A Blog by Jonathan Low


Feb 10, 2023

The Reason Russia's Big New Ukraine Offensive Is Becoming An Epic Disaster

Russian human wave attacks are being obliterated by precise, drone-guided Ukrainian artillery and rocket.

The Russians continue to attempt these suicidal assaults because Putin wants to announce progress by Feb 24, the first anniversary of his invasion. But all he will have to show for his effort is dead Russian bodies. JL 

Mark Sumner reports in Daily Kos:

Over the last week, Russia made at least two attempts to move north near the town of Vuhledar. The first of these ended in a widely reported disaster. So did the second. Each of the attacks at Vuhledar seems to have resulted in greater losses than the last. When Russia keeps trying to make the same kind of advance in the same location, artillery, MLRS, and drones are already targeting the area. Videos show coming under precise strikes from artillery guided in by drones. Russian infantry clusters first around one vehicle, then another, trying to find safety … until all the vehicles, and the people, are gone. Ukraine halted Russian advances everywhere in the Kreminna and Bakhmut areas.

A portion of a message from Russian Telegraph channel “GREY ZONE.”

A f*ck-up is underway around Vuhledar, and it is happening over and over again, often in the command of the same units … [the 155th Naval Brigade of the Pacific Fleet] along with the marines from the 40th Separate Naval Infantry Brigade and the special forces of the 14th Spetsnaz Brigade.

These scenes speak for themselves. At least 30 units of lost equipment, burning tankers running around, and … BMPs crushing friendly forces.

On Thursday morning, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine warned in their daily update that Russia is “Trying to take full control over the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.” In the process, Russia is attacking at five points of the line: near Kupyansk in the far north; in the area around Kreminna; north and south of the long-battered city of Bahkmut; northwest of Donetsk around Avdiivka; and in the south along a front that includes the town of Vuhledar. 

This “five fronts” approach led Russia to spawn at least 19 assaults on Ukrainian towns and villages. It also shelled an astounding 115 settlements, hit 67 sites with attacks from MLRS, conducted 41 air strikes, and engaged in three long-range missile attacks. All that in a single day.

The scale of the Russian offensive, when written out this way, is certainly daunting. In fact, it looks overwhelming. And it might be, if almost every aspect of this winter offensive didn’t seem to be generating an absolute disaster for Russia. That includes two battles that are now vying to enter the record book as among Russia’s top five defeats of the entire invasion.

Back in May, kos wrote about Russia’s attempted crossing of the Siverskyi Donets River near Bilohorivka. At the same time that Russia was attacking the city of Severodonestk, it attempted to create a makeshift bridge across the river, which would have allowed it to bring forces rapidly into areas that were then behind the Ukrainian lines. Only Ukraine spotted the effort while the bridge was still in the planning and was prepared on the south bank of the river.

Over a three-day period, Russia made as many attempts to cross the river; even though they were aware they were under Ukrainian observation and that artillery was being brought to bear on their bridge under construction, they tried again. And again. Each time, Ukraine waited until the bridge was almost complete, and until Russian forces were lined up to cross, before simply pulverizing whole lines of vehicles. In all, at least 82 armored vehicles were destroyed, including 14 tanks and 35 BMP armored fighting vehicles.

Though Russia lost more forces in the attempt to drive that “40 kilometer convoy” down the road from Belarus to Kyiv, it’s hard to find an incident where Russia suffered a larger loss in a smaller space than on that riverbank west of Bilorivka.

But that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped trying. Over the last week, Russia made at least two attempts to move north near the town of Vuhledar. The first of these ended in a widely reported disaster. So did the second. But now the scale of the failure related to an effort to advance to the southwest of Vuhledar on Tuesday is becoming clear and … holy ****.

Each of the attacks at Vuhledar seems to have resulted in greater losses than the last. Which should not be a surprise. When Russia keeps trying to make the same kind of advance in the same location, artillery, MLRS, and drones are already targeting the area and ready to go. So Ukraine can dispatch them even faster and more efficiently. That’s just how it worked at Bilohorivka — each Russian defeat was worse than the one that came before.

