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SITREP 8/13/23: AFU Struggles For Symbolic Meaning In Late Summer Doldrums
Western MSM has begun to lose it. Pessimism and dooming is now endemic to their reports. They’ve pretty much accepted that Ukraine has no chance in the counter-offensive. Listen to this CNN report, which perfectly summarizes the current sentiment—they’re no longer beating around the bush:
A new NYTimes article reveals much of the same, but dashed with some grisly details of Ukrainian losses:
The heavy losses were not a shock to them. Most of the commanders said that they had seen units, including their own, decimated at times during the past 16 months of fighting. The battalion commander, Oleksandr, said that casualties were so high during the counteroffensive in Kherson last year that he had been forced to replace the members of his unit three times.
The commander reveals that most of his new men are mentally broken:
“I lost a lot,” he said, “and some of the new guys are mentally broken.” As for the destruction of tanks and armored vehicles, he shrugged it off as a normal consequence of war.
A selection of headlines:
This new WashPost article strikes the lowest note of all:
The article begins with this gutting preamble:
KYIV, Ukraine — This nation is worn out.
For nearly 18 months, Ukraine has stood against its Russian invaders — rallying support for its troops by embracing last year’s battlefield victories in the Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson regions.
Those wins carried beleaguered Ukrainians through a winter of airstrikes on civilian infrastructure and a brutal and symbolic battle for Bakhmut, the eastern city that fell to the Russians in May.
Throughout, Ukrainian officials and their western partners hyped up a coming counteroffensive — one that, buoyed by a flood of new weapons and training, they hoped would turn the tide of the war.
But two months after Ukraine went on the attack, with little visible progress on the front and a relentless, bloody summer across the country, the narrative of unity and endless perseverance has begun to fray.
It goes on to state that, though official casualty tallies don’t exist, almost everyone knows multiple people who’ve died at the front:
Blyzniuk also lives in fear that her husband or two sons of fighting age will be mobilized. She has already noticed that far fewer men walk the streets of her city than before. Ukraine does not disclose its military casualty counts, but everyone shares stories, she said, of new soldiers at the front lasting just two to three days.
Another soldier dishes the grisly details of frontline work:
In the Donetsk region, an Estonian Ukrainian soldier who goes by the call sign Suzie works at a stabilization point where wounded soldiers are treated before being transferred to hospitals in safer towns. On a recent day, he helped organize body bags that would soon be used in the makeshift morgue that already reeked of death.
Sometimes, he said, soldiers’ bodies are so blown apart they have to use two or three body bags to contain them. There are times when a soldier is returned with “just 15 percent of the body,” Suzie said. “I never saw so much blood before.”
Though it’s been beaten to death, I wanted to briefly touch on Ukrainian casualties, simply because several new revealing pieces of data have made their way across the desk.
A different new NYTimes article openly states that Ukraine now has over 150k total casualties:
As usual, they couch it with the wink-and-nudge that Russia has even more just to dampen the effect of the blow.
Here’s one analyst’s (ArmChairWarlord) take on it after actually studying the cemeteries in one region as a sample:
There are at least 10 000 graves that I found in the Lviv Oblast, there will be more, because I only checked out the main cemeteries. New graves are also being prepared everywhere.
I can not visit every cemetery or city, because of safety and i need to sustain myself financially, so I need to keep my business going at the same time.
The Ukrainian losses will be somewhere around the 200,000 mark, excluding the missing. That’s my estimate. Almost every person I speak to, knows someone who died, and in turn knows someone else who knows another person that died. The conversations usually go like this… “The man from the second floor of my apartment died, and my cousin from XXXXX lost her son, 3 others from her son’s class also died…”
We will perhaps never know the truth or real losses, and also not on the Russian side.
Interestingly enough, in one week, I also saw over 200 men and more than 30 women with missing limbs or in wheelchairs. These are people that were at the same place as me, at a particular time…so you can conclude yourself how many of those there are.
So let's look at the data points we have showing Ukrainian KIA in the 200-400,000 range.
- Population surveys
- Obituary counts on social media
- Cemetery construction
- Amputation disclosures
- Older, inadvertent official disclosures
- Endless conscription but no army growth
It's all completely internally consistent, pointing to the same approximate number of casualties in the 2-400k range. This is exactly what you would expect if that was in fact the case - all these secondary indicators are consistent with each other and there is no countervailing data besides the obvious lies of Ukrainian officials.
Given that Mediazona's count of Russian KIA in the 30,000 range has recently been validated by another inadvertent disclosure on their side (of some 8,500 WIA returned to duty, total, in the entire VDV for the entire SMO) this also points to an absolutely brutal fact: for every Russian soldier killed in this war, somewhere between seven and thirteen Ukrainian soldiers die. That's apocalyptic for the Ukrainian Army and a disgrace for their Western advisors.
This also, by the way, aligns perfectly with the Ukrainian MoD's claims for -Russian- casualties. This suggests strongly that the Ukrainian MoD's infamously implausibly running count of Russian losses is, astonishingly, actually an accurate report of their own losse
What he’s referring to in the last part is an interesting disclosure that came about from VDV General Teplinsky’s congratulatory speech on Paratrooper’s Day last week, which I had posted here. He had obliquely mentioned how 8,500 total VDV members were wounded. Given that we know WIA to KIA ratios are typically at least 2:1 if not 3:1, this tells us that total VDV KIA was likely in the 2000-4000 range at the most. And keep in mind, according to MediaZona’s charts, VDV has suffered the highest percentage of losses of any other group in the Russian armed forces.
