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Anatomy of a NATO-Planned, Trained, and Armed Disaster
As the smoke cleared the battlefield, we were left witness to a disaster of unprecedented proportions. NATO’s most advanced tanks and armor were left as smoking ruins:
The most shocking development was the closeups revealed that these weren’t just any NATO tanks and IFVs, but were in fact some of the most advanced upgraded variants. Many of the Leopards destroyed were not the older 2A4s but in fact the much newer 2A6s, which are some of the most advanced tanks in the world.
The Bradleys were M2A2 ODS-SA variants, seen under the 2003 column below:
The losses by some counts are staggering for a single assault:
The Ukrainian Telegram channel "Rezident" reports that, according to its sources, in the previous three days the AFU has lost over 150 units of heavy equipment, including 12 German Leopard MBTs and 15 American M2 Bradley IFVs.
If the above number is true, that would represent literally almost 50% of all supplied Leopards already gone and upwards of 15% of Bradleys—in just a two hour fight.
In fact, the same Ukrainian channel says that the Leopards didn’t even get to fire a shot:
⚡️⚡️⚡️The Ukrainian TG channel " Resident " writes:
Our source in the OP said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been trying to storm the Russian first line of defense for the third day, but there was no result. Our equipment does not even have time to enter the battle when it is covered with artillery, which leads to heavy losses and a return to their positions. In three days we have lost more than ten Leopard tanks, which have not fired at the enemy⚡️⚡️⚡️
Also, there appears to be photo and video confirmation that Russian troops have in fact secured the area of destruction, which means these Bradleys/Leopards are likely captured or have been recovered by Russian forces:
If you watch the above video, you’ll note it shows the same scene of destruction in the background of the Leopards surrounded by many Bradleys.
So we can likely expect a Bradley/Leopard exhibit in Moscow Victory Park or on the Red Square sometime in the future. Either that or China/Iran will get to examine these goodies for reverse engineering.
And here’s an actual before and after account from the AFU side showing how their Bradleys were biting the bullet:
But let’s break down the battle in detail because I see a lot of misconceptions being thrown around, particularly on the heavily-coping Ukrainian side, about what exactly happened.
Firstly, one thing that needs to be noted is: in yesterday’s report I outlined how the 47th brigade formations approached at night in order to use their putatively fancy Western sensors. This is validated today by the revelation that many of these knocked out units are in fact the latest variant like the SA version of the Bradleys. The reason being that one of the main advantages of the most upgraded variants is typically much better optics of every kind, from 3rd gen thermals/night-vision to additional/more advanced commander’s independent sights, etc.
Secondly, what we now know is that Ukraine advanced through the minefield with the much-vaunted American FWMPs or Full Width Mine Ploughs. It should be said that I did an entire indepth article on this that you should read to gain context if you’re really interested in the mechanics of what went down:
The reason it’s important is because the above article was written partly as response to the Western side months ago claiming that Russian mine clearing capabilities are archaic, which followed the infamous Vugledar incidents.
But more importantly, I had outlined how Western OSINT accounts claimed the American mine clearing system was far superior, and would never suffer from such consequences as Russian systems in Ukraine have experienced. The reason is the FWMP uses a different method—instead of trying to explode the mines with heavy rollers, it uses a plough to basically dig up the ground and ‘clear’ the mines by pushing them to the sides of the path, like so:
The big ‘legs’ you see on the front are just sleds that make it smoothly glide over the ground while the plough behind it excavates the earth and pushes it aside.
The photos below are from yesterday’s disaster:
Ironically, note the caption below this bottom pic. The 47th was in fact considered by some to be Ukraine’s strongest unit. By ‘all volunteer’ they don’t mean volunteers in the regular sense, like untrained civilians volunteering for service. They mean actual seasoned Ukrainian soldiers who volunteered to be transferred into this most ‘elite’ assault unit knowing that it will be a vanguard style unit with a lot of risk but equipped with the best weaponry.
Yesterday they used both Soviet IMR-2 and BREM engineering vehicles with KMT-9 rollers as well as, it appears, the Leopard 2Rs, also called Patria Heavy Mine Breacher, pictured above. The below photo shows the 2R/Patria knocked out:
So, the biggest question I see being asked on social media, particularly from distraught and devastated Ukrainian supporters, is how is it possible an elite NATO-trained Ukrainian brigade can have such ‘poor’ tactics such as “bunching” and not dispersing, and following each other in an easy to kill conga line.
First, we must note that these mine clearers above rip up and dislodge the earth and create a path easily visible from photos:
We can clearly see that the AFU brigade was following a strict protocol of sticking to the passage of turned up earth that the FWMPs were creating for them.
We don’t know exactly how dense the minefields Russia deployed were, but Russia has some of the most sophisticated FASCAM style mine systems in the world, and they can create dense fields if they choose to. If the field was really dense, then you have no choice but to continue in the tiny narrow passage etched out for you by the FWMP.
Next, I saw some pro-Ukrainian analysts make a good point that you can’t abandon a mission just because the vehicle ahead of you was struck. You have to continue on no matter what. But even so, how is it possible they were destroyed in such mass clumps as seen below?