And in this case, Russian forces seem to be moving slowly through relatively open territory, over roads that are heavily mined. Videos show vehicles creeping along, trying to swing around when members of their convoy strike a mine, and coming under patient, precise strikes from artillery guided in by drones hovering constantly overhead. All the while, Russian infantry clusters first around one vehicle, then another, dashing without an apparent plan from place to place, trying to find something like safety … until all the vehicles, and the people, are gone.

Just look at that area. Look at the clear, prolonged view that Ukrainian forces have of the approaching Russians. Any precision artillery is capable of this sort of brutal disassembly. Even traditional artillery could manage it with the real-time correction available from observation drones.

Scenes of destruction at Bilhorivka on the left, and Vuhledar on the right.

On the left of this image is some of the carnage in the wake of the attempted bridge crossing at Bilohorivka. On the right is a partial scene from one of the disasters near Vuhledar. It’s not certain which list of losses is greater, and Russia might try it again today. 

And wait. That’s not all.

The biggest offensive that pro-Russian channels have been talking about for the last two weeks was the supposedly enormous move that was coming from Kreminna. After weeks of Ukrainian forces knocking on the city’s door, Russian forces—including both Wagner Group and VDV—were supposedly massed in the area for a major attack that would see Russia remove Ukrainian forces from Luhansk, recapture Lyman, and once again threaten to attack major cities in Donetsk across that same Siverskyi Donets River.

What had been seen so far didn’t look that major, as Ukraine reportedly repulsed attacks on two small villages northwest of Kreminna, but the big show was reportedly still coming. And here it is…

[Previous video of the Kreminna area and some associated text deleted after it proved to be from several months ago.]

The New York Times reported on Kreminna this morning, warning that, “Better trained and equipped Russian divisions have joined tens of thousands of newly mobilized soldiers trying to break through well fortified Ukrainian lines.” 

If this is the case—and it matches the scale of the build-up that’s been described by both Russian and Ukrainian sources—then a single defeat in the woods south of Kreminna, and the repulse of attacks on small towns along the highway to the west of the city certainly isn’t the end of this struggle. But it’s one helluva beginning.

Among the locations where Ukraine reports repelling Russian forces on Wednesday are Stelmakhivka, west of Svatove, and Bilohorivka, 12 km to the south of Kreminna. But, unlike Tuesday, Kreminna and the villages immediately to the west and south were not on the list of places where Russian assaults had been driven back. Either that’s a sign that Russia’s actions in the area were limited, or it’s a signal that Russia is meeting with some success in parts of this battle. Right now, we don’t know.

Further south, Ukraine reported halting Russian advances in Bakhmut, Krasna Hora, Paraskoviivka, Ivanivske, and Chasiv Yar. That’s pretty much everywhere that fighting was going on in the Bakhmut area. However, there’s no doubt that Russia has continued attempted movements both north and south of the city, and the situation there remains tenuous. The addition of names like Fedorivka and Vesele to this list shows that Russian forces are continuing to attempt a movement north and west of the breakthrough made near Soledar two weeks ago.

Bohoyavienka shows up on the list, and its position 8 km behind Vuhledar would be concerning, but this apparently refers to the pile of wreckage seen above, which was made along a highway running west of Vuhledar that would have led to Bohoyavienka had Russia not been stopped where they were.

Another concerning location on the list is Novokalynove, which is several kilometers from any previously reported Russian action in the area northwest of Donetsk. Hopefully, this is also an “assault in the direction of...” and not anything happening close to that location.

Good news, everyone. Over 10 million Americans have volunteered to go off to Ukraine and join Russian death row prisoners in fighting for Wagner Group. So many Americans have signed up, that Wagner can stop hauling people out from under their prison bunks.

Or at least, that’s what Wagner Group is claiming.

If you were unaware there was a commercial … there was a commercial. One that was seen by whole dozens of Americans, 10 million of whom signed up.

Don’t worry if you’re one of the 9 million Americans apparently not considered good enough to be hurled out of a trebuchet by Wagner. There are plenty of other Russian mercenary groups being formed. You can always go zerg for Gazprom. Or you could sign up for the Russian Naval forces, because those guys are … well, see the pictures of Vuhledar above.

If you’re tempted by Wagner’s commercial, just hurry right on over there, and don’t let the screen door hitcha where the good lord splitcha.


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