A Blog by Jonathan Low


Dec 6, 2022

Russia Shocked War Opponents Actually Shoot Back: Airfields, Bakhmut, Kreminna

The New York Times and other pearl-clutching, victim-blaming western news organizations seem to worry more about the threat of Ukrainians defending themselves creatively than Russian war crimes.  

Yeah, imagine the nerve of those Ukrainians. JL 

Mark Sumner reports in Daily Kos:

A Ukrainian drone hysteria has half of Russia staring suspiciously at the skies. The exchange between the two countries is still hugely lopsided, but Russians seem shocked at the idea that someone might actually shoot back.In addition to attacks on Russian airfields, Ukraine is  “flooding” Bakhmut with reinforcements, including Special Forces units at the forefront of counteroffensives in Kharkiv and Kherson. (And) as fighting continues along the P66 highway, Ukrainian forces in the woods to the south are reported to be even closer to Kreminna.  On Monday, at least two Russian airbases came under attack, with planes and infrastructure suffering significant damage. One of the bases damaged is home to Russia’s Tu-95 “Bear” and Tu-160 “Blackjack” strategic bombers, and is less than 250km from Moscow. Just last week, the Russian military and state media issued images of bombers at the base being fueled and loaded with missiles for attacks on Ukraine. 

Russia responded with another wave of missile attacks against Ukraine, lanching a reported 70 missiles on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, this barrage included at least 60 cruise missiles (launched from Russia or from ships in both the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea), as well as 10 ballistic missiles. Ukraine reports that at least 60 of these missiles were shot down. That included all missiles headed toward sites around Kyiv. However, some missiles did apparently reach targets near Kryvyi Rih, Odesa, and Cherkasy. The missile strike on Odesa appears to have led to another blackout in the area.

On Tuesday, more sites in Russia appear to have been hit, including an airport in the Kursk region where the attack appears to have started a fire in a fuel storage facility. There are also reports that a factory was hit in Russia’s Bryansk Region. Other reports are popping up, but so far, they seem to be the result of a kind of Ukrainian drone hysteria that has half of Russia staring suspiciously at the skies. The exchange between the two countries is still hugely lopsided, but Russians seem shocked at the idea that someone might actually shoot back.

According to Russia, these attacks against Russian airbases were made using Soviet-era Tu-141 “Strizh” drones that date back to the 1970s. These are large, jet-powered craft with a wingspan of more than 14m (47’) that weigh in at over 6 tons. They cruise around 1,000kph and have a range of about 1000km. Originally, the Tu-141 was meant to act as a reconnaissance drone, leading the way for the Red Army against western Europe. However, it never seems to have been used in combat—until, perhaps, now. 

Russia’s claim that Ukraine was using old Soviet drones might at first seem like an effort to dismiss Ukraine’s technical capabilities—and it might be. However, there is at least one reason to believe that Russia could be telling the truth in this case. 

Early in the invasion of Ukraine, there was a mysterious incident in which a large drone crashed near a university in Zagreb, Croatia. Both Ukraine and Russia denied knowing anything about it, but the drone had clearly come from the direction of Ukraine, overflying Hungarian airspace, before crashing. That crashed drone was a Tu-141. However, it was a Tu-141 that had been modified to carry a bomb. Unfortunately, that drone had apparently gone off course and been lost to ground control. Fortunately, the bomb did not explode. Despite Ukraine’s “nope, not ours” statements after the crash, Croatian authorities who investigated the drone eventually concluded it to have been modified by Ukraine for an attack on Russian positions.

The Soviets are thought to have built around 140 of these large drones. How many might still be around is unclear, as is how many were stationed in Ukraine. If they were originally meant to provide surveillance of a conflict on the border between East and West Germany, even Lviv, in extreme western Ukraine, would have been at the ragged edge of the drone’s operating range. It would seem more likely that these drones would have been in East Germany, Poland, and the former Czechoslovakia. Of course, they might have been relocated when the Soviet Union fell … or they might have been relocated in the last year. 

Zelenskyy has become famous for his willingness to appear at the front lines, often within range of Russian artillery. In places like Izyum and Kherson, Zelenskyy showed up to help celebrate the liberation of these cities and to thank the military for their actions. 

In this case, his appearance in Donetsk oblast appears to be related to celebrating Armed Forces Day in Ukraine, and recognizing the long, grueling work of those fighting on the eastern front. However, his appearance also coincides with reports of new equipment and additional troops showing up in the Bakhmut area.  There have been multiple reports over the last two weeks of Ukraine “flooding” Bakhmut with reinforcements, including Special Forces and units that have been at the forefront of counteroffensives in Kharkiv and Kherson. 

Ukraine continues to hold Chervonopopivka despite Russian assaults and artillery directed at the location. The same goes for Ploshchanka. Ukraine is reportedly fighting east of the highway at Holykove and in the direction of Krasnorichenske.

Meanwhile, the forces south and west of Kreminna have reportedly taken a small village in the area, which some sources are reporting as Kuzmyne, about 3km down the road from the city (not previously shown on maps because, like Popivka near Svatove, this is really just a few houses alongside the road). If accurate, this shows that Ukraine is still grinding its way closer to the city, even as fighting continues along the P66 highway. Forces in the woods to the south are reported to be even closer to Kreminna. 


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