A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jun 30, 2023

Ukraine's Counteroffensive Is Gaining, As Advances Reported On All Fronts

The Ukrainian tactics of attacking Russian logistics, command and control appears to be working again - just as it did last fall before the Kharkiv and Kherson offensives. This combined with tactical shifts which put the emphasis on using artillery and infantry to clear minefields and trenches before sending in tanks to exploit breakthroughs has increased the scale and scope of the advance, added to the totals of Russians surrendering and reduced Ukrainian casualties. 

What is most impressive about these successes is that Ukraine is achieving them without the air support - let alone superiority - on which the US has relied since WWII.JL 

Radu Hossu reports in Twitter:

Ukrainian forces are achieving significant advances, gaining 1-2 km per day on all attack axes - partly using Combined Arms Operations (from American doctrine), but without the aerial support the US strictly includes in its doctrine. The Ukrainians are at Robotyne, at the entrance to the "Surovikin Line." If Tokmak is liberated (behind the "Surovikin Line"), it means Ukraine have breached the line and are advancing towards Melitopol/Crimea/Berdiansk. At Kherson, the Russians are evacuating all settlements east of the Dnieper within a 15 km radius, indicating they cannot withstand the Ukrainians on this front. (And) the Russians are starting to abandon their positions inside Bakhmut. Good news and extremely good news: 1. Counteroffensive: 1.1 I will add the Vasylivka axis to the southern axes (Orihiv-Tokmak axis and Velika Novosiilka-Berkiansk axis). [SPECULATION!] On May 5th, in the Night Summary on Facebook, I speculated that the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) would advance along the southern bank of the Dnieper River, south of Energodar, reaching Myhailivka, and then cutting the Russian front in half along the separation line between the Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts. So far, it is still unclear what the final purpose of this axis is. It may be a mere testing of the front, but the advancement in this area is evident and should be noted. 1.2 Orihiv-Tokmak axis: The Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) have advanced and are at the gates of Robotyne, practically at the entrance to the "Surovikin Line." This is the first real test for these tactical breakthroughs by the Ukrainians in this phase of the counteroffensive. Satellite images from Planet Labs indicate that the Russians have built an artificial dam. They didn't need it because Tokmak has enough water sources. The only reason I see is that they built it to detonate it if they need to flood the city. Tokmak is a crucial logistical and military center on the Orihiv-Melitopol-Azov Sea axis. It is practically the most important logistics point. If Tokmak is liberated (being behind the "Surovikin Line"), it means that the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) have breached the line and are already advancing much faster towards Melitopol/Crimea/Berdiansk. We still need to see what will happen with this dam in the following weeks. Why do I call them "tactical breakthroughs"? Because the ultimate goal of this counteroffensive is to cut off the land bridge between Donbas and Crimea. That is a strategic goal. To achieve a strategic goal, you have to succeed in your tactical objectives. So far, the AFU is succeeding better than many of us expected, those who closely follow the war. The AFU's attack model, as I mentioned before, is a hybrid one: partly using Combined Arms Operations (from the American doctrine), but without the aerial support that the US strictly includes in its doctrine, combined with what I know from the Soviet and post-Soviet doctrine, where artillery and the destruction of anything in front of you come down to a rain of shells. Therefore, we are witnessing an experiment, if I may call it that, from which all the world's armies will learn. So far, despite all the pessimism and even the numbers, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are achieving extremely significant advances in this phase of the war. They are gaining 1-2 km per day on all attack axes. 1.3 Velika Novosiilka-Berdiansk axis: Using the same attack model mentioned above, where they attack positions and the Russians respond with artillery, thereby exposing their location, the Ukrainians have managed to destroy more Russian artillery batteries in recent weeks than tanks, which is happening for the first time since the war began. They have advanced and are at the gates of the town of Staromayorske from the south, and from the east, after liberating Rivnopil, they threaten to surround Russian troops between Rivnopil and Staromayorske. 