First, note a few forensic pieces of evidence. In the lower photo we see the BMR mine clearer on the top, with its KMT style mine trawl. The vehicle is knocked out. Ahead of it we see 3 separate Bradleys knocked out with a Leopard 2A6. The Bradleys are knocked out by mines: this is obvious by the fact that one of them is literally inside a ditch of upturned earth which means a mine exploded beneath it. And the other one on the far left has its track destroyed which also heavily points to hitting a mine.
Another version of the top most photo. Notice it’s the same scene as the above but from the top. By the #1, you’ll note how the Leopard 2A6 was knocked out in the middle of the FWMP track.
There’s no indication of how it was knocked out but this closeup can give us a clue:
Not only are the armor skirts toward the rear damaged, but you can sort of see the track bent out of shape and something that looks like a wheel lodged into the ground. It would be strange for the tank to hit a mine with the rear first unless it was backing up but the other possibility is an ATGM hit to the side.
But we know that where you see the #1, the Bradley apparently tried to go around the knocked out Leo. But it drove directly onto the cleared earth that the FWMP had pushed out. All the mines would have been pushed there, and it seems the Bradley ate them.
On numbers 2 and 3 you can see the same thing. A Bradley inside the 2nd track cleared by the FWMP was somehow knocked out and the others tried to go around and hit more mines in the non-cleared area. Other Bradleys likely came to try to evac the wounded and were destroyed by artillery, ATGMs, drones, etc., right next to the others.
The problem here is, if your lead vehicle at the front of a convoy in such a narrow mine-cleared track is hit by something like a Ka-52 missile, then the vehicles behind it have no other choice than to “take the chance” and go around into the non-cleared area. So Russian Ka-52s or even ATGM crews can simply aim at the front vehicle to immobilize it and the rest are now in severe danger by being forced into the mine zone.
And we even have some video evidence of this. Here are some Ka-52 videos from yesterday’s assaults. Note how the Ka-52 targets the front vehicle of the conga line:
The fact is, when you have a tiny narrow track of cleared roadway and the vehicle in front of you is hit, there is simply no other choice but to take the chance into uncleared territory and go around. But when you blow up, the guys behind you likewise panic and try to go around you even deeper into the uncleared portion, and they hit mines too.
It may all seem very common sense to us judging it from afar, but it’s plausible that the AFU did not think Russia had mined the fields that densely. Recall, we were fed over a year’s worth of propaganda that Russia doesn’t even mine at all, and Ukraine is chief amongst the victims of Western gaslighting. “Russia is weak, Russia uses nothing but old T-55 tanks, Russia doesn’t blow bridges nor mines nor has any airforce, don’t worry, you can safely advance!”
Lo and behold, it turns out Russia’s airforce is deadly after all and Russia does mine very densely when it needs to, and particularly when the actual Russian army has prepared the position, not small under-armed volunteer groups like was the case in the Kharkov retreat of 2022.
The other thing to consider is, if you’re forced to hold for a while, or have taken some damage, it’s arguably safer to park next to other tanks and take refuge amongst them. Think about it: the main way that artillery takes out armor is typically via fragmentation shrapnel from the sides where most tanks have extremely thin armor. It’s rare for an artillery shell to get ‘lucky’ enough to land right on top of the tank hatch. So if you’re in a wide open field, why wouldn’t it be smart to squeeze your armored vehicle in between two knocked out vehicles so that your sides are now completely protected from artillery landing nearby.
The only obvious downside is you can argue that the spot will be pre-registered for artillery systems already as they have been hitting that area and can possibly more quickly hit you. But it also protects from ATGMs as they will be blocked from hitting you if you put another disabled tank between you and their LOS. This could explain a large number of such ‘bunched up destroyed armor’ seen on both sides of the war. Remember Russia’s Vugledar fiasco?
Note how some of the tanks above are literally taking positions behind the disabled tanks in order to fire towards the right side of the photo. Why wouldn’t you take position behind another disabled piece of armor, it gives you a free anti-ATGM shield.
You can argue artillery will hit you but it will hit you anywhere so what’s the difference? If the vehicles there are already disabled by mines, then what difference does it make? It actually serves you better to use those vehicles as cover.
So as you can see, the above explains why there’s so many instances of ‘bunching’ in the kill zones. When there’s nothing but an open mine field around you, in many ways taking cover behind already disabled armor gives you the only sense of security that’s possible.
But this brings me to the next point. The other big question I see on all pro-Ukrainians’ minds, including the big accounts like Jihad Julian, is: what can Ukraine do differently in order to succeed? How can they change their tactics for the better?
I’ll answer this in two sections, first the micro/tactical level, then the macro-operational/strategic.
The most important thing to note is that when you are advancing in your armored columns, long before the AFU even reaches close enough to begin firing on Russian positions, they have to rely on their other forces, like attached artillery units, any aerospace and rocket units part of the engagement, etc. These units are tasked with softening up or, more importantly, suppressing the various artillery/ATGM assets that will be the greatest threat to the armored column.
But the issue with this is: it takes massive, nearly impossible to achieve levels of coordination to time these things properly. You see, how it works is: the AFU doesn’t initially know where Russian hidden and camouflaged artillery/ATGM positions are. So the only real way to “find out” is by advancing your armored column. But the problem here is obvious: once you’ve advanced it enough that the Russian side begins to open up on you from their artillery systems, you’ve already got a very short window of time until those artillery systems completely destroy you.
