Putin's War, Week 80. Ukraine's Offensive Continues Slow Progress as Fingers Are Pointed

Here we are, 560 days into Putin's three-day tour of the Ukrainian countryside. I apologize for the update being a day late; I had personal business that took up the whole day.

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We have a lot of coverage and video from the battlefront, as well as hitting the political events that give an idea of how the war is shaping up away from the battlefield.

Here are some of my past updates. For all my Ukraine War coverage, click here.

Putin's War, Week 79. Surovikin Line Penetrated as Russia Staggers Toward a '1917 Moment' in Zaporizhzhia

Putin's War, Week 78. Prigozhin Crashes, Two Russian Bomber Bases and Moscow Hit by Drones

Putin's War, Week 77. The Ruble Nosedives, a Breakthrough Looms, and Crimea Faces Isolation

Putin's War, Week 76. Russia Shut out of Peace Conference and Its Black Sea Gambit Backfires

Putin's War, Week 75. Putin Cucked, Moscow Droned Again, and the Industrial War Hits High Gear

Putin's War, Week 74. The Crack in the Russian Wall Appears and Ben & Jerry's Employees Join the Russian Army

Putin's War, Week 73. Putin Eludes Arrest, Black Sea Grain Initiative Dies, and Ukraine's Offense Continues to Grind Away

Putin’s War, Week 72. Ukraine Misses NATO Membership but Still Wins and Ground Combat Gains Velocity

Putin’s War, Week 71. The Fighters Go to Their Corners

Putin’s War, Week 70. The Reckoning for the Wagner Revolt Continues

Putin’s War, Week 69. As CNN Reports the Ukrainians Have Stalled the First Breakthrough Happens

Putin’s War, Week 68. The Offensive Develops, Cracks Emerge, and Never Forget the Enemy Has a Vote

Putin’s War, Week 65. G7 Calls for War Crimes Trials and Reparations, F-16 Pilots Start Training, and Russia Is Invaded

Many more are available at this link.

Politico-Strategic Level

While the Ukrainian offensive continues, there is no doubt that the center of gravity of this war, the schwerpunkt if you are a Clausewitz fan like myself, is in the political realm. For the Ukrainians, it is the reality that coalition warfare is fraught with uncertainty. The Ukrainians have the will to prosecute this war to a successful conclusion. By successful, I mean evicting the Russians from all the land illegally seized since 2014. Ukrainian society is showing no signs of desiring a peace with Russia that doesn't include reclaiming lost Ukrainian land. The challenge for Ukraine is keeping its allies invested in achieving that outcome. While I would consider Ukraine's Spring/Summer Offensive successful, it obviously did not produce the decisive battlefield victories needed to conclude the war. That failure to meet expectations will play out in our Congress and in European parliaments over the next year.

Russia's schwerpunkt is Putin. He started the war, and his political and maybe actual survival is tied to the outcome. Putin has shown he's not a grandmaster of strategy. He's exactly what he appeared to be when he was a mid-level KGB thug operating in East Germany. He's a midwit but a cunning one who resembles that cockroach scurrying from Ground Zero. The next three to six months will present Putin with extraordinary political, economic, and military challenges that I doubt he will handle all that well. The question we don't know the answer to is at what point do Kremlin elites decide that their continued association with Putin is more dangerous than opposing him.

No matter the chatter demanding peace, this war will continue until the machinery that sustains the war, and in my view, that is Ukraine's Western allies and Putin's political power, comes undone. At this point, I don't see it happening, but I'm sure we'll get a chance to revisit this discussion in six months.

Thanks, But No Thanks

Over the last month, there has been an onslaught of media stories quoting unnamed Western military and intelligence officials evaluating Ukraine's offensive as a failure, second-guessing the operations, and giving advice that sometimes was embarrassingly stupid. Most seemed designed to shift blame from DC to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. For instance:

This may be my favorite in terms of boneheaded stupidity.

This appears to have stung the Ukrainian high command enough to provoke a response.

They are right; this is their war for their country. They have been fighting Russians since 2014 and have done creditably so for. Maybe, just maybe, they know what they are doing. The people depriving them of the weapons needed to bring this war to a close because they are afraid of "escalation" should just sit down and shut up and, while doing that, read the after-action reports from Kabul.

One of the best takes on the subject is from retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. Despite being a progressive stooge, this is solid. Please click through and read the whole thread.

