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Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2022 3:43 pm
by Mongrel
Interesting discussion about training today. Some US pols want to make some further equipment shipments to be contingent on Ukrainians finishing training on the stuff already sent (which is not unreasonable), this of course is leading to a minor squabble about how far in training the Ukrainians are, especially for more complex systems like the HIMARs. Obviously they will demonstrate proficiency in the field soon enough, it's just a question of whether that will be next week or next month, so the Ukrainians are of course insisting training is going ahead of schedule, while US authorities are pointing to the normal training schedule for given equipment being much longer.

As was established some time ago, Ukrainians sent for training on mechanized equipment are generally well-educated university graduates or tradesmen and of course all of them are *HIGHLY* motivated, so my guess is they're at least a little ahead - this might be one of those rare genuine cases where the truth is roughly in the middle, where the trainees are absolutely learning faster than some non-com grunt in a peacetime classroom, but may also be rushing some things. Or it could just be the fog of war. Or even deliberate misinformation to keep the Russians antsy!

Anyway, it was interesting to see some statistics which popped up in the discussion about this.

- Ukraine has roughly the same proportion of the population with a university education as the US does (27% vs 25%).
- Ukraine has the 3rd highest number of qualified IT specialist in the world per capita after the US and India.

The first isn't all that remarkable given Europe's generally free or low-cost education, but the second one is pretty neat! No wonder they're punching above their weight with some of their homegrown software systems, and that combines very well given the large number of technical-industrial graduates they have too. Regardless of war planning, the Ukrainians really had a very strong national practical education strategy. Sure, some of that is the history and legacy of Soviet educational priorities, but after 30 years I think credit is much more due to the Ukrainians themselves.

EDIT: I wonder how much of this relative level of high-quality education among Ukrainians is responsible for Ukraine's lower (in some cases MUCH lower) incidence of far-right politics, racism, homophobia, etc. as compared to most other Eastern European countries? (the "Ukraine is full of Nazis" trope being a case of Russian projection, as we now know)

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2022 12:42 am
by Mongrel
Not much in the way of major military updates, but a few political and strategic observations from yesterday and today.

- Biggest news was of course Ukraine being officially granted EU Candidacy status (along with Moldova!). Basically at this point it's on the Ukrainians to bring Ukraine's economy, governance, regulations, etc. within acceptable brackets along EU standards. That will probably be the last major news on that front for a while, given Ukraine now has a long job ahead of it, and not all of it can be accomplished while there's a war on.

- Interesting side wrinkle was that Macron, Scholz, Draghi etc. stated the EU membership will not force any peace agreement on Ukraine or
insist on terms Ukraine finds unacceptable, and they also stated they will support Ukraine for the duration of the war. Hopefully they will live up to these words.

- Russia has effectively ceased using their "Battalion Tactical Groups" as any meaningful organizational measure, as the system has essentially disintegrated past any utility. Units and grouping are effectively all ad hoc now, barring a few larger units which existed before the war (1st Tank Army is still a distinct unit, for example, though they're taken massive losses like everyone else).

- Russian troops have increasingly been observed making advances on foot rather than in motorized transport.

- Russia has successfully been holding and even pushing back a little in the area of the border north and east of Kharkiv for the past week, but they were observed transferring heavy equipment from that front towards Sverodonetsk, which might allow the Ukrainians to resume counterattacking east and north into border territories (and again threatening Russian supply lines)

- Belarus is conducting a big military readiness exercise, but they are in noooo position to even support Russian operations, much less mount an invasion of their own. Vlad might be pushing Lukashenko to help, so he is merely farting around performatively. Or he may legitimately be worried about invasion or insurrection. Regardless, there is still no concern that Belarus is even capable of launching a second invasion, much less that they would. Basically the Belorussian army is just absolute dogshit garbage, useful for repressive thuggery and not bloody much else.

- Head of the VDV was fired, in a completely expected move to find a scapegoat for the incredibly high losses among Russia's military elite. This will, of course, do nothing useful for the Russians. But I'm sure the Ukrainians appreciate the Russians' continued work in keeping the Russian officer corps paranoid and crazed. As good an occasion as any to repost the VDV anthem!