So you have three options now:
Either turn back and run away while your own artillery attempts to suppress or destroy the enemy. This is not realistic or feasible for a variety of reasons; plus it runs counter to actually trying to achieve your objective in a timely manner and retaining at least some element of surprise and initiative before the enemy can call in mass reinforcements
Just stop and “wait” in a medium distance position while your other forces (artillery, aerospace, etc.) try to reconnoiter and disable the enemy systems
Just plow ahead anyway and hope your own artillery brigades can disable the enemy systems long before you’re completely annihilated
But here’s the problem: the enemy—in this case Russia—outguns you more than 10:1 in artillery and ammunition. How can you possibly expect your own attached artillery brigades to counter-battery the enemy with such disproportionate disparities?
So, owing to what I just said: #1 above is a no go. The second option is also mostly unworkable simply because you’ll be waiting forever because your forces will never adequately outgun or suppress such a superiority of guns which basically represents a complete overmatch.
We do have some evidence that in yesterday’s assaults, the AFU chose #2, at least for some of the time. There is footage clearly showing the bunched up armor lines pausing and waiting. For instance like this:
However, for the most part they simply had no choice but to go with the third option, where at least they can hope to have some element of surprise.
The main thing to understand is that the coordination required, as I mentioned before, is so high that likely no army in the world can succeed in such an environment. Every single wing, arm, and branch of your military has to be functioning in sync, and a single disruption, such as to your communications can immediately set you back. Recall that Russia is the world’s #1 electronic warfare super power—so we can assume that Ukraine’s communications and everything in between were being disrupted.
Your mechanized battalions have to coordinate with brigade HQ and recon units to suppress the artillery, ATGMs all on the fly as your entire column is sitting there being observed by enemy UAVs and having its position calculated. A single kink in this and everything breaks down. This is why even Russian forces find it extremely difficult to impossible to ‘advance’ in such conditions, and why instead they merely hammer away with artillery and air overmatch and move only a step at a time.
Modern war is extremely complex business. Many people believe, for instance, even in the arena of communications that every system simply magically works by way of satellite and any platoon/company commander or even tank crew can just instantaneously phone up any other element of the division and ask for help or give coordinates, etc. But that’s not how it works by a long shot.
All communications have a maximum reach of only a few kilometers. You need special signals troops to setup special systems and equipment that can amplify the signals and allow communications just to your own battalion HQ a few kilometers back let alone to brigade HQ tens of kilometers away or even supreme command in Kiev. All these systems and processes are subject to destruction, disruption, jamming, etc. There’s a very good chance, for instance, that while sitting there, Ukrainian Leopards literally could not even get a signal nor communicate to their own unit commander. After all, there were stories that Germany was having comms problems with Leopards themselves, and German commanders during training had to open the hatch and yell towards other tanks to give them instructions because the signal wasn’t even working.
And at the end of the day, there is such a preponderance of different systems that Russia is using on the frontline, as well as a local ISR overmatch (as opposed to more global one in the case of Western recon satellites, etc.) that there’s almost nothing they can do. For instance, we just talked about ways to mitigate ATGMs and maybe artillery, yet some of the Leopards were even apparently destroyed by kamikaze drones like Lancets.
Here’s a compilation reportedly from yesterday’s attacks where Russian FPVs destroyed entire columns of AFU vehicles:
And the photos below appear to show the characteristic white debris of an exploded Lancet which is always seen after a Lancet strike:
In summary: in such a heavily contested, highly fortified area, Ukraine literally has no options. There is nothing in the world they can do, no weapon in the world you can give them, that can allow them to breach Russian lines here. The only way it can happen is by sheer overwhelming force where they sustain massively disproportionate casualties, but “rush forward” in human wave equivalents and try to overrun Russian lines.
And the problem is, as others have mentioned the West is only capable of teaching them COIN (Counter Insurgency tactics), which is really all that the West practices anymore. COIN doesn’t work against a superpower with classical large formation structures on open fields.
Further, I saw many claims from Western ex-military personnel on social media who claim that NATO armies would never use such tactics, and that the first thing they’re taught is to never bunch up, etc, etc. The problem here is: no one in NATO has ever had to navigate such a highly contested environment, not only from the standpoint of not having air dominance/superiority/support, but even having to actually work through minefields like these in a contested environment with large maneuver formations. Name me a single battle or conflict where a NATO force had to work through such scenarios as what AFU was up against yesterday?
This is all to say that, a ‘textbook’ method of “properly” negotiating such conditions simply does not exist. There is no “proper” way to do it because no one has ever successfully done it before. A single roadside I.E.D. in Baghdad is nothing compared to what the AFU is up against here. So when people ask how can Ukraine improve: it can’t, because true modern theory for defeating such defenses doesn’t exist, particularly not for an army that’s up against an opponent who exponentially outnumbers and overmatches them in every weapons system.
Note the agonized writhing that such Western observers are making as below:
This naturally segues us to the second portion of the discussion.
Many pro-Ukrainian analysts now are gouging out their eyes in bewildered agony as to why Ukraine’s big offensive was directed toward such an obviously unprofitable axis where Russia has spent more than six months heavily fortifying every square inch of land. But this is the key area where Western analysts completely fail to understand the underlying dynamics of the conflict.
