RO37 wrote yesterday about attritional war, and a big part of degrading the Russian war machine is cutting its key supply routes.
Currently, Russia supplies its forces in southern Ukraine, on the Zaporizhzhia front, both from Crimea, and through the Donbas.
The only rail line from mainland Russia through that Zaporizhzhia “land bridge” runs through Tokmak, and has been within GMLRS rocket artillery range for over a year now, I don’t believe it is operational. Thus, for Russia to more efficiently move its supplies via rail, it had to do so through Crimea.
Ukraine knocked out the rail line on the Kerch Bridge last year, and kept it offline for around six months, but it is back operational. Ukraine’s recent attack on the Kerch Bridge knocked out one lane of vehicular traffic, but the rail line was unaffected. That meant that Russia has been able to move supplies by rail all the way up to Melitopol, or at least could, until it took out the Chongar Bridge rail line a week ago. (There is another rail line up from Crimea, but it passes near Kherson city, well within Ukraine’s tube artillery.)
With the Chongar Bridge rail line inoperable for now, Ukraine’s strikes last night hit the car lanes at both Chongar Bridge, and also the nearby Henichesk Bridge.
More detail on the Chongar Bridge damage:
The pontoon bridge can only carry a fraction of the traffic of the regular bridge. Until Russia repairs the bridge, supply vehicles will have to route further west, adding miles to their trip, on a highway that passes near Kherson before routing east to Melitopol, putting them in range of Ukrainian artillery, drones, and ambushes.
Meanwhile, supplies coming in from the east, through Donetsk oblast, travel a road that is mostly within Ukrainian tube artillery range. Remember the battle of Vuhledar, where Russia lost hundreds of armored vehicles and untold lives trying to take the town? Unlike Bakhmut, Vuhledar mattered—had Russian succeeded in pushing back Ukrainian defenders, it would’ve better secured that east-west supply route to Tokmak and Melitopol.
Ukraine is systematically tightening the noose around the Russian defenders on the Zaporizhzhia front. It was much easier in last year’s Kherson counteroffensive—all they had to do was destroy two bridges. But the goal here is the same, to make it untenable to supply Russia’s hungry artillery guns. Between the campaign to systematically degrade Russia’s artillery advantage via counter battery fire, and this campaign to starve it of ammunition, Ukraine hopes to create the conditions by which it can finally push hard into the Russian defenses without facing that withering, impenetrable wall of artillery fire.
This is a great point:
President Joe Biden will have to decide whether he wants Donald Trump to have Ukraine as a campaign issue, or whether he enters the general election having been a key part of Ukraine’s victorious liberation campaign.
Don’t assume Ukraine will be a political winner for Biden and the Democrats. Americans may abstractly want Ukraine to win, but nativist arguments like “why aren’t we spending the $44 billion at home” have a place. MAGA a-holes are already dishonestly making that argument, saying things like “why spend that money in Ukraine when people are hungry in America?” Of course, those same people would never support $44 billion to feed the hungry, so the argument is utter horseshit, but there’s an audience that will lap that up.
It’s in Biden’s interest to open the floodgates of American support, offer everything we have—M1 Abrams tanks, M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, ATACMS long-range missiles, F-16 fighter jets—and will Ukraine to victory before domestic politics make a messy situation even more complicated.
Look at that, Code Pink, once a fierce critic of Chinese repression, has changed its tune thanks to some sweet, sweet, Chinese cash.
Code Pink once criticized China’s rights record but now defends its internment of the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs, which human rights experts have labeled a crime against humanity [...]
Ms. Evans has organized around progressive causes like climate change, gender and racism. Until a few years ago, she readily criticized China’s authoritarian government.
“We demand China stop brutal repression of their women’s human rights defenders,” she wrote on Twitter in 2015. She later posted on Instagram a photo with the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei [...]
Ms. Evans now stridently supports China. She casts it as a defender of the oppressed and a model for economic growth without slavery or war. “If the U.S. crushes China,” she said in 2021, it “would cut off hope for the human race and life on Earth.” [...]
She describes the Uyghurs as terrorists and defends their mass detention. “We have to do something,” she said in 2021. In a recent YouTube video chat, she was asked if she had anything negative to say about China.
“I can’t, for the life of me, think of anything,” Ms. Evans responded. She ultimately had one complaint: She had trouble using China’s phone-based payment apps.
Last night, Russia launched one of its biggest missile attacks on Ukraine
While civilian targets were hit, including a blood transfusion center in Kupiansk, for once the targets appeared to be mostly military. The Starokostiantyniv air base in Khmelnytskyy Oblast in western Ukraine was targeted. It is home to the Ukrainian war planes launching those devastating Storm Shadow cruise missiles against Russian targets.
Now, you may be wondering, why haven’t those airfields been pulverized by now? How are we 17 months into the war, and Ukraine has functional military air fields well within range of Russian missiles? Well, it’s because Russia would rather hit civilian apartment complexes, schools, and shopping centers, than to hit targets that might actually help them win the war.
Russia would rather be terrorists than win on the battlefield.
For one night, that clearly changed. The good news is that the vast majority of Russian missiles and drones were shot down. Some did get through, but hopefully, with hours of advance notice, the Ukrainian Air Force dispersed its aircraft at the first notice of incoming missiles.
Airfields are notoriously difficult to destroy. It takes 10 minutes to fill any crater made by a missile. The key is to protect the aircraft.
Incidentally, a KH-101 costs $13 million, a KH-555 costs $7.5 million, a Calibr costs $1 million, and Kinzhal’s cost $10 million. Shahed drones are cheap, around $10,000 each. So this attack cost Russia around $250 million in cruise missiles, and another half a million in drones.
This is not great bang-for-the-buck for Russia.