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2022 12:57 am
by Yoji
Mongrel wrote:- Russian troops have increasingly been observed making advances on foot rather than in motorized transport.

For real? I remember seeing a picture on @RealTimeWWII of Nazis having to move an artillery gun through Russian mud with a horse and cart. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised since it was one of the last conventional wars where troops marched to get around. But it still struck me as low-tech and desperate.

But a modern mechanized army walking in the year two thousand plus twenty two? What the hell?

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2022 1:43 am
by Mongrel
Well, the Germans in WWII weren't as mechanized as all that. Similarly to the current-day Russians, German logistics were HEAVILY based on railways, and horse-drawn wagons were a large part of local logistics. This was true of many European armies at the time, as no one had anything close to the truck capacity the Americans had, much less the fuel supplies. German war industry's low production was famously a critical limitation. This was especially true once they started to run out of the vast amount of captured Czech, French, etc. support vehicles they'd scored early in the war, as they had no way to replace them in similar numbers.

Larger nations like France were a bit better off than Germany, but not by an order of magnitude or anything. Horse wagons (milk delivery, mail delivery, small shops, etc.) didn't disappear from civilian life either in Europe until the late 50's or so (there was a weird phase from the 30's to the end where horse wagons had car tires... but why not, after all?)

The main European exception might be the British, who relied heavily on their "Tilly" program. This turned over peacetime lines which had made small delivery vans into producing small, light utility trucks for the British which were near-identical to whatever civilian counterpart had been made on a given production line in order to get stuff built fast. Not being purpose-made military vehicles they could be underpowered and had little off-road capability, but they mostly replaced what would have been horse-drawn wagons, and of course they also had middle-eastern oil supplies to fuel them, unlike most continentals. (The Brits of course did have tough, dedicated military trucks too of course... and like all other British ground vehicles from WWII, they were phenomenally ugly... It's really impressive how they managed to be so consistent about that).

Not to say the Germans and even the Russians (who famously had the "1.5 ton truck" which was a straight up copy of the Ford AA) didn't use trucks in large numbers, but they were always used for priority stuff - supporting fast moving attacks or the most critical supplies. Russian and German trucks were also often repurposed as mobile artillery platforms, with a medium gun in the bed, which removed them from the available logistics pool.

As for the modern Russians, well, I don't know what's the bigger factor between huge losses of equipment, shitty old BMP-1s just being deathtraps if spotted anyway, and/or just plain shit organization which has fallen to pieces. I guess they might also be desperate enough to have taken the BMPs and Russian MRAPs to press them into use as transports just to keep supplies coming.

Or... oh man! I wonder if they took away the ground troops wheels in a shitheaded attempt to try and force them into actual attacks as ordered to, instead of looting a bunch of shit and running away.

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Sun Jun 19, 2022 1:58 pm
by Mongrel

What a time to be alive.

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Sun Jun 19, 2022 2:48 pm
by Yoji
What a time, indeed.

I'm old enough to remember when Sweden trolled Russian submarines by submerging a neon sign of a dancing gay sailor with throbbing dance music (I... think it's NSFW?)

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Sun Jun 19, 2022 11:38 pm
by Mongrel
So we've been hearing for a couple weeks about how the Russians have moved just about everything they can to fight for Sverodonetsk (which is increasingly stalling out in spite of Russia's vast artillery superiority - they ran out of shit to bomb flat, I suppose - at least the easy stuff).

Here's a bit of a visual aid. A month ago, Russian cell signal tracing gave the general public an almost perfect map of Russian troop concentrations, back when they were grouping up north of Izyum in preparation for one of their multiple failed attempts to encircle the east (see loweredexpectations.jpg):


Now, in that map, there's still multiple areas of concentration, even though most of the troops were generally in the east. Obviously carriers got wise because these maps dried up afterwards (not that that matters to the Ukrainians, since they can do local signal tracking and probably get more precise intel from the US or from local partisan networks anyway).