I’ve written before at length about the fact that Ukraine has no choice but to go into this direction, no matter how utterly improbable and unrealistic it is for them to actually defeat Russia here. To think that Ukraine can simply ‘reorient’ their offensive towards some other direction that’s not as fortified, is to be completely deluded by Western propaganda and gaslighting which brainwashed Ukrainian-supporters with the idea that Russia is the one that’s depleted, with demoralized troops, 300k casualties and almost no forces left, very few munitions and a crushed economy which can’t sustain the attrition rates, etc. Essentially: it’s to believe that time is on Ukraine’s side rather than Russia’s side.
I’ve spoken many times about how poor analysis stems from faulty premises and foundations of incorrect info.
The fact is: Ukraine’s time is running out. This is objective fact that even the West is now admitting. That means, Ukraine has no time to go into other “easier directions” where it can make some gains, but those gains will amount to some irrelevant settlements in the middle of Donbass, or something that has no strategic value like capturing a Russian village in the Belgorod region.
The reason Ukro-supporters believe Ukraine has options is because their flawed analysis is based on completely wrong data, as I’ve said. And what is that data? Primarily, the casualty figures—at least to use one example. Ukro-supporters actually think Ukraine has 17k casualties while Russia has 300k. If you were convinced of this, it’d be easy to imagine why you’d think that Ukraine has many options and can stall forever or follow their whimsy on attacking random directions.
Unfortunately, the truth is the opposite. Russia has a fraction of Ukraine’s casualties and it’s the AFU that has hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded, and they’re running out of trained and willing men as well as usable equipment, while Russia’s industries are only just beginning to whirr.
This is all to say that Ukraine has almost no time left to make a big splash. They have no option apart from gaining one final big flashy triumph they can hail as a victory to be sold to their souring Western audience, whose support is slowly drying up, and who’s getting ready to throw in the towel.
And the only way for Ukraine to get such a huge and relatively ‘fast’ triumph is by severing the Crimean landbridge. It’s the only objective in the entire conflict where Ukraine can deal one big deathblow to Russia’s jugular in a very proportionately small amount of moves. No other possible combination of captures or assaults in Donbass can have such an effect.
The truth is, severing the Crimean landbridge is relatively easy. All they have to do is penetrate a few dozen kilometers, which is really not that far, and then hit the Kerch with another strike, which is likewise much easier than some think, particularly now that the AFU is getting its hands on a lot of long range weapons that can reach it, like Storm Shadows. This week Biden appeared to be ready to finally give them ATACMs as well, which can easily reach the bridge.
Hence: Ukraine has no choice but to attack this direction no matter how fortified it is, because it’s the only possible way they can grab Russia by the jugular in one relatively short maneuver and completely upend the war in one turn. Strategically as a general, you would have to be a complete imbecile to not take the chance to flip the calculus entirely. There is no other possible objective in the conflict that can yield such massive results, owing to the uniquely precarious position that Crimea inhabits. Which is that it’s only connected by one highway running through Melitopol and then the Kerch bridge.
This is the huge crux that no Ukro-supporter can ever understand, because to admit to this would necessarily mean admitting that Ukraine has no time left, and to admit they have no time left would further necessarily mean to admit that they’re the ones getting the worse of the attrition. Thus, it’s a weight too heavy for them to bear, and they’d rather adopt the ease of mind their cognitive dissonance offers them. Unfortunately, it creates this mental distortion by which they can’t understand why Ukraine is attacking such an obviously disadvantageous direction.
Recall, that I reported long ago that leaks showed Ukraine only had a certain amount of extra munitions stockpiled for a ‘mass offensive’, some believe only about two weeks worth. That means they have to make major breakthroughs in that time.
With that said, maybe we’ve all been had and AFU still has some surprises up their sleeve so let’s not get too comfy yet. After all, some claim the AFU pulled the ‘same trick’ last year, where they first gave the appearance of a huge meat-assault offensive on Kherson, forcing Russia to pull units there and fortify, only to do a sneak assault on Kharkov that swept away the entire region. Could they have something similar in store here? Not likely but let’s see how it develops, particularly because as of this writing, they are said to be gathering a force 3 times larger than the one from yesterday to attack in the same direction.
For now, let’s turn to a few other subjects. I’ll cover this one quickly: multiple-personality-disorder suffering Prigozhin released an interview the other day which was his most incendiary yet. He basically appears to either call for the Russian MOD’s execution or implies it will happen on its own:
He continues to claim certain lies which were already refuted, such as that Berkhovka had fallen to the AFU despite the fact that Russian 200th Motor Rifle guys posted a video from inside the town proving they totally control it.
The problem is, he makes a lot of small good points in isolation, but almost all of them are very hand-selected issues which he hyperfocuses on and tries to make a mountain out of a molehill. In reality, much of the ‘issues’ in the Russian army he quotes are isolated or at least of such low occurrence as to not be as significant of a problem as he makes it out to be. Honestly, I’m tired of even dealing with him and am only posting it here to do due diligence and offer up the interview for anyone interested, but for the time being there are far more pressing things than the tired whining of an old hypocritical crank.
