Things are moving quickly in Ukraine, so you get a bonus update. Even better, it’s all great news! My Sunday update covered the first major moves in Ukraine’s multi-front retaliation, which I saw as the long-awaited end to Russia’s war effort. Mark Sumner mapped out many of the changes on Tuesday, and this morning he updated the big overnight progress. Since then, Ukraine has punched through the Russian lines in the Kharkiv front and is roping in their rear. That’s what prompted me to do a second update on Wednesday.
To recap, Ukraine spend months Talking about attacking around Kherson. This was clearly a trap, so that the linked story is literally titled “Russian lines retreat south of Izyum as Russia advances toward the potential Kherson trap. The Kherson region is bordered by several large rivers to the Russian-held south and east, with some bridges providing access.
It would have been nice for Ukraine to draw a lot of Russian troops and equipment into Kherson Oblast, then take out some of the bridges and trap them. Russian troops will quickly run out of artillery shells, small ammunition, food, water, spare parts and fuel. With their fighting power diminished (especially with artillery), they would end up easy pickings for Ukrainian liberators.
Ukraine’s intent was clear, everyone saw it coming, yet foolishly, Russia bought into the scheme hook, line and sinker. It’s like a bad horror movie, where stupid teenagers make every obvious bad decision, and the audience thinks “No one. that Stupid!” is Russia that stupid
To be fair, Russia was in a bad place. Without Kherson, Russia would lose the only regional capital it had captured since the February 24 offensive. This would shatter Vladimir Putin’s grandiose visions of extending the Russian empire to Moldova. It would be a public relations disaster, betraying Russia’s weakness and inability to recognize the region as part of Russia itself.
Prudence to strengthen Kherson, bHere’s where Ukraine made the biggest break possible: No one expected to be sent to Russia all His army to Kherson.
Russia apparently anticipated that Ukraine would not get the juice for offensive operations in two separate theaters. And guessed that Kherson would be the focus of Ukraine. Undoubtedly, Ukraine was very clear about its weapons build-up around Kherson, leaving the armory in open view of Russian satellites and drones. It undoubtedly did the exact opposite around Kharkiv. So Russia evacuated its forces around the Kharkiv region and Izyum to strengthen its southern flank.
Someday we will find out if the Kharkiv attack was completely planned, or if it was triggered by chance. but our The first hint of Russia’s weakness came after them Ukrainian raids across the Siverskyi-Donetsk River, where they found the entire area devoid of Russian military presence and “liberated” the Ozerne and Stari caravans as they wandered around taking selfies in various empty towns.
In recent weeks, Ukraine had been chipping away at Russia’s grip south of Izyum, slowly erasing what had been the core, and was now just a bump. Meanwhile, HIMARS regularly hit Russian ammunition depots, fuel supplies and Russian command and control. We were so focused on Ukraine “shaping the battlefield” around Kherson, that we missed them doing the same around Kharkiv.
As I write this, Russian Telegram sources are reporting that Russia is withdrawing from Balaklia, which some may remember. The city was sold to the Russians by its mayor At the beginning of the war. Ukraine would be freed from all the wonderful new loot from a huge ammunition depot located in the town, which it had not already destroyed. Noted Russian war reporter Starshi Eddy wrote:
It can be said that in the Balaklia operation, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have completely surpassed the operational art at this time. [Russian] order […] Izyum prepares for battle. We salute our warriors, veterans, common soldiers and officers. The enemy is preparing to attack not only from the north, but also from the south. In the area of the settlement of Dolina, reserves are gathering, the enemy is deploying tanks in attack formation. Our aviation is actively working, the night will be hot.
Dolina was featured in my Sunday update – the town south of Dovenke – which was clearly cleared of a Russian presence indicating that Russian lines had been pushed further north (toward Izium). than anyone had previously assumed. Russia is now in a pickle, facing possible encirclement in the region. But Ukraine does not need to attack Izyum just yet, given the excellent progress of Ukraine’s advance northward. If the Russian defenses at Kupiansk collapse, the entire front collapses. This is the path:
The Ukrainians reached Balaklia, left a few troops behind to pin the Russians in place (until they moved out), then moved on to Volokhiv Yar, Semenivka, and Shevchenkov, where they apparently did the same. . And just like that, Ukraine advanced 30-40 km with minimal casualties, leaving the neutral Russian forces behind, with their real options of surrender or fleeing (without their equipment).