And guess how many total VDV MediaZona has verified the deaths of? ~1600. So this is in sync with General Teplinsky’s own figures as it would put Russian KIA to WIA ratio at a steeper 1:5 or so which is explained by the fact that Russia’s better battlefield medicine and medevac capabilities ensures fewer KIAs compared to simply wounded as a far larger percentage of wounded are successfully treated.
The authorities of Ukraine began to open and destroy the graves of Soviet soldiers in many places in the country, as well as to bring in their place recently dead Ukrainian soldiers. Thus, 653 Soviet soldiers were recently exhumed from the military cemetery in Lviv and replaced by Ukrainian soldiers.
The next piece of info is a document that was leaked which shows the losses for the Ukrainian 5th Separate Assault Brigade from the period of January 1, 2023 to July 31, 2023:
The first page describes the unit being withdrawn for reconstitution. The second page gives the numbers. The losses are very telling. The brigade lost a total of 1,845 irretrievable losses. Keep in mind, this brigade had at most 3,000 and some believe 2,000 people total. This therefore represents anywhere from 70% to 90%+ losses for the 7 month period of this year’s fighting.
If this brigade’s losses are representative of most of the others, then roughly 2000 losses x ~50 other brigades is pretty much over 100k losses for this year alone.
Granted, this 5th Brigade was assigned to Bakhmut and thus experienced some of the most brutal attrition in the early months of this year against Wagner forces. What’s also notable is that 13 of the losses in the document are listed as ‘suicide’.
This is interesting because suicide has become so prevalent in the ranks of the AFU that we have a new leaked document of a ministry of defense order to immediately halt the supply of ammunition to new recruits in order to keep them from committing suicide en masse:
⚡️⚡️⚡️The order of the commander of the 124th territorial defense brigade appeared on the network, according to which the commander of unit A-7053 (124th TerO brigade) ordered his personnel, when entering combat duty, in position, not to issue ammunition to the mobilized arrived citizens, as many of these same citizens commit suicide⚡️⚡️⚡️
Recall that several weeks ago I posted a video showing Ukrainian mobiks being driven in a bus to a deployment point. Filming on their phones, they expressed how they are not even given guns until they’re in the trench and only under strict supervision.
Now the latest news from today revolves around Zelensky firing all the country’s top mobilization commanders in what is an obvious attempt to desperately reform the entire mechanism on the eve of what we previously reported would be a potential huge new recruitment drive later this year. The previous commanders were fired for corruption and taking bribes, now Zelensky wants to make sure that no one is let through the cracks and every able body is winnowed up.
It may be difficult though. Here a famous demographer named Alexander Raksha gives some grim news about Ukraine’s population. He believes it has already returned to 19th century levels and that the country now has arguably only 27M people remaining, out of the 40M previously:
His page can be found here: https://t.me/s/rakshademography
This is very conceivable given that latest June 2023 data shows over 4M Ukrainians fled to the EU alone, fine print stating that this doesn’t even count minors for which they have no data:
We know the combined population of LPR, DPR, and Crimea is probably north of 6M. Add on top of that the millions of Ukrainians that fled to Russia proper from the rest of Ukraine and you get minimum 12-15M that have fled the country in general. Prewar population of 36M+ subtracted from that very quickly gets you to 27M and even below.
So, things are getting disastrous for Ukraine—but the question on everyone’s mind is what’s next?
On the one hand, a growing chorus of increasingly prominent voices believes that Russia itself is gearing up for a major offensive of its own. No one can agree on when, though—and estimates range from by end of August, to next spring-summer.
Respected Russian ex-general Konstantin Pulikovsky says that, ultimately, no matter how good your defense, victory can only be achieved through offensive operations. He says Russia will definitely begin an offensive, but only when it senses the enemy is completely exhausted:
💥💥💥Lieutenant General Pulikovsky, former commander of the group of troops in Chechnya:
The most important thing we must understand is that defence, even the most active, the best defence, is a forced method of fighting. It is impossible to achieve victory in defence, victory is achieved only in offensive operations. There will be an offensive, there will definitely be an offensive. But it usually begins when we feel that the enemy is really exhausted. Because the offensive is always associated with its own heavy losses. And defence, on the contrary, leads to heavy losses of the enemy, which is what is happening now. But there will be an offensive, I have no doubt about that.
When it will happen depends not on the armed forces of Ukraine, but on the socio-political situation, which is controlled by the NATO bloc and directly by the United States. That is where our main enemy is. Depending on this situation, a decision will be taken as to when we will go on the offensive.💥💥💥
Interestingly, assistant to DPR head Yan Gagin echoed this view:
What he says is very interesting. That Russia is ready for a major offensive operations but right now, it continues to conduct defense simply because it’s very profitable at the moment to do so. The reasoning he gives is strong: Ukraine is so desperate to achieve any kind of visible breakthrough that they pour their forces forward in completely unfavorable conditions which allow Russia to decimate them. Thus, he seems to imply that for the time being, as long as the AFU continues their ‘meat-assaults’ Russia will happily go on liquidating them out in the open where it’s quite easy and profitable to do so. Then when the time comes, they’ll launch an offensive.