Now, to flush both turds at once, let’s process this situation as well. The ‘drunk Russian’ commander of the 72nd which Prigozhin accused of trying to blow up and shoot at Wagner cars made his own video to tell his side of the story:
The things he says are so crazy as to defy belief. Some have expressed the theory that this ‘commander’ is making this stuff up in order to cover up the embarrassing episode of his own drunken hooliganism. He claims that Wagner: stole Russian tanks, kidnapped Russian soldiers and tortured them by ‘spraying acid in their eyes’, threatened to kill multiple soldiers repeatedly, kidnapped and beat many other soldiers included one that was purportedly beaten and humiliated so badly that he committed suicide afterwards. Soldiers were allegedly kidnapped and ‘exchanged for ammo and ATGMs’. The commander himself said he was kidnapped and beaten by Wagner, and the video he previously released confessing to his ‘crimes’ was done under such duress.
Well, I don’t even know what to say about that. Watch it for yourself and enjoy the show. All I can say is to remind people that the 72nd as part of the new mostly volunteer 3rd army corps, appears to be a volunteer unit so their standards and personnel may vary. All that can be said is, the enmity between Wagner and Russian forces does appear real, and there were even rumors this goes as far back as Syria. If you know about the infamous episode where U.S. claims to have bombed and killed 100-200 Wagner troops, there is a ‘rumor’ that Russian MOD had protected the Wagners under air defense and U.S. asked them if they can remove it, which Russian MOD did in order to ‘punish’ Wagner in some way.
That may be an unfounded rumor, but if there’s even a hint of truth then it simply goes to show that the hostility goes back a very long time.
There is one last thing I want to say on the Prigozhin situation though: others have made one very good point, which is that, it appears inconceivable that Prigozhin could say all the things he does without some kind of hidden sanction by Putin. Which leaves many thinking that these episodes continue to serve some purpose, otherwise perhaps Prigozhin would have long been ‘sleeping with the fishes’ already. What seems to support this theory is that, if you’ll notice, Prigozhin never even once mentions or inveighs against Putin: his attacks remain exclusively directed toward Shoigu and Gerasimov.
This led some to hypothesize (which I’ve mentioned before) that Prigozhin could be a secret operation by Putin to rid the MOD of certain ‘untouchables’ which have overstayed their welcome, Shoigu and Gerasimov, hypothetically speaking, being amongst them. It’s a very deep, out on the limb stretch, but who knows—anything is possible.
To be honest though, my personal ‘occam’s razor’ theory is simply that the Kremlin is not as centralized and monarchical in nature as people think. Russia in actuality has far greater freedom of speech than any Western country and, though it may have limits, I simply think the Kremlin doesn’t want to rock the boat by taking any overt action.
That being said, the two-faced Prigozhin—after having excoriated and ridiculed Russian troops now offers great praise to them for yesterday’s performance. In a new recorded message he offered the following words:
"I want to congratulate on my own behalf and on behalf of the Wagner PMCs team, from the [Wagner]fighters and from the [Wagner]commanders, to congratulate those who destroyed enemy equipment in the Zaporozhye direction: the very "Leopards" that are now widely dispersed in the media and social networks.
Thanks guys! Well done! 58th army, gunners, motorized infantry, who from the trenches struck at the enemy, at the manpower, finishing them off, and the Russian Aerospace Forces , who supported them from the air. We still have a lot of work to do to restore the former glory of the Russian army and the brilliance of Russian weapons."
One interesting thought from another analyst. I agree with the sentiment that there’s a strong chance Ukrainian materiel was quite thinned out by the massive Russian strikes carried out over the course of the past few months as well as the constant dipping into the reserves Zelensky carried out in the Bakhmut operation, which grinded down a lot of the reserves allotted specifically for this offensive:
Apparently, Ukraine decided to go on a counteroffensive, but not at full strength. Why is that?
The fact is that the number of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was significantly "thinned" by Bakhmut and Soledar, and the regular strikes of the RF Armed Forces on the "locations" of Ukrainian fighters / Western mercenaries, as well as on warehouses with military equipment, make themselves felt (it is worth keeping in mind that that at present Ukraine does not have either a fleet or a sufficient number of aircraft). Meanwhile, in the Western press they are taunting that the activity of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during the hostilities does not resemble the counteroffensive promised by Kiev, but "only a prelude to it" (in particular, this is what the American columnist Jamie Dettmer argues in his article for Politico with the eloquent headline "Ukraine's counteroffensive Has it finally started?"
As a result, the Ukrainian military has to limit itself to intelligence activities in order to test the reaction of Russian forces. And it does not keep you waiting - according to the Ministry of Defense, in June, in just 3 days of hostilities in all directions, the losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine amounted to 3715 military personnel, 52 tanks, 207 armored vehicles, 134 cars, 5 aircraft and 2 helicopters.
As you can see, the tactics of reconnaissance in force and desperate attempts at offensive actions are expected to lead to significant losses. And in such conditions, a full-fledged counteroffensive is tantamount to suicide.
However, the Ukrainian government is reinsuring itself - heavy losses and the absence of high-profile victories at the front over and over again force it to make statements, they say, nothing has begun yet (by the way, just yesterday that "the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has not yet begun," Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Danilov said in Reuters comments).
One correspondent’s descriptions of the brutal AFU rocket assault that led the hostilities:
💥🔥According to preliminary data, a massive strike on Tokmok is delivered from the HIMARS MLRS
According to the estimates of our soldiers and local residents, my countrymen, there has never been such a massive strike on the city during the entire period of the NMD.