Zelensky Sacks His Defense Minister

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sacked his Defense Minister. Oleksii Reznikov was highly regarded as the man who pulled the Ukrainian defense establishment together after the Russian invasion and built the bridges with Western defense ministers that got Urkaine the aid he needed. He seems to have been dismissed because of his inability to suppress corruption in procurement and conscription; see Putin's War, Week 79. Surovikin Line Penetrated as Russia Staggers Toward a '1917 Moment' in Zaporizhzhia for details.

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Reznikov's dismissal and the appointment of Umiereov also have a powerful symbolic quality. Umerov was a member of an opposition party; he participated in the ill-fated peace negotiations in March 2022 (see Russians and Ukrainians Say Peace Talks Show Progress but 'Getting to Yes' Seems Very Far Away) and he was blamed by the Russians for blocking negotiations (warning: Russian language link). Umerov is a Muslim (practicing or not, I don't know) and a Crimean Tatar whose family was deported as part of one of Josef Stalin's many ethnic cleansing operations.

Ukraine Oligarch on Trial 

My colleague Susie Moore covered the start of the trial of Ihor Kolomoisky (Ukrainian Oligarch and Zelensky Benefactor Ihor Kolomoisky Arrested for Fraud in Kyiv). It is hard to overstate the impact of this. Kolomoisky is a fervent Ukrainian patriot who was a patron of President Zelensky when he entered politics. Unfortunately, he's also something of a one-man RICO violation. He's on trial for embezzling some $250 million during the nationalization of Privat Bank. Zelensky showing the willingness to crack down on someone who has helped him out will go a long way in Brussels and in Washington...if not in our comments section.

Did I Mention Corruption?

Russia's FSB allegedly has broken up a smuggling ring dealing in aircraft parts. Many of the parts were being sold to Ukraine. I wonder who didn't get paid?

Elections Underway in Occupied Ukraine

Russian-managed elections are underway in the occupied parts of five Ukrainian oblasts that Russia has illegally annexed: the Crimea peninsula it annexed in 2014 and parts of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions (Putin’s Illegal Annexation of Ukrainian Territory Marks the Beginning of a War Without a Perceivable End). The "elections" are for local offices and are simply Putin creating more facts on the ground to muddy any possible negotiations.

I'm sure anyone running for office, particularly in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, has their Russian passports and a bolthole prepared in Russia. They might want to update that life insurance policy, too.

As an election ploy, Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to fund the redevelopment of the illegally occupied areas.

This is a fraction of the estimated damages inflicted on Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson by Putin's illegal invasion. 

Russian Popularity Continues to Grow in Ukraine

It is difficult to talk of elections without a mention of polling. Recent polling from Ukraine shows that supermajorities want nothing to do with anything Russia has to offer. This is a sample of polling from May 2023 and published last week. I'm blockquoting the text to save you the trouble of clicking the tweet. Links to the polls are in the tweet.

Because of Russia's full-scale war and all its brutality, Ukrainians are increasingly committed to a cultural divorce from Russia. And the longer the war goes on, the more Russia incriminates itself in the eyes of the Ukrainian people. 

Consider some recent polling data. 

90.4% of Ukrainians say they oppose making any territorial concessions to Russia to end the war, according to a poll conducted from Aug. 9 to 15 by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation.

 Less than 5% of Ukrainians are ready to make territorial concessions to end the war, that poll found. 

Also — 73.8% of Ukrainians oppose renouncing the possibility of NATO membership to end the war. 

And — 75.1% oppose accepting Russian as the official state language to end the war. 

That poll also found that 88.5% of Ukrainians are proud of their citizenship — "Pride in citizenship is now the highest it has been since Ukraine's independence," the Foundation reported. 

Some more findings from a poll (published Aug. 24, conducted in May) by the Razumkov Centre. 

Percentage of respondents who associated Russia with the following words: 

"Aggression" — from 66% in 2017 to 91% in 2023. 

"Dictatorship" — from 60% in 2017 to 87% in 2023. 

"Cruelty" — from 57% in 2017 to 89% in 2023.

Regarding the statement: “Ukrainians and Russians have always been and remain fraternal nations” — In 2017, 27% of respondents agreed…in 2023, only 4% agreed. 

"The changes compared to 2017 are especially noticeable in the Eastern and Southern regions," the Razumkov Centre reported.