This is from the end of May, when they went all-in on trying to take Sverodonetsk:


Notice anything? You know, something REALLY OBVIOUS that even someone totally untrained in warfare can see immediately?

Yeah. There's FUCKALL NOBODY anywhere but Sverodonetsk or regions directly supporting that battle (notably the southern push up from Donetsk to try and cut off the highways to Lyschansk/Sverodonetsk, which, like everything else, is going incredibly slowly or has stalled)

We know the Ukrainians are pushing back up north, which has kind of stalled (though they've taken some bits back just west of Izyum and are pushing there now to see if they can get in that way), and they're pushing back in the south carefully and still kind of piecemeal, and that's going quite well (some Ukrainian forces are as little as 10km from Kherson). They're still not all-in, and just keep probing for weaknesses while doing general pushback against inferior forces and that's still very steady progress. The Russians have also failed to keep Ukrainian aircraft from carrying out extensive ground attacks in that area in spite of moving in a number of air defence units (STILL FLYIN', VATNIKS!).

Of course the Russians know this and have been building fortifications and defences to try and give them a line to hold west and north of Kherson, and are sending more anti-air defences down there.

So... what about that spot on the map where there's REALLY almost nothing? That huge stretch north of the Sea of Azov?

The Ukrainians started attacking it this weekend. The Russians are now panicking to send reinforcements there and while the news hasn't been confirmed yet, the front lines north of Melitopol may have moved as far south as 20km in the past 2-3 days.

Progress may be slow and careful, but the Ukrainians are now counterattacking along the entire front front line. A front line the which is now impossible for the Russians to defend at all points for any length of time.

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 6:33 pm
by Mongrel

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2022 7:20 am
by Mongrel
The Kremlin is failing to deter the family members of sailors that survived the sinking of the Moskva from issuing an appeal against the deployment of surviving conscripts to the war in Ukraine as of June 20.[7] Russian opposition outlet Novaya Gazeta published an appeal from the parents of the surviving 49 conscript crewmembers of the Moskva, demanding that the Military Prosecutor’s Office in Sevastopol, the Committee of Soldier’s Mothers, and the Human Rights Commissioner immediately terminate the crewmembers’ deployment. The appeal states that Russian commanders did not send the surviving conscripts home from their deployment following the sinking of Moskva and that they will be recommitted to hostilities on June 30. The appeal noted that the survivors refuse to participate in further assignments due to psychological distress and are currently stationed on the old ship Ladnyi, which the appeal claims is unfit for combat. The Ukrainian Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) previously reported that Russian forces have threatened the families of Moskva sailors with criminal prosecution and nullification of any financial benefits to prevent them from speaking out against Russian operations.[8]

Russian forces continue to face force generation challenges and are committing unprepared contract servicemen to the invasion of Ukraine. The BBC’s Russian service reported on June 20 that new Russian recruits receive only 3 to 7 days of training before being sent to “the most active sectors of the front.”[9] The BBC also reported that volunteers within the conventional Russian military, Rosgvardia units, and Wagner Group mercenaries have become Russia’s main assault force, as opposed to full conventional military units. ISW has previously assessed that Russian units in eastern Ukraine are suffering from poor complements of infantry, slowing their ability to seize urban terrain. The Russian military is offering substantial financial incentives to secure additional recruits with increasing disregard for their age, health, criminal records, and other established service qualifications. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on June 21 that Russian Airborne (VDV) units are forced to recruit reserve officers for short-term three-month contracts due to significant officer losses, and the BBC reported that the Russian Ministry of Defense is offering to pay off the loans and debts of volunteers to entice recruits.[10]

So, what's left of the Russian Army in Ukraine is no longer mostly made up of actual Russian Army units (the LDNR proxy conscripts seem to mainly be going to secondary fronts and of course "don't count").

Oh and Rosguardia units means they're actively drawing on their supply of occupation forces. Indeed, partisan activity is on the rise.

