For all the Stum and Drang of today’s fights, changes on the ground were rare. Ukraine officially recovered a small town here, Russia did the same there. While much of the front line was on fire (Ukraine claimed 14 separate attacks), the situation on the ground remained essentially unchanged. Twitter updates from @War_Mapper are always great, if you will see today’s changes.
I wrote earlier that pro-Russian Telegram sources claimed that Ukraine attacked Izyum across the Donets River (bottom arrow in image below), but several sources claim that the The assault actually came from Chuhuiv (top arrow).
If Chuhuiv is the source of the counteroffensive, he would likely take this main highway southeast toward Izyium, rather than east toward Kupyansk. Russia moved much of its combat power to Shevchenkove, between Chuhuiv and Kupiansk, to protect its critical supply depot from any Ukrainian advance. Crossing these two cities would cost Ukraine dearly in military resources and human lives. And it need not, as we can now see so clearly with Ukraine’s push towards Izyum itself.
In short, if Ukraine collapses this pocket of Izyum, there is Not needed anymore for Russia to maintain its operations in Kupiansk or Vovchansk – the two logistics centers powering the war machine in the Izyum salient. After a week of “Kupyansk vs Vovchansk” debate, it turns out that the best answer is “C: Take away the reason for both.”
To be sure, I double-checked satellite images from NASA companies, and there are definitely no fires near Shevechenkove. If Ukraine moved in that direction, they would fire on the city to clear the Russian positions, while Russia would retaliate to slow or halt the advance. Instead, as I demonstrated earlier with FIRMS satellite imagery, all the action is happening directly west of Izyum:
Perhaps there is a two-pronged assault on Izyum developing, both from the west and from the northwest. Or maybe people don’t know what’s going on. Or maybe there is even misinformation designed to fix Russian positions on a northwest approach that will never materialize. This is why FIRMS imaging can be so helpful. There are so many news sources that claim things, and not all of them really have the incentive to always tell the truth.
On another note, it’s nice to see that our defense tax money is doing something productive.
The claim of the Ukrainian military is that the M777 howitzers donated by the Americans destroyed more than 80 vehicles during the incredibly disastrous attempt to cross the Bilohorivka River by Russia. I look forward to a translation (this guy will soon), but it definitely looks like an “America, FUCK YEAH” moment that we liberals can rally behind.
This whole debacle has been fun to follow on pro-Russian social media. The Institute for the Study of War says in tonight’s update that they saw a pro-Russian telegram rocked by carnage:
Prominent pro-Russian Telegram channels (with around 300,000 subscribers) have widely criticized the Russian General Staff for not learning from previous combat mistakes and expressed concern that censorship and self-censorship deprived of situational awareness. Other pro-Russian Telegram channels have noted the slow Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast, blaming it in part on ineffective aerial reconnaissance and the negative effects of poor morale within the army. Russian. Some Telegram channels have reported receiving criticism for “distorting” the performance of the Russian military.
I have to frequent a different corner of Telegram and pro-Russian Twitter, because what I saw was totally different: the invention of a fantasy alternate reality where most of the destroyed vehicles are Ukrainian.
The theory goes like this: most of the destroyed vehicles are BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, and supposedly Russia no longer uses these old vehicles. Photos taken from the ground show Russian uniforms in these BMP-1s, but hey, these could be faked, right? That’s what the propagandists say. Henry Schlottman, Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) analyst, the authority on the composition of Russian army units, certainly claims that Russia deployed them.
Oryx has tracked 43 BMP-1s lost to Russia, like this, this, this and this, all with prominent Russian invasion markings. Oh, and here’s one still in Russian hands, at least a few weeks ago:
Additionally, Russia was forced to draw on its operational reserves to make up for combat losses while replenishing ragged units. There are not many modern infantry vehicles in these reserves. This is the shit they come out.
Of course, there are more than BMP-1s at the Bilohorivka disaster site! There are 14 T-72s, which are standard Russian issue (although Ukraine has captured a bunch of them), along with BMP-2s, and engineering and support equipment that only Russia uses. So how do they explain this?
Well, they say there was a big battle there. Of course, Russia no longer holds the beachheads, but their losses were only a fraction of the total vehicles destroyed. You see, Russia destroyed all those Ukrainians in BMP-1s before tactically retreating to the bridge, which Ukraine then destroyed after the fact… uh… three times.
Then Russia released a video saying “nuh uh, we destroyed Ukrainian bridge!”
Except… all I see is Russians firing into a river, then dropping artillery into a river, with no vehicles around. Who knows, maybe they’ve compromised a functioning beachhead. But that would still mean the count is as follows:
Russian floating bridge destroyed: more than 82 vehicles
Ukrainian pontoon bridge destroyed: 0 vehicles
But really, this kind of propaganda isn’t designed to convince people, it’s designed to give shit to their followers. Nothing else. There is a term for this kind of fantasy fabrication in this war, and it will soon cross over into our own political discourse: copy. People will invent what they need to deal with the news they don’t want to see.