Sunday was quite the day, with major Ukrainian advances along two fronts making a mockery of Russia’s “annexation” of four Ukrainian oblasts. Indeed, as of yesterday (so not including today’s big gains in Kherson), Ukraine had already taken back 9% of the territory Russia occupied at the end of August. Tack on a point or two after today.
In both cases, collapsing Russian lines are scrambling to establish new defensive lines further to the rear. This may be just the beginning of major gains in both axes.
Assuming all the reports are true, Dudachny means that Ukraine penetrated 20-kilometers into the Russian backfield in a single day. Russian Telegram is in all-out panic mode right now, so I can’t get a sense of how good the town’s defenses might actually be. Some are claiming Dudachny has been liberated by Ukraine, which certainly seems too-good-to-be-true. What we do know is that taking the town would give Ukraine some great options.
Ukrainian forces could rush down the highway hugging the Dnipro river all the way down through Beryslav to Nova Kakhovka. But that would present one hell of an exposed flank, the mother of all salients, that Russian forces could then try and cut. Unless Ukraine has reserves to expand any such salient and protect its flanks, this would be too big a risk.
Better yet, Ukraine would ideally work to encircle Russian positions in the north by cutting west, toward that persistent bridgehead near Davidyi Brid. Those Russian positions would either have to withdraw, retreat, or surrender, just like in Lyman. The chaotic situation would gift Ukrainians a whole new batch of Russian lend-lease military gear, as well as significantly attrit their combat forces. And it would avoid, for now, the extensive defensive lines Russia has set up closer to Kherson and Nova Karkhovka.
Now, some Russian Telegram accounts are claiming that Ukrainian forces are trying to break through to Beryslav, location of one of Russia’s
concentration filtration camps. (I dread to see what investigators will find once it is liberated.) I’d be careful with those claims, certainly in the too-good-to-be-true category. What is more likely is Ukrainian forces are approaching Beryslav region, which begins just south of Dudachny and requires crossing a long bridge that may or may no longer remain standing.
Capturing Dudachny would put one of Russia’s most important regional airfields within HIMARS range:
Exciting stuff. As I write this, I’m seeing the first reports from Russian Telegram that Dudachny has been liberated. I won’t believe it until I see more evidence. Maybe we’ll all wake up to wonderful news.
Ukrainian forces are approaching Kreminna, which is of utmost importance to Russia. As war criminal Igor Girkin wrote earlier today:
According to the information received, the Armed Forces of Ukraine took full control of the village of Torskoye, northeast of Liman. There is nothing critical in this, but now the question arises of holding Kremennaya - one of the key points providing the northern flank of the defense of Lisichansk. Under no circumstances should you give up a flint.
With Kreminna, Ukraine has the ability to either head north to Svatove, the lynchpin of thousands of Russian-held square kilometers in northeastern Ukraine, or southeast to encircle Severdonetsk and Lysychansk. Russia doesn’t have the forces to defend both, putting them at a severe disadvantage. Plugging the gaps with untrained mobilized conscripts won’t improve things much. And if Kreminna is a must-hold, Russia is screwed, as it’s an incredibly difficult town to defend—in a valley, surrounded by hills. Look at the picture in this tweet:
HIMARS has been instrumental in weakening the entire front. Check out this thread:
What the hell is going on here?
Wagner forces keep pounding their head against this rock, probably using their prison fodder, for no discernible reason. Even if they captured Bakhmut, which they won’t, what would it possibly accomplish? Not to say those Wagner forces would fare much better elsewhere on the front line, but at least they’d serve a valid military purpose.
As often discussed, one of the challenges the U.S. and NATO have had in supplying Ukraine with war assistance is that the Western powers have built their war doctrine around air power, not armor or artillery. Therefore, there have been limited stocks of what can be shipped to Ukraine. This graph illustrates just how air-heavy the U.S. and NATO are:
That’s around 5,800 fighter jets, to Russia’s 1,000 or so. Given the difficulty in supplying Ukraine with fighter jets (logistics and training take years), it has been a fundamental disadvantage in giving Ukraine the materials it needs to win this war—a grinding ground duel.
Russian Telegram milblogger is upset that Ukraine wages war effectively: “Do the Ukrov command show the wonders of strategy and military leadership talents? No! They act artlessly, having the fullness of intelligence, and all NATO intelligence works for them [...] they do not invent anything, but use our mistakes.” Quelle horreur!
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I’m not the biggest fan of this account, he often runs ahead of the situation on the ground. But this map lines up with the general consensus:
Expect Ukrainian forces to be at the city’s gates by mid-week.