I’ve been on a rampage against claims that Ukraine suffers from a massive artillery deficit (here, here, and here). Ukraine has a vested interest in pleading poverty, building urgency among the international community for more aid. But the evidence suggests Ukraine is holding its own.
Mark made this map a few days ago, showing NASA FIRMS fire data from around the Severodonetsk area. Red dots are artillery fires in Russian territory, blue ones in Ukrainian territory.
It’s been like that for days. There’s no doubt that Ukrainians in the direct line of Russian advance are getting pummeled and dying in droves. But Russians aren’t spared, as this phone intercept shows:
(Russian 1): So, what’s going on, tell me. Anything new?
(Russian 2): Our guys are losing their minds at the frontlines, it’s so f*cked up.
(R2): They’re being bombed every day, every day! I went there, to the boys at the very front, first of all they all have turned into old men now, secondly they are hiding like rabbits in their holes, you see? As soon as something whistles – bam they are in the holes, rabbits would be jealous of them.
(R1): So they aged, didn’t they?
(R2): For your understanding, they are losing their marbles… Just imagine for a second, 24/7 you are bombed. There are heavy fights where they are […] For the locals – no one is sure: who they are, what they do. They might be fighting us at night but in daytime they are civilian people driving around in cars. No one can be trusted here, no one at all. A grandmother might be walking around carrying pies, but at night she may turn out to be a Colonel, artillery adjuster.
It’s natural for someone under constant bombardment to think the deck is stacked against them. But Russians are just as likely to complain about enemy artillery as Ukraine is. And unlike Russian artillery, which is significantly spent on civilian infrastructure, every single Ukrainian shell is targeting Russian soldiers and equipment.
Regardless, more artillery is en route. Doing a quick scan, I counted 113 more 155 mm guns publicly committed and on the way, along with the 10 MLRS vehicles (and more will come). Everyone understands that regardless of the artillery ratio vis a vis Russia, Ukraine is going to need a lot more to retake its lost territory.
Let’s take a look at the various fronts.
Speaking of civilian infrastructure, Russia hasn’t taken kindly to being (almost) pushed out of artillery range of Kharkiv, and launched an offensive Wednesday toward newly liberated towns north of the city. As of now, no territory appears to be changing hands, but Ukrainian positions in Rubizne and Ternova are under severe pressure. Ukrainian dreams of cutting off supply lines in Vovchansk and Kupiansk have been shelved for the moment. The Donbas and Kherson fronts are getting the most attention and resources.
Russia has crept forward a few towns southeast of Izyum. Their problem is the same problem we’ve seen before—their supply lines are stretching out, and look at all that yellow Ukrainian-held territory on their flanks. And what happens once their remnants reach the twin Ukrainian strongholds of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk?
Still, after wasting hundreds or thousands of lives trying to take the rubble at Dovhen’ke, pre-war population 800, they finally took it.
Over in Severodonetsk, Russia is apparently occupying the no-man’s land in city center. So … maybe not no-man’s land anymore. Ukraine is holed up in the industrial part of town, along with hundreds of civilians including dozens of kids. Why don’t people evacuate, I’ll never know. Why people with children don’t evacuate, seems criminal to me.
Finally, some of the fiercest fighting in the war is around the Popasna pocket where Russia is trying to advance in 14 directions.
Just imagine if Russia could manage a massed combined arms operations, focusing all that firepower in a single direction, punching through Russian defensive lines, and wreaking havoc in Ukraine’s rear? The reason defenses are holding as well as they are is because Russia is strung out so thinly. It’s been the story of this entire war.
I think it was presidential advisor Oleskyy Arestovych who said Ukraine’s goal in Kherson was merely to threaten Kherson and Crimea’s water supply at Nova Kakhovka to draw Russian reinforcements away from Donbas. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense insists it can’t make a serious bid for Kherson until Western gear arrives and is fielded. September is bandied about as the target date. And yet this supposedly limited counteroffensive continues to creep ever closer to Kherson. Some sources claim Ukraine is 10 kms away.
We’ll know Ukraine is making a serious push if they make a bid for the airport just northwest of Kherson city. Until then, I’d expect Ukraine is more interested in taking Snihurivka to cut the main supply line to Russian troops to the north, in the direction of Kryvyi Rih. Just expect the flat, open terrain to hinder the massive offensive and Kherson liberation we are all yearning for.
I’m a sucker for this genre of video:
Others are finally starting to see what I’ve been writing about all week.
Apparently it’s “pat Markos on the back” day. Another former US Army Europe commander:
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.