Ukraine War, 8 September 2023: General Update
Good morning everybody!
Time to review all the major developments of the last 7-10 days.
ADD-ON/EDIT - and then for representatives of the US mainstream media (yes, including NYT, WP, FT, WSJ, Forbes, CNN and similar): because you have, repeatedly, proven yourself as completely unable of understanding what I write - indeed: unable of even properly copy-pasting a single sentence of mine posted on this blog (not to talk about posting a link, too), and have (intentionally?) misquoted my statements a number of times - I do feel forced to request you to, strictly, do not mention me in your ‘reports’ about this war. Please: avoid this blog. Do not quote me, do not mention me, do not even think about me. Forget that I’ve ever existed.
Thanks a lot - in advance.
The Russians can be considered as ‘confirmed’ to have launched domestic production of Shahed-136/Geran-2s, because since about a week, they’re capable of running new attacks by them literally every night. AFAIK, the mass of these attacks was targeting wheat depots of Ukrainian ports on the Danube River.
In detail, the Russians have released:
- 2 September: 25 Shaheds (22 claimed shot down)
- 3 September: 32 Shaheds (23 claimed shot down)
- 6 September: 25 Shaheds (15 claimed shot down; this attack was enhanced by 7 Kh-101/555 released from 9 Tu-95s, and one Iskander-M: all of these were claimed shot down)
- 7 September: 33 Shaheds (25 claimed shot down)
- 8 September: 20 Shaheds (16 claimed shot down)
About 90% of these have targeted grain terminals in the Izmail area, that’s the southernmost grain-exporting terminal of Ukraine, positioned on the Danube River, some 90m across from Romania. The port and the terminal have received extensive damage. BTW, at least one of Shaheds was either shot down, or malfunctioned and crashed inside Romania. As usually, NATO either denied or downplayed this, even when the impact site was geolocated in the social media: free along the motto, ‘it was Russian, so not a very big boom there’….
Additionally, on 6 September, the Russians targeted the market in Konstantinivka (10km west of Bakhmut), killing 16 and wounding 28. They have also hit a field kitchen of an Ukrainian unit in the place named Borove, apparently east of Kharkiv, causing some 20+ casualties…
Atop of this, according to the Keystone Cops in Moscow, between 25 August and 1 September, interceptors of the VKS have shot down 4 Ukrainian aircraft and helicopters.
On the Ukrainian side: a single Gepard-crew deployed in the Zhytomyr area claimed five Shahed-136 LPGMs during the nights of 19 and 30 August, and was decorated for this achievement.
Also successful remain the IRIS-T SAM-systems of the PSU: there are renewed reports that it’s got a 100% intercept rate (the video-still below is from early this year). These systems are regularly deployed closer to the frontline, too.
Finally, Ukrainians have continued their UAV-bombardment of targets deep inside Russia. Have hit targets in Moscow at least once, every of the last three nights. One of known targets is the headquarters of the Russian Federal Customs. Industrial facilities in Kursk, Bryansk, and Rostov-na-Donu were hit by Ukrainian UAVs, too. In Donbas, Ukrainians have targeted the railway station of Donetsk, late on 7 September, and - either on the same day, or day earlier - have knocked out a Predel-E electronic warfare system (apparently) in the occupied Crimea.
BATTLE OF DONBAS
Kupyansk-Svatove-Kremina…After re-deploying all the VDV units to other sectors of the frontline, what the Russians doing in this area is looking like ‘improvement of tactical positions’, rather than attack. In the Synkivka area, they’re trying to encircle the Ukrainian garrison in this village from the western and eastern side. Ukrainians have counterattacked south-east of Synkivka area, back on 28-29 August, though, and ever since the area is quiet. The Russians might have gained some ground in the Novoyehorivka area, but have lost ground along the Zherebets River, in the Kremina area, and in the Serebryansk Forest.
Bakhmut…. In the north, the Russians have reinforced their positions in the Soledar area (which remains the ‘northern gate to Bakhmut’) with the 137th VDV Regiment (106th VDV Division), and then reinforced the same with the 29th BARS, 123rd MRB, and the Potok PMC. This group has, over the last week, managed to stop the Ukrainian advance in southern direction.
Klishchivka….sometimes the last week, the Russians brought in the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade and then counterattacked both north of Klishchivka, and into northern Klishchivka. I do not have all the details, only indications that this was a powerful counterattack, letting the Russians expect a lot from it. So much so, they began claiming to have recovered all the ground to the Siversky-Donets Canal. Of course, they never came as far, but: as result, they did manage to re-entr Klishchivka. As of the evening of 5 September, Ukrainians have recovered most of northern side of the village, and as of this morning, they’re reporting to have reached the local ‘railway station’, i.e. the railway embankment, and that Klishchivka is completely free of the Russians. Apparently, the Russians suffered such losses, that their last act in this area was the break down and run away.
