Ukraine War, 14–15 July 2022

Hello everybody!

Trying to disentangle all the contradictions regarding the situations in the Sloviansk- and Siversk-areas…and still sad over the Russia-instigated massacre in Vinnitsya… thus, this summary came together ‘by sheer accident’. Might take a few days off now, until the situation clears, though.

STRATEGIC

Washington and Warsaw have met another ‘armour-cascade-agreement’: Poland is going to get additional, US-made M1 Abrams MBTs. In exchange for them, it’s going to provide up to 290 of its PT-91s (modified T-72s) to Ukraine. That might be enough to convert two additional motorised infantry brigades into mechanised infantry brigades — or establish two entirely new units.

The first of resulting shipments of PT-91s was underway to Ukraine as of yesterday.

BTW, Portugal is sending a batch of 14 M113A2 APCs to Ukraine. These are old, thinly armoured vehicles which I wouldn’t recommend using in direct combat. They might be of use to evacuate casualties, or bring ammo to the frontlines.

AIR/MISSILE WARFARE

Following the Russian Kalibr-strike on Vinnytsia that killed over 30 civilians, on 14 July, there are lots of questions. The first is: why strike that place?

For two days now, the Keystone Cops are trying to convince everybody that top officers of the Ukrainian Air Force and Air Defence were meeting in an unprotected officer club — constructed already back in the Soviet times — and not in any of their hardened underground facilities.

Thus, the Keystone cops ‘had to’.

…can’t help but declare this a load of moronic nonsense: such a ‘logical’ decision that their own (Russian) officers do not trust this explanation. Moreover, they are asking such questions like, why not use precious and rare missiles (which Russia is increasingly unable to replace) for at least trying to strike some of railway knots, or bridges, or some HQs closer to the frontline? Nope, instead, the Keystone Cops wasted them to massacre yet more Ukrainian civilians…

Now, sure: this is unlikely to make Ukrainian civilians happy. But, the last I recall, far more massive aerial campaigns targeting civilians over the last 110 years have all failed. See those of the First World War, see the British and French ‘Air Policing’ in Iraq and Syria of the 1920s, see Italians bombing and gasing Ethiopians of 1936, see all the massive onslaughts on civilians in the UK, Nazi Germany, Italy, Japan and so many other places during the Second World War…see Vietnam, even Iraq, if nothing else. Did any of that work…?

To me, none of such explanations is making any kind of sense. Not now. What would make sense would be somebody up the chain of command in the MOD getting mad about the death of the CO 20th Motor Rifle and most of his officers (plus a better part of the command of the 106th VDV Division). Thus, ordered a ‘revenge’ — in an act of the military incompetence by Russian generals, so skilfully demonstrated countless times already during the First and Second Chechen Wars, in Syria, and in Ukraine since February this year, and in confirmation of that military incompetence: after all, it’s not the Ukrainian civilians to blame if top officers of the 20th MRD were meeting in Bryanka every day precisely at 18.00hrs local time — for weeks…

Evidence? Well, late on 14th and early on 15 July, Ukrainians hit the Russian HQ in Snehurivka, (Mykolaiv), an ammo depot in Novaya Malachka (Kherson), another depot in Stakhanov (LUhanks), and another in Melitopool. ‘In retaliation’ the Keystone Cops ordered another volley of missile strikes on Mykolaiv — and demolished two universities there….

Sorry, can’t help it: this reminds of Israelis who, ‘in retaliation’ for Hamaz striking the Hatserim Air Base, ‘target 260 terrorist headquarters’ in the Gaza Strip… What kind of ‘military purpose’ should empty universities have….?

If one wants to blame Ukrainian civilians, there is a good reason, actually: they’re becoming reckless. AFAIK, primary reason for such a high number of civilian victims in Vinnitsya was not only an unsuspected target (who would ever come to the idea that the Keystone Cops are as dumb as to blast some ‘officer club’ in Western Ukraine…? That’s, really, such a ridiculous idea, only hopeless military incompetents might come to it….), but the fact that civilians in such places ‘far away from frontlines’ — like Vinnitysa — are meanwhile regularly ignoring air raid warnings. Too many keep on moving around like if there’s no danger. Tragically, my impression is that this behaviour is meanwhile quite widespread in western Ukraine: whenever I’m ending my chat with somebody there, I tend to warn them to respect air raid alerts and take cover. To take care of themselves. I mean that seriously — while people in question are all smiling in response.

….perhaps some might take that seriously — now.

BATTLE OF DONBASS

Sloviansk…yesterday in the evening, RUMINT had it that Ukrainians launched a counterattack on Kurulka, hit the Russians in the flank, demolished most of an armoured column (perhaps a BTG of the 1st Tank Regiment, known to be in this area?) and pushed the Russians back into the northern side of the village. Heavy fighting should still be going on.

