Posted by Curt on 22 June, 2023 at 9:36 am. 66 comments already!

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by SIMPLICIUS THE THINKER

There’s now somewhat of a lull in the Zaporozhye fighting due to the mass amounts of losses the AFU has taken in their now fully failed bid to achieve tactical breakthroughs. Putin explains:

 
Russian forces of the 429th regiment of the 19th motor rifle division of the 58th army from the southern military district have even knocked out the Ukrainian 128th mountain assault brigade from Pyatikhatki entirely, which means on that Orekhov front Ukraine was literally pushed back to the starting line, and didn’t even achieve the minimal gains that the eastern grouping around Velyka Novosilka managed.

One of the reasons for that is likely because the western grouping is defended by the aforementioned 58th Russian Army proper. I have repeatedly emphasized the difference in quality between the units of the actual Russian army, and the various patchwork auxiliary and paramilitary units that make up the tapestry of the SMO.

On the eastern side for instance, one of the main units holding the lines which were pushed back in Makarovka-Blagodatne were the ‘Storm-Z’ battalion, which is a penal battalion of ex-convicts, a far cry from the army proper. No one yet seems to know exactly what the Storm-Z are, they are variously called a ‘special contingent’ a ‘volunteer corps’ and a private military company (PMC) “owned by Shoigu”.

They experienced relatively high losses in the Novosilka direction as the AFU sicc’d the elite 68th Jaegers on them, who released videos of grounds strewn with bodies from this Storm-Z unit as they retreated. They weren’t huge losses, maybe a few dozen, but still comparatively more than nominal Russian units suffer.

Interestingly, I’ve discovered that Storm-Z is being used in all the most ‘high-risk’ areas just like Wagner was previously. For instance, they also now operate in the meat-grinder of Marinka, as well as in the Kremennaya direction.

Even so, the fact that one of Ukraine’s most elite units was only able to scrape out a couple small hamlets from them is also telling, but my point was simply to differentiate the unit types by showing that the Russian Army proper did not lose a single inch on the western end.

The reason such clarifications are important to me, is because they reframe a lot of the past propaganda into a more correct light. For instance, how similarly in the ‘Kharkov offensive’ which Ukraine claimed to have ‘overrun’ Russian units, which was equally a lie as the Izyum salient at that point was only being held by a small patchwork of DPR/volunteer units, with real Russian Army forces only coming in at the end to facilitate the already ongoing withdrawal. I have yet to see a front where the units of the real Russian Army have been driven back or ‘defeated’ in any way.

 

 
This all goes back to yesterday’s article where I noted the difference in equipment (and training, etc.) between distinguished districts of the Russian Army proper, and the various adjacent units that operate under the Russian ‘umbrella’ but are not actually/traditionally/historically part of the Russian Armed Forces.

But as for Putin’s video, the amount of losses he quotes are interesting: ~250 tanks and almost 700 other armor/vehicles. I outlined recently how even at the highest Western estimates, Ukraine is said to have 600-800 total tanks remaining (as per Pentagon leaks, etc.). If Putin’s numbers are even remotely true, it would mean the Not-Offensive has potentially wiped out upwards of 30-45% of Ukraine’s remaining heavy armor which would put them in dire straits. Recall, that even remaining armor is misleading as much of it is older tanks with 105mm or 115mm cannons that are no match for Russian MBTs, and the majority of remaining 125mm’ers are likely T-64s, which likewise is not promising.

Meanwhile, Shoigu has recently visited the Russian Omsktransmash factory which produces the latest T-80BVM Obr. 2022 models.

 
It shows a new batch of 15 of these tanks being delivered out of 150+ total scheduled to be produced this year. This gives us an inkling of Russia’s production. 150+ total T-80BVMs for the year—add that to hundreds of other types like T-72B3s, T-90Ms, etc. As you may recall, Russia’s goal for the year was reportedly anywhere between 480-600 newly produced tanks with an additional 600-800 being ‘refurbished’ or upgrades, for a total, according to Medvedev, in the 1500 range for the year, though perhaps realistically it’s a bit less than that.

Now, let’s move on to the meat of the developments. The most important of which is that things are afoot on the northern front. Russia is said to be advancing in the Kupyansk direction, now only 2.5km away from the city itself and this dovetails with several recent statements from key Russian figures like Gurulyov which indicate that Russia may soon be activating the Kharkov front.

Some believe that the next ‘big vector’ will in fact be for Russia to retake and secure the Kharkov region, and that Wagner’s fatefully announced ‘August 5th’ return will coincide with that, with Wagner being sent to Kharkov. I’m not convinced of this rumor yet, but recall that Putin did mention in his recent statements that not only is Russia actively working to secure the border areas, but that a cordon sanitaire may infact be created in order to deal with the problem of Ukrainian terror attacks on the Belgorod region and outlying areas.

Medvedev also recently added that a ‘buffer zone’ should extend all the way “to the Polish border.”