The scope of this Russian counterattack is illustrated by the fact that it was run all along the railroad embankment to Andriivka, Except in the Klishchivka area, Ukrainians have managed to repel it, even to retain a ‘small bridgehead’ east of the embankment in the Andriivka area. In turn, perhaps as a consequence of this Russian counterattack, or some earlier, it turned out that except in the west of that village, Ukrainians do not have any presence in Kurdiumivka any more: they’ll have to attack the place (probably from north and/or south) again.
Reason for this counterattack?
The railway embankment is the last Russian defence line short of that fateful T0513 road: one of just two supply lines into Bakhmut. And since their defence positions along the embankment are ‘instable’, the Russians have attempted to defend it in form of a counterattack.
Avdiivka…after something like ‘few quiet weeks’, ZSU reported an advance into the Spartak village, on the north-eastern side of the Donetsk International.
Mariinka…over the last two months, the Russians have reached the western side of the completely ruined town. Plus the eastern side of the Pobjeda village, south of it. The last two-three weeks, they’re working themselves through the hedgerows south of Mariinka, though. Not much offensive capability left in their local troops.
Vuhledar….the ZSU has recovered the (completely ruined) industrial zone of Pavlivka, but didn’t enter the village south of it, yet. West of Vuhledar, about a week ago, Ukrainians opened severe and sustained artillery barrage on Novodonetske and Novomaiorske. After (at least) three days of artillery preparations Ukrainians attacked on 5 September. Reportedly, they have managed to cross the minefields and overrun forward Russian positions, but then were stopped on the northern edges of both villages. According to the Russian reports, especially the situation of their troops in Novodonetske is critical.
Staromlynivka… The last five-six days, Ukrainian marine infantry brigades have crossed the Mokri Yaly River, cleared the ‘outskirts’ of Zavitne-Bazhanya and forced the Russians back into the centre of the village. That said, the primary focus of fighting in this area of the last week was Pryyutne (because the Russian garrison there proved particularly resillient, the last three months), and clearing the area between Pryyutne and Staromayorske (widely described as one of most-massively mined parts of Ukraine), with heights dominating this part of the Mokri Yaly River.
Novoprokopivka-Verbove… the ‘biggest’ news from this area of late August was the deployment of the 76th VDV Division, via the port of Beedyansk and Melitopol, to the Novoprokopivka area, about 10 days ago. On 3-4 September, large part of this division was deployed for a counterattack on Robotyne, run from south-west. Although supported by a barrage of S-300 SAMs deployed in ballistic mode (the Russians must really be desperate to start deploying S-300s against tactical Ukrainian positions) up to 40 strikes by MPK/UMPK glide bombs (released by Su-34s), and Ka-52 helicopters, this effort was repelled, though at some cost for the ZSU.
For their part, the Russians are continuously targeting the road from north to Robotyne with MPK/UMPKs (deployed by Su-34s). Essentially, they’re trying to interdict the flow of Ukrainian supplies by about two dozens of glide bombs a day. Problem: they can’t detect and track the ZSU’s military traffic there: instead, they are targeting a stretch of the road some 6km long. ….and I do not feel free to comment about ‘precision’ of their MPK/UMPK glide bombs (lets say that this video is a telling the entire story in this regards). Point is: a detonation of a 500kg-bomb (when it actually detonates), is never a ‘funny’ thing. Foremost, most of such attacks are coming without any advance warning, thus the travelling up and down that road is ‘very dangerous’.
Novoprokopivka…the ZSU is now in northern and western outskirts of the place, which is defended by the 71st and 210th MRRs.
Verbove….Through August, Ukrainian attacks have forced the Russian 417th Recce Regiment to fall back from its positions north of the village, back into the village. By around 20 August, the 118th Mech ZSU, was in the centre of the village, when a counterattack by the VDV brought in from western Luhansk drove it back north. About a week ago, the 46th Airborne crossed the 2nd anti-tank ditch in southern direction: it destroyed what was left of the 71st MRR, and two BARS regiments, and mauled the 201st MRR in the process. This penetration enabled the 82nd Airborne to follow in fashion: it crossed the 2nd anti-tank ditch and then turned east, hitting the 417th inside Verbove in its southern flank, driving it into the south-eastern part of the village (it was in the course of this battle that, 4-5 days ago, the 82nd lost its first Challenger 2 MBT: the Russians claimed all sorts of things, including Kornet ATGMs and artillery: actually, the tank was immobilised by mine, and then saturated by multiple Lancet LPGMs, which set it on fire; the crew evacuated already when the tank was immobilised).