It is important to understand that Tokmok is one of the key points of our defense in the Zaporozhye direction.
Another compares the coming armor battles:
🇷🇺🇺🇦⚡️ If the reports about the number of armor deployed and engaged in combat tonight are correct, then this is probably the largest tank battle since since Operation Hoveyzeh in 1981.
History is being made tonight. It is certainly sobering to realize that thousands are probably dead, dying or wounded right now.
Sladkov believes the battle will be decisive and set the tone for the rest of the war:
I consider this night to be decisive. Intuitively.
If we repulse this attack (and why, in fact, we should not repel it!?!?), then in the morning it will be clear how to predict events for the next six months, at least in the Zaporozhye direction. It will be clear what the enemy can do, what we can do.
Another description of last night’s fighting:
The first attack on Zaporozhye is almost repulsed.
A lot of Ukrainian soldiers lay down in the minefields. They were simply driven forward by the commanders without properly preparing the passages. They say the picture is terrible, the enemy has a lot of seriously wounded just lying on the battlefield.
I'm sure the enemy will regroup and drive a few more waves to the slaughter.
Our boys are ready and charged.
As the guys said, “there is a power engineer, we are not sleeping, we are waiting!”
And this next one is a very detailed account of the ongoing engagements from a Russian military expert that’s a must-read:
The fourth day of the offensive did not bring any results to the enemy.
Small (500 meters - 1 kilometer) penetrations into our defenses cannot be considered as such at all, since this is not even the depth of a company stronghold. It is obvious that the breakthrough of the Russian defense is being delayed. According to Ukrainian plans, calculated and approved in the European headquarters of NATO, two days were allotted to break through the first line (5-7 kilometers). At the same time, up to a third of all reserves at his disposal have already been put into battle by the enemy in all directions. And today - tomorrow, the Ukrainian command will most likely try to increase its efforts as much as possible in order to still wedge into the Russian battle formations to a depth that allows creating a bridgehead for further breakthrough and pushing its borders for the introduction of shock mechanized brigades of a new (ersatzstriker) type.
Radio intercepts show that Russian aviation plays an exceptional role in repelling the current strike, for the first time in the entire history of the NWO. Ukrainian commanders report that they suffer huge losses from Russian BShU at the stage of advancement and deployment, which forces them to "crush" forces and throw them into battle in parts, and this, in turn, does not allow creating the necessary concentration of forces and means on the battlefield. In addition, these strikes seriously demoralize the personnel. Some brigade commanders frankly report that attacking under the dominance of Russian aviation in the air is suicide and demand the advancement of "effective air defense systems at a range of creating a reliable dome over the advancing troops."
As expected by the experts, the main direction of the Ukrainian "offensive" is Zaporozhye towards Tokmak with further development towards Mariupol and Melitopol. And here the Ukronat command did not bring us any "surprises". All the rest are either distracting (Belgorod, Bryansk) or auxiliary - Ugledar, Artyomovsk, Svatov, with the goal of tying up our forces and pulling reserves there. That in no way diminishes the threat. In September last year, it was the "auxiliary" Kharkiv direction that "shot" and became the main one, in which strategic success was achieved.
The stubborn ignorance by the Ukrainian media and officials of the word "attack", "taboo" on any reports of ongoing offensive actions, shows that the top political and military leadership of Ukraine attaches exceptionally high importance to the battle that has begun, and is aware of what the domestic political effect will be if the offensive will end in vain, as far as it will undermine the morale of Ukrainian society. And therefore, an unprecedented decision in modern history was made - not to recognize the fact of the ongoing offensive at all until the troops achieve the results that can be interpreted as "victories" - the victory of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But, the more time passes without the necessary "results", the more difficult it is to maintain this "taboo" - information about heavy battles and heavy losses flows into the Ukrainian information space from the participants in the battles, their relatives and Western media reports, which have already recognized the fact that the summer battle has begun for Donbass.
All this suggests that the next week will be decisive for the course and outcome of the entire summer campaign.
If the Armed Forces of Ukraine fail to achieve decisive success, then further offensive actions will lose all meaning and will only become an unjustified expenditure of human and material reserves. This means that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will again have to switch to strategic defense, but in much worse conditions and against the background of the huge disappointment of the Ukrainian collective unconscious, which firmly believed in the invincibility of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and an early "overcome" ...
He brings up a very good point which will be the last main point I’ll make. Russia has the opportunity here to deal a truly ‘decisive’ blow to the AFU. The big danger it appears to me is that, having suffered these losses, the AFU will clam up and switch to a defensive posture everywhere, while continuing its asymmetric Twitter psyop war and terror tactics, but, most importantly, having preserved the majority of their new brigades as a final life line.
This is very dangerous for Russia in the sense that by crushing Ukraine’s offensive too hard, Russia runs the risk of prematurely causing UA to call the offensive off in order to simply preserve the last of their forces and gear. This would only result in the long drawing out and delaying of the inevitable end, causing many more months/years of suffering.
The reason is because if UA is allowed to withdraw most of their forces and ‘escape unscathed’ apart from a few conspicuously showy and humiliating bruises, it runs the risk of forcing Russia to continue a very slow-grind, positional war some characterize as a stalemate. But, if instead Russia can somehow cozen Ukraine into over committing so that a massively decisive destruction of their formations can be effected, then Russia stands the chance of truly changing the face of this conflict.
