On Wednesday, Ukrainian officials in the area reported that Russia now occupies roughly 80% of the city of Severodonetsk as an intense block by block, house by house fight continues. There are also reports that Russia has bombed a chemical plant, raising clouds of nitric acid above the streets. Ukrainian forces are now isolated in a small area of the city and may be forced to soon retreat across the river to the much more defensible and supportable city of Lysychansk which kos discussed earlier today. And honestly … the sooner the better.
As in the fighting in the east continues, Ukraine is moving to take advantage of Russia’s reduced forces north and west of Kherson. The counteroffensive that began two days ago with Ukrainian forces crossing the Inhulets River near Davyid Brid appears to be expanding, both penetrating deeper into Russian-occupied territory and opening a new attack at a fourth location along the line.
Stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Ukraine: Donate to humanitarian efforts assisting refugees and others suffering during this horrific time.
There have been some reports that Ukraine has taken Snihurivka at the southwest end of this counteroffensive, but there are other indications that the city is not yet completely free of Russian occupation. Still, Russia is reportedly shelling the town, which seems unlikely if they still had significant forces there. On the other hand, Russia has reportedly also shelled a location to the north that was held by DNR separatists and was 20km from the nearest Ukrainian forces.
At the original crossing point at Davyid Brid, it’s unclear who is in control. While original reports had the town liberated by Ukraine, it’s not certain that either army is actually in position inside the town. Instead, Ukrainian forces seem to be moving from location to location south of the town, capturing a string of small villages. Ukrainian forces have since moved southeast, moving not just along the road but also reportedly cutting across fields to engage the Russians in additional locations. Some reports suggest that Ukraine has captured the town of Bruskynske, but that continues to be unconfirmed.
At the north end of the line, the counteroffensive that began at Mykolayivka has spread to include Vysokopillya. And again, that might also have been taken by Ukraine, as Russia is now reportedly shelling the town.
Finally, there’s a new location along the western bank of the wide Dnipro River. Ukrainian forces have reportedly moved in on Russian positions at Zolota Balka and may have taken it because—see if you can name this tune—Russia is now reportedly shelling this location.
The accuracy of all these reports is challenged by the fact that there continue to be strikes against the city of Kryvyi Rih, 35km north of Mykolayivka. So Russia appears to retain some position to launch artillery, or at least MLRS, against this area. This makes it seem as if Ukraine hasn’t taken all of Russia’s positions at the northern end of the occupied area.
Geolocation suggests that this Russian BMP was taken out just north of Arkhanhel's'ke.
There have been reports today that Ukraine’s advance has been limited because of “lack of weapons.” Presumably, this means heavy weapons, like artillery or tanks. However, it seems extremely odd that Ukraine would even begin a counteroffensive without having on hand the equipment necessary to carry through. Some of the discussion is suggesting that Ukraine can’t move because it doesn’t have the HIMARS systems that were just announced today, which seems silly.
Meanwhile, Russian media is reporting that the counteroffensive at Davydiv Brid has been “destroyed” costing Ukraine 20 tanks and over 200 soldiers. A video is circulating that shows vehicles being taken out alongside a river in a night attack, but there is no reason to believe this is even from Ukraine, much less from recent fighting in the Kherson area. There is no indication of any truth to this video, or another that reportedly shows Ukrainian soldiers trying to surrender. Numerous reports and FIRMS data continue to show fighting taking place 8-9km east of the river.
By contrast, this video reportedly shows Ukrainian forces operating on the south side of the Inhulnets River.
There’s a nice soundtrack to go with this, and it’s good to see those Switchblades getting used, but this is essentially a “watch it launch and sail off across the field” video.
This launch is happening somewhere north of Kharkiv, but there continues to be no sign of a renewed counteroffensive in that area. Russia still holds positions close enough to direct shells and missiles into the city — for no reason other than to cause death and misery — and the bridgehead on the east of Staryi Saltiv has gone so quiet that there are now many claims that Ukraine never moved forces across the river at all. They did, though I confess to not knowing how. I’ve spent hours scanning the upper Siverskyi Donets for any sign of a barge (barges can seriously move some stuff). Best guess is that they erected some kind of temporary structure across the gap in the broken bridge, then took it down again.
Also on Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reportedly sat down for an interview with a reporter from Newsmax (we can only presume they don’t get Newsmax in Ukraine) where he said that Ukraine is, “losing 60 to 100 soldiers every day and something like 500 wounded in combat.” If these numbers are accurate, that’s a fearsome rate of loss—between 1,800 and 3,000 killed in a month. Ukraine estimates that 30,000 Russians have been killed since the war began, which would put Russia’s rate of loss over 300 a day. But what Ukraine is reportedly suffering is a tremendous loss.
Let’s send these folks some HIMARS.
Ukrainian Ministry of Defense confirming that Russia has shelled the towns of Snihurivka, Vysokopillia, Solota Balka, along with the city of Mykolaiv. Which would seem to indicate that all of these are at least partially controlled by Ukraine.
Well, this is certainly surprising. The MQ-1C has been around since 2004, so it’s pretty long in the tooth as far as drones go. However, the electronics has been upgraded several times. It can carry four Hellfire or Stinger missiles as well as four precision-guided bombs. After engine upgrades in 2013, it can stay airborne for an astounding 36 hours at altitudes up to 29,000 feet.
It’s big. We’re talking bigger than a Cessna 150, definitely needs a runway.
It also has a cost of around $21M per copy, excluding the R&D expenses. Compare to the Turkish Bayraktar at < $2M.
So when it says Ukraine is buying four, it’s unclear if this is a straight cash transaction, or if the U.S. will be sending these as part of the new lend-lease agreement.
As kos has pointed out, the HIMARS system is large, and the ammo is even bulkier and heavier, so it’s unsurprising that the first allocation includes just four HIMARS systems, considering the difficulty in transporting all the necessary parts.
But it looks like the administration was on the ball in anticipating this decision.