The Hill 166 was under Ukrainian control, back around 3-4 September, but, since around 6 September, is back under the Russian control, and the 46th Airborne is back to attacking it.
The last three days the ZSU first overrun a big trench system south of Robotyne (see the screen-grab below), and then went after systematically destroying the Russian artillery brought in to reinforce what was destroyed in August. This is why there was a sharp increase in Russian artillery losses again (up to some 31 guns and howitzers were claimed as destroyed by the ZSU yesterday alone).
A little bit of analysis at this point – because I think the following figures are going to make much more sense than any kind of casualty figures, the mass of which is based on guessing, actually.
In the Robotyne area, four ZSU manoeuvre- and one artillery brigades took something like two months to destroy/render ineffective:
- 2 Russian reinforced motor-rifle divisions (19th and 42nd) ,
- 1 naval infantry brigade (810th)
- 1 artillery brigade (291st),
- 1 rocket artillery brigade (12th), and to maul
- 2 Spetsnaz brigades (22nd and 45th),
…i.e. an equivalent of three ‘full divisions, plus’.
At the time Ukrainians were something like day or two (at most) away from collapsing what was left of the 58th CAA, the Russians brought in another (weak) VDV division (two regiments). Still, this gave the 58th CAA only a minimal respite, before that division was mauled too. Thus, the Russians brought in the 76th VDV Division. This might have given them enough troops to – temporarily – stabilise their their (sole) defence line, and even launch a major counterattack. However, Ukrainians kept on pushing and are now in the process of mauling the same. Even more so because they have forced the Russians to scatter the 76th: its parts were distributed to reinforce battered remnants of the 58th CAA from Kopani, via Verbove to Noropokrovka and Novokarlivka.
….and this is, obviously, not enough. Quite on the contrary, despite some losses and much damage, all of involved Ukrainian brigades are remaining operational (funny moment about the Russian playing with figures about Ukrainian losses: Shoygu stating the ZSU lost 6 tanks ‘here’, then 6 tanks ‘there’, and then concluding this means Ukrainians have lost 11 tanks…perhaps that was the reason for Prigozhin’s mutiny: Shoygu is as bad in maths as I am…?)
Mind, the 76th was the ‘best of the rest’: AFAIK, the sole division-sized formation in all of the VDV and the VSRF that did not suffer major losses in the war so far. Essentially, it went into this battle still in quite the same shape in which it was at the start of the all-out invasion. Indeed, it spent most of the time ever since acting as ‘strategic reserve’. Meanwhile, this division is engaged as well, and thus not available as a reserve any more.
Therefore, it’s on hand that now the question is this: have the Russians left any other large formations with similar combat capabilities, which they could send to southern Zaporizhzhya and deploy along the frontline within the next 5-7 days?
The answer is ‘something like yes’. They’re in the process of deploying the 44th VDV Division (111th and 387th regiments) south of Novoprokopivka. The 210th MRR is on the way there, too and it seems the Russians are rapidly rebuilding the 291st MRR. Problem: the 44th is a reservist formation, and a far cry from the quality of the 76th. Sadly, the way for its deployment was open: the Kerch Bridge is back in operation, since 1-2 days, and word is that the bridges from the Crimea to the mainland Ukraine have been repaired, too…
Dnipro/Southern Kherson Oblast….the last week, the ZSU has established its third and fourth bridgehead on the southern bank of the river. In the west, it secured the entire Kinburn Peninsula (this is where Ukrainian Bayraktar TB.2 UAVs have ‘returned to combat’ – because Russian air defences are weak enough to enable their operations). North of there, the ZSU secured another area of some three-four kilometres width, perhaps 500m depth. The other two bridgeheads are in the Oleshky area, where Ukrainians are in the northern outskirts of the town, and north of Kozachi Laheri. AFAIK, there were no changes in positions in either, over the last 9-10 days. The Russians have deployed their new army and a new army corps along this frontline, over the last two weeks – to free their 49th CAA for operations further east – but: they seem to have completely given up their efforts to push Ukrainians back into Dnipro.
In the rear of these two frontlines, the Ukrainian resistance – Atesh – has significantly increased its activity, causing big troubles. Most importantly, dozens of Russian checkpoints along major roads have been evacuated, over the last week. Just one example to illustrate the dramatic change in this regards: the number of checkpoints on the road from Melitopol to Dneprorudnoe was decreased from 18 to just 3.