1.4 Vasyivka axis: The AFU is attacking from two fronts, from the west of Lubkove towards Luhove, a city 5 km from Vasylivka. Based on the available information, Vasylivka has served as a command and logistics center for the eastern front of Zaporizhia and one of the fortress cities for the Russians in the ongoing counteroffensive. In the following days, most likely, it will be attacked by the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU). 1.5 Herson Axis: In the past 24 hours, several extremely interesting things have happened. Firstly, what started as preparation for a bridgehead over the Dnieper River from Herson has turned into an actual bridgehead. From 50 Ukrainian soldiers, the numbers have already reached several hundred, if not more. However, battles have been fought today and continue to be fought to conquer the bridge crossing the Konka River and entering the city of Olesky. Another interesting thing is that similar movements of the Ukrainians have been observed where the Nova Khakovka dam used to be. This indicates that the Ukrainians want to return to what I speculate was the initial plan: an attack from the northern front of Zaporojie and from the east of the Dnieper River before the terrorist catastrophe caused by the Russians. The most spectacular information on this axis is that the illegal Russian administration has officially issued a statement requesting the evacuation of all settlements east of the Dnieper within a 15 km radius, an indication that they are aware they cannot withstand the Ukrainians on this front. 2. Battle for Bahkmut: The Ukrainian Armed Forces have crossed the Siversky Donets Canal and are attacking Kurdyumivka south of Bakhmut, Andriivka south of Bakhmut, and have surrounded Klischiivka - where I previously mentioned "Zombie Land" in January, where the Wagner Group sent hundreds of soldiers as cannon fodder just to take over the city and prohibit the T0504 from Ivanivske towards Bakhmut. According to the latest information, the VDV troops have surrendered, and Klischiivka is on the verge of being liberated. The extraordinary news now confirmed by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, something I have been saying for some time (although I was referring to the south): the Russians are starting to abandon their positions inside Bakhmut. Bakhmut has entered the liberation phase! 3. International assistance: 3.1 Germany has announced a new aid package for Ukraine, consisting mainly of crucial logistics and engineering vehicles for river crossings, demining roads ahead of assault brigades, and so on. 3.2 USA: (these are still Pentagon sources quoted by the entire US media): the United States of America is about to provide ATACMS medium-range missiles. A brief note regarding these missiles, to help everyone understand why they are so important and why they can be "game changers" once again, just like the HIMARS with M31 ammunition entering the battlefield in July of last year: ATACMS missiles have a range (depending on the missile model used - ATACMS B1 or B2) between 160 and 300 km. This means that almost no ammunition depot, logistic center, railway, or concentration of Russian troops is protected anymore. From this perspective, they are equally vulnerable to the already famous Shadow Storm, but the latter are in small numbers, and the launch platforms are Su-24 aircraft, of which Ukraine has a small number and can be targeted by Russian air defense systems at any time. However, ATACMS can be launched from any of the platforms in the HIMARS family - LARS (France), MARS II (Germany), HIMARS (USA), or M270 (UK) - which are already in Ukraine! If ATACMS reaches Ukraine in the coming weeks, then I guarantee that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will reach the Sea of Azov by the end of autumn, achieving their strategic objective, and I believe AFU will even attempt an incursion into Crimea. 4. Prigozhin vs. Putin/Shoigu/Gerasimov/Who knows? Benefits for Ukraine: 4.1 At least 25,000 Russian mercenaries out of Ukraine. Considering the estimates from various sources that Russia currently has between 150,000 and 200,000 illegally deployed soldiers in Ukraine, dispersed over a front of over 1,200 km in length, this reduction of 25,000 is incredibly important. 4.2 Destabilization of the Kremlin. We don't know who will open a window at some point, who will drink tea with a strange taste, but what we know for sure is that Putin, in order to maintain the perception of power, will have to find a scapegoat (probably several). The latest information from sources (ATTENTION! SOURCES! So always take the information with skepticism) is that purges have already begun between the FSB (former KGB) and the Russian Ministry of Defense led by Shoigu. Whether this is happening with or without Putin's knowledge, we cannot know. However, this is clearly a definite advantage for Ukraine. 4.3 The Russians have lost the initiative on the Bakhmut-Soldar-Siversk line precisely because those who were throwing people into battle without valuing their lives (the Wagner Group) are no longer there.


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