Writing on Telegram, Medvedev responded to remarks by President Vladimir Putin, who on Tuesday suggested that Moscow could consider establishing a “buffer zone” in Ukraine to prevent Russian regions from being shelled.

“Taking into account the enemy’s decisions to supply the Kiev regime with weapons with an even longer range, this line should pass in the area of Lviv… so that it could play a real defensive role,” Medvedev said, referring to the large city in western Ukraine, not far from the Polish border.

We know the Chechen Akhmat forces have already been sent there, as well as a new border legion being mobilized on the Kursk border. In short, there appears a lot of activity in this direction.

Recall that I previously predicted that it may be necessary to activate the Kharkov front next in order to facilitate the logical next step of the SMO, which would be the capture of the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk agglomeration. The reason being is that, Slavyansk is nigh un-captureable from just one direction, i.e. approaching it from only the easterly direction of Bakhmut.

That was the whole point behind Russia’s original goal, where they approached Slavyansk from the Izyum (NW) direction as well as from Lyman to the NE. This is how it looked before the Kharkov offensive of last Fall:

 
Maybe it’s possible to gobble it up slowly from the south, by taking Konstantinovka, Druzkhovka, then Kramatorsk, but it would appear much simpler to use the original method which would allow the remainder of the area to fall into a giant cauldron. Going from the south would merely be a meat-grinding march through the densest and most heavily fortified of AFU regions.

But now, Russian units have made some notable advancements in both the southern end of this front, in the Kremennaya direction, and the aforementioned northern end near Kupyansk. Kremennaya to Torskoe shown below:

 
Ukrainian ‘deputy minister of defense’ and propagandist Anna Malyar reported on it with alarm:

 
And ISW:

 
As of this writing, there are reports that Russian forces are even approaching a crucial cut-off point at Petropavlovka, pictured here:

There are reports that a fight has begun for the settlement of Petropavlovka (this is north of Kupyansk), with Russian forces bearing down from the Sinkovka direction.

This cut-off point feeds the entire AFU grouping east of the Oskil River, in the Svatovo-Kremennaya region. And I get goosebumps thinking about it because it’s a personal vendetta I’ve been waiting to see fulfilled for a long time.

You see, the cross-roads at the center of town in Petropavlovka (49.721065567721496, 37.70792585824342) is where the famous last stand of a heroic group of Russian forces took place that will go down in history. It’s where a Russian unit on a BMP-2M Berezhok module was ambushed by American/Western mercenaries.

 
The unit made a heroic stand witnessed on drone footage and surviving Russian forces were chased into a house a block away, where they were treacherously killed by the mercenaries while negotiating a surrender. The story is that they had negotiated it and were coming out with their hands up but were shot dead.

However, they were able to give their coordinates before dying and the mercenaries were slaughtered by a Russian artillery attack, with only a few of them making it out. So for me, and for a lot of people I’m sure, it will be extra meaningful to see Pavlovka get recaptured.

And for anyone interested, here’s the entire incident from the mercenaries’ perspective, including up to the end where they were hit by Russian fire: Video Link.

Though this incident took place last year during the ‘Kharkov offensive’, it was only recently that one of the last surviving of this mercenary group was killed in action in Ukraine, I believe a few weeks back. Another survivor is one of the ‘famous’ Taiwanese mercs who I believe fled back home.

And here is Rybar’s full analysis of the situation and what to expect, in particular the highlighted portion:

⚠️🇷🇺 Russian experts: after defeating the upcoming Ukrainian offensive on the stretch of Kupyansk-Urazovo in August, we are starting to definitively liberate Kharkiv

* Russian military analysts indicate an increased concentration of Ukrainian forces on the front around Kupyansk, Svatov and Vovchansk (northern front).

These forces have the task of achieving a breakthrough of the Russian defensive layout on the Oskol River, more precisely on the Kupyansk-Urazovo-Valujki line, with the aim of cutting the key communication through which the Lugansk People’s Republic is supplied.

▪️Zelensky and his generals are trying to find a way out of the unsuccessful campaign on the Zaporizhzhya Front and around Bakhmut. Estimates are that they will strike precisely on this front, where a group of special forces has been testing the strength of the Russian defense for months. Russian experts believe that this operation could begin at the end of this month.

▪️ We can expect its beginning in the last week of June. Brigade-level special units of Ukrainian security forces and volunteer detachments are present in this area. Armored-mechanized and motorized units are slowly being added to them. They are well armed and ready to attack. Here they are additionally “psychologically motivated” because this is the part of the front where the last great success of the Ukrainian army was recorded.

▪️According to the words of Russian experts, the Russian army will succeed in breaking this offensive in 10-15 days. And not only that, there are plans to go into a broad counter-offensive and create a “sanitary corridor” along the Russian border at a depth of up to 100 km. This corridor also includes multimillion-dollar cities such as Kharkiv, which is only 20 km from the border.

📌 The fact that these forecasts coincide with the development of events on the ground is also indicated