Oh brother …
Jack Detsch is a great reporter, so honestly don’t understand this click-bait piece of shit story predicated on an unnamed “Western official” who claims “the assumption is that they could face another very serious Russian offensive” toward the southern port city of Odesa.
I assume that a meteor could hit the Earth next year, or that Godzilla could emerge from the Sea of Japan.
Let’s be clear: There is no scenario in which Russia can or will make a serious effort against Odesa, just like it couldn’t manage to do so when it was at the height of its “shock and awe” phase of the war, all its shiny toys intact and troops still alive. Given Russia’s inability to sustain supply lines more than a few dozen kilometers from the nearest railhead, why would anyone pretend that Russia would suddenly be able to extend hundreds or thousands of kilometers to reach Odesa with a Ukraine now armed with both modern Western tube and rocket artillery and a full complement of anti-ship missiles like Harpoons?
This is like early in the war, where you’d see “Western intelligence officials” say that Russia was on the verge of an amphibious assault on Odesa, and I’d be like, “LOL no.” Then they’d be like “Belarus will invade!” and I’d write, “LOL no.” And there was even the time that Russia was supposedly going to push toward Dnipro city hundreds of kilometers west of Izyum, and that one was extra stupid.
I mean sure, of course we can assume that Russia could target Odesa next year. But no, it won’t.
Will Russia ever move again? The exhaustion from their effort to take Severodonetsk plus HIMARS’ decimation of Russia’s ammunition storage depots has ground their progress to a halt. Per War Mapper on Twitter, there was no notable change on the ground on July21, July 20, July 19, July 18, July 17, July 16, July 15, July 14, July 13, July 12, July 11, July 10, July 8, and July 7. You may have noticed July 9 missing. This was the entry for that day:
That update was based on Russian claims that they controlled Hryhorivka. Ukraine never bothered to deny them. Turns out, they never captured it. Funny. So really, you have to go back to July 6 to find any notable Russian advance. (No Ukrainian advances have been recorded in that time, either. Ukrainian General Staff has clamped down on any information about its activities at the front.)
Russia has now stalled for over two weeks, with dwindling sign of life. Is this the culmination we’ve all been waiting for, the point when Russia runs out of steam and is forced to shift from offensive to defensive operations? We won’t know for sure for a few more weeks, but it sure does look that way.
Combat exhaustion and HIMARS are factors, obviously. Maybe the Severodonetsk defense was worth the cost and broke the Russian advance. But it’s hard to ignore the very factor that makes the Odesa story above so damn ludicrous: logistics. Look at the map above, with the arrows pushing toward Sivers’k. What do they all have in common? They are pushing away from their supply depots. Even without HIMARS, they’d be just as stuck as the Popasna advance toward Bakhmut, and the Izyum advance toward Sloviansk. Izyum was captured April 1 and Popasna on May 7, well before the arrival of HIMARS or other Western artillery. Both those advances are dead in the water.
(Funny aside, remember Russia trying to cut off the main highway from Bakhmut to Lysychansk in an effort to cut off supplies to both that city and Severodonetsk? Look at the map above: Russia still hasn’t captured that highway.)
Speaking of artillery …
Ukrainian soldiers on the Donbas front have been quoted in various news articles marveling at the sudden quiet as Russian guns go silent. We talked about “shaping the battlefield” yesterday—the act of preparing the battlefield to benefit an army’s greatest strengths. For Russia, they shape the battlefield by turning it to rubble, but that’s hard to do when their artillery guns are out of ammo, fuel, and spare parts.
Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) analyst DefMon on Twitter shows most action happening on the Russian side of the front lines:
It is eerie just how quiet the Donbas front has gotten, particularly on that approach toward Sivers’k. For now, most of the action is happening down in Kherson area, and a great deal of it behind the front lines. Mark wrote recently about false positives on FIRMS fire data, particularly now that farmers are burning off harvest stubble to prepare for the fall seeding. DefMon filters those out, cross-referencing fires with other satellite imagery to confirm they are militarily related. He removed 48 such nonmilitary fires in today’s map. Still, no one is perfect. So either he missed some agricultural fires, or Ukraine is utterly decimating Russian supply and command and control deep in enemy territory.
Yesterday I speculated Ukraine was shaping the battlefield by cutting Russian supplies to the swath of territory between Kherson-Melitopol-Tokmak, forcing them to retreat lest they end up besieged. This map certainly supports that assertion.
Many of you know that my son Ari is in advanced infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia, right now. Here’s video of his unit doing a live-fire exercise at night (sound on for full effect). These are 18-year-olds playing with live ammo, hence the training cadre shadowing each trainee closely as they go through their paces. (The next day they have to go back to pick up all the brass casings from the rounds fired. It’s a shit detail.)
It takes 22 weeks to train an American infantryman: 10 weeks for basic combat training, and 12 for advanced infantry training. Five-and-a-half months. Then they go to their units for additional training under experience noncommissioned officers (sergeants), or to more advanced schools. (Ari is trying to earn a spot at Ranger school.) Meanwhile, Russian volunteers get one week “training” before being shipped to the front lines, and Ukrainian basic training doesn’t appear to be more than a few weeks as far as I can tell. It’s distressing.
M109 are self-propelled guns, superior to the towed M777s the Americans have delivered. Norway already donated 22 of theirs to Ukraine. Interestingly, the U.K. doesn’t field the M109, so I think they’re buying decommissioned units from Belgium to then send to Ukraine.
This package is worth around £1 billion ($1.2 billion) and includes “sophisticated air defence systems, uncrewed aerial vehicles, innovative new electronic warfare equipment and thousands of pieces of vital kit for Ukrainian soldiers.” Helmets and body armor aren’t sexy, yet are among the most necessary kit Ukraine needs. It physically hurts me anytime I see a video of a Ukrainian under fire without a helmet.
The U.K. is also training thousands of Ukrainian soldiers in a crash course lasting “several” weeks.
The soldiers are fully kitted out with uniforms, body armor, helmets, and other supplies like sleeping bags and shovels (for trench and latrine digging).
This is the most upsetting video I’ve seen this entire war. I don’t know what it is, but the quiet pain wrecks me. The pictures were horrid. The video even more so.