Ukraine War, 29 August 2023
Good morning everybody!
For today, I’ve prepared a review of latest developments on the battlefield, and some ‘analysis’ (or: call it ‘ranting’) of the US behaviour in regards of this war.
The last few days, the Russian missile offensive on Ukraine slowed down, considerably: to something like releasing 4-6 cruise missiles, Shahed LPGMs or Kh-59 PGMs a day, most of which are then shot down by Ukrainian air defences.
From Ukrainian side…early on 27 August, the SBU should have run an UAV-strike on Kalino Air Base/Kursk International. Reportedly, up to 16 Australian-made Spypaq were deployed to strike one radar of a S-300/SA-10 SAM-system, two Pantsyr/SA-22 SAM-systems, four Su-30s, and a single MiG-29. However, so far, haven’t seen any kind of evidence for such a success.
The last night, the Kerch Bridge was shut down again: heavy air defence activity was reported. Ukrainian M142s and M270s have, reportedly, hit a number of targets in southern Zaporizhzhya and southern Kherson. Notable between those claimed are several Russian bases in the Tokmak area, at least one MSTA-S, one Svet KU RB636 electronic warfare system, and at least one each Predel-E radar (element of the Bastion anti-ship system, though more likely a P-40 or Krasukha), and Leer-2 electronic warfare system.
BATTLE OF DONBAS
Generally, the Russians are in the process of re-deploying their VDV troops from the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kremina area to Bakhmut and southern Zaporizhzhya. Replacing their shattered VSRF formations. For example, the 76th VDV Division – one of the last ‘intact’ Russian formations of this size (in terms of: didn’t suffer as heavy losses as other VDV formations since the start of the war) – should be underway to the Tokmak area. Reason: almost three months of Ukrainian offensive operations have depleted major formations of the 42nd and 58th CAA to the limits: they can’t continue fighting for any longer. And, latest developments have shown that ‘local’ reinforcements – like two (depleted) VDV divisions of the XXII Army Corps and the 49th CAA, recently re-deployed from the frontlines along the Dnipro River – are not going to be enough..
….except that the ZSU is doing certain things on its own, about which I’m not going to talk in the public…
Now, how much of VDV troops in question have already reached the southern frontlines is still unclear, but: about 3-4 days ago, a column of about 500 military vehicles was reportedly moving from the port of Berdyansk in northern direction. Obviously, that one arrived per ship via the Azov Sea…
Unsurprisingly, there’s not much else to report from this part of Ukraine except that in the Klishchivka area the ZSU has not only managed to push the Russians, definitely, beyond the ‘railway line’ north and east of that village, and east of Andriivka, but: it should already be pushing in direction of Opytne.
I cannot but admit that the last few days it became nearly impossible to find out exactly what is going on in southern Zaporizhzhya and south-western Donets. On one side, official Kyiv is releasing far less news than it did the last two months, and even unofficial sources are largely silent. On the other side, both Russian contacts and the social media are reporting in such a confused fashion (see: ‘breakthrough here, breakthrough there’), that it’s next to impossible to ‘connect the dots’. Me thinks, the reason is that almost everybody is confused – and that by design: it seems that the HQ of the ZSU Group of Forces Tavriya is frequently changing direction of its ‘main efforts’. For example, one day it’s pushing on the Hill 166, another on Kopani, another on Verbove, and in between ‘it’s turn on Novoprokopivka’ – all depending on necessities and opportunities, and definitely with the aim of confusing both the HQ 58th CAA and the Keystone Cops in Moscow. Thus, instead of trying to describe this in words, here a map of the Robotyne-Novoprokopivka area, with ‘blue arrows’ denoting all the reported attacks and advances of the ZSU over the last 4-5 days.
Rather unsurprisingly, there’s at least as much confusion in regards of where are the Russians deploying what of their units, too. I’ve tried to denote their deployment on the map above, but: mind that there are contradicting reports in this regards and that many of units are meanwhile in very poor condition. Indeed: most of regiments named on this map have their battalions strewn all over the place. Essentially, the HQ of the 58th CAA is using single battalions as ‘fire-brigades’, trying to patch the frontline wherever there is a crisis. Moreover, units like the 291st, 1429th, and 1430th MRR, plus BARS-3, should’ve all been rendered incapable of continuing combat operations: but, their remnants – perhaps a company-worth of every – are still around, because there’s no replacement. Just, where exactly…. no idea. The 201st MRR, BARS-11 and BARS-14, can also be described as ‘badly beaten up’. Exact condition of the 810th NIB, 56th and 108th VDV Regiments is unclear, while the Tsar Wolves PMC was, obviously, not enough to defend Kopani, otherwise the HQ 58th CAA wouldn’t have reinforced it by re-deploying the BARS-11 and the 503rd MRR (19th MRD) there.