Vostok Battalion head Khodakovsky echoes this sentiment:
💬 "Teplynskiy (famed VDV general) was right when he said victories are not won in defense. However, we generously expended our resources in the initial phase of the Special Military Operation, and to accumulate and prepare a new one, we needed a pause. Someone needed results, so raw reserves were thrown into the attack. Contrary to expectations, results were not achieved - but quite predictably, this approach also did not allow for the formation of a potential capable of tackling serious tasks. The situation was naturally approaching when we simply had to retreat into a deep echeloned defense, temporarily giving the initiative into the hands of the enemy to buy time and simultaneously wear down their forces.
Every day, the army receives reinforcements, factories produce new equipment and weaponry - losses are being replenished. Yes, the expenditure in the first months was enormous. Some commanders were said to be firing 'Kalibrs' like from a slingshot... Now, such practices no longer exist. Currently, the situation is slowly but confidently shifting in our favor. The enemy had hoped that we would start retreating, as we did in Kharkov and Kherson regions, but we resisted. They couldn't break through our defense immediately, getting bogged down in their creeping offensive. Now, they are falling into a slight panic, attempting to boost the army and society's morale with small victories, but mathematics - an exact and unbiased science - tells the truth."
Gleb Bazov of Slavyangrad believes the AFU combat strength will exhaust itself in September and Russia will begin its own offensive in February:
What we are seeing currently is the end-phase of the Ukrainian counteroink. For the next two months, the counteroink will continue petering out—flaring up from time to time, then flaming out again.
The last chords of the gambit that was offered by the weaker player are in the offing. The mittelspiel of the 2023-24 campaign will begin sometime in September, when the counteroink will have exhausted itself.
As the more technically-equipped and smarter player, Russia will continue putting in place the building blocks of an offensive that will likely begin in February of next year and decide this war.
My five cents.
German Bild also shares the sentiment:
If Ukraine does not make a serious breakthrough on the front, Russia may go on a counteroffensive - Paul Ronzheimer, a correspondent for the German edition of Bild.
Now the Russians are giving the Ukrainians a "fierce rebuff". “But things can get even worse if the Russians manage to repel all Ukrainian attacks. Then the Ukrainians will have to prepare for a Russian counteroffensive,” writes Bild.
And Arestovich summarizes the situation by saying that Russia will spend the winter building new drones and armaments:
Lastly, a Ukrainian officer gives his view, which is that Ukraine will not be able to win back the 2022 borders let alone the 1991 ones (i.e. Crimea):
The second part of the video above brings up an insightful point. The interviewer says, what will the Ukrainian army think if the conflict is frozen at the current borders? The officer says the army will be fine with this and no one’s going to “march on Kiev” for betraying them.
Interestingly, this is actually echoed by another post from the 35th marines of the AFU, currently fighting in the hottest sector of Vremevske region:
👉 Ukrainian Post (35th Brigade)
It is clear that the Russian Federation no longer plans to advance. They sowed our fields with hundreds of thousands of mines. We will not have enough 100 years to demine everything. Unfortunately, we will not be able to overcome this line either. The war will be frozen.
"Winter will come soon. I hope they can come to an agreement."
More and more the sentiment from the West appears to be that certainly Ukraine has no chance of ‘winning’ but that Russia likewise has no chance to advance, and thus the conflict at best will be frozen.
This is nonsense. Russia is only just starting to ramp up its war machine, and wouldn’t have done so to full scale if it didn’t mean to use it in a longer-term timeline. The only question is how far does Russia intend to go. We know the absolute minimum is to retake the constitutionally-recognized lands which Putin has already signed into law as Russian territory. This includes not only all of DPR/LPR, which are not yet fully liberated, but also Zaporozhye and Kherson.
Also, Ukrainian minister of foreign affairs Kuleba plainly implies that voicing ceasefire hopes verges on criminality, and that no one in the administration is seeking this end:
Presidential advisor Podolyak follows suit, and says that Ukraine won’t stop not only until it returns its territories, but until it achieves “regime change” in Russia:
Quite maximalist goals.
But getting back, admittedly, there does exist a small loop-hole Putin could use to ‘save face’ if he really wanted to. Which is that, when he signed the official annexation of Kherson/Zaporozhye, he left the exact demarcation of their borders open to future consideration. That means the exact borders were not entirely stipulated; which is to say that if Russia really wanted to, they could freeze the conflict and merely say that the currently occupied areas of Kherson/Zaporozhye are the ‘official’ demarcated Russian areas. However, I don’t see this happening because it will be a gross betrayal of the citizens of the remainder of the full Zaporozhye/Kherson areas, and I can’t imagine Putin doing that.
So, the question remains as always, does Russia intend to only win back those lands, or go even further to Odessa, Kharkov, etc. Interestingly on that account, Peskov issued a new statement which evoked a lot of grumbles and outrage in the pro-Russian community as he stated that Russia only intends to get back the territories it signed into law:
In the article, Peskov specifically states that Russia does not want to annex any further territories:
"No," he said when asked whether Russia wants to add more Ukrainian territories. "We just want to control all the land we have now written into our Constitution as ours."
In the wake of that, many have noted that Putin has previously mocked Peskov for putting his foot in his mouth in such ways:
The obvious question is, does Peskov’s statement truly reflect the view of the Kremlin and by extension Putin? Or is he simply ignorant and kept in the dark about Russia’s true intentions?