(This is what Russia tried to do early in the war in Sumy and Chernihiv, but those cities were too large to fully control, allowing Ukrainian forces inside those cities to raid Russian supply lines. (Granted. These are small towns, easily controlled.)
Currently, Balaklia is completely free. Maybe even Shevchenkov (conflicting reports). The rest, it’s unclear. It doesn’t matter. Several Russian sources have reported that Ukrainian forces are rapidly approaching Kupyansk, which is only 25 kilometers from Shevchenkov. And we know there’s nothing to defend in the middle, as several (gory) videos have surfaced of Russian vehicles attacking Ukrainian infantry. this one, of a Russian GRAD MLRS rocket artillery, is very graphic, so click at your own risk. But I include it to make this important point: GRAD has a 52-kilometer range, they sit way back From the front lines, and now they have been ambushed and destroyed by the Ukrainians on foot There is also a complete absence of landmines. It is previous Back there are no defensive lines, and the Russian forces are being caught completely by surprise.
We knew the Russian defense would struggle after they finished, but no one Hope it looks like this!
Now look at this map:
Green lines are railways, and circles? He is Kupiensque. It is literally a logistical hub of the entire Eastern Front. Those rail lines going north lead to Russia, which supplies the bulk of the supply for this entire part of the map.
A few months ago, when Ukraine pushed Russia back from Kharkiv, we dreamed of getting within artillery range of Kupyansk. Now we’re talking about possibly owning it! And given how deep it is behind the front lines, there’s a very good chance that Russia doesn’t have much in the way of fortifications or defenses. The question then becomes—does the fight turn into a house-to-house fight, or does the Russian occupier say “it”! And retreat to the east?
We need to take care of our supply lines to Ukraine. They are not exempt from the laws of war. NATO standards are to travel with three days of combat supplies. We are in the second day. The spearman will need a functional break soon. Ideally, it gets to do so within Kupyansk, feasting on Russian supplies.
Cutting the cupiansk will cut off the entire Izyam main/bump. I colored the areas 100% dependent on Kupiensk in dark:
Meanwhile, see how the Kupyansk hub supplies Russian troops down the Donbass front. It will all be over. There are other railways and roads that will try to pick up the slack, but none of them will be as efficient. And we know that Russian logistics are already quite inefficient.
As for Donetsk Oblast in the north Siversky-Donetsk The river, I colored it a little darker-it’s not 100% cut, but the rail line east of it is now derelict. They have to truck in supplies from that light green line out east. I suspect it will cut it, and Russia will be forced to withdraw from those positions as well.
Therefore, if Ukraine reaches Kupyansk, even in its outskirts, they will not need to evacuate Russian forces from Izyum. Cut off and isolated, fighting for anything they don’t care about, mass surrender may be in the cards. Today alone I counted about four dozen POWs in various videos. The Russians and their proxies are not afraid to surrender.
Rapid progress behind enemy lines has proved a bonanza of new equipment for the Ukrainian army. Visually confirmed, Ukraine already has six new tanks, 12 armored personnel carriers, three anti-aircraft guns, five artillery pieces, and some other random stuff like trucks. We’ll likely count a lot more as more videos from Advance come out.
Meanwhile, I am as a matter of fact Those smugglers are suddenly losing their shit while enjoying Russian propagandists.
Later in the day:
So we are now at the “purge the unbelievers” stage of the Russian propagandists. Still, I wouldn’t be opposed to burning Moscow…
Oh, Ukraine has made additional advances elsewhere, but we can get to them again later. None are anywhere as dramatic, or as strategically important, as what we are seeing in Kharkiv.
Just another map showing the same thing, because it’s so fun:
Balaklia will be marked as Ukrainian in tomorrow’s update.