If they can destroy a substantial portion of UA’s forces, it could not only create a cascade of panic and demoralization in their ranks, but more importantly give Russia a huge initiative and the greenlight to wage a far bolder offensive of their own on the much attrited UA forces. And this could avalanche into major decisive and war-ending advances, over-running the UA lines.
So that’s all to say that the next few days will be critical for this, as Russia needs to not let the AFU off the hook by merely ‘repelling’ their attacks in the bare minimum way, but they must effect the largest scale destruction of AFU manpower and materiel as possible. So far, if the numbers we have are accurate, I would say they have done a good job of this. If they can continue such attrition rates, it could spell the end for the AFU altogether.
But I suspect at a certain point, UA will pull the emergency lever and go into their turtle shell to salvage what remains of their devastated forces in order to buy more time for Zelensky to beg Europe for help. Russia has to try as hard as possible to not allow them a quick exit.
One way to do this, as others have remarked, is of course by letting the AFU overrun some of Russia’s lines in order to let them get over-committed into a deep salient which can then be turned into a huge boiler/kill-box. The problem with this strategy is that it takes a massive amount of coordination to pull off correctly and is extremely risky. You have to have an extremely high level army with adept commanders who know exactly when to push and pull, otherwise the enemy can easily overrun you and punch through permanently. I’m not sure if Russian forces (or at least commanders) are quite that capable, no offense to them. I simply think they are still shaking off a lot of cobwebs and likely no army on earth could really pull off such a complex maneuver successfully against a truly tenacious foe. So the only alternative is to do it the old fashioned way. I don’t think the modern era quite has the same strategic minds and discipline witnessed in WW2, but Russia is getting there, slowly but surely, accumulating heaps of needed experience.
Anyway, here was Putin’s full statement regarding yesterday’s assault:
🇺🇦⚔️🇷🇺Vladimir Putin full statement about the Ukrainian counteroffensive:
It can be stated for sure that the counteroffensive has begun, and this is evidenced by the use of strategic reserves. The Ukrainian troops have not achieved the tasks assigned to them in any of the areas of combat operations. This is an absolutely obvious thing.
Intense fighting continues for five days, for example, for yesterday's day, the day before yesterday, for the previous two days, they were very intense, and the enemy had no success in any of the sites. This is achieved thanks to the courage and heroism of our soldiers, proper organization and proper management of troops and the high efficiency of Russian weapons, especially modern weapons.
Over these days, we have seen significant losses of troops of the Ukrainian regime. It is known that during offensive operations, losses are about three to one, this is such a classic, but in this case it significantly exceeds this classic indicator.I will not reproduce these figures, but they are impressive.
As for whether the counteroffensive was drowned or not, it can be stated that all the counteroffensive attempts made so far have failed. But the offensive potential of the Kiev regime's troops is still preserved. I proceed from the fact that the Russian military leadership really assesses the current situation and will proceed from these realities, building our actions for the near future.
In short, he states that the known ‘classic’ rule of thumb is a loss ratio of 3:1 in favor of the defender against the attacker. He says he won’t say the exact numbers, but Russian forces yesterday inflicted far greater loss ratios than 3:1 on the AFU.
An interesting note about Russian Ka-52 choppers, which are the true heroes of the defense so far. I had long mentioned the famous Vitebsk L-370 DIRCM system that automatically neutralizes manpad and missile threats. Now we have a new account of one Ka-52 which repulsed a record number of 18 missiles yesterday without sustaining a single hit. Sounds too good to be true but we have videos of a Ka-52 repelling around 4-5 manpads previously, so I suppose it’s possible:
Russian Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter during a special operation repulsed a record number of anti-aircraft missiles - 18 units with the help of the Vitebsk complex during a special operation, a source told RIA Novosti.
Without receiving a single damage, the helicopter returned to base.
Important to note: Ka-52 "Alligator" engaged in repelling the Ukrainian offensive avoided a record number of anti-aircraft missiles
▪️Namely, during active combat operations in the area around *Orehovo, attack helicopters Ka-52 "Alligator" were engaged and destroyed a large number of enemy targets using guided missiles 9M127-1 "Vihor-1"**.⬇️
** The effective range of the missile is about 8km (modernized version 10km). The speed of the rocket is 600 m/sec, and the penetration of the homogeneous steel plate protected by the passive protection system is up to 1300 mm.
🇺🇦 The Ukrainian army provided its ground forces with self-propelled air defense systems of short range so that these helicopters often entered the zone of their range.
📌 According to a well-informed source from the Russian Ministry of Defense, during the combat mission, the crew of the Ka-52 "Aligatpor" helicopter managed to avoid as many as 18 anti-aircraft missiles launched at them by the enemy. This remarkable result was achieved thanks to the complex for anti-electronic warfare L-370 "Vitebsk". which is in the mandatory equipment of these aircraft
One analyst opined that Kiev was really banking on the same repeat of the Kharkov scenario, that if they rushed Russian positions with their Leopards, the Russian forces would panic and flee:
🇷🇺🇺🇦 Based on multiple videos from the network on which there are already hundreds of destroyed enemy equipment, I conclude that the main emphasis of the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was on the fact that the Russians would run again, as if from the Kharkov region.
