My last update for tonight:
We’ll see in the morning.
Who wants to detour thousands of kilometers through an active war zone wishing range of Ukrainian artillery?
Russians squatting in Crimea need to start rethinking their decisions.
Also, I’ve noted how Ukraine has used drones, GMLRS rockets, and Storm Shadows to replace what NATO would accomplish with air power. Well, now we can add “destroy bridges” to the list. I know people cling to the notion that manned aircraft are superior to drones and long-range artillery, and maybe they are, but the advantage is marginal compared to the exponentially higher cost and risk to the pilots. Drones are truly changing the game.
Pretty exciting, that Ukraine now has sea drones with the range to loop all the way around Crimea, a payload large enough to bring down a span of the bridge, and the accuracy to hit it. They’ve gotta have more of these.
What’s exciting about this drone attack, from the sea, is that it could be relatively easy for Ukraine to replicate it. There were no apparent defenses deployed. Ukraine can continue sending sea drones targeting the support columns, and what’s Russia going to do about it?
Reminds me, Russia once claimed they had dolphins guarding the waters around the bridge. I wonder what grifter ran off with that money.
Part of the Kerch Bridge may be down.
There is video of civilian casualties on the bridge, crashed cars, air bags deployed. This is looking real.
Back in November of last year, Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) maven Defmon dug into satellite images of a Russian logistics base at a coal mine in Yuvileine, on the outskirts of Luhansk city. Sifting through the images, he found several warehouse complexes with dozens of vehicles orbiting, a large fueling station, a maintenance area, more buildings that seemed to be administrative or barracks, and convoys of vehicles on the roads around the complex.
Russia had built itself a major logistics base next to Luhansk, population 400,000, conveniently outside of GMLRS range.
The existence of this logistics center, 90 kilometers from the front line, provided major impetus for delivering ATAMS long-range rockets to Ukraine. Ukraine’s successful Kharkiv and Kherson counteroffensive were preceded by major disruptions to Russia’s logistics networks. Similar future success would require the same kind of preparation work (or “shaping” as the military kids say). Ukraine still hasn’t received those American-made rockets, but they did get long-range cruise missiles from the United Kingdom and, soon, France. And then this happened.
So just like GMLRS rockets hampered Russian logistics ahead of Ukraine’s Kherson and Kharkiv counteroffensives, Ukraine is degrading Russian logistics and command control with their new longer-range toys. And if ATACMS finally gets green lit? Oh Lordy.
The arrival of American cluster bombs clearly has Russia rattled, as they immediately claimed Ukraine had hit the facility with them, citing multiple explosions. That could be the sound of ammunition cooking off, but it could simply be the arrival of multiple Storm Shadows. That coal mine facility was a target-rich environment.
Still, American cluster munitions are coming, and my god I wish they had been quietly shipped. The hysteria over them has reached absurd heights, something that Vladimir Putin has been happy to fuel.
The idea that Russia hasn’t used them is laughably absurd, and there is plenty of evidence to prove it. This video has been making the rounds today on Twitter:
But there are even better ones I still clearly remember, like this one:
Or this one:
And they’ve been using them in Ukraine long before 2022:
I looked for one that really stuck with me from the earliest days but I can’t find it. It was a car driving through a cluster bomb barrage, seen via the dash cam. It was harrowing, to say the least. Point is, there’s nothing new about Russia using cluster bombs. Ukraine has had them too, and Turkey has supplied them with additional cluster munitions, though Ukraine uses theirs strictly against military targets (what a concept).
But the issue is now magnified because Turkey delivered theirs quietly, and numbers appear to have been limited. The U.S. has a massive stockpile, and promises to alleviate much of the ammunition shortage that have slowed the Ukrainian advance. Will those cluster munitions create an unexploded ordinance (UXO) problem in the future? Sure, but there’s already a severe UXO problem in the places that Ukraine will use them—the front lines. There are parts of Ukraine that will be inaccessible to civilians for years, maybe decades. Ukrainian cluster bomblets will be a fraction of that problem.
Meanwhile, who can point out what is wrong with this tweet:
It is the height of irresponsibility to uncritically report Putin’s lies without the full context. To be clear, the story does have that context, but how many people will click through and be able to read the paywalled story? RTFS (read the fucking story) doesn’t apply when the story is inaccessible to most.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal handed it well while reporting on Donald Trump’s latest idiocy:
Former President Donald Trump, who seeks to return to the White House next year, has accused Biden of risking World War III by supplying Ukraine with cluster munitions, a type of ammunition that Russia has been using in abundance, and boasted that he could end the conflict within 24 hours, without saying how.
Yes, Russia has been using cluster munitions in abundance, in addition to thermobaric munitions and incendiary munitions and anything it can throw at Ukrainians short of chemical or nuclear weapons. And unlike Ukraine, Russia has been delivering that payload against civilian targets.
For the “Ukraine doesn’t have air support” people, what do they think American air power does on the battlefield? It does stuff like this:
Honestly, I don’t know what magic task people think air support does in a near-peer war (as opposed to the counterinsurgency operations of the War on Terror). It destroys enemy equipment, supply depots, and command and control centers behind the front lines. Drones and HIMARS/MLRS are taking care of all that in this war. Ukraine’s problems have nothing to do with air support, and everything to do with a lack of mine-clearing equipment and proper combined arms training, while dealing with Russia's massed artillery—all of which would be difficult under the best conditions, for the best-trained combat brigades.
Ukraine has been systematically degrading Russian artillery, logistics, and leadership for several months now, which is exactly what the U.S. would be doing if this was their war.
Early Sunday (American time zones), a slew of Russian sources claimed Ukraine had liberated Staromaiorske, south of Velyka Novosilka in the direction of Mariupol.
I’ll pull back the map so you can see where exactly this is:
As exciting as that seemed, never bet on Russian sources, even when they say what you want to hear. Ukraine’s general staff later announced that “the Armed Forces of Ukraine control the northern part of Staromaiorske, Donetsk region.” A subsequent statement claimed that “In the Shakhtarsk sector, in the northern part of Staromaiorske, Donetsk Oblast, the enemy made an unsuccessful attempt to regain lost ground.” They both say that Ukraine controls the northern part of the settlement, except the second statement adds that Russia made one of their weird outside-their-trenches counterattacks. Still, that northern part sits higher than the rest of the settlement, likely making it untenable for Russian defenders to stay.
This axis of approach appears to be bearing the most fruit for Ukraine, and that might be a good thing. The approach toward Mariupol only has a single defensive trench system, unlike the layers upon layers seen in the direction of Melitopol to the west of here.