Ukraine update: Dept. of Defense acknowledges that logistics are limiting Russian advances

Ukraine update: Dept. of Defense acknowledges that logistics are limiting Russian advances

Thursday’s briefing from the U.S. Defense Department spoke directly to the relationship between Russia’s logistical problems and its slow progress in Ukraine.

“The Russians have not overcome all their logistics and sustainment challenges, and we assess that they’re only able—because they still haven’t solved all their logistics problems—just from a logistics perspective alone, not counting the Ukrainian resistance, which remains active, but just from logistics alone, they’re only able to sustain several kilometers or so progress on any given day, just because they don’t want to run out too far ahead of their logistics and sustainment lines. So they’re limited not only, again, by the fighting and by Ukrainian resistance, but by their still-continued logistics problems.”

If Putin or his top generals really want to improve Russia’s odds on the ground in Ukraine, they’d be better off staying in Moscow, or sitting someone outside Belgorod, dealing with the logistical issues and keeping supplies flowing.

In the Friday briefing, it was learned that the U.S. has commenced training Ukrainian soldiers on additional “key systems” in Germany. That includes training on radar systems and armored vehicles (presumably that means the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier). Some of the training will be carried out by Florida National Guard members who had been serving in Ukraine before the invasion. U.S. National Guard forces have participated in training and joint exercises in Ukraine over the last 8 years.

In response to questions, the DOD stated that the U.S. is not planning to do any training inside Ukraine, as that would create some level of “boots on the ground.” However, they are looking at doing some virtual or remote training for systems. Making this possible, as well as reducing the time necessary for those training in Germany, is a focus on bringing people who are already familiar with similar systems. For example, the fifty 100 Ukrainian soldiers trained on M777 howitzers were already artillerymen, not just random people pulled out of the infantry. 

Priority has also been given to systems that Ukraine can learn quickly and which can be integrated into their effort “without burdening them” with extensive training or the need for a lot of additional support. The Pentagon seems highly aware that they do not want to saddle Ukraine with difficult and complex additions to their supply chain, or keep critical forces out of the fight for an extended period. Overall, the U.S. is very aware that it not only has to get the weapons on the ground in Ukraine—which they are doing in around 72 hours following announcements—they have to make sure that when those systems reach the front lines, they are also functional and effective as quickly as possible.

One other thing that came up in the Friday briefing that was interesting: The U.S. is aware of military donations being made to Ukraine by other nations which have not been made public. The reasons for this could be varied, including nations that are dependent on Russia for fossil fuels and don’t want to endanger that access, as well as nations who feel like this may make them targets for potential attacks (not necessarily from Russia). In any case, it means that some of the equipment that turns up on the battlefield might represent something of a detective game.


The news out of Popasna is mostly that Popasna has still not been taken. The town remains under Ukrainian control even as additional attempts to advance Russian tanks into the town’s streets have been reported. On Friday Russia also risked a Ka-52 helicopter in an effort to get at the Ukrainian positions in the town that had blocked Russian advances for over a week. None of this seems to have dislodged the Ukrainian forces.

There’s also this report that former U.S. military member “Joseph Kensel was fighting for the Ukrainian side, was killed by the Russian army in Popasna.” However, even though this has been reported in a few locations, the original source appears to be a Russian Twitter account identified as belonging to a “hero of the Soviet Union” and whose other tweets include a heavy dose of racism. So definitely consider this to be unconfirmed at this time. 

Friday, Apr 29, 2022 · 7:34:50 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

I honestly did not know there was such a person as the Queen of Spain. But I think I like her.

Ukraine just received a massive shipment of weapons from Spain. The Ukrainians found Spanish sausages among the boxes with grenade launchers and a postcard saying: “I wish you victory! With love, Leticia”. It took them a moment to understand that it was from the Queen of Spain.

— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) April 29, 2022

Friday, Apr 29, 2022 · 7:50:04 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

I’ve been searching around but have not yet identified the bridge in question. Will keep looking.

It seems Ukraine has been very selective about destroying bridges to keep open lanes of supply and retreat. Purpose of some of these take-downs may be to push Russian forces to specific locations.

⚡️ Ukrainian troops blow up railway bridge in Donetsk Oblast. The bridge across the Siversky Donets River has been blown up along with Russian rail cars, making it impossible for Russian troops to go by rail to the city of Lyman, the Joint Forces Operation said on April 29.

— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) April 29, 2022

Friday, Apr 29, 2022 · 8:01:11 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

This is what Mariupol used to look like h/t @AlexKokcharov

— Samuel Ramani (@SamRamani2) April 29, 2022

Friday, Apr 29, 2022 · 8:08:37 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

How familiar does this sound?

Russia’s Channel One says Russian textbooks are being delivered to Mariupol schools, and as they are Russian, “they do not contain lies or falsification of history”

— Samuel Ramani (@SamRamani2) April 29, 2022

Friday, Apr 29, 2022 · 8:25:52 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

This looks to be the bridge that was taken down on Friday. It’s actually SW of Lyman, just outside the town of Raihorodok. The highway bridge just beside it remains intact.

Right now, Lyman remains in Ukrainian control, but there has been heavy bombardment by Russian forces and a large part of the population there has evacuated. There has been discussion for days that Ukraine may decide to withdraw behind the protection of the Siversky Donets River, even though that would mean giving up Lyman and a series of towns on the eastern bank. Blowing up this bridge seems to be a preparation for that possibility.

Saturday, Apr 30, 2022 · 12:56:18 AM +00:00

Mark Sumner

Just about the only action today was Ukrainian forces recapturing a village north of Kharkiv. Compared to Thursday, where Russia attempted attacks at a dozen places, it was weirdly quiet … or as quiet as things can be with continued heavy shelling.

✍️The 65th day of Russian Invasion – summary of situation on all frontlines, including detailed maps. Available on #Ukraine #UkraineInvasion #UkraineRussiaWar #maps

— (@Militarylandnet) April 29, 2022

Listen to Markos and Kerry Eleveld talk Ukraine and speak with Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler on how hitting back at Republicans helps win elections on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

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