There are two messages here. First, there is little room for a negotiated settlement. The Ukrainian people are willing to fight it out, and the Russians aren't willing to accept defeat.

It is pretty obvious by now that the people crying crocodile tears over all the dead Ukrainians are really simping for Putin and willing to say anything to keep him from getting thrashed in Ukraine. If the Ukrainians want to stop fighting, they'll do just like our Afghan allies did. They will stop. Until then, pay them the common courtesy of letting them decide if they want to fight to be free of Russian domination.

Russian Army Looks to Foreigners to Solve Its Recruiting Woes

Despite the regular announcements of conscription in the Russian media, there is scant evidence that local authorities anywhere in the Russian Federation have the stomach to enforce the directives aggressively. There is more evidence that Russia has started the involuntary enlistment of foreigners working in Russia. Last week, I posted video of what looked to be the forced conscription of Muslim immigrants to Russia (Putin's War, Week 79. Surovikin Line Penetrated as Russia Staggers Toward a '1917 Moment' in Zaporizhzhia). This is a follow-up to that video.

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Interestingly, Cuba has accused Russia of recruiting Cubans into its army.

A lot of talk floats around about Russia's manpower reserve. That may be the case, but if Putin will not declare general mobilization, that manpower reserve remains a theoretical rather than actual advantage.

A teenager comes home from school with a writing assignment. He asks his father for help. "Dad, can you tell me the difference between potential and reality?" His father looks up, thoughtfully, and then says, "I’ll display it to you.

Go ask your mother if she would sleep with Robert Redford for a million dollars. Then go ask your sister if she would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars. Then come back and tell me what you’ve learned." The kid is puzzled, but he decides to see if he can figure out what his father means.

He asks his mother, "Mom, if someone gave you a million dollars, would you sleep with Robert Redford?" His mother looks around slyly, and then with a little smile on her face says, "Don’t tell your father, but, yes, I would."

Then he goes to his sisters room and asks her, "Sis, if someone gave you a million dollars, would you sleep with Brad Pitt?" His sister looks up and says, "Omigod! Definitely!"

The kid goes back to his father and says, "Dad, I think I’ve figured it out. Potentially, we are sitting on two million bucks, but in reality, we are living with a couple of whores."

Turn About is Fair Play

About a month ago, two Belarusian helicopters made a 3km incursion into Polish airspace; see Putin's War, Week 75. Putin Cucked, Moscow Droned Again, and the Industrial War Hits High Gear. This week, the Poles returned the favor.

I will be shocked if this war ends without Poland having a go at Lukashenko's Belarus and daring Putin to do anything. When the history of this war is finally written, we'll see that it was Poland's presence that kept Lukashenko from participating in the Russian invasion of Ukraine because he was afraid of what Poland might do.

Russia Withdraws Antiaircraft Missiles From Illegally Occupied Japanese Territory

The illegal Soviet and now Russian occupation of some historically Japanese islands has prevented the two countries from officially ending World War II. The Soviet Union seized the islands when it took the bold and manly move of declaring war on Japan the day before an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and scarcely a week before Japan's unconditional surrender. 

Now, Russia has removed antiaircraft missiles from the islands. As this has not been accompanied by any diplomatic effort, the odds are that they are on their way to Crimea.

BAE to Produce Howitzers in Ukraine

Hot on the heels of deals to produce Leopard tanks (Putin's War, Week 64. Patriots Score Big and the Scene Is Set for Offensive Action) and CV-90 infantry fighting vehicles ( Putin's War, Week 78. Prigozhin Crashes, Two Russian Bomber Bases and Moscow Hit by Drones) in Ukraine, Ukraine has signed a deal to build L119 105mm howitzers (Putin's War. Week 21. New Weapons Change the Battlefield in Ukraine's Favor but Are They Stronger Than European Cowardice and Stupidity?) and spare parts and run a refurbishing depot. This, combined with Ukraine's homegrown arms industry, will wean it away from Russian junk and significantly improve its military capability.

Poland and US Defense Contractors Explore Joint Venture

If you've been following this aspect of the Ukraine War, one of the most notable things is the number of major defense contractors staking out claims in Poland and Ukraine.

Ukraine has inked deals to produce tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and howitzers with Western partners. Poland has a large deal with Rheinmetall to repair/refurbish tanks and artillery and an agreement with South Korea to produce Black Panther tanks. Now, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are exploring opening a Javelin production facility in Poland.