In my view, the likelier explanation is that he’s saying what is most diplomatic for now, because this is the narrative that Russia wants to be believed for the moment. For those who haven’t noticed, being a legalist, Putin likes all of Russia’s actions to go through a sort of demonstrative process on the world stage. Note how in the past he referenced the potential need to ‘push back the border’ with a buffer zone, should Ukraine continue provocations near Belgorod and Kursk.
I believe Putin doesn’t want to push buttons by announcing Russia’s true intentions too early. He’ll wait until Ukraine continues crossing various red lines in the future, and when Russia is actually in position to begin acquiring the aforementioned territories, like Kharkov and Odessa. At that point, it will be announced as a surprise that Russia is now forced to take those territories due to Ukraine’s flagrant actions.
But of course, we can’t be absolutely certain. There’s always the chance—small as it may be—that the Kremlin’s intentions are not maximalist to that extent. But there are clear arguments for why non-maximalist ‘freezing of the conflict’ would be disastrous, and so it’s very difficult to imagine Putin would agree to that. For instance, here’s a good writeup from another analyst on the consequences of such a hypothetical scenario:
Professor Eddy: When I say that freezing the conflict without solving the tasks of the Free Defense System is unacceptable for us, I also mean the problem of the revealed unwillingness of NATO to engage in a large-scale war with a comparable enemy. Lack of readiness, both theoretical and technical - in terms of the volume of weapons production.
If the war ends with the preservation of Ukrainian statehood in its current form, then lessons from what is happening on the battlefield will be learned both in Kiev and in NATO, and, of course, they will make changes in the training and equipment of troops.
The fact that today they lack ammunition – the monthly production of the United States now does not even reach the weekly needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, equipment and training, means that we need to solve our task, achieving the defeat of the enemy and eliminating the military threat from Ukraine.
Because if the conflict is frozen in its current form, then in five years the enemy will be better prepared for repetition and more armed, and we, after all, are not fighting to repeat this process again.
At the same time, it should be understood that NATO will not have any moral restrictions in order to repeat it a few years later – they will wait for such an opportunity, especially in the hope of our problems – whether real or imaginary. Therefore, if we do not want to get an embittered, impoverished country at our side, but armed to the teeth at someone else's expense, and dreaming of revenge, while the army there will be almost the only place where they will pay some money, then the issue needs to be resolved now.
Now, NATO and the West are hedging their bets. They are simultaneously trying to figure out either how to favorably freeze the conflict, in a way that creates favorable conditions for them for the future re-activation of it, but also hedging with potential secondary plans should Ukraine fail to be give in to ceasefire demands from their Western minders. That’s where the Poland situation comes in. To the West, this is a sort of jigsaw puzzle—how to put together the pieces in such a way where Poland can be used to delay Ukraine’s destruction at the hands of the Russian military, and/or save them outright, but without necessarily triggering full-out nuclear war?
On that front, we continue to see the introduction of such ideas into the collective consciousness of both Poles and Ukrainians. Here Poles openly discuss the return of their territories from Western Ukraine:
And a fascinating video came to light which claims to show a Polish mercenary fighting for the AFU who openly explains that he couldn’t care less about Ukrainians but is rather fighting for Poland to win back its land. Some have scoffed that this could be fake, but I believe he wasn’t aware he was being recorded, and assumed his gloating to be in confidence:
What’s most revealing about his stance is how it completely confirms everything I myself have said but also what Putin recently intimated in regard to Poland’s most likely vector of retaking those lands. He explains how the point is to very slowly inure the Ukrainian population to letting go of the land by collapsing the Ukrainian economy.
Lastly on that note, Shoigu’s latest video address also touches on this:
He discusses the creation of the two new military districts as a bulwark against NATO’s buildup. Listen particularly at the 2:40 mark where he says that Poland “has become the main tool of the anti-Russian policy of the U.S.”
At 3:10 he says: “There are plans to create a so-called Polish-Ukrainian union to ensure the security of Western Ukraine and in fact, to occupy this territory in the future.”
One can see the casualness with which this is now discussed. This is in addition to new leaflets appearing in western Ukraine like the following:
💥💥💥In Poland, leaflets have appeared on behalf of the Law and Justice party, telling Ukrainians that they will have to give up Lviv:
"Dear Ukrainians! I would like to remind you that we are not brothers with you and we are not ready to help you indefinitely.
What are you ready to give in return for our help?"
But keep in mind, Poland simply snatching up west Ukraine doesn’t overtly help Ukraine in any way. This would simply be opportunistic revanchism for the purpose of strengthening Poland itself. For it to have some type of effect in preserving the Ukrainian regime, Poland would have to take on some type of ‘protectorate’ status over a larger swath of western Ukraine under which a Ukrainian ‘government-in-exile’ could perhaps operate once Russia begins to hypothetically cross over west of the Dnieper and/or surrounds Kiev.
Such things are likely a long ways away, and it seems for now Poland is merely posturing to make sure that in the event Ukraine does begin to collapse, Poland can take its ‘owed’ pound of flesh. But as per the mercenary’s idea in the above video, they may be waiting for Ukraine to weaken economically to the point where western Ukrainians see joining Poland as the far better choice, just like how Donbass residents saw joining Russia as the option which would secure their economic futures.
