Ukraine War, 12–13 July 2022

Hello everybody!

I’m ‘late’ today because, on multiple requests, have reviewed several of lauded social-media-appearances offering ‘military analysis’. Correspondingly, today I’ll offer slightly more ‘analysis’ than usually, too.

For the start, let me address the question many are asking me about: what is the Ukrainian strategy? In this regards, think it’s pointless to discuss what somebody else is assuming — especially so because, at least to me, the situation is plain clear. The strategy is to cause as many losses to the Russians as possible.

Why that?

Because wars are about killing and destroying. Even more so such big wars like this one, and because especially fighting a war against Russia has only one solution: causing massive Russian losses is the only way to stop the invasion and then to liberate occupied parts of Ukraine.

Sure, Putin is fighting this war like there are no limits to the amounts of troops and material he can throw into the battle. But, such impressions are relics of the (First) Cold War (and related propaganda): there very much are limits of how many (trained and experienced!) troops, tanks, artillery pieces, and especially how much ammunition the Russians can bring to- and deploy in Ukraine. We’ve seen this on several examples over the last four months. Those most dramatically obvious are the ‘de-facto disappearance’ of the VKS and its cruise missiles from the skies over Ukraine (caused by heavy losses of fighter-bombers); another is the rapid decline in numbers of modern tanks the VSRF has; yet another is the growing shortage of artillery ammunition — meanwhile reaching such proportions Shoygu had to agree with Lukashenko a permission to ‘loot’ Belarussian ammunition depots empty, etc., etc., etc.

Foremost: causing losses to the Russians is preventing them from causing losses to Ukrainians. This is why Ukrainains are targeting Russian ammo and POL-dumps, lately. That’s the essence, and since you’ve asked me, it’s everything worth mentioning in this regards.

For how’s that working, see this sat-maps, based on NASA’s FIRMS data, and shown effects of the Russian artillery barrages on 9 July, and then on 13 July. That’s what I call ‘effective targeting of ammunition dumps’:

(….of course, after this, one is left to wonder where are the Russians going to find their next source of ammo, once they empty Belarus? China, India, Egypt, Iran, Sudan….?)

AIR/MISSILE WAR

According to Zelensky, the Russians have deployed 2,960 ballistic- and cruise missiles against Ukraine so far.

In the afternoon of 12 July, the Russians shelled Kharkiv again. Hit the Industry Zone, and, later in the evening, two buildings in Shevchenivskyi District.

On 13 July, Ukrainians hit the Luhansk area in, meanwhile, typical fashion: first decoyed the Russians by up to three Tochkas — at least one of which was claimed as shot down. Then followed by M142s to knock out the Russian SAM-site there, and then blew up another ammo depot.

In the afternoon, they deployed other artillery to target two command posts in the Nova Kakhovka area, too.

‘In retaliation’ for this and other HIMARS-strikes, the Russians have heavily rocketed and shelled Mykolaiv and its outskirts, the last two days. Primarily by BM-30s, but by 2S7 Piuns, and by air force (Ka-52s and Su-27s). A school and a hospital were both destroyed, but seems there were no casualties. Furthermore, the Russians shelled Zelenodolsk in the Kryvyi Rih area; they hit Zaporizhzhia with at least two missiles (12–14 wounded), and their missiles set on fire about 600 hectares of grain…. In the east, the Russians heavily shelled Sloviansk and Bakhmut.

Mykolaiv was hit nine times this morning too. One of rockets blasted a hotel in the city centre, another damaged a shopping- and entertainment mall, two Other places targeted by the VKS’ ‘high precision missiles’ included Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in the east.

One of strikes on Mykolaiv, this morning.

Around the noon local time today, four Russian Kalibr cruise missiles approached the Vinnytsia area: one was shot down, but three hit an office building and the Officer Club in the downtown Vinnytsia, killing at least 12 (including a small child) and wounding another 25. More than 50 cars were set on fire, too…

No idea who did this, but it’s — at least — a very useful comparison of artillery systems operated by both sides. Numbers might not be entirely correct but types and their ranges are.

BATTLE OF DONBASS

Kharkiv…The Russians attempted to assault Dementiivka, the last two days — without success. In turn, Ukrainian attempts to knock out the Russian artillery in the Ruski Tyshky area — which is shelling Kharkiv — seem to have not had the desired effect, either. Rubizhne is holding out, as is the Ukrainian bridgehead on the eastern side of the Siversky Donets, south of it.

Sloviansk…Kurulka..some Ukrainians say it was recovered, but I have a feeling that the Russians meanwhile punched further south-east from there, because there are reports about them attacking Ivanivka — and that from the west.

That looks like they’re trying to encircle Ukrainian forces (foremost the 80th and 81st Airborne) that are still holding the line between Krasnopillya, Dolyna and…the hills south of Bohorodichne (which is meanwhile in Russian hands). That would be a ‘typical Russian military operation’: tie them along the frontline, then hit them in the flank. If so, Ukrainians are going to need at least a brigade to counterattack and close this gap — or they’ll eventually have to fall back on Sloviansk (and then far earlier than expected because, the GenStab-U seems to still be insistent on keeping its strategic reserve back, while I doubt the 17th Tank and the 24th Mech were completely rested and rebuilt since their withdrawal from Lysychansk, two weeks ago).

Siversk…. I still can’t find out who is holding Hryhorivka and Bilohorivka: reporting is much too contradictive (and entirely unreliable). Similar is valid for eastern side of Verkhnokamianske. Sprine seems to be under the Russian control, meanwhile. Further south, the Russians have failed to take Berestove, and were attacking on Vasylivka and Yakovlika, yesterday. In the south of this sector, all the Russian attacks on Soledar have failed (don’t worry: the place was completely demolished by their artillery), and thus now they’re trying to flank the place.

