On Wednesday, more explosions have been reported in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol. This time, the site of the attack appears to be the Russian command center for the area. This follows attacks over the last two days that took out the Russian HQ that had been set up in Lysychansk, electrical infrastructure for Melitopol, the rail lines serving much of Crimea, two Russian air bases in Crimea, and a massive supply depot containing both ammo and vehicles. These attacks continued a Ukrainian strategy of striking well behind the lines to hit high-value targets. And in the case of Lysychansk, Ukraine had very precise targeting information.
That location looks a little different following Ukraine’s latest exhibit on precision-controlled weaponry.
Meanwhile, Russia conducted an expanded campaign of both shelling and missile launches overnight. Both Kharkiv and the Zaporizhzhia area saw some of the heaviest attacks in weeks, with Russia lobbing longer-range MLRS missiles into the city of Kharkiv. The north side of the city, closest to the Russian area of control, has taken a particular beating again overnight. Russian ballistic missiles once again arced in on Ukrainian cities from sites inside Russia as well as Belarus.
However, for whatever reason, either lack of the necessary weapons or lack of even half decent intelligence, Russia continues to make what seems to be inaccurate blind swings, targeting population areas rather than striking high-value military targets. Six months into Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Russia has fired over 3,700 missiles into Ukrainian cities. That’s an absolutely astounding number, and it has generated some absolutely astounding levels of damage in places like Kharkiv—and even in cities like Kryvyi Rih and Odesa that are not on the front lines of the war.
But what may be most amazing is, 3,700 missiles later, the offices of the Ukrainian government in Kyiv are intact. Ukrainian military bases are still operating at many points around the country. Ukrainian planes are still flying from Ukrainian airfields. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is still openly walking the streets, greeting foreign dignitaries, and visiting sites around his nation, including some that are within miles of the front lines.
Look again at the image at the top of this page. The size of the crater is massive and represents the use of a significant weapon to … damage a few homes? There’s no indication that this attack struck any target that would have a measurable effect on the Ukrainian war effort, which makes it absolutely typical of how Russia has used literally thousands of missiles and bombs in this war.
At some point, it might have been possible to believe that Russia was, for some reason, holding back, but that point is way back there in the rearview. Russia isn’t taking out high-value targets in Ukraine because it can’t. Sure, they can occasionally manage to hit a shopping mall, and they’ve been dedicated shooters of hospitals. But they can’t take out the targets that allow the Ukrainian military to stay supplied, trained, and organized. They just can’t. Or they would have done it by now.
Anyone who has spent their life in America, or any of the 99% of the world subject to exported American culture, would have a hard time avoiding some level of exposure to one of those long-term staples of U.S. cinema—the boxing movie. Those that are old enough to remember the days when boxing was among the most followed sports in the nation probably still harbor memories of Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, Ali and Joe Frazier, Ali and George Foreman … basically Ali engaging in a kind of beautiful and intelligent violence along with someone who was about to be forever remembered for falling down.
In both real life and on film, there’s a frequent pairing that makes for a classic confrontation. On one side is the fearsome slugger. The guy who throws a punch that can take down an ox and whose scowling visage marks a ruthless, straight-ahead confidence that no one can stand against them. In the opposite corner is the boxer who can “stick and move,” but, more importantly, keep his brain engaged along with his fists. A few rounds later, the ox-feller is really confused about why this guy across from him just refuses to go down, and that other guy is just getting ready to attack.
That kind of seems like where we are with Ukraine. Russia continues to stagger forward, throwing only wild haymakers, while Ukraine jabs, sidesteps, and looks for an opening. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that Sonny Liston’s nickname was “the big bear.” Ali went into that fight an 8-1 underdog. Liston gave up in the seventh round. It’s not clear what round we’re in now, but it is clear that the pace of the action in Ukraine is no longer being dictated by Russia.
When it comes to action on the ground, in the Kharkiv area, Russia claimed to have captured the village of Udy, near the Russian border northwest of Kharkiv. However, Ukrainian military images from the site on Tuesday indicate that this is a thing-that-did-not-happen. Russia also claims to have taken the village of Odnorobivk, which is even further to the west and kilometers away from any area of conflict over the last few months. Whether this is a real attack or not isn’t clear.
Over near Kherson, Russia has attacked that bridgehead across the Inhulets River that Ukraine established back in June, and which Russia had already claimed to have eliminated at least three times. It’s difficult to tell how the fighting is going at the moment, but Russia seems to have moved against Ukrainian forces at all points. The status of Ukraine’s pontoon bridge (which is well south of Davydiv Brid) is unknown.
As has been true every day for the last several weeks, Russia launched attacks at multiple points along the line between Sivernsk and Bakhmut, but there don’t appear to be any major changes. Further south, the Ukrainian military reports that Russia achieved “partial success” near Novomykhailivka, but other Russian attacks south of Donetsk were repulsed.
By the end of today, I hope to have the maps updated so that the next Ukraine Update can reflect the current positions. Oh, and there are unconfirmed reports that Taiwan is sending 800(!) of these to Ukraine.
Drones are playing an ever greater part in this war, and the various roles and types of drones are undergoing a fast evolution. It’s a very safe bet that the results in Ukraine are being carefully examined by every military in the world. From observation drones directing precision munitions, to large drones launching missiles at targets dozens or hundreds of kilometers behind enemy lines, to loitering munitions with varying levels of AI, to drones like the “revolver” that can drop explosives straight down on enemy troops and vehicles, the battlefield is becoming ever more dangerous. How all this stuff works is changing in real-time, and the winner of this war may well be the side that is nimble enough to incorporate these technologies in the best way.
That’s probably not the big bear.
(Side note: The current heavyweight champion of the world is Daniel Dubois, or Tyson Fury, or Oleksandr Usyk, depending on which organization you believe. Of all of these, Usyk may be the best known because, in February, he returned to his native Ukraine and spent a few months in the territorial defense forces, but he has now left to train for another match. Fury may be best known for comments in which he threatened to hang his sister, for warning that abortion was going to bring a “biblical reckoning,” and for a string of antisemitic as well as anti-LGBTQ statements.)
This drone drops just a single explosive, but the operator is really good.
Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022 · 7:21:18 PM +00:00
The general staff of the Ukrainian military sending their thanks to everyone involved in the logistical chain.
“The face of logistics of the Armed Forces. These are the ones who restore the combat effectiveness of complex mechanisms and put equipment and weapons back on track. These are the ones who save the lives of our soldiers at the front.”
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