Ukraine War, 5 May 2023
To complete my ‘review of the last week’, initiated yesterday…
Late on 3 May, the Russians launched a stream of 26 Shahed-131/136 LPGMs in direction of Dnipro and Zaporizhzhya: the PSU claimed 21 as shot down. Three are known to have hit a POL depot in Kirovohrad, setting it on fire.
Late on 4 May, the Russians released a stream of 24 Shahed-131/136 LPGMs into Ukraine: 12 of these went for the Odessa area, where two or three have scored hits on civilian buildings. Ukrainians claimed 18 as shot down (plus one of UAVs monitoring the work of Shaheds).
According to Ukrainian military journal Defence Express, around the same time, the VKS deployed one of its MiG-31Ks to launch another Kinzhal strike: MOD in Kyiv claimed a hypersonic Kh-47M2 was then shot down by Ukrainian air defences. Arguably, journalists of Defence Express are not 100% sure photos of the wreckage (which fell inside a football stadium) are actually shown a Kh-47: could be a Kh-22 or Iskander, but the wreckage is shown traces of being intercepted.
Guess, we’ll have to wait and see what comes out in that case… ‘but’: if it’s truth the PSU has shot down a Kinzhal or Kh-22…. well, that means that Ukraine is now capable of shooting down other Russian ballistic missiles - including those armed with nukes. And that, in turn, means: NATO can do so, too…
(BTW, another interesting feature by the same instance is this one about a non-standard Kh-101 shot down over Ukraine in late April: for nerds like me, this is certainly something worth ‘saving for the records’).
Last night, the Russians launched two Shahed-131/136s from the south-east: both were claimed as shot down by the PSU.
Meanwhile, Ukraine continued its campaign against Russian POL- and ammunition depots inside Ukraine and around it. Early on 3 May (the same day the Russians claim two Ukrainian UAVs reached the Moscow area, of which one should’ve been shot down directly over the Kremlin), at least one Ukrainian UAV hit a POL depot near the Kerch Bridge. Perhaps 1-2 hours later, either M142 HIMARS or M270 MRLS of the ZSU hit an ammunition depot about 25km southeast of Donetsk (city). Furthermore, the Russian air defences shot down at least two UAVs approaching the Feodosia area, on the occupied Crimea and then one or two of several UAVs that hit the Seshcha AB, in the Bryanks area: there one An-124 was variously reported as damaged or destroyed, and another as damaged. Later the same day, four UAVs (Russian media) hit the Ilskiy Refinery in the Krasnodar area. Early on 4 April, there was another UAV strike on the Voronezh area, but this time the Russian air defences were successful.
If my count is not wrong….that’s something like four or five refineries, two fuel trains, three POL-depots etc. in something like 5-6 days now – and that in a ‘nice’ semi-circle from north-east of Ukraine, to south-east and south (including the occupied Crimean Peninsula). That does sound like ‘battlefield shaping’. That’s ‘military jargon’ for destroying enemy supply depots, command nodes and similar installations of strategic- and operational-level importance, prior to own offensive….
Finally, in an unrelated incident, yesterday, Ukrainian air defences have to shot down a TB.2 Bayraktar UAV that went out of control while overflying Kyiv.
BATTLE OF DONBASS
Meanwhile on the ground….
Siversk…the Russians (and Pudding-fans abroad) are proudly announcing additional advances in the Bilohorivka area. Imagine: on 2 May, they’ve grinded themselves another 200 metres to reach the (quote) ‘southeastern outskirts of Zakhidna filtration plant’. Guess, that’s going to go down in history as another geroic victory of the VSRF… Related reporting stopped as soon as there appeared reports about an Ukrainian counterattack that might have collected about 100 Russian prisoners…
Bakhmut…. 9 May is approaching and, the way things are looking right now, Pudding & Co. aren’t going to celebrate the capture on Bakhmut on 9 May this year. Arguably, for a while it looked like they might do so….but, first things first…
From memory, the last I’ve reported was the situation as of 24-27 April, when the Russians continued their advance through the Garages area: these were subjected to repeated strikes of TOS-1s (BTW, the Russian company manufacturing TOS-1-rounds is claiming that it has managed to stretch their range up to 10,000 metres – instead of original 5,000-6,000 metres).
