rotating its units in the area, the ZSU seems to be on the push again, this time in direction of Kopani. Apparently using early morning fog, and with strong artillery support, the infantry pushed into the long Russian defence line protecting this village from north and west. There are also new reports about Ukrainian attacks into eastern Novoprokopivka and in direction of dominating elevations further east.
Fog is ‘ideal weather’ for Ukrainian tactics of raiding enemy positions: it’s making UAVs and observation cameras useless, hiding troops from enemy view while these are clearing minefields, and approaching enemy positions – while not hindering Ukrainian artillery to target selected geographic coordinates.
That said, reports from some of units that used to be in the line in this area over the last four-five months are not very pleasant. For example, the 47th Mech seems to have suffered such losses in infantry, that lately it was forced to deploy troops usually operating ATGMs and mortars as ‘infantry’. Also, losses in soft-skin vehicles have reached the level where troops had to move ammunition from forward depots to the frontline ‘per hand’. This is said to be the explanation for the ZSU constantly working on establishing additional units: they’re not only serving as strategic reserve, but lately used to replace battered units, enabling them to rest, reorganise, and recover their combat effectiveness.
Sadly, some of units are ‘unlucky’, too. For example, the 47th Mech was withdrawn from southern Zaporizhzhya to the ‘relatively quiet’ sector north of Avdiivka: barely there, it found itself embroiled into yet another big battle… (Yes, the story of that brigade is starting to remind me of that of the 17th Tank during the first six-seven months of this war.)
Dnipro…the ZSU seems to have advanced far enough in south-eastern direction to cut-off the road between Kozachi Laheri and Podstepnoe, somewhere between Pioma and Pishchanivka. The aim seems to be to ‘make space’ on the bridgehead for deployment of heavy equipment. The Russians are responding with air strikes and artillery barrages.