Ukraine War, 14 December 2022
Good morning everybody!
I would like to do more, but today — and with some minor exceptions related to air/missile warfare — I’ll entirely focus on the situation in the Bakhmut area. Reason is that I find there is a need to sort out some of related nonsense ‘flying’ around in the social media.
A video surfaced shown a launch of a Ukrainian Tu-141 drone: seems to confirm reports/assessments according to which it was such weapons that were used to strike Russian bomber bases of Engels-2 and Dyagilevo. Ukraine should have overhauled some 68 such drones, back in 2014.
The first video about deployment of Swtichblade-300 mini-LPGM was released. There was a lots of talk about their deliveries, back in March-April, but so far none were seen in action.
The Biden administration seems to have taken the decision to deliver PAC Patriot air defence systems to Ukraine. The Pentagon has already agreed, but the plan still needs to be approved by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and then signed by Biden. As of now, exact quantity and version of the PAC-systems to be delivered are unknown.
Apparently in reaction to the US announcement, and reportedly, France and Italy are about to deliver SAMP/T and Mamba air defence systems to Ukraine. Paris should have already confirmed this, but negotiations with Rome are still going on.
To say all of this is taking place much too late — then up to 15 million of Ukrainians are without power and heating, often without water too, and that since days, and to remain without electricity for days longer — would be an understatement. But at least few of talking-heads in the West have finally figured out that equipping Ukraine with defensive weapons can’t be considered a ‘provocation’ even by Xi’s gauge — not to talk about Putin’s.
At least the systems delivered so far, and those already operated by Ukrainian Air Defences since earlier times, are working ever better. This morning (around 05.30–09.00hrs local time) 10 (this was later increased to 13) Shahed-136 LPGMs were released by the Russians in two waves in direction of Kyiv: reportedly, all 10/13 were shot down. Some damage was caused to administrative buildings in the Shevchenkivskyi District by debris, though.
Ah yes, and: the GenStab-U reported a M142 HIMARS-strike on the HQ of the 58th CAA in Melitopol. Results remain unknown.
BATTLE OF BAKHMUT
Up front, have chatted with several people serving there, the last few days, and they all stress: there is no trace of anything like ‘withdrawal’ of the ZSU from Bakhmut. Quite on the contrary: even if some of Russian attacks (like one on eastern side of Bakhmut, the last two days) are causing problems, and although several of ZSU units have suffered heavy casualties, essentially, the garrison was reinforced and holds firmly.
North of Bakhmut, Yakovlivka, Soledar, Bakhmutske and Pidhorodne remain under Ukrainian control (yes, ‘even’ Pidhorodne). They’re held by a miscellany of smaller units drawn from different brigades, but commanded by the HQ of the 57th Mech.
Foremost, all of Bakhmut remains in Ukrainian hands: sole exceptions are the eastern suburbs (east of the Patrice Lumumba Street), and southern suburbs (south-eastern side of Opytne and Ivanhrad). Further south, the frontline stabilised east of Klischiivka, but the Russians are controlling Andrivka.
Now, both in Ukraine and outside of it there is lots of guessing about what’s the purpose of Putin/Surovikin pushing this hard on Bakhmut? What’s the aim of this battle?
As can be seen/heard in this video — containing an interview with ‘Arty Green’, one of top Ukrainian artillery commanders (and a very sober person) — the overall Russian aim is to reach the administrative borders of the Donetsk Oblast. This ‘happens’ to include Bakhmut. For this purpose, the Russians are trying to by-pass the town through attacking north-east- (Soledar area) and south of it (Opytne and Klischiivka). Purpose of these attacks is to cut off Ukrainian supply links to Bakhmut.
Is the situation in Bakhmut ‘good’ for Ukraine?
Nope. It is tense, sometimes even critical. For example, the last two days, the Russians have managed to enter the eastern suburbs of the town: have managed to push Ukrainians some 50–100 metres back.
However, this doesn’t mean that the garrison is short of running away, surrendering, destroyed, or suffering ‘heavy’ losses (one just needs to ask a few of ZSU officers, and they’re all going to immediately reply: their losses are nowhere near being comparable with those their units were suffering back in May, June or even July).
Over the last two weeks, the ZSU has rushed plentiful of reinforcements to the town: some say Ukraine meanwhile has more troops inside Bakhmut, than the Russians can deploy to attack the town.