T-62Ms — upgraded through addition of the Kontakt-5 ERA — of the LNR-forces rushing to combat in the Siversk area.

Bakhmut….Russians are running ‘armed reconnaissance’ (in force) on Vesely Dolyna and Zaitseve, both of which are west of Klyonve. Further south they are (still) trying to force Ukrainians to withdraw from the Vuhlehirske power plant and Novoluhanske (think, this is something like 4th or 5th week of this, in this area alone).

Overall, this is really little else but imposing attrition upon the Russians. Namely, and as stressed several times already, Ukrainians are experts in constructing field fortifications, meanwhile. While defending, they are well-protected inside these (even if, yes, massive Russian artillery barrages are leaving nobody ‘unimpressed’). On the contrary, in order to advance, it’s the Russians who must leave the protection of their fortifications. When they are advancing, they are exposing themselves to Ukrainian fire — and ‘automatically’ suffering losses. That’s why the attrition of the attacking side is, usually, higher than that of the defending side.

Has anybody stressing and repeating stories about Ukrainian losses, indeed, anybody who is emphasising heavy Ukrainian losses, and expecting an imminent collapse of the ZSU of the last weeks — thought about this, actually?

SOUTH

Kherson….north… apparently, no changes — and, certainly, nothing official from Kyiv.

Kherson…centre… Ukrainians seem to have crossed the Burkhanivka River (is no big deal when the water-levels are as low as this summer) and established a bridgehead between Novopetrivka in the north and Burkhanivka in the south. Not bad for an army claimed to be consisting of ‘females and old men’, according to several of top ‘military experts’ within ranks of Putin-fans outside Russia.

Further south…I know, plenty of people have doubts about my reporting on Ukrainians in the Chornobaivka area, but when one cross-checks about 100+ different social media appearances, there’s no doubt: far too much ‘unreported’ and ‘unofficial’ activity there for the place to be ‘well behind the frontlines and under Russian control’. No, it’s nothing ‘major’, but fire-fight here, and fire-fight there, explosion, another explosion, almost-constant shelling of the Kherson Airport etc. The Russian 127th Reconnaissance Brigade appears to be fighting ‘on 23 different sides’, the 10th Special Brigade is also ‘busy’… Simply too much for ‘Ukrainians are nowhere nearby’. BTW, Oleksandrivka is under Ukrainian control (perhaps: ‘again’?), but Stanislav is definitely back in Russian hands.

T-64 of the 28th Mech, as seen ‘somewhere west of Kherson’, few days ago.

Ah yes, and: the Keystone Cops in Moscow, but also lots of military experts between Putin-fans abroad, are claiming that during their recent strikes on Russian ammo depots in the Nova Kakhovka area, Ukrainians ‘actually’ attempted to destroy the dam and the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant. Supposed purpose would be to flood the area south of the dam, and thus cut off Kherson from any means of supply…

Beg your pardon but…. yes, I’ve got no doubt that this is ‘making sense’ — from the Russian point of view. As demonstrated several dozens of times every single day since 24 February 2022, they do not care about material damage they’re causing to Ukraine. On the contrary, the more of it the better.

However, from the Ukrainian point of view….I doubt anybody there would be as mad as to — probably — ruin most of Kherson by such behaviour. Moreover, destroying that dam with a volley or two of M142 HIMARS: such ideas belong within realms of science fiction. Constructions of this kind can survive much more massive damage — especially when Dnipro has such low water levels like this year. Finally, Ukrainians are actually in a rush to knock out Russian ammo depots: if they would want to cut off Kherson from supplies, they would drive down the eastern side of the Dnipro — instead of constantly attacking from the West, into the second largest concentration of the Russian forces inside their country.

Finally, the very point about such precision weapons like the M142 — and this contrary to such ‘high-precision missiles’ the Russians are shooting all over Ukraine, like Kh-22, which can’t make out a factory roof from the roof of the nearby shopping mall — is that they are enabling precise destruction of the enemy, enemy’s supply dumps, and enemy weapons. In turn, this is making the destruction of an 60-kilometres-long piece of landscape with a major city and multiple villages completely unnecessary.

Similarly, the idea that Ukrainians were targeting Nova Kakhovka in order to ‘find out if this is protected by Russian air defences’ is simply nonsense spread by people who do not understand modern-day battlefield. The so-called ‘scouting by fire’ might be a valid tactical method for an army with such a poor situational awareness like the VSRF (Armed Forces of the Russian Federation). However, in Ukraine, a platoon commander has about the same — if not more of — situational awareness as a Russian Army-commander. Ukrainians need not running such ‘scouting by fire’ because the USA/NATO are supplying them with satellite- and all the communication-, electronic-, and signals-intelligence (COMINT, ELINT and SIGINT) they’re collecting, every 1–2 hours. Considering the (relative) proximity of this area to Romania and how many of NATO’s intelligence-gathering platforms are active in the Romanian airspace, literally 24/7, it is certain that Ukrainians were in possession of better picture about what exactly is where in the Nova Kakhovka area, than the Russians with their ancient means of communication and a command and control system in disarray due to recent blows they’ve received.

With other words: Ukrainians do not need to ‘scout by fire’ in order to ‘check’ what kind of air defence systems the Russians have in the Nova Kakhovka area, and, sorry but: any kind of ‘military experts’ discussing such ideas simply have no idea what are they talking about.

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From Austria; specialised in analysis of contemporary warfare; working as author, illustrator, and book-series-editor for Helion & Co.

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Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper

From Austria; specialised in analysis of contemporary warfare; working as author, illustrator, and book-series-editor for Helion & Co.

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