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Taking stock of Ukraine’s advances … and Russia’s losses

todaySeptember 9, 2022 3

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Ukrainian forces are advancing all over the place. These guys are likely around Kharkiv.

Remember when we’d sit here and talk, months on end, about Ukraine “shaping the battlefield” and dream of future counterattacks? We never lacked topics to discuss, but there was breathing room to explore topics in great depth. But I like this better! 

Mark Sumner tracked territorial changes this morning, and all I can add to that is “Ukraine has probably pushed further ahead.” This is a great visual representation: 

The animation is fantastic. And as @War_Mapper notes, this is a conservative take. He’s got over 20 settlements that are rumored liberated, but he’s waiting for confirmation. Meanwhile, Kherson wants in on the action: 

This isn’t some random settlement (though it is a tiny one)—it was a major Russian defensive position. Here is dramatic video, from an American gunner, of the liberation: 

Also check out part II and part III. There is dramatic footage of him firing anti-tank rockets at Russian positions from a moving vehicle as we see return fire land around his vehicle. It’s legitimately amazing. 

There are rumors (from Russian Telegram) that the defenders in this sector, the 20th Motorized Rifle Division, have fled their positions and are trying to cross the Dneiper to get back home. Hopefully it’s true! But zero confirmation as of now.

Going over to Izyum, this is … incomprehensible: 

Ukrainian forces are within 5-10 kilometers of Russia’s most important logistical hub, serving the entire northeastern front and particularly Izyum proper, and yet Russian commanders in Izyum sent troops to die in a strategically irrelevant, tactically useless, dumbass assault on Dovhen’ke (which is now back in Ukrainian hands). 

In other words, some idiot thinks retaking Dovhen’ke is somehow more important than their strategically critical supply center at Kupiansk. 

Yes, we’re lucky that Russian forces are this dumb, but how is it possible? Well, Russia explicitly prohibits personal initiative. Too dangerous, someone might get into their head the idea of overthrowing the tsar, in this case, Vladimir Putin. So some local commander has orders to march south toward Sloviansk, and he’ll keep doing it until told otherwise. Except that his superiors are up around Kupiansk and have either fled or are dead. So he’ll keep expending men, supplies, and ammunition on attacks with zero chance of success, just because that’s what he was last told. It boggles the mind!

I don’t even understand these daily attacks! Why not mass men and armor, come up with a plan on taking the next objective, train for that objective, then attack in force—you know, like Ukraine is doing right now? Mark and I are broken records on this: Russia’s inability to advance with any kind of mass doomed them from the first week of the war. But it’s amazing that we’re still seeing this happening seven months in, and that Russia is still trying to push forward in places like south of Izyum despite the utter lack of strategic reasons to do so. Even with Ukraine breathing down Izyum’s neck from the north, supply routes about to be cut, and these morons still push south. Unbelievable!

After the war I want to write an entire book on Dovhen’ke. It’s such a great story, and “Russia thinks it’s more important than Kupiansk” might be the best part of it. 

The image isn’t sensitive, feel free to click it. I mentioned that NATO units go on the offensive with three days worth of supplies. People asked if Ukraine can overlap units. That’s what’s happening here. Armor units push forward as their colleagues chill at the side of the road, resting as they wait for fuel, food, and ammo trucks to reach them. 

Take particular note of the lack of cover. These guys aren’t afraid of either Russian aircraft or artillery. They’ve overrun Russian artillery positions in their blitzkrieg, and can chill out in the open. The Russian Air Force has been inexplicable AWOL all war.

This was geolocated here, on the road to Shevchenkove (now in Ukrainian hands), pointing east, attempting to flee the Ukrainian advance. This was reportedly a Russian VDV unit—“elite” airborne forces that truly have spent the entire war getting spanked. Some analysts have argued that they have been grossly misused this war—serving as rote infantry as opposed to shock troops. The argument has some merit, but remember that they were used as intended at Hostomel airport near Kyiv, early in the war, and got spanked there too. So really, it just looks like they’re not what they were cracked up to be. 