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:52 pm
by Mongrel
Oh wow
Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) claimed that Russian authorities in Luhansk are arranging gas leaks in apartment buildings to force men who are hiding from mobilization into the streets.[4] The Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) additionally reported that Russian soldiers in occupied Tokmak, Zaporizhia Oblast, are appealing to local Ukrainian doctors to issue them certificates alleging medical inability to continue military service.[5]

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:54 pm
by Crick
"Gosh darn, why can't I find people to fight in this galdang war!"

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:54 pm
by nosimpleway
even in Russia nobody wants to work anymore

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2022 10:17 pm
by Mongrel
Here's a more detailed look at the exact state of the battle in the east than we've had in a while. The red dots are fires today (NASA earth survey is the source for those)


Basically we have another Azovstal-type situation where the Ukrainians are holding out in a fortified industrial zone, this time the Azot Chemical Works complex. The difference here of course is that Azovstal was completely surrounded, whereas the Azot plant backs onto the river, which can be retreated across to Lysychansk, which in turn dominates the riverbank from huge heights. The yellow wedge between the two cities is just to indicate the Russians have blown all the bridges across the river, not that they're fully active in that zone.

Doubtless, the defenders in the Azot plant aren't having the best time of it, but they've held out for nearly two weeks (last week some southern suburbs changed hands back and forth a couple times, but the Russians finally took full control), and they at least have an actual supply line and path of retreat so there's no need for a heroic last stand. Of course they ARE staying as long as they think it's worthwhile to hold out and grind up the Russians, but it's a grim business for the Ukrainians too.

The Russian plan here is to try and avoid an opposed river crossing against extremely defensible positions by instead pushing up through the south, which they have been successfully doing for a while now, albeit at an agonizingly slow pace and at a huge cost. A key goal is to completely cut off the main road to Lysychansk, which you see on the map is the T1302 highway, as well as related routes. If they can do that, then they will move on to assault Lysychansk from the south.

While this doesn't look great for the Ukrainians, it's hardly dire, and it's good to keep some perspective in that it has further parallels with Mariupol: The twin cities here are modestly-sized with little strategic value, but have some symbolic value to Putin. Less strategic value than Mariupol, really, because Mariupol at least was the last bastion separating early Russian conquests in the east from those in the south.

If the Ukrainians can get enough heavy weapons from abroad, or the Russians crap out from exhaustion, or start falling apart at any of their weak points in the south, we should hopefully see some strong Ukrainian gains.

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2022 10:29 pm
by Mongrel
Oh, I don't think I mentioned this previously, but the Ukrainian leaders of both the Donbas' puppet republics were recently replaced by actual Russian governors, and the previous leadership downgraded to assistants or ministers. I don't think this really matters much, even symbolically anymore, but it's at least worth noting that the last scrap of that mask has been cast away.

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2022 12:50 am
by Mongrel
LMAO are you fucking kidding me.

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2022 12:58 am
by Mongrel
The first 11 are somewhat more modern T-80s, but... lol. Yep.

(content is flagged because it's tanks, I assume. Video is just a transport train, not even any people visible.)

In case you hadn't heard about Lithuania very correctly poking Russia in the eye.

A little chuckle

One more story - no pics, (most articles are running older photos which is confusing some people), but some great news. Doctor and volunteer army medic Yulia (Tayra) Payevska was released by the Russians a couple of days ago. She's the one who did the huge task of not only serving as a doctor and combat medic, but also did video documenting of weeks of of her work in Mariupol.

Finally, a single statistic: 40%.

Of the territory Russia took since it invaded Ukraine this year, Russia has already lost 40% of it.

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2022 1:53 am
by Mongrel
Partisan activity doesn't always mean violence. The sign reads:

"Rostov - 558 km"
"Ukrainian Armed Forces - 10 km"
"Kherson is Ukraine"


Ice. Fucking. Cold.

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2022 7:58 pm
by Mongrel
Looks like the Russians are getting close enough to the twin cities from the south that Ukraine announced today that they're officially preparing for a pullout from at least Sverodonetsk and possibly Lysychansk as well, with the Ukrainian general staff claiming they have achieved their overall objective of severely degrading Russian capabilities.