Russia's Blockade of Ukraine Crumbles

Russia has declared a blockade of Ukrainian ports. Two weeks ago, the Russian Navy intercepted and harassed a Palau-flagged Turkish freighter en route to Ukraine; see Putin's War, Week 78. Prigozhin Crashes, Two Russian Bomber Bases and Moscow Hit by Drones. For a blockade to be legal and not merely an excuse for piracy, international law requires it to be "effective."

An operation involving naval and air forces by which a belligerent completely prevents movement by sea from or to a port or coast belonging to or occupied by an enemy belligerent. To be mandatory, that is, for third States to be obliged to respect it, the blockade must be effective. This means that it must be maintained by a force sufficient to prevent all access to the enemy coast. The belligerent must declare the existence of the blockade. The belligerent must also specify and the starting date, geographical limits of the blockaded territory and time allowed to neutral vessels to leave. This declaration must be notified to all neutral Powers and to the local authorities.

The claim that it is "effective" has been specious for a while; see Putin's War, Week 75. Putin Cucked, Moscow Droned Again, and the Industrial War Hits High Gear. Now, it is obviously not so.

The Russians fear a new extended-range variant of the Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile. The current one has a range of 170 miles, so they must keep their blockade beyond its range. That puts the blockade well into international waters, and the lack of "effectiveness" means neutral ships are not obligated to stop when challenged. Eventually, this will end up with the Turkish Navy, under a US air umbrella, enforcing freedom of navigation.

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Only the Best Men

Think about it for a moment. How bad does bribery have to get before Putin's government cares?

It Takes a Big Man to Admit He Was Serially Duped

One of the astonishing things about the Russian side of this war, particularly as reflected by the English-speaking social media Putin fanbois, is their ability to hold two diametrically opposed positions. On the one hand, Putin is playing five-dimension chess and is way ahead of Ukraine and NATO. On the other hand, he was fooled by George Soros and Victoria Nuland (I think I got that right) into invading Ukraine even though he had no intention of doing so. Here is Putin listing about a dozen more times when he was bamboozled by the West.

What Was Russian Media Saying About Putin's War Before it Happened?

Here is a mash-up of major Russian media figures giving their predictions on how long this war that started — looks at calendar — 560 days ago would last.

Operational Level

The big story last week was the off-the-record sniping by some Western officials. Both military and civilian, at the pace of Ukraine's Spring Offensive. This week, we're seeing what I think are controlled leaks by the Ukrainian government to set the record straight or at least apportion blame more equitably. One of the best summaries I've encountered is in this "X" (formerly Twitter) thread. You should read it.

Like last week's criticisms of Ukraine, these have to be taken with a degree of skepticism. Soldiers rarely have the right training or right weapons if you rely on their accounts. Their dissatisfaction with training, equipment, and leadership is never higher than when things aren't going the way they had anticipated. That said, these are some of the items that rang true to me.

 Nestor said the most interesting and useful part was the reconnaissance training. “We learned how to get close to the enemy and build secure observation posts. It was essential.” They also learned how to adjust artillery and navigation. “Navigation was useful; spotting was interesting, but it was not particularly useful on the battlefield so far.” 

However, his overall verdict of the training was mixed: “It was like the instructors were in a vacuum. We received training in infantry tactics, while this war is a war of artillery and drones.”

On one occasion, Nestor’s commander asked if trainers would at least consider the presence of drones on the battlefield. The answer was a damning “No.”

“You didn’t take your drones with you, and the only drone we have available is DJI Phantom 4, but we can’t even use it for bureaucratic reasons.” he recalls them saying. So they continued the training as is.

It takes no imagination whatsoever to see the training cadre doing a remarkable job on some things but balking at teaching techniques they don't know. If this is correct, it probably means our troops are not being taught to operate in an environment with a lot of drones, either. It also indicates that, at some level, the US Army is not studying what is happening on Ukrainian battlefields.

But the companies received too little training on surviving the battlefield: “There was no camouflage training. The infantry didn’t learn how to conceal positions, build bunkers, and no defensive combat training.” 

In the end, Nestor adds that one of the things that they needed was EOD awareness and training. “You must understand the battlefield is littered with booby traps, mines, and explosive ordinance. We knew it before the deployment. Everyone in Ukraine knows it. We asked trainers if we could get any training on the topic.” But for some reason, the trainers refused to even discuss it. It was a taboo. “We regret the lack of EOD training specifically. It could have saved lives.”