These are likely salvageable. Ukraine is getting itself a ton of gear. Yesterday, they got themselves six new tanks, 12 armored personnel carriers, three anti-aircraft guns, five artillery guns, and some other assorted random stuff like trucks. Today, you can add 16 armored infantry vehicles, five artillery guns, and a bunch of assorted trucks, anti-aircraft guns, etc. 

We’re also seeing tons of confirmed Russian equipment losses, thought it’s better to capture them. That’s why best-case scenario is Ukraine takes Kupiansk, then coax Russia’s Izyum garrison to surrender. That could be worth dozens, if not hundreds, of new pieces of armor for Ukraine’s armed forces, not to mention saving hundreds or thousands of lives (on both sides). 

Yes, both sides. I’m tired of death. I prefer videos like this one:

A POW is best-case scenario for everyone involved. Why should Russians or Donbas Ukrainians die for Izyum or Kupiansk or anywhere, really? It behooves Ukraine to treat these POWs well so word spreads that it is safe to surrender. Furthermore, given how things are going, Ukraine may be in position to push into Russian-occupied Donbas before long, and you definitely don’t want that population to resist. Imagine well-treated Donbas cannon fodder calling their loved ones back home and saying “the Russians lied to us, we have nothing to fear from Ukraine!”

We don’t want these Donbas guys, rebelling against their commander, deciding they need to defend their homes: (video has captions)

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These are future allies. They’ve seen how much better Ukrainians live on the other side of their border, they’ve seen their Russian commanders loot from those homes, and they’ve seen how callously Russia treats them. 

Seriously, why would any of them want to die for a war they care little about? Putin can do his own dying if he cares enough. This translation of a Russian Telegram post shows just how rough those poor saps have it. Let’s win them over, spare everyone a big fight over Donbas.

That is the “Terminator” vehicle Russia introduced into the war with great fanfare. Russian Telegram and Twitter responded in orgasmic glee. But … yeah, whatever. The name was more terrifying than anything. And now Ukraine has one of their own. 

That’s a MLRS M270 in Balakliya. If Ukraine is driving these things around in a town they took yesterday, in daylight, it means 1) the front lines are well forward of here, and 2) there is no Russian air presence. These are far too valuable to risk, so Ukraine isn’t feeling this is risky. 

Also note the lack of OPSEC demands from Ukraine. In Kherson, it was OPSEC OPSEC OPSEC. “Don’t look at the elephant!” As a result, everyone was staring hard at Kherson trying to figure out what was going on. Including, apparently, Russia, as Ukraine launched its surprise Kharkiv offensive. Even that story claiming US and Ukraine war-gamed different scenarios and decided a single-front counter-attack made the most sense was likely intentional bullshit. 

Ukraine pulled off the most masterful misdirection since … D-Day? Seriously, I bet we’ll learn that Ukraine laid out its armor in Kherson region in broad view of Russian satellites and drones, while hiding them carefully around Kharkiv. 

These are my favorite videos:

Another one: 

I’m not crying it’s allergies! And to make that video even more amazing, the soldiers are speaking Ukrainian, the women are speaking Russian. It really does put an emphasis on the lie that Russia is just trying to protect Russian speakers. 

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Ha ha but of course. It’s just a redeployment! At least they’re not pretending it’s a “goodwill gesture.” 

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Ukraine got hundreds of these M113s. Lots of countries had them, which is likely why the United States decided to send those instead of more modern Bradleys. Thing is, they arrived months ago. So again, props to the heroic territorial defense forces that held the front lines all that time, allowing Ukraine to properly train on the new equipment, including on tactics to best utilize them. I can’t imagine the misery of sitting in trenches under relentless bombardment, but none of this today would’ve been possible had those lines collapsed. These units would’ve had to been rushed into action before they were ready. 

Ukraine picked a good time to start winning big:

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Nothing motivates donors to dig extra deep than winning. Ukraine has proven it can successfully use what it has received—even older-generation stuff like M113s. Success breeds success, and there’s little doubt now that Ukraine will get most of what it needs. 



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