If so, that’s the first good news from this section of the front in some 5–6 days. That said, some sort of confirmation would be good to have; otherwise, this remains a claim.

An upgraded BMP-1–1TS of the 25th Airborne Assault. If my ‘clues’ are right, it should’ve been this unit that is running that counterattack on Kurulka.

Bohorodichne: the Russians are holding most of the place but can’t move further south, because Ukrainians are holding dominating hills south of it, and in between there’s a large open field. Whoever tries to move there has something like 10–15 seconds of life left….max.

Siversk…the Russian social media is full of reports about ‘liberation’ of Siversk. So far, found no trace of evidence for anything of that kind. Actually, found no evidence of the Russians capturing at least Bilohorivka (the one on the Siversky Donetsk), as they claim for 3–4 days already. At most, they are in the ‘industial zone’ on the southern side of that village. Until something changed, dramatically, during the night, the closest the Russians were to Siversk as of 14 July in the evening was the cemetery of Verkhnokamianske. Actually, most of videos they claimed as taken ‘in Siversk’ were taken in Volodymirivka (held by the Russians for something like 1,5 months now). That’s still some 2km short of Siversk.

As mentioned yesterday, the Russians did take Spirne, though, and from there are pushing towards the southern side of Siversk. So, if they’re now in such a rush to spread fake reports about ‘liberation of Siversk’…well, somebody there must be in big trouble. Which is no surprise, actually, considering RUMINT that in reaction to Putin’s micromanagement, lower- and medium-ranking officers are constantly feeding fake success reports up the chain of command. Helps buy them at least 24–48 hours to breathe…

Further south, the Russians — which is: Wagner PMC — are/is claiming the capture of Stryapivka, Nova Kamyanka, and Soledar. No trace of evidence for this. Actually, the GenStab-U is claiming Ukrainians have repelled all these assaults with heavy Russian losses (perfectly possible, then ‘even’ Wagner meanwhile suffered such losses, they’re not as good as they used to be).

The Russians might have been slightly more successful south of Soledar: seems, they are (once again….i.e. for at least the second, if not the third time) in the eastern outskirts of Zaitseve and Kodema, south of Bakhmut — with which the situation is getting critical for Ukrainians in Novoluhanske and the nearby Vuhlehirske power plant, further south.

Of course, all of this sounds like ‘Russians are on advance again’, but mind: the VSRF continues suffering extensive losses for, essentially, coming forward, perhaps, 500 metres a day — and that on a frontline that (between Bilohorivka and Soledar) is some 25km wide — and the losses are meanwhile so heavy, that the RUJMINT has it, average Russian BTG meanwhile consist of as many combatants as those who refused to fight (the latter are then re-deployed to serve in the logistics, dig trenches etc.), and there are yet more comments in style of, ‘our companies consist of 7–14 troops’.

LOC….late on 13, the Russians reportedly managed some kind of advance into Kamyanka, north of Avdiivka. Correspondingly, many are now considering this as a ‘penetration of the LOC’. AFAIK, Ukrainians counterattacked at least late on the 14th, and forced the Russians back. Quite pointless to waste yet more troops to assault a heavily-fortified piece of frontline, while not having any reserves nor reinforcements in the back, and waiting to exploit…but, hey: who am I to teach glorious Russian generals — praised all the way to the Austrian Military Academy — how to fight a war….

SOUTH

The Russians have rushed significant reinforcements to the Kherson area, the last few days. Reports are indicating the arrival of two BTGs of Airborne troops, plus a brigade equipped with Tochka ballistic missiles.

Now, by side that the first thing coming to my mind when hearing such news is that nifty: why, if ‘everything is OK’ and the ‘Ukrainian offensive stalled’…?

Seriously: the arrival of Tochkas — which, at least officially, were withdrawn from operational service in Russia — was confirmed by a video shown them unloading from a train in Melitopol, on 12 or 13 July. Here a still from the same:

However, I’m not sure the ‘Airborne’ troops are really regular VDV. I suspect the Redut PMC, which is closely associated with the VDV (and drafting from its ranks). As can be read here, Redut PMC was deployed in the Hostomel-Kyiv area, early during the war (together with the 45th Spetsnaz), suffered losses (see: was bushwacked as hard as the 45th), and thus spent the last few months recruiting and re-training. It’s making sense if they’re now sent to reinforce the 106th VDV in Kherson (currently, this is the only VDV unit actively involved in fighting in Ukraine). On the contrary, out of seven Wagner BTGs, none is associated with the VDV and at least five are in Donbas. They’re well-trained in urban combat (contrary to the mass of other VSRF troops there), so why then sending them to fight in open fields?

…except, of course, one of Keystone Cops concluded the 49th CAA is in urgent need of troops trained in urban combat….?

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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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