Additional TOS-1-strikes (for example at the compound of the Children Hospital) not only caused quite some losses to the 93rd Mech (perhaps the Georgian Legion, too), but enabled the Russians to push Ukrainians out of that compound, and back to the Vyzvolyteliv Donbasu Street. Moreover, the Russians took the Bakhmut Medical College compound – and that quicker than expected. South of it, they have reached the Chaykovskoga Street (extension of the road 0504). Then, on 30 April, the Russians claimed to have secured the Post Office and the Olympic School, plus were attacking the Industrial College…. Not only a few of ‘online-monitors’ have promptly switched into the ‘panic mode’, announced Ukraine lost not only 0506 via Hromove, but also 0504 via Ivaniske, and then began blowing up its own positions…
However…. It’s not only that the 3rd Assault and the 24th Mech have meanwhile smashed the Russian advance on the 0506: it transpired that quite some of these Russian advances became possible because the ZSU was rotating its troops in and out of Bakhmut. And because of additional ‘controlled demolitions’, reported earlier (see. Ukrainians let Russians occupy some building, then blow them up). It seems the 93rd was withdrawn – after four months of pitched combat inside the town: apparently,: it was replaced by the 77th Airborne. The latter took few days to ‘acclimatise’, but then – together with the 3rd Assault – launched a number of counterattacks down the entire frontline inside the ruins of the town, recovering – on average – some 200-300 metres. From what can be said by now, it secured the 18th District, and pushed the Russians back to the Larysy Shepitko Street. Arguably, Ukrainians might not have retained all of their gains, but they’ve collected dozens of prisoners of war, and made Prigozhin furious enough to start posting videos like this and this (in which he’s announcing the withdrawal of the Wagner PMC if they don’t get enough ammunition) in the social media. So, turns out Wagner PMC is in the town after all (and BTW: General Mikhail Mizintsev, ‘Butcher of Mariupol’, who was fired by Pudding after the latter’s ‘front inspection’ in mid-April, seems to now be serving as ‘Deputy Commander Wagner PMC’).
Obviously, this could be truth, it might be another ruse, and it could really be so that the actual reason for Prigozhin’s anguish is a failure of his own troops, and the search for whatever scapegoat he can find. For example, because there are rumours about a very successful Ukrainian counterattack in the Yahidne area (which should’ve bagged quite a number of Russian prisoners) – and because in Russia, those in power or influence, ‘simply can’t be wrong’ (just like everywhere else, of course) – and then so much so, even members of the Duma seem to start asking the purpose of assaulting ‘Artemovsk’ (Russian name for Bakhmut) for nine months already, and squandering so many troops, for place that (quote), ‘has no strategic significance’….
Haven’t found a single Russian claim for any kind of additional advances into western Bakhmut in something like 4-5 days, while reports about the fighting from yesterday (all from Ukrainian sources) have indicated heavy battles north of Hromove, north-east of the Children Hospital, west of the Bakhmut Medical College (indeed, some say, ‘Ukrainians are pushing in direction of the Railway Station’), and along the Chaykovskoga Street.
‘Mistake’ (by the GenStab-U, as some say) – or not: Bakhmut holds.
