Ukraine Update: Russia’s supply and command and control hubs no longer safe from Ukrainian attack

Ukraine Update: Russia’s supply and command and control hubs no longer safe from Ukrainian attack

Early days of the war, the most videos showed anti-tank missiles like NLAWS, Stugna-P, and Javelins taking out Russian armor and vehicles. Then there was the “vehicles stuck in mud” phase. Eventually, that gave way to supply convoy ambushes. Then artillery strikes, and more artillery strikes. A handful of “commercial drone drops grenade” videos sneak through, but mostly artillery. Lots of artillery strikes. Until … now. 

We still have plenty of artillery videos. This is an artillery attrition war, with the skies over Ukraine swarming with drones documenting it all. New Western artillery systems, like the M777, French Caesar, and Dutch/German Panzerhaubitze 2000 are treated like celebrities on the red carpet at the Oscars. But over the past few weeks, we’re seeing more and more dramatic destruction of Russian ammunition depots. 

June 25, Izyum, Kharkiv Oblast

Reportedly the first footage of the aftermath of a Ukrainian HIMARS MLRS strike in the Izyum area. The Russian Starshe Eddy channel said one of their salvos killed two and wounded several.

— Rob Lee (@RALee85) June 26, 2022

This was reportedly the headquarters of Russia’s 20th Army, and Russian Telegram channels reported multiple officer casualties. In the video, we see three pontoon bridging vehicles, at least two infantry fighting vehicles, a Tigr armored jeep-style infantry vehicle, and multiple requisitioned civilian vehicles. Not a bad haul for a single strike. 

The lack of burn marks and shrapnel damage to the vehicles definitely points to HIMARS rockets. In my day, the rockets carried cluster munitions, now banned by international treaty (though the U.S. and Russia are not signatories). Instead, these rockets carry 180,000 small non-explosive tungsten balls, which detonate above the target and scatter the shots like a massive 360-degree shotgun. 

Shrapnel damage from MLRS rocket, which carries 180,000 BB-sized non-explosive tungsten balls.

It works best against lightly armored vehicles and personnel. You can even see one of them here: 

In this case, a soft target, a single rocket with 180,000 of those tungsten balls likely did as much damage as an entire pod of six high explosive rockets would’ve managed. There’s a different role for those. (Hard targets, like hardened defenses, economic infrastructure like refineries, etc.)

June 25, Svatove, Luhansk Oblast, 68 kms from front lines

⚡️It is reported about morning explosions at military warehouses in Svatove, Luhansk region, occupied territory.

— Flash (@Flash43191300) June 25, 2022

We don’t know what hit this depot. GMLRS can fire accurately to 84 kilometers (beyond its official rated range), and can even reach further but not as accurately. This could also be Tochka-U ballistic missiles, Ukraine has been aggressively launching these past couple of weeks. The target above might’ve even been these guys: 

#Ukraine️ has launched ballistic missiles at #Russian ammunition depot.#followbackfriday

— Emma Atkins🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (@Emma198635) June 24, 2022

It’s almost as if Ukrainian high command decided they didn’t need to husband these long-range resources anymore with HIMARS in theater, and could blast off their remaining supply. These have a range of 120 kilometers. 

June 23, Kadiivka, Luhansk Oblast, 40 kilometers from front lines

Overnight into 24 June, another Russian ammunition depot caught fire in occupied Kadiivka, Luhansk Oblast After an alleged Ukrainian missile strike, the fire and detonations in the facility hidden at a local plant lasted for several hours. 📹 via @samotniyskhid

— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) June 24, 2022

More Tochka-U missile handiwork. That is a serious cook-off. Kadiivka is east of Popasna, and this was likely supplying that entire advance. Reports claim that Russia has had to reposition its command and logistical hubs further away from the front.

