Artillery hammered positions on both sides as rasputitsa, aka mud season, arrived weeks earlier in Ukraine this year. Normally, this is not expected before November.
By limiting travel to main roads, the rain and mud made it difficult to progress from one side to the other. Any attempt to get off the road in these conditions will mean reduced range and handling at best, and immobilized vehicles stuck in the mud at worst. You all remember Russia’s struggles in March, right? While we’re not quite there yet, things are definitely getting dicey. Armored vehicles should mainly stick to roads.
It’s hard to hide movement on roads and easy to plot coordinates on a map. The advance is difficult.
Along with the mud and road issues, you might marvel at the impressive accuracy of these Ukrainian artillery guns. Sure, these guys know what they’re doing, but there’s an inherent margin of error with “dumb” artillery shells. These are Excalibur precision-guided artillery shells, aiming for laser targets provided by drones while prowling. In contrast, the GMLRS rockets fired by HIMARS and M270 MLRS are GPS guided. They both have their targets: the GMLRS strikes at arms depots, military bases and fixed defensive positions, while Excalibur eliminates individual armored vehicles one by one, even while moving.
In the video below, Excalibur shells take out a high-value surface-to-air missile system. Strikes like these allow the Ukrainian Air Force to perform more aggressive ground support missions on the frontline.
Another strike from Excalibur:
More Excalibur Attacks here and here. The shells cost around $68,000 each, about half the price of a GMLRS rocket, though significantly more expensive than a stupid $800 artillery shell. Still, one shell does the job of 50 stupid shells, which admittedly isn’t as expensive, but the single shot means the artillery gun can break down and move much faster, improving the survivability of precious howitzers and their crews. . The United States has sent 2,000 Excalibur shells in the last month alone.
September 15: 1,000
October 7: 500
October 14: 500
This will do for a lot of destroyed armor, the perfect tool to “shape the battlefield” as HIMARS focuses more on removing bridges and barges resupplying Russian forces around Kherson.
Interesting way, all above video was on Kherson front, i didn’t see Excalibur hit anywhere else. Despite all the rumors of potential hijacking, that maybe Ukraine is preparing an offensive in the southeastern corner of the country, around Zaporizhzhia and southern Donetsk Oblast, it remains clear that Ukraine is deploying its best ammunition around Kherson.
Russian artillery may not be as accurate, but it’s not fun to be targeted.
On another thing to watch – Ukrainian advances have pushed so far near Kherson, that these forces may soon be within range of Russian artillery positions on the other (provided) side of the Dnipro river.
This should not be a problem until Ukrainian forces take Mylove and push further south. But unless Ukraine can finish the job on the Kerch Bridge, Russian forces on the south side of the Dnipro will have no trouble crushing the advancing Ukrainian forces…and the city of Kherson if it is liberated.
Total operational silence means we don’t know what’s going on around Kherson, but I’m less and less inclined to believe we’re seeing any major advances. On the contrary, the weather has made travel difficult, so why not wait a month for the ground to freeze while systematically degrading the Russian defenses? As the weather turns cold, we might even see more Russian surrenders, defections and desertions.
Once the ground is frozen, Ukraine can move forward with even greater force. Britain alone is training 2,500 Ukrainians every six weeks, with Canada, Denmark, Germany, France and the Baltics recently joining the effort. More and more armored vehicles and artillery guns are arriving in Ukraine every day. Russia, on the other hand, is relegated to sending untrained, under-equipped and demotivated mobilized conscripts to serve as speed bumps in miserably cold and damp trenches. As Belarus empties its stores of armored vehicles for Russia, the Excalibur and GMLRS rocket artillery systematically reduces Russia’s capabilities.
Over the summer, Ukraine was under pressure to prove it could reclaim territory, lest Western allies lose Western faith throughout a cold winter. Those days have passed. Ukraine’s capabilities have proven themselves. Now it makes sense to wait for the most tactically advantageous conditions to launch the attack.
I haven’t talked much about the Kyiv Blitz – Russia’s Nazi-like effort to break Ukraine’s morale by using Iranian suicide drones to strike both energy infrastructure and civilian targets. I suspect these civilian targets are accidental, given the shitty quality of Russian (and Iranian) equipment. Russia couldn’t have wanted to waste an $18 million cruise missile on a playground swing. Those Iranian drones don’t even have cameras.
The fact is that, despite the attention these Iranian drones are getting, they are not militarily relevant. Hitler was able to reduce much of London to rubble using his V2 rockets, these Iranian drones cause limited damage. A large percentage has also been shot down, and more air defenses will be arriving soon.
On the contrary, these cheap drones (reported cost, about $20,000 each), deployed in the hundreds, could overwhelm Ukrainian defenses, causing shortages of expensive surface-to-air missiles. But in the best-case scenario for Russia, what could they ultimately achieve? Every civilian target, whether intentional or not, only intensifies Ukrainian resolve and increases pressure in the West for long-range rockets like ATACMS for HIMARS launchers, as well as NATO tanks and planes. . Maybe Russia manages to destroy significant portions of the Ukrainian power grid, making Russian milbloggers like Rybar happy? Yeah, that would suck. That would mean a lot of cold people this winter, but Ukrainians are not sweet people. They will adapt and survive, as they did last February and March in places like Mariupol, Sumy, Chernihiv and Kharkiv.
I bet Ukraine will figure out how to effectively combat these drones within the next 4-6 weeks, with both additional Western help (like anti-drone jammers) and domestic ingenuity. Meanwhile, the tactical and strategic situation on the ground will remain completely unchanged because even now Russia still refuses to use its rockets, missiles and drones to strike military targets.