Now let’s cover the current battlefield updates to see how much closer or farther the conflict is shifting in reference to the above projections.
In general, most things continue as they are. In Rabotino on the western side of the Zaporozhye frontline positional fighting has gone back and forth, with Russian forces retaking some positions. The same goes around Artyomovsk/Bakhmut, where Russian assaults have retaken even more positions around both Klescheyevka and Berkhovka further north, near Soledar.
In fact, here’s one of the armor assaults which retook positions near Klescheyevka. This is a small detachment led by a Russian T-90M flanked in textbook wedge formation by BMP-3s carrying dismounts. The professionalism and firepower are on display as they raze the Ukrainian stronghold, using concealing smoke after offloading the infantry who capture the position.
The work of the armored group "Petrovich" 3AK (3rd Army Corps) with the support of artillery of the 72nd motorized rifle brigade 3AK reflects the APU's attacks on Kleshcheyevka in the Bakhmut direction
The most significant and only Ukrainian success has come in Urozhayne (Harvest), which is the next sequential settlement after Staromayorsk, which Russia vacated last time. Similarly here, Urozhayne was mostly destroyed by artillery but also was in a very difficult, hard to defend position, so now Russian forces were said to have mostly withdrawn from here as well. Ukraine is touting it as a major success, but the problem is they themselves have only entered the northern outskirts, by latest reports. And in fact, they still have not been able to even take Staromayorsk. Both towns are now in the ‘gray zone’ for the following reason:
As can be seen, this entire ‘valley’ lies in a very low zone. Urozhayne is circled above with Staromayorsk just to its left. They’re very difficult to defend if the enemy has the positions on the heights to each side. It allows the heights-controller to have fire control over the settlements and inflict large losses on anyone who dares approach there.
Here’s a more granular break down. You can see the red line of Russian control shows them having vacated the settlement but the AFU cannot enter either:
And here’s a progressively zoomed out view to show how far they are from the actual true first line of defense in that region:
Another view of the main lines of defense. As you can see the main line in that region begins just south of Staromylanovka, which is a few kilometers south of Urozhayne:
The Russian troops still regard the Urozhayne loss as regretful, however. And there’s some of the standard accusations thrown around about lack of timely suppression of enemy artillery. It should be noted that Ukraine has thrown everything into this quarter. For instance, not only are they using the latest Western drones to spot for HIMARs, which they used here to ‘snipe’ any exposed Russian rear points, like artillery, etc. But they even have recorded uses of JDAMs to dislodge Russian positions in Urozhayne.
Also, it should be noted that here Russia is mostly utilizing its Eastern/Siberian 36th and 29th combined arms armies while Ukraine uses some of its most elite special units, such as 68th Jagers, 35/36/37th marines, “Magyar’s Birds” for the drone team—the guys who made a name for themselves in Bakhmut, particularly with using chemical weapons:
Keep in mind, the above maps are from pro-Ukrainian sources and show Staromayorsk as taken even though the latest and most trustworthy reports continue to refute this.
Either way, this area is clearly seeing the most pressure and reports of huge losses for the AFU continue to mount.
We report in text - the southern part of Urozhayne continues to remain under the control of the Russian Armed Forces, and the fighting for the village continues. The enemy managed to enter the northern part of the village and gain a foothold on the border with the central part, where there were still at least a little "live" houses. Our forces withdrew to the central-southern part of the village (information received this morning from direct participants in the fighting).
Yesterday, a column of dill moving towards the state farm "October" was well gouged out, the evacuation of the wounded in the northern part of the village was disrupted, and 3 tanks were knocked out.
Here’s footage of one of the Ukrainian armored meat assault columns approaching Urozhayne and being blown up:
I had mentioned in another report how Ukraine loves to use the familiar whataboutism style trick to conceal the fact that they’re suffering vastly disproportionate losses. When Russia advances they run the narrative that Russia is losing far more men while AFU gives up some land—which is false. However, when Russian sources use that claim, it’s now cast in a dubious light because the average conflict follower is wearied by hearing both sides use the claim and psychologically assumes the neutral position that this must be the case for both sides depending on who’s advancing.
But we now have seen from the absolute torrent of new information from every conceivable angle—whether it’s cemetery researchers, the aforementioned NYTimes article with its 150k dead bombshell, endless anecdotal reports from AFU soldiers themselves, etc.—that Ukraine is the one suffering unprecedented losses, while the reverse happens for Russia; anytime a new ‘revelation’ comes, like in the form of the VDV numbers I gave at the beginning, it ends up validating that Russia has suffered far fewer losses than many were led to believe.
My point is, don’t get caught up in this false equivalency the UA supporters deliberately use as a ruse. The fact is, the AFU is throwing everything they have in these final few weeks of assaults they have left because they know their existence is on the line and if they don’t capture some big symbolic objective or achieve some triumphal victory, it may all come to an end by the end of this year. To wit:
In the meantime, Russia continues to plow ahead in the north and has captured dozens of Ukrainian positions. So much so, in fact, that Ukraine has issued large scale evacuations of the Kupyansk area, and for the first time the cannonades can be heard from Kupyansk town center:
The accounts from AFU units in the north report a constant stream of alarm:
The developments for the near term future will likely follow this general theme. Russia will continue slowly plying ahead in Kupyansk while attritioning the AFU in the kill zone gullies of Vremevske region. Russia advances smartly and patiently, conserving its manpower without taking much losses, while Ukraine advances with ‘meat assaults’ because they have to, and are being slave-driven by Zelensky to show some result before the timer runs out.