Only this can justify the stubbornness with which they drive hundreds of people and precious European equipment to the slaughter, advancing at full height across the endless Russian fields of Zaporozhye.
And this is good.
And the Russians are standing. The pressure was strong. But not one step back!
One last note on the Kakhovka situation. Yesterday I saw that some were still dubious about the ‘explosion’ theory.
One new piece of information we’ve received is the following:
"American spy satellites recorded an explosion at the Kakhovka dam just before its collapse, but analysts still do not know what caused the destruction of the hydraulic structure, writes The New York Times.
A White House source said satellites equipped with infrared sensors picked up a thermal signature consistent with a massive explosion just before the dam collapsed."
And another source claiming infrasound detection of the explosion:
Confirmation by #Infrasound detection of #Explosion at #NovaKakhovka dam from Central and Eastern European Infrasound Network (CEEIN) . Recorded at Bucovina, #Romania. Consistent with ~ 30 min signal travel of magnetic anomaly also.
Lastly, I’ve talked a lot about this offensive being the last hurrah for Ukraine, particularly because of the upcoming election cycles for the U.S. and needing to ‘clear the books’ for the democrats. In fact, I was the first one to propagate this particular theory many months ago when people still fully professed that the West is with Ukraine for the long haul. I said that after this coming summer, the West will be under great pressure to wrap the war up. Now, we have the first such confirmation from the following Politico article:
The article starts off with a bang:
Senior U.S. officials are convinced that future support for the Ukraine war — and President Joe Biden’s global reputation — hinges on the success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.
Succeed and Western military and economic aid will flow. Stumble or fail to meet expectations, and that support will likely dry up, sparking heightened calls for an expedited diplomatic resolution and hampering one of the White House’s signature international achievements.
The Economist: "The next few weeks will determine the future not only of Ukraine, but of the entire security system in Europe. The moment for making a decision has come." The West is making a huge bet on a counteroffensive, which the President's Office and the General Staff do not even recognize yet.
And there have been hints that Ukraine may already be under pressure to fold. For instance, Reznikov recently came out with a sudden uncharacteristic statement that Ukraine would be open to negotiations with Russia after all, if Russia just changed some of its objectives of the SMO. See this thread:
Just 4 days after the counteroffensive started it looks like Zelensky is already testing the waters to see how Ukrainians react to a possibility of potential negotiations with Russia. Something isn't going as planned, not the first losses but something else we don't know about.
Ukrainian minister of defence Oleksiy Reznikov: Ukraine can live peacefully and "normally in a good-neighborly fashion with all its neighbors." However, Russia should change its approach to resolving the conflict.
''Russia's goals of the special military operation include "denazification", "demilitarization" and "deNATOization". The essence of these goals is to wipe the Ukrainian nation off the face of the earth, because from Russia's point of view the Ukrainian nation does not exist''.
He's suggesting if Russian goals changed Ukraine could negotiate. What if Putin says he won't denazify ''Azov'' but Ukraine itself should disarm them? Live in peace with neighbor Russia? One way or another Putin will tell Ukraine it has to accept the loss of several regions.
Even hinting something that could be considered as suggestion to negotiate with Russia was unimaginable just a few weeks ago. Especially hearing this from Reznikov. But he couldn't make such statements without direct approval from Zelensky.
It’s clear that everything is on the line with this offensive.
This fine gentleman has returned to Ukraine and has a message for all Russians:
Lastly, as of this writing, it is said that the AFU has regrouped, resupplied and has sent another force three times larger than yesterday’s at the same exact spot, hoping to break through at Rabotino just south of Orikhov. Here’s what Russian correspondents and troop channels are saying from the frontline:
"We have just received a message that the fighting continues, but half an hour ago our troops repelled another massive attack in the Orekhov-Rabotino sector.
At the scene, as yesterday, a lot of burnt armored vehicles.
Sources say that the Ukrainians themselves destroyed their wrecked tank when they realized that it was not possible for it to roll back to the rear on its own.
The enemy could not penetrate our defenses and retreated to regroup. The defenders of Zaporozhye are preparing for new active actions by the enemy. The night is not over yet."
🇷🇺🤜🏼🇺🇦The boys from Zaporozhye ask to tell everyone that three columns of the AFU have already been burned!
In response, AFU is trying to use satellite reconnaissance to track the supply routes of Russian units and remotely, through the same MARS MLRS(Multiple Launch Rocket System) complexes, to place mines and mine them.
To the [NATO]satellite intelligence:
We have long been able to shoot down your satellites. We hope that such command will be.
Call sign Ossetian , 01:37 (MSK) :
“Again, not all enemy equipment reached our positions.
Fighting on the positions continues. It is reported that they are trying to make the main blow in Rabotino.
Again they go through the fields, something was blown up by mines. Our turntables, art, operators are working, all together again. Already beauty.
Trying to go again from several directions.
Unfortunately, of course there are losses, but again the losses of the enemy are many times greater.
By morning, I think the fighting will subside and there will be no progress on the maps again.
So, it sounds like things are heating up again! Let’s wait for the results.
Until then, it’s safe to say this conflict is becoming the graveyard to NATO wunderwaffen:
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