Mark Sumner’s two stories today (morning, afternoon) have a great deal of information on Ukraine’s operational gains today. As I write this, it’s night in Ukraine and while undoubtedly stuff is happening, we won’t hear about any of it until morning.
This is most likely significantly out of date, but good enough for now with confirmed advances:
I wonder if Russia will hit Putin’s September 15 deadline to capture all of the Donbas.
They were already going to cut it close, but events up in Kharkiv might force additional delays. On the plus side, they are making some gains.
Wagner captured a hill. A hill guys! That’s like … 0.3 square kilometers, going a long way toward offsetting Ukraine’s 2,000-square-mile gain over the past four days.
My favorite response:
My brother helped with this:
This one made me laugh so hard:
You’ve probably seen it already, but if not, here is that bit of hijinx:
Anyway, there were rumors that Wagner would redeploy from the Bakhmut area to reinforce the Kharkiv front. Wagner didn’t take too kindly to that:
The information about the transfer of forces of the “Wagner Group” to the Izyum direction, as well as near Kupyansk, is not true.
“Musicians” [their self-styled nickname] continue their work on the fronts assigned to them, and at the moment they are almost, if not the only ones, who not only hold the front in Ukraine, but also advance it. No one is going to be removed from especially difficult areas to plug holes.”
DAMN RIGHT they aren’t going to leave their positions. As they note, they are the only Russian forces currently capturing anything. So sure, Ukraine has liberated 2,000 square kilometers the last four days, but since they got A HILL, that’s what matters most! Also, why not shit on the rest of the Russian war effort while they’re at it?
Seriously, this is one of the things that have hampered the Russian war effort. Each Russian military district initially got its own section of the front, none working together. And while they eventually got an overall commander, supposedly, nothing on the ground suggests it actually changed anything of note. Half the time we don’t even really know who it is. You shouldn’t have to be a Kremlinologist to know who is in charge.
Then you have Rosgvardia—Putin’s personal army, his “national guard.” They have their own chain of command bypassing the Russian Ministry of Defense. The VDV airborne guys have their own thing going because they’re supposedly so elite and cool. Wagner, of course, answers to their CEO (Putin’s chef). And the Donbas proxy armies are supposedly independent. We think, “Russians don’t allow local initiative, all orders come from the top.” And it’s true! It’s just that there are a lot of tops, and none of them seem to like each other.
Ukraine doesn’t have that problem.
Hell yeah it was risky! Amazing that he pulled it off.
Down in Izyum, Russian War Propagandist WarGonzo intended to prove that everything was safe and secure and no one needed to believe those pesky rumors of an impending Ukrainian assault.
Here’s the actual before (where he accidentally admits that Ukrainian forces are approaching) and after videos. In the after, he mentions there’s a single artery left out of town, admitting the city is operationally surrounded. As far as propaganda goes, that was a bust!
And speaking of…
My favorite is the Kadyrovite who is like “Is Izyum the capital of Russia? Is Kupiansk? If not, who cares!” What a weird standard.
Apparently, Dovhen’ke was the capital of Russia, because they really cared about that one.
So much loot! Blowing it up is great. Taking it by force and then using it against Russia is even better.
Now look at this: combined arms warfare!
Infantry discounts, protects the armor. Armor pushes forward, uses the big gun to clear enemy armor and defensive positions. Infantry mounts up, and they move forward.
What’s lacking is any obvious air power, but Ukraine is doing fine. It’s worth noting that as much as people screamed that Ukraine needed this or that, the Pentagon and allies had a very clear understanding of what needed to be delivered, balancing ease of learning, operation, maintenance, and supply, with battlefield utility. Ukraine didn’t need NATO armor, it got close to 300 Soviet-era tanks from allies. M113s were sufficiently good infantry carriers (the YPR-765 is actually an M113 variant). Down in Kherson, where wide-open flat spaces expose advancing forces to deadly artillery barrages, Ukraine is using fast Humvees to speed from town to town, giving artillery little chance to zero in on them.
And aircraft? Ukraine received extra aircraft from allies, including the parts to revive planes destroyed on the first days of the war. Additionally, they’ve been modified to carry certain NATO weapons like anti-radar HARM missiles. WIth air defenses suppressed, Ukraine can fly more drones, from TB2 Bayraktars to little quadcopter dropping grenades on individual soldiers. And HIMARS really is doing a lot of the roles aircraft have traditional taken (destroying bridges, hardened defenses, ammo depots, and command and control facilities).
Would M1 Abrams and M2 Bradleys and F16s be better? Yes! But Ukraine would still be trying to learn the basics of how to operate and maintain them, nevermind the challenges of developing yet additional logistical supply chains to fuel and repair them. Remember, the M1 Abrams uses jet fuel, not diesel, and gets 2 gallons per mile. (Not a typo.) Fueling standard, more efficient diesel vehicles is challenging enough.
So kudos to the Pentagon for having a clear vision of what it would take for Ukraine to retake territory as quickly as possible, even as the peanut gallery wailed that “NATO isn’t playing to win, just not to lose!”
And really, this offensive is truly possible to all those Territorial Defense Force units stuck in trenches up and down the front for the past six months, getting slammed daily, oftentimes feeling abandoned. Their impossible heroism allowed Ukraines regular army units and 300,000 reserves to prepare in the country’s west, while Western allies equipped and trained them in proper war fighting techniques.
Those trench-bound TDF got dealt a shitty hand, and thousands paid the ultimate prize. Many will suffer from PTSD and other trauma the rest of their lives. But they’ve been rotated out, and hopefully they’re done, they’ve given enough. Hundreds of thousands of fresh soldiers behind them are ready to pick up the baton.
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