Ukrainian artillery remains short on ammo, but resupply from the West keeps on flowing and keeping it in business. What the ZSU artillery did receive during October and November, was enough to destroy the mass of the Russian heavy equipment (tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, artillery etc.) in the Bakhmut area — primarily by using Excalibur guided shells calibre 155mm. This has forced the Russians to withdraw their remaining heavy equipment and operate with infantry alone — and to change their tactics, too.
The mass of operations the VSRF is running in this area the last two weeks were ‘human wave’, frontal attacks by (reportedly) about 26,000 convicts recruited by Wagner. Initially, this took Ukrainians by surprise: nobody could believe the Russians would operate that way, or be ready to take such casualties, or have troops ready to go charging that way. Moreover, Ukrainians had to learn how to deal with such attacks. This is what caused the loss of several positions — and heavy losses of several Ukrainian units (which I’m not going to discuss for reasons listed below) — the last two weeks. Meanwhile, the ZSU adapted to this ‘innovation’ — and replaced several incompetent commanders at ‘operational level’, while making its best to exploit the general incompetence of Russian officers.
Crucial point — or something like ‘most important lesson’ — about all this is: the losses of the first ten months of war have destroyed the professional core of the VSRF and degenerated its capabilities to the level where it is unable to deploy as much firepower as during spring offensives: it lost too much of its modern artillery, it never managed to solve its problems with command and communication, and is meanwhile short on ammunition, too. Moreover, because of the System Putin, it is run by incompetents. Aware of this, Putin and Surovikin are now actually searching for a ‘honourable’ end of war: some sort of a solution that would force Ukrainians into negotiations at their conditions. This is also why they have recruited 300,000 reservists, and are announcing the mobilisation of yet more: to threaten and to scare Kyiv — and the West — into some sort of negotiations in their favour. Nothing of this means that Ukraine is going to lose Bakhmut, though: ‘just’ that the Russians are going to do their utmost to get the town, and Ukrainians to defend it.
DISCUSSIONS ABOUT LOSSES
As mentioned several times before, I do not like discussions about losses because they’re actually pointless: precise figures are a well-kept secret, no matter what party in this (or any other) war. Therefore, one can only guess and gauge, but never be sure. And, if one is not sure about something, what’s the point of discussing it…?
Foremost, there are always people who prefer to misinterpret and fantasise about whatever figures I do mention — as ‘instantly confirmed’ by multiple readers of my latest reports.
For example: I’ve mentioned a platoon of the 30th Mech and wrote, there were 22 troops, three of these went missing and Ukrainians presumed them as prisoners of war, while 17 were wounded. In ‘response’ to this, some began fantasising things like this was a platoon of 22+17+3 troops and whatever else…
I’ve got used to such insanities like being called a ‘Nazi’, and ‘Jihadist-supporter’, and ‘paid by Qatar’, and ‘by Turkish MIT’, and by the CIA, and Mossad, and Mukhbarat, and whatever else….at most, I’m laughing about them. But, really, in this case I do not understand specific ‘reactions’ because it’s so simple.
22 troops in total (in letters: twenty-two).
22. No 21 and no 23. Especially no 22+17+3 (i.e. ‘42’). 22 — and there’s absolutely no reason to misinterpret this into anything like ‘ZSU units are organised along NATO-standards, thus this platoon must have XY number of troops’. It’s just 22.
People, please be so kind and activate your brains when reading: 22 is 22, no 11, no 37, and no 42…
It’s similar in regards of the 93rd Mech, where a ‘destruction’ of its II Battalion claimed by one of top Putin’s propaganda outlets, is meanwhile discussed as ‘destruction of the entire brigade’…. ‘because Tom Cooper said so’….
I have no clue what kind of person it must be to come to such ideas, but one thing is sure: I never ‘said’ anything of that kind. At most, and in the process of re-reporting what is the Russian social media reporting, the last few days, I’ve quoted WarGonzo’s claim about the ‘destruction’ of the II Battalion 93rd — and promptly expressed my doubts about that. Even the few Russians who are still sober enough to do so, are denying the destruction of the 93rd (or parts of it). For example, here what one of their volunteers has to say in this regards. ‘But Tom Cooper said so….’?!?
One thing is sure: after these experiences I’m certainly not going to discuss any further details of this kind. Sorry, but it’s entirely pointless.