...

The disconnect of the NATO training leads to a brigade being unprepared on the battlefield. Specifically, the lack of UAV, defensive, mine awareness, and EOD training has led to unnecessary casualties on the battlefield.

This experience shouldn't be allowed to devolve into a round of bureaucratic finger-pointing. If the critique of training given to Ukrainian soldiers is correct, it must be fixed. There are lessons for us in this war, too.

Overall, the last week was a fairly good one for Ukrainian forces. The first two Russian defensive lines were breached, and the gap expanded. Within two weeks, that gap should be practicable for an attempt at exploitation. Ukrainian forces are about 25 miles from the critical rail and highway node of Tokmak. With observation by drones, satellites, and reconnaissance units, it will be difficult for the Russians to supply their forces from that point west at a level that permits offensive action.

The plural of anecdote is not data, but the increased frequency of videos of Russian soldiers surrendering leads me to believe that the newly formed units of mobilized soldiers are close to the breaking point. Not only are there more documented instances of surrender, but the quantity of prisoners has increased. Even controlling for the fact that the Ukrainians want these videos released, the fact remains that what the videos show today is a different picture than that presented last autumn.

One of the key differences in how the Ukrainian and Russian armies operate will, in my opinion, be critical in the next few months. For some time, Ukrainian artillery and drones have focused on killing Russian artillery, air defense systems, headquarters, supply points, and logistics vehicles as Ukrainian troops complained about the lack of artillery support. Russian artillery has focused on Ukrainian forward positions. The Ukrainians clearly see Russia's command and control and logistics capabilities as critical targets because of the Russians' difficulty with those functions. I think the Russians perceive that if they kill enough Ukrainian troops, the Zelensky government may cave and negotiate away its sovereignty. Also, the increasing density of Ukrainian air defense systems and the war on Russian counterbattery radar are depriving the Russians of a target acquisition capability beyond visual range.

In the long run, I think Ukraine's focus on artillery C3I nodes and logistics capability will be seen as the best solution.

New Weapons

M1 Tank Crews Finish Training

In January, the US government announced it would send 31 M1 tanks to Ukraine (Biden Announces Transfer of 31 Abrams Tanks to Ukraine). The tank and maintenance crews have finished their training and are returning to Ukraine. Ten of the M1 tanks will arrive in the next month or so, the rest before the end of the year. The M1 is a beast and overmatches anything else in Ukraine by a significant margin. It won't be a war changer, but it will give the Russians some anxious moments.

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Depleted Uranium Tank Rounds Sent to Ukraine

Along with the M1 tank, the US will send the controversial M829 armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) ammunition with a depleted uranium long rod penetrator (that was my nickname back in the day).

Depleted uranium does pose health hazards if you inhale or ingest uranium fragments, but it isn't radioactive (the word "depleted" should be a clue to most folks). If you are in a vehicle hit by a DU round, you would give anything to exchange that experience for cancer. Britain has already agreed to send DU sabot along with their Challenger 2 tanks; see Putin's War, Week 56. Putin Indicted for War Crimes, Xi Visits Moscow, and Sevastopol Attacked for a Third Time. If the Russians went batsh** then, I can't imagine what will happen now.

Slinger Anti-Drone System

The Australian defense contractor EOS is sending 160 of their "Slinger" anti-drone systems to Ukraine. It is a radar-aimed version Bushmaster 30mm cannon used by the Apache gunship, with proximity-fuzed ammunition that can defeat drones out to 800 meters. It can be mounted on a wide variety of vehicles.

We are at the point that it nearly borders on negligence to deploy any vehicle without some sort of anti-drone system.

More 4x4s

Technically not a weapon, but light, 4-wheel drive vehicles have proven they have a place on the battlefield in everything from delivering supplies and evacuating wounded to shuttling mobile Javelin and Stinger teams to critical places.

Russia Withdraws T-14 Armata Tank From Ukraine

Combat Operations

 First French-made CAESAR Self-Propelled Howitzer Destroyed

It is hard to explain the loss of a high-value item like a CAESAR without using the words "ineptitude" or "carelessness." This weapon system should never have been within range of counterbattery fire long enough to be hit, and it should be operating with some air defense protection.