June 22, Kyselivka, Kherson Oblast, on the front lines

⚡️The media reports that the Ukrainian Armed Forces hit a Russian ammunition depot in Kyselivka, Kherson region

— Flash (@Flash43191300) June 22, 2022

No need for long range munitions here. Kyselivka is right on the front lines, with conflicting reports over who controls it. The depot was likely struck as Ukrainian forces contested the settlement. 

June 19, Voskresenka, Zaporizhia Oblast, 15 kilometers from the front

M777 destroys Russian warehouse ammunition #UkraineWar

— Ukrainian News24 (@MarkRid89403375) June 19, 2022

I confirmed distance, so yes, this would definitely be in range of M777 howitzers, which is 25 kilometers. For comparison, Russia’s D20 towed howitzer, also used by Ukraine, has a range of just 17 kilometers. (Other systems have further range, but this is the apple-to-apple comparison.)

June 17, Nova Kakhovka, Kherson Oblast, 52 kilometers from front

Minus one more warehouse with weapons and ammunition of the russian Nazis – this time in the temporarily occupied Nova Kakhovka. They write that the orcs arrived at the very moment when they did not expect at all.

— Euromaidan PR (@EuromaidanPR) June 17, 2022

This is undoubtedly a Tochka-U missile. HIMARS hadn’t been activated when this attack took place. What’s exciting is that HIMARS will be able to hit targets like this regularly, instead of forcing Ukraine general staff to debate whether a target is worth the investment of a precious limited-supply Toschka-U. (Ukraine reportedly had 500 at the start of the war.)

June 16, Krasny Luch, Luhansk Oblast, 60 kilometers from the front

According to Russian channels, the Armed Forces of Ukraine hit a Russian ammo depot in the city of Krasnyi Luch, Luhansk Oblast with a Tochka-U short-range ballistic missile.

— Status-6 (@Archer83Able) June 16, 2022

The on-the-ground footage of that attack is apocalyptic, here and here. Again, HIMARS will make targets like this one far more commonplace. Russia will have to move supply depots further behind front lines, exacerbating their logistical challenges. Remember, all of their recent Donbas gains have come in territory hugging their long-held proxy territory. Their push toward Bakhmut, away from their pre-war borders, has stalled. 

June 16, Khrustalnyi, Luhansk, Oblast, 50 kilometers from the front

Video: blast today at ammunition warehouse in Khrustalnyi, occupied Luhansk region via @666_mancer #Ukraine

— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) June 16, 2022

More Tochka-U handiwork. 

It’s certainly curious—did Ukraine’s intelligence get that much better the last few weeks, suddenly adept at finding these supply depots, or is it truly a function of “HIMARS/MLRS are coming, we can now hit these targets with missiles we were saving for a rainy day.” 

Whatever the reason, I love this new genre of war video. Russia already struggles to advance more than a few hundred meters per day. Their challenges will only multiply as Ukraine systematically wipes out their logistical and command and control centers. 

One last note, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense put out a video of HIMARS’ first mission:

First official footage of HIMARS 🔥🔥🔥 at battlefields in Ukraine! These weapons are in the good hands, dear Americans! To be continued. Video by the Commander-in-Chief of the #UAarmy General Valerii Zaluzhnyy.

— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) June 25, 2022

Kinda cool! The launch mechanism is the same as in the M270 from back in my day. The computer is far more advanced than whatever piece of crap 80’s era “computer” we had back then. 

This is the second video we’ve seen of HIMARS launches and both of them were at night. Ukraine clearly values these too highly to risk having one spotted by Russian drones. So for now, it looks like they’ll do all their work at night. This will be fine when hitting supply depots, command and control centers, and static defenses. It’ll be less helpful when trying to hit Russian convoys on the move, which would be a fantastic use of these beasts. We’ll see if that changes down the road.

Sunday, Jun 26, 2022 · 2:38:44 PM +00:00

Mark Sumner

Ukrainian forces used HIMARS to destroy a Russian column and 2 command posts. HIMARS work constantly😉

— WarMonitor🇺🇦 (@WarMonitor3) June 26, 2022

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