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Old 03-09-2022, 06:45 AM   #20
68RR
Lifer
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 1,471
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Ukrainian Situation:
1. The Russians have made no significant gains in the past 48 hours. Lots of talk about what is going on, and many predictions suggest they will renew offensive operations within the next 12-96 hours. Other analysts are saying that the Russian situation is so bad they cannot continue major offensive operations. My best guess is there is a little bit of both going on here. The Russians have established a chain of forward operating bases west and northwest of Kyiv. These will be their forward supply points, where their wounded will be treated, etc. That has taken time to do, and they've invested the time because the first effort to take Kyiv failed. Additionally, the way Russian command & control seems to work is very cumbersome, and it is taking them on average about 72 hours to flex to counter Ukrainian moves on the battlefield. For example, if a particular bridge needs to be protected in the rear of Russian column, word is sent up their chain of command and it takes three days to get troops tasked with that bridge's security. By then, the Ukrainians have destroyed it. So basically, we're seeing a more nimble military in Ukraine's, and Russia's not very agile or capable of quick reactions to battlefield developments.
All of this has been interpreted by some Western observers as a collapse of the Russian offensive. There is evidence of that for sure, don't get me wrong. However, I think we're seeing a slow-ponderously slow, military shifting postures and preparing for a massive set-piece battle to take Kyiv.
2. The Russians are adapting to the battlefield. They were caught by surprise at the fierceness of Ukrainian resistance, and now they are flexing to meet the threats. Two examples: 1.) they are now escorting fuel tanker truck convoys with attack helicopters, something we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a move designed to deter or kill any Ukrainian guerrillas attempting to ambush these vital vehicles.
They clearly have not been able to protect all their convoys however, as plenty have been hit in the last 48 hours still. Plus, the MPAD (shoulder-launched anti-aircraft rockets) threat to Russian helicopters is very real, and the more Stingers, the more the Russian combat aviation units will suffer losses.
Another example of adapting to the environment: Russian truck drivers are now putting "hillbilly" armor on their vehicles. They're covering the front of their trucks with lumber and logs, which will not protect them against anti-armor rockets, but may afford these unarmored vehicles protection from small arms fire. Tankers have put "cope cages" on top of their turrets in an effort to protect their tracks against Javelin missile strikes. Evidence of wrecked tracks suggests this has been useless. The Javelins destroy the tanks anyway.
A final one: They've tried pushing resupply convoys off road, sometimes following rail embankments. This may have worked a few times, but in at least one case, local Ukrainian guerrillas detected their new routes and savaged a convoy.
3. The last 48 hours has seen a resupply and deployment of surface-to-surface missile systems into Belarus. These are short to medium-range missiles that can hit anywhere in Ukrainian territory. Somewhere around 30-50 missile reloads as well as some launchers have been spotted on highways moving into and through Belarus. See the map to show where these missiles can strike in Ukraine.
4. Russians are now employing at least one armored train to deliver supplies and vehicles in the South around Mariupol. Until this weekend, there was little sign the Russians were utilizing the Ukrainian rail net to resupply their forces. This is a development that will surely result in Ukrainian irregular forces targeting rail lines and rail bridges in the days and weeks to come.
5. Some follow ups:
a.) The Flood: The Ukrainians did indeed open their reservoir northwest of Kyiv and turned the Russian line of march into a gigantic swamp. Here is some overhead imagery showing just how much the ground around the Russian line of march was affected.
https://twitter.com/wammezz/status/1501240713975156742...
b.) The airfield attack at Kherson seems to have been a combined effort that involved Ukrainian Marine infantry, artillery and two SU-25 attack jets. Lots of conflicting reports came out of the operation as a result. No visual confirmation yet of the 30 helicopters claimed destroyed on the ground, but the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense included them in their running total of Russian losses, so they think they're destroyed.
6. There have been 9 local Ukrainian counteroffensives, mainly south of Kherson, but also around Karkhiv and near Luhansk. These seem to have been limited successes and resulted in the destruction of considerable Russian equipment.
7. The Deputy Chief of Staff of Russia's 41st Combined Army was killed apparently by a Ukrainian special operations unit. Major General Vitaily Garasimov. He was a veteran of the Second Chechen War and Syria. He is the third general (two Russian, one Chechen) to be killed in 12 days of fighting. The last US general to die on a battlefield was in 1970 during Vietnam.
8. Over the weekend, it was announced that the NATO & US effort to supply Ukraine delivered over 17,000 more anti-tank weapons in 6 days. The reason why the Ukrainians are holding out is the national morale and resolve of the Ukrainian people, the military reforms Zelensky undertook when he came into office that included sacking a bunch of moribund or corrupt generals, US/NATO training of its armed forces since 2014, and the weapons the West has been sending since 2018.
9. 27 policy experts, including former US ambassadors to Ukraine, Russia and NATO, have called for a limited No Fly Zone over Ukraine to protect civilian evacuation corridors from attack.
If the Biden administration or NATO implements this, it will mean open, conventional war with Russia with an extremely high likelihood of escalation. First, the evacuation corridors have not been threatened by Russian air attack. They've been mined or hit by artillery. So this is just an excuse to get NATO aircraft into the fight. Second, the Russians have made it clear that a No Fly Zone will mean war. Putin said as much the other day.
It alarms and astonishes me that so many people in our foreign policy establishment seem determined to push us into armed conflict with Russia. The Ukrainian situation is horrific and Putin must be stopped or tied up for years in an insurgency there, but risking the destruction of Europe, Russia and the United States, along with potentially hundreds of millions of lives over this conflict is insane. If NATO enters this fight in any capacity beyond what it is doing now, it means the end of our world and our daily lives as we know it.
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