I Hate It When That Happens  

Win Some, Lose Some

Thursday, I posted on a series of drone attacks inside Russia; see Russian Cities Hit and One Airbase Thrashed as Russia Comes Under Intense Ukrainian Attack). At least one of the Ukrainian drones was shot down by a Russian helicopter gunship. There are reports that the Russians are using gunships as interceptors. 

Here, two gunships and a fighter pursue a drone off the west coast of Crimea and come up empty-handed.

This is a more successful interception of a different UAV, but the Russians claim it is the one that got away because, of course, they would. The text, according to Mr. Google, reads:

A video appeared of an oblique Mi-28N firing at a UAV. This video is from Belgorod when one of the drones was shot down at night, while now it is issued as a refutation of the statements of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that the Mi-28N tried to shoot down the UAV, but it did not succeed

For a change of pace, this is what it looks like when a suicide drone tries to take out a helicopter gunship.

The Helicopter Defector Story Grows

Two weeks ago, I reported on the defection of an Mi-8 helicopter. The aircraft took off in Russia and landed at a Ukrainian airfield. According to public information, the pilot had been wooed by Ukrainian intelligence. His family was smuggled out of Russia, the family received new identities, and the pilot got the $500,000 reward for defecting with his aircraft. See Putin's War, Week 78. Prigozhin Crashes, Two Russian Bomber Bases and Moscow Hit by Drones,

Now, a short "documentary" has been released by the Ukrainians.

This is a translated version of the video.

The pilot has been interviewed on Ukrainian television. His motive, he says, was realizing the war was wrong.

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The Russian Telegram channel Fighterbomber thinks there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye.

Putin's War, Week 80. Ukraine's Offensive Continues Slow Progress as Fingers Are Pointed

I think he's right.

Why RussiFortificationsion Are Hard to Penetrate

Follow the thread for more details. The text reads:

"Magura" now clearly shows what it was enough to overcome east of the village of Robotine in incredibly heavy battles. Another confirmation of how difficult this task was. And the reason why many Russian propagandists are so sad

This shows the magnitude of the Russian construction effort. Just keep in mind that unless the fortifications are adequately manned and covered by indirect fire, they are nuisances, not obstacles.

More Ka-52 Shootdown

As I've mentioned, the Ka-52 gun has emerged as Russia's best weapon in this war. 

This is the second Ka-52 known lost in the last week, and about 1/4 of the known pre-February 2022 fleet of that helicopter has been verified on video as being shot down. The number of aircraft damaged or simply broken down is not known. Via CSIS:

 Russia started the war with around 150 Ka-52s. It is doubtful that all of these were mission capable. In October 2022, UK Defence Intelligence estimated Russia to have had no more than 90 Ka-52s in service at the war’s commencement. Based on visual analysis by independent observers and reports from the Ukrainian Air Force, Russia has lost as many as 60 Ka-52s since the start of the war from enemy fire as well as accidents.

Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP)

How Not to Dig In

This video takes place in the Northern Front area on the Svatove-Kreminna front, where the Russians tried to start a spoiler offensive to divert the Ukrainian Army from attacking in the South. We've reported that this offensive has stopped, and Russia is now sending newly formed, mostly untrained units to hold the line there while sending more seasoned troops south as a reserve/immediate reaction force.

In the video is a Ukrainian unit assaulting Russian positions. The Russian soldiers occupy individual foxholes that don't seem to be mutually supporting. This is little short of murder. Not by the Ukrainians but by the Russian high command.

Resupply

Friends

   

Northern Front

   

Kharkiv

 Kupiansk -Svatove

At this point, I think it is safe to say that the Russian offensive on the Kupiansk-Svatove axis has culminated. Reports say that Russian reserves and the experienced troops that led the offensive have been shuttled south to face the Ukrainian offensive. They were replaced by newly conscripted and mobilized men.

Logistics War

It has been noted by a lot of people that Russia is using its artillery and suicide drones to attack Ukrainian infantry. Ukraine is using its artillery and drones to hunt Russian artillery, radars, supply dumps, headquarters, and trucks. Without trucks, neither side can sustain their forces on the Forward Edge of the Battle Area. Destroying these fuel trucks limits the ability of the Russians to move reinforcements around the battlefield to react to Ukrainian attacks.