It’s one of the reasons I held off on writing a new Sitrep for longer than usual because for now, things have devolved into a sort of predictable and pedantic lull period. So much of the development is a bit redundant. Ukraine’s offensive potential has exhausted itself and they’re only able to launch small-unit meat assaults, while Russia conversely doesn’t yet feel time is favorable for their own major offensive.
One frontline correspondent reports:
⚡️⚡️⚡️Distinctive in the battles in the Kupyansk direction is a completely different tactic of conducting an offensive than before.
And to be precise, it simply began to be carried out at least close to tactical instructions. The accuracy of air strikes and rocket artillery strikes on identified targets is noted, which may indicate that our intelligence has reached a qualitatively new level. In most cases, strike squads go on the offensive after carrying out precise attacks on enemy positions. Radio interceptions confirm that the enemy suffers heavy losses precisely from our artillery and aviation.
There is also an increase in the level of general controllability of the troops, which indicates an improvement in the quality of communications.
All of the above does not mean a fundamental change in the troop situation, but progress for the better is certainly already evident.
As an example, I can cite the fact that for the first time in the whole war I met a unit where, when asked "what do you need?", I was answered "we have everything". At the same time, it was not senior officers and commanders who answered, but ordinary attack aircraft and their junior commanders.
This makes me happy⚡️⚡️⚡️
As a last note as to when Russia may launch its own offensive. Some may recall long ago I wrote about what it takes to launch an offensive and how planning for one works. The chief idea is that military planners will allot a given amount of materiel, munitions, etc., for a given period, using precise calculations of what they foresee their expenditures—like those of the 152mm shell variety—being.
In Russia’s case, we know they had hit a wall late last year and went into conservation mode. This is due to massive expenditures during last fall, which was referenced earlier in the quoted comment about commanders using ‘Kalibrs like slingshots’, and which is where the whole “60k shells per day” legend came from.
We know Russia likely now uses roughly 10-20k shells per day, which is 300k-600k per month. However, we further know that their monthly manufacturing rate is somewhere in the region of 250-400k, give or take. For argument’s sake, let’s say, barring high outlier spikes, they average 10k or less per day in shells. You can see that the margin for how many they will be stockpiling per month as leftover from their expenditures is fairly small. This means that it takes a long time to build up a healthy stockpile of shells that can be used in a high intensity period for an offensive.
Let’s say for an offensive of 1 month period, planners want to be firing at least 60k shells per day again. 60k x 30 = 1.8 million shells. That’s how much they’d have to stockpile for such an offensive. These are hypotheticals, but my point is that if they’re only stockpiling let’s say 10-20k extra per month, then you can see how it could take a very long time to stockpile enough to be able to effect a high-intensity offensive period of elevated offensive output.
We can only hope that their shell production has reached even higher levels than we think, which can bring an offensive about sooner. Recently, one of the defense officials said that Russian ammo production has increased by 20x. This may sound extreme at first, but it’s actually very realistic, yet also not enough. Here’s why:
We know the U.S. produces 14k shells per month and most developed “1st world” nations produce even less, or somewhere in that neighborhood simply because there’s absolutely no need to produce more in peacetime conditions as there’s no demand to fire that many. Thus, Russia could have been producing similar numbers in peacetime.
So let’s say for argument’s sake, Russia was producing 14k per month previously yet now we know it’s doing ~300k or more. Well 14k x 20 = 280k. So yes, Russia likely did increase its production 20x but as you can see that’s still very low in ideal terms. 300k a month is under 4M a year, and allows you to fire at most 10k shells per day. For Russia to fire 60k like before, it would have to produce a massive 1,800,000 shells per month (60k per day x 30 days = 1.8M). This would be equivalent to ~22M per year.
How many shells did the USSR produce per year during WW2? 100 million.
Let’s move onto the sundry updates.
Russia continues to strike large deployment points. A mercenary hotel called the Reikartz was struck in Zaporozhye days ago. Some sources claimed ~45 dead and ~70 wounded, while another claimed 100+ dead. None of it is confirmed other than the videos of the accurate hit here and here.
Russia also sent a message to Turkey by bombing the Ukrainian Motor Sich factory which builds Turkish engines:
ANKARA, Turkey — Russia was sending a clear message to Turkey when it bombed Ukrainian business Motor Sich, which makes engines for Turkish aircraft, analysts have told Defense News.
The Aug. 6 missile and drone attack across Ukraine killed six people, Kyiv officials said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Zaporizhzhia-based facilities of Motor Sich, which his government took over in November, also came under attack.
Germany, which boasts plans to build a tank plant in western Ukraine, has now been sent official notice with this strike as well.
Russia also continues to aggressively enforce the end of the grain deal, checking all incoming vessels for potential weapons smuggling. One incident yesterday highlighted the desperate lies that Ukraine churns out on a daily basis.