Avdiivka…the garrison – which is nowadays including the 53rd and 110th Mech, and the 36h Marine Brigades, ZSU - is well and holding. Since the last round of Russian air strikes and ground assaults, back on 24-25 April, the Russians claimed to have captured ‘last trenches of Kamyanka’ (on 30 April), but, AFAIK, Ukrainians are still inside the western side of that village. Ever since, it’s ‘unusually quiet’ there: last few days, the Russian social media was reporting about an Ukrainian counterattack that should have sacked the village of Spartak, supposedly encircling quite a group of Russian troops in the process…. As far as I can say, that’s where it ended: official Kyiv neither confirmed nor denied. Moreover, no evidence for any such claims became available and thus I have strong doubts about such reports.
I do think one should keep few things in mind, though. For example: some have expressed doubts about Ukrainians leaving their excellent fortifications in Avidiivka to expose themselves while assaulting such a well-fortified place like Spartak (one of best-fortified areas on the old ‘Line of Control’, the frontline ‘frozen’ back in 2014-2016). However… that was at the times it was still held by the Separatists: meanwhile, these have suffered colossal losses. Arguably, next to nobody is talking about these, but – as readers of War in Ukraine, Volume 2 know by now – the Separatists have lost more than 2,000 already as of early March last year. That was in the first week of re-invasion, as they were assaulting Ukrainian positions along the LOC, well before they’ve suffered even more while attempting to reach Sieverodonetsk via Rubizhe, not to talk about subsequent battles for Popasna, Sieverodonetsk, Lysichansk and elsewhere. Unsurprisingly, it was already in October last year that Gerasimov began refilling their units with Russian mobiks.
Point is: whether these know the area as well as all the Separatists killed meanwhile used to know it, and/or whether mobiks are as keen to fight for it as the Separatists were…. I doubt even the heaven knows.
South of Avdiivka… it was foremost Nevelske that saw lots of fighting, the last week. Since around 25-27 April, the ZSU repelled several Russian assaults, knocking out a number of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles in the process. Apparently, the idea of outflanking Ukrainian positions in western Pervomaiske and in Netailove didn’t quite work.
Mariinka… that’s like Bakhmut: the Russians did make some advances into the northern ruins of the village, but, essentially, the 35th Marine Brigade ZSU is still holding them back.
….’east of Avdiivka and Marinka’: Separatist authorities have reported shelling of Horlivka, Ozeryanovka, Mikhailovka, Yasinovataya, Yakovlevka, Donetsk, Yelenovka, Novotroitskoe, Petrovske, Sladkoe, Olginka etc., etc., etc… really ‘a lot going on’ there.
Vuhledar….something is going on there, but nobody would clearly say what. Sure, what the Russians are reporting the last few days is indicative of their troops being kicked all the way back to their positions from around 24 January. And there seems to be fierce fighting going on, otherwise the VKS wouldn’t be bombing the area with UMPKs and MPKs every single day. Beyond that, sorry, no idea.
Kherson/Dnipro….as reported earlier, ZSU crossed the Dnipro and liberated the Dachy Island on the southern bank, forcing the surviving Russians to fall back over the Konka River to the Oleshky area. That was around 23 April. One or two days later, Ukrainians then liberated the Island of Cherkessky, too. That eventually prompted the VKS to the scene, which flew fierce air strikes on new Ukrainian positions on both islands – thus providing ‘nice’ piece of evidence for what to expect in the case of any kind of a ZSU counteroffensive and successful breach of the Russian frontlines. Sometimes the last two days, the VKS also targeted Beryslav with UMPKs or UMPKs.
Over the last week, Russian bombs and artillery barrages killed 23 and wounded 46 civilians in Kherson (city), too: that much about ‘Kherson is Russia forever’…. On 3 May, local authorities have imposed a curfew to last from 5 until 8 May. Declared reason is something like ‘prosecution of Russian spies’. That said, while most of details are not available, there’s little doubt that the ZSU is meanwhile running lots of ‘armed reconnaissance’ along Dnipro, all the way from Beryslav in the north to south of Kherson. Its attacks were reportd from Nova Kakhovka and Kakhovka, from Aleshki, from Peschanovka, from Kosakenlager, from Korsunka, from Kynki etc…