Donbas

 Bakhmut-Klishchiivka-Avdiivka

Ukraine retains the tactical initiative on this area. Small advances were made north of Bakhmut. South of Bakhmut, the strategic town of Klishchiivka fell to the Ukrainians. Klishchiivka is on a ridge about 200 meters higher than Bakhmut and provides observation deep inside Russian lines. Klishchiivka has fallen to the Ukrainians before, only to be recaptured by Russian counterattacks. If the Ukrainians manage to hold it this time, I think we could see the Russian defense in Bakhmut unravel.

Farther south, the fighting in the Avdiivka salient sputtered along with few, if any, gains made by anyThis this salient gains operational importance is if the Russians are forced to retreat from Bakhmut to the next defensible terrain to the east.

Putin's War, Week 80. Ukraine's Offensive Continues Slow Progress as Fingers Are Pointed

Ukraine is not only fighting the close-in battle to take Klishchiivka, but also interdicting Russian lines of communication that allow resupply and reinforcements.

Partisan Activity

A Russian general who was formerly a senior official in the "Luhansk People's Republic" was injured by a phone bomb

Afanasevskii was rushed to the hospital with serious shrapnel wounds to his head, neck and stomach, sources with Ukraine’s Security Services told RBC-Ukraine.

The general’s 21-year-old son was also injured — and had to have three fingers amputated, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.

Southern Front

   

Zaporizhzhia

Robotyne-Verbove

Summary: The Ukrainian Armed Forces control the town of Robotyne (east side of the penetration) and have started to advance to the west of the city (two leftmost blue arrows on the map).

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Putin's War, Week 80. Ukraine's Offensive Continues Slow Progress as Fingers Are Pointed

The Russian occupation authorities have announced that Russian forces are withdrawing to the higher ground to the west of Robotyne. However, the Russians are contesting every advance with a counterattack. Despite what some Rus-bot accounts claim, there is no visual evidence by either side to indicate these counterattacks are succeeding.

The advance to the east is also showing promise. Ukrainian troops are fighting inside Verbove (rightmost blue arrow) while enveloping it from the south. This is the area where the entire first defensive belt — minefields, dragon's teeth, and entrenchments — have been breached. Progress is also being made to the south. 

The Ukrainians will use Robotyne and Verbove as the shoulders of their penetration. The breaks made in the Surovikin Line call the integrity of the first line into question, as the Russians will be attacked on the flanks as the trenches are rolled up.

"Don't Bunch Up!!"

Partisan Activity

Kherson

 The Ukrainians continue to maintain their bridgehead across the Dneiper River. No significant activity was reported.

Partisan Activity

Oleshki is the closest sizeable town to the Ukrainian bridgehead across the Dnieper River. Partisan or possibly special operations forces, bombed a carload of FSB operatives who, according to other sources, had been linked to the torture of Ukrainian citizens in Occupied Kherson.

Rear Areas

Russia

Drone Strikes  

The Bryansk electronics factory has been previously targeted; see Russian Cities Hit and One Airbase Thrashed as Russia Comes Under Intense Ukrainian Attack.

Desperate Times...

Moscow Hit Again

Return of the Flaktürme

During World War II, the Germans constructed a series of massive towers to hold antiaircraft guns as a defense against Allied bomber streams; they were called Flak towers (Flaktürme). 

The continual attacks on Moscow by Ukrainian drones have led to the Russians copying this defensive structure.

What’s Next?

While I don't think the Ukrainian offensive has reached a culmination point, that is, the point where Ukraine does not have the ability to continue, General Mud will call a halt to major operations as the heavy seasonal rains start in late September. The next opportunity for offensive action will be after the mud freezes in December-January.

The war on Russian artillery, command and control, and logistics will continue even in the absence of significant ground operations. 

Before the rains stop most operations, I think the Ukrainians will have established a major breach of the Suvrovikin Line between Robotyne and Verbove and made progress in the direction of Tokmak. This breach will make the continued defense of the first defensive belt of the Suvrovikin Line extraordinarily difficult. As the rains develop, the Russian tactic of using more elite forces as fire brigades to stop Ukrainian advances will fail because of their reduced mobility. 

While the Ukrainian Spring/Summer Offensive will probably fall short of its desired goals, it has achieved success. Then the race is on to see who can rearm and refit their troops first. I think Ukraine's interior lines of communication and its training and logistics support from the West says it will win this race.

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