Reports came that the Russian navy fired warning shots on a ship heading to port Izmail when it refused to stop or respond to Russian warnings. Russia said it then forcibly boarded the ship, but Ukraine issued a statement denying this and saying that Russia made it all up. Here are the details:
🇷🇺🚢🇵🇼🇺🇦 The Russian Ministry of Defense reports that on August 13, around 6:40 AM, in the southwestern part of the Black Sea, the patrol ship "Vasily Bykov" of the Black Sea Fleet detected the cargo ship "Sukra Okan" under the flag of Palau, which was en route to the Ukrainian port of Izmail.
Upon the demand to stop for inspection regarding the transportation of prohibited goods, the captain of the cargo ship did not respond.
To forcibly stop the vessel, a warning shot was fired from the automatic small arms of a Russian warship.
For the purpose of inspecting the cargo ship, a Ka-29 helicopter with a group of Russian servicemen was launched from the patrol ship "Vasily Bykov."
After radio negotiations, the vessel came to a halt, and the inspection team disembarked onto the cargo ship. After the completion of the inspection team's work on board the "Sukra Okan," the vessel resumed its movement towards the port of Izmail.
The ships of the Black Sea Fleet continue patrolling in their designated areas.
And here’s Ukraine’s laughable denial:
“There was no helicopter and no warning shots” nor any inspection they claim. But lo and behold, the Russian navy released a video, showing a marine Ka-29 in fact depositing a boarding team which inspected the ship:
⚡️⚡️⚡️Meanwhile, the Network has footage of the work of the inspection group of the Russian Navy, which landed this morning on the cargo ship "Sukra Okan" in the Black Sea.⚡️⚡️⚡️
And Ukrainians wrote in the morning that there was no inspection.
Ukraine’s lies exposed again.
Many people have asked about how Ukraine continues to use Storm Shadows on Su-24s, which I did address but figured I’d share this new report from German BILD which details some of the lengths they go to:
Ukraine converted roads into runways to increase the number of air bases and upgraded 10 Su-24s for missile strikes, - Bild
▪️Last week, Zelenskiy visited a secret air base in western Ukraine, whose name and location are unknown. From such bases aircraft of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine take off with long-range missiles Storm Shadow and Scalp.
▪️Russia seeks to hit these air bases. For several weeks now, the RF Armed Forces have been attacking airfields in western Ukraine where there may be Su-24s. For example, under Starokonstantinov.
" Russia launches 90% of its cruise and ballistic missiles at the base where these aircraft are located ," military expert Thomas Tayner told Bild.
▪️According to media reports, this is not possible due to the fact that the Armed Forces of Ukraine move Su-24s with Western missiles from base to base every 24 hours. To do this, they restored all airfields from the times of the USSR, and in some places they converted roads into runways. The most valuable Western air defense systems Patriot and Iris-T are used to protect the air bases, writes Bild.
And speaking of Storm Shadows, Russia continues to shoot them down. Here’s another one taken down by Pantsir-S1, and the remains of it which were found in the field afterwards:
Interestingly, a new photo leaked out showing a Ukrainian Su-24 actually in the process of launching a Storm Shadow:
Most notable is the fact that it reveals how low of an altitude they release the missiles at. Some may recall my long write-ups about this topic and the pros and cons of altitude but this confirms UA pilots don’t dare to pop up into Russian AD range.
Speaking of aircraft, since many have asked me about production numbers in the past, one new figure which was released shows how many helicopters Russia has produced:
Russian Helicopters holding company, which is part of the state corporation, has recently significantly increased the production of rotorcraft.
In 2022, twice as many helicopters were produced as a year earlier.
The main reason for this growth is the state defense order, which has significantly increased due to the needs of the military.
If in 2021, Russian Helicopters delivered 134 military helicopters of various models to the Ministry of Defense, then in 2022 their number increased to 296 units.There are no figures for this year, but we should expect that they will significantly exceed last year's figures.
NOTE: 296 helicopters includes civilian and export helicopters.
Acc to some analysts, 111 helicopters were delivered to the MOD (in 2022)
So prior to the war in 2021, a total of 134 choppers were delivered. This increased to 296 total in 2022, which includes civilian models. Out of this, 111 were military and the figure I’ve seen is around 20 of them were Ka-52s which means we can expect roughly a similar number give or take of Mi-28s.
But since 2023 figures are said to be even much higher, the total for the year should be minimum 1.5x to 2x which means 30-40 Ka-52s should be produced this year. I mention this only because another Ka-52 was just shot down, and Western headlines have flouted the claim that 40 total have been destroyed so far in the SMO.
But ~20 produced in 2022 and another 30-40 in 2023 means the purported 40 destroyed will have all been made up for.
Here’s an interesting new segment with a Russian correspondent embedded with rescue crews who as a rule accompany all Ka-52 strike missions just in case a bird goes down. It has some great footage and insights:
Polish President Duda startled many by saying the quiet part aloud:
Many are now mocking him for basically implying that Ukrainian lives are dirt-cheap compared to those of Americans:
This only mimics past statements from Western officials of that same bent. The idea is quite common in the West:
Note how they treat Ukrainians as merely an afterthought to their strategic goals. “Hey it’s a low cost effort for us…well maybe not for the Ukrainians, but who cares about them!” Just further proof that the West is using Ukrainian soldiers as nothing more than cheap cannon fodder in an attempt to bleed Russia. But then, you already knew that didn’t you.