The presence of Rosguardia units as a big chunk of the assault troops in the last few days seems to confirm this claim - like I said, there's basically no Russian Army units left in the Russian Army. At least no infantry units. Meaning the entirety of all infantry the Russian Army committed to the Battle of the Donbas, which included as much as 70%-80% of all Russian forces in Ukraine, has effectively been destroyed.

Or, de-nazified if you prefer. :D

The main highway to Lyschansk is now unusable due to Russians having captured a couple small towns on it, and probably has been effectively unusable for a few days to a week, which I suspect is the main problem here. The Ukrainians can't fight advantageously without clear supply lines, so better to pull back to one of their many prepared defensive lines. At this point It's almost impossible that the Russians have the resources or will to aggressively pursue or even interfere with a Ukrainian retreat-and-regroup operation (in fact this may have been a big consideration in deciding when to retreat).

Meanwhile, the scheme to force Russian passports onto Ukrainians into occupied territories to prove there's popular support for annexation is going... so well!
Russian occupation authorities continued efforts to consolidate administrative control of occupied areas of Ukraine on June 23. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on June 23 that mass “passportization” efforts have been so unsuccessful that Russian authorities are forcing inmates at the Kherson Northern Correctional Colony to obtain Russian citizenship to increase their numbers.[34]

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Thu Jun 23, 2022 8:46 pm
by Mongrel
Neat footage.

Quick background if you want more than pics of a BIG KABOOM GUN.

Built between 1975 and the 90's, the 203mm ex-Soviet 2S7 is the most powerful artillery piece still serving in active military service (though not the longest range - modern western pieces can go about 20% to 50% farther than its 40km range), only superseded by absurd past things like railway guns. It is capable of firing nuclear shells (not that Ukraine has any).

The recoil shown here indicates that a full charge was used for this shot, i.e. maximum range. With maximum range, the crew is well-protected from counterbattery fire because the flight time of the shell is so long, allowing them to safely make a couple of shots and scoot away before enemy radar sends return fire their way (never mind that Russian counterbattery fire has been pretty dogshit, in spite of their overwhelming superiority in numbers of artillery).

tl;dr biggest gun in the world goes PEW PEW.

Re: Insane in the Ukraine

Posted: Sat Jun 25, 2022 1:22 am
by Mongrel
As expected, Ukrainian troops are withdrawing from their holdouts in Sverodonetsk, though they're allowing roughly three days for the operation. For the time being they will remain in Lysychansk hoping to hold the neighbourhoods which are on higher ground (WE HAVE THE HIGH GROUND, VLAD), with the intention being to continue what's been a pretty advantageous war of attrition so far. It seems very positive to me that they don't seem to feel pressured to get out of Sverodonetsk in a big hurry or anything, especially given they will have to cross the river with all the bridges out. Again, it seems like the Russians have no reach to pursue Ukrainian troops who are pulling back or otherwise take advantage of their horribly Pyrrhic victory.

They're in reasonably decent shape; they still have supply lines through regular east-west roads leading to north Lysychansk, since Ukraine still holds all the riverbanks to the north of town. Most reports dryly commented this bit of good fortune was "due to a failed Russian river crossing north of Lysychansk in May", lol. That said, we know they have plans drawn up to leave Lysychansk too if need be.

Down south, things are heating up. The Ukrainians are pushing towards Kherson in earnest while Russian forces there conducted no counter-offensives in the area at all and partisan activity in Kherson is on the boil, further complicating a Russian defence of Kherson. After several partially successful attempts where targets were only wounded, at least one Russian administrator has now been blown up - it's unclear from his bloviating, euphemistic job title, but it's possible he was responsible for some of the kidnappings of children or attempts to replace Ukrainian curricula in schools with Russian nonsense, as it did say he was responsible for something to do with "youth policy".

In a halfway-related wrinkle, the national commander of Rosguardia arrived from Russia to the Kherson region (unclear where), for an unknown purpose - quite a tempting target for the Ukrainians.

Also, after a lull, random mystery protesters are again throwing molotovs at military recruitment centres in Russia.