BTW, this with Kopani is a very interesting…. ‘situation’ – and, me thinks, a classic example for how is the ZSU fighting this offensive. Essentially, the 65th Mech first pushed in southern direction, driving the 810th NIB back. This prompted some to announce an Ukrainian advance down the T0408 on Ilchenkove and Solodka Balka. Whether because it then run into too strong resistance, or by design, this Ukrainian brigade then seems to have ‘turned west’ and attacked the exposed flank of the BARS-11, rolling it up all the way to Kopani.
Why that? Because, with most of hedgerows demolished by months-long artillery barrages, de-mining operations, and detonation of mines, there is extremely little cover left on this sector of the battlefield. Thus, the biggest problem for Ukrainians is the act of clearing lanes through the Russian minefields so to approach and assault their trenches. But, once they’re inside trenches, there is lots of cover. Thus, it’s easier to advance through the trenches, than assault them ‘frontally’.
I know the ZSU is fighting that way through the first trenchline of the so-called ‘Surovikin Line’, between Novoprokopivka and Verbove, for at least the last two, if not three weeks (as usually, it’s only since some 36-48 hours that this is confirmed by the ‘video or it didn’t happen’-faction in the social media). Indeed, that it was in this way that Ukrainians have pushed the Russians all the way back to the eastern verge of Novoprokopivka – in turn ‘opening’ the way for an advance on the same village from the north. It’s almost certain that there is a similar approach (apparently by the 46th Airborne?), in direction of Verbove, meanwhile. Think, ‘hold them by the nose, smack them into the guts’ is a good summary for this tactical method.
Apparently, the situation is very similar in the Staromlynivka area.
On the lighter side…
Trying to read the complaints by the US media – see instances like the NYTs, WP, FP, etc (and the number of such instances is meanwhile growing by the day) – about the way Ukrainians are conducting this war is meanwhile beyond hopeless. An exercise in tolerance of highly eloquent, professional incompetence. So much so, I’m sharing the impression of those who say somebody (probably somebody from the same Manafort-Mogilevich-GRU/FSB/Pudding-corner that has already staged the US elections of 2016, the Brexit, and few other affairs) is running a paid PRBS-campaign.
Still, I cannot stop wondering…
By side that all the possible US ‘experts’ are US-centric, or do not understand the sheer scope and size of this war. To a certain degree, this is expectable alone because it’s been decades since they’ve stopped teaching comprehension of backgrounds and context in the US schooling system.
At least I’ve got no doubts the US military officers are indoctrinated to read a lots of military history books: know too many of them priding themselves with this. But, how much of that is put to some good use is an entirely different issue. If for no other reason then because their political masters have certainly never done anything similar.
Above all, the USA are a ‘superpower’, and thus raising its kids as kids of a superpower. Which means that certain things are super-self-understanding, and the kids should neither know nor think too much. Thanks a lot.
For example, ever since the Secessionist War of 1861-1865, the USA are fighting all of its wars in form of massive material battles (or ‘battles of attrition’). They’re, literally, ‘drowning’ their opponents in masses of own equipment, ammunition, and the resulting firepower. Correspondingly, not only most of the US public, but even US military officers expect everybody else to fight the same way.
Sure, the latter might be perfectly aware of necessity for finesse in fighting wars, but: their ability to actually apply these is, just like their ability to emphatise with allies – equal to zero. They’re dogmatic and checklists-tied in their way of thinking, and they haven’t fought this kind of war since 1945. Thus, except for few honourable veterans I happened to run into over the time, people there really have no trace of an idea what is it to fight this war in Ukraine of (meanwhile), 2022-2023 (and beyond)…
However, at least to me, all of this is still ‘understandable’. Something I think I can comprehend, and even explain. What’s really astonishing is a host of other facts.
Like in so many of their own wars, Americans – especially such ‘super brains’ like Biden’s national security advisor (a lawyer by profession, BTW), not to talk about countless ‘US officials providing commentary on condition of anonymity’, persistently quoted by above-mentioned media-platforms – are once again doing exactly the same mistake they already did in places like Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq. They’re trying to ‘model the outcome’ – instead of seeking for ways to win the war. Correspondingly, they’re supplying Ukraine with ‘enough to hold out’, but not with ‘enough to win’ - only then to complain that Ukrainians are not doing ‘things’ they expect them to do, and even less so the way they want them to do.
This is so because not only that National Security Advisor, but the mass of his aides too, is entirely unable of comprehending alone how little in terms of heavy equipment – foremost main battle tanks (MBTs) and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), not to talk about air defence- and electronic warfare systems – they and the rest of NATO have delivered to Ukraine. They’re so incompetent in this regards, that they cannot even explain this to their own public: the people supposed to elect them into their positions and to pay for all they are doing (see: taxpayers & voters)…. As a result, the American public is seriously convinced they’ve sent ‘thousands’ of MBTs and IFVs, and that Ukrainians are squandering all of this – while actual numbers sent are in dozens and, in the case of US- and French-made main battle tanks (MBTs): 0/zero!
A bi-product is the fact that US-Americans can’t even understand just how short is the ZSU already on medical equipment: it’s all the time critically short alone on morphine and tourniquets, not to talk about field ambulances and CASEVAC-vehicles…
….well, sure: to the ‘we-fight-wars-of-attrition-only’ Americans, this is really ‘entirely unimaginable’. Even more so if those pesky Ukrainians then do not do things the Americans expect them to do. Conclusion is unavoidable, and of the same quality like already before Pudding’s all-out invasion: ZSU ‘must be’ corrupt and incompetent…
And that’s just the proverbial start. At operational levels, the US strategists - the very same people with strong predilection for belittling the French for ignoring the option of the Wehrmacht driving its Panzers through the Ardennes of May 1940 - are seemingly unable to understand already what it means when the Russians concentrate ‘100,000 troops’ with hundreds of tanks and artillery pieces along one sector of the frontline (see western Kupyansk-Svatove-Kremina area). They do not understand that it doesn’t matter if these ‘100,000 (Russian) troops’ are poorly organised, -led, and trained: they are still a serious threat. Therefore, Ukrainians simply can’t ignore these troops, and leave a single brigade to hold the line in that sector, while ‘throwing’ everything else into an offensive.
The US strategists can’t stop complaining about Ukrainians remaining involved in the Bakhmut area. Seems, the concept of pinning down the Russians in this sector so to buy time to establish, re-train/reform an offensive force, or to prevent the Russians from re-deploying their forces somewhere else (southern Zaporizhzya) - is entirely incomprehensible to them… which, as described above, should actually be crystal clear: the ZSU offensive in the Bakhmut area of the last few months has tied two Russian VDV divisions. Since it stopped, about 7-10 days ago, the Keystone Cops in Moscow found themselves free to start re-deploying a third VDV division to southern Zaporizhzhya…
The US strategists can’t understand the ferocity/severity of the Russian firepower nor the extension of their mine-warfare. Now, sure: expecting a Yale- and Oxford-graduates specialised in philosophy and jura, who skilfully screwed up already in Libya and Syria, and have not an ounce of military experience – to comprehend such factors is ‘too much’. But, at least they should have military advisors skilled in explaining them a ‘few things about realities of a massive war’ – and yet, it’s obvious that they do not. Or if they do, they are advice-resistant beyond belief.
Have no academic degree, so can’t say, but: it does seem that alone having one is making one know everything better…
….and mind: that’s just the military aspects of this conflict. I’ll not even try to venture into the politics. This can only make one puke…
What a surprise then, the US-Americans still wonder how comes they’ve lost in Afghanistan and Iraq (all provided they’re ready to accept this fact, which the mass of them simply prefers to ignore). Nah, they’re complaining that ‘Ukraine is distracting them from the PR China’ – because they can’t understand that if the West is helping Ukraine to become successful in protecting its people and liberating its land, it’s automatically deterring Beijing from invading Taiwan.
Another incomprehensible conclusion, ‘demanding too much’ - I guess…
Bottom line: it’s really, a massive surprise Zaluzhny, Syrsky & Co do not listen to super-smart US strategists… can’t say how much…
(Don’t worry: my critique of the US behaviour shouldn’t mean ‘Europeans’ are any better. Our politicians are just too incompetent and too corrupt but to become an important factor on the international scene, while half of our generals are Russia-fans – if for no other reason then because they’re kind of ‘fed up of Americans’ and thus short-sighted enough to be ‘revanchist’, too. See: ‘this is a US-v-s-Russia war, so let the Russians show the Americans their true place…’.)