An interesting item was leaked, claiming to be official hospital documents from a German clinic showing that Kyrylo Budanov, the SBU head, did infact suffer a serious head wound of some sort in the strike months ago, for which he was treated in a German clinic:
🇩🇪🇺🇦 GUR Kirill Budanov refused treatment against the advice of a doctor.
- According to this document, obtained by RT from the German hospital.
The news about the wounding of the head of the GUR of Ukraine appeared at the end of May. According to media reports, he was injured in a missile attack and was treated in Germany.
☝️ document appears to confirm
Here’s the original German version for those interested in really inspecting it for authenticity:
You’ll recall that after “going missing” following the Russian strike on the SBU headquarters, he reappeared weeks later with his head oddly shaved, implying a possible cranio-cerebral hemorrhage operation of some sort.
New satellite photos show the massive scope of Wagner’s expanding base in Belarus:
At a new Russian army expo, almost every product now comes standard with an anti-drone cage, illustrating how much of an intractable threat tiny FPV drones have become for both sides:
It also shows how quickly the Russian military continues to adapt on the fly. Could the administratively bloated American army do the same? Maybe.
Speaking of, the U.S. MIC is desperately trying to adapt to all the new tactics it’s learning vicariously through the SMO. A spate of new articles articulates that the U.S. has fallen gravely behind in electronic warfare and is working hard to close the gap:
“What we’re seeing in Ukraine is adding to that urgency to get those going,” he said.
It’s now a global race for all major powers to mitigate the skyrocketing drone threat as much as possible.
On that same note though, Wallstreet Journal writes that American companies are withdrawing their drones from Ukraine because their cost is simply impractical to produce ‘at scale’:
🇺🇸🇺🇦American drones are not suitable for the war in Ukraine, — WSJ
▪️Former US Navy intelligence officer Austin Gray, currently working for a drone manufacturing company, analyzed the situation with American drones in Ukraine.
▪️US companies have stopped testing their drones in Ukraine. The conditions for the normal operation of American UAVs are too difficult there.
▪️The United States does not mass-produce cheap disposable strike UAVs needed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Speaking of technology, last week Russia successfully launched another powerful recon satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome:
It’s said to be the 10th Ministry of Defense launch this year, which shows how rapidly Russia is pumping out serious military satellites to beef up its space ISR capabilities. No one knows which type of satellite exactly it was, as it’s classified, but some suspect it was another Kondor-FKA variety with SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) onboard.
Then, only days later on August 10th, Russia has launched the Luna-25 lunar lander from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s first lunar lander in 45 years and a big return to superpower prestige and glory:
If all goes well, it’s set to touch down on the lunar surface around August 21. It paves the way for a planned manned moon mission to establish a permanent base that Russia had etched in for around 2030. It would be a huge return of Russia’s space glory given that the last two previous inter-planetary probes Russia attempted in the past 30 years both failed. In 1996, a Russian probe to Mars failed and in 2012 the Fobos-Grunt probe to a Martian moon also failed.
Interestingly, India too has a probe set to touch down on the moon just days later in late August—it appears to be a race that Russia was intent on winning.
Just another two videos of CNN getting extremely nervous, being forced to admit that Abrams tanks won’t make a difference as well as general equivocating:
Note in particular how in the first video he says that Abrams “can’t do anything much different” than standard Russian tanks. So what’s all the hype about then?
Lastly, a week ago Ukraine hit a Russian landing ship and a civilian oil tanker with naval drones. New footage of the tanker gives us our first real look at the type of damage these drones inflict on ship hulls:
But even more revealing, the Russian landing ship Olenegorsky Gornyak has been successfully moved to dry-dock for repairs, and the first photo of its damage has emerged:
I’ll be honest—I found it strange that many people in the pro-Russian sphere scoffed at this photo, calling it unexpectedly tiny, as if to save face. Though it’s true that Russian naval authorities claimed they would fix this very quickly, to me the hole looks absolutely massive. These naval drones do far more damage and thus are far more dangerous than I imagined.
Lastly, after the latest spate of these drone attacks, it makes me consider more and more that this was how the Moskva was hit. It would make perfect sense being at a time when Ukraine had not yet established its naval drone threat, and thus Russia likely was not aware of it nor took it as seriously as the present. Ukraine then would have covered it up and attributed it to Neptune missiles in an effort to keep the program secret so that they could catch more Russian ships off-guard. Recall that it was hit during a stormy sea, likely making the drone even harder to detect visually.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this quote from Medvedev, who celebrated Russia’s 8/8/8 anniversary of the “5 day war” with Georgia thusly:
🇷🇺⚔️🏁 Dmitry Medvedev on his Telegram Channel:
"Exactly 15 years ago, Russia decisively responded to a vile attack on Tskhinvali, offering a strong resistance to the aggressor. Behind the foolish Saakashvili stood the collective West, which even then sought to destabilize the situation in close proximity to Russia's borders. Our Armed Forces swiftly and firmly punished the arrogant nationalists in just five days. We defended our people living in Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the enemy and provided the newly formed states the opportunity to develop with Russia's support.
Back then, the US and its minions clearly lacked experience. Today, they are once again waging a criminal war through proxy hands, attempting to erase Russia from the face of the Earth. The entire NATO system is practically openly fighting against us. We have enough strength to tackle all the objectives of a special military operation. Just like in August 2008, our enemies will be crushed, and Russia will achieve peace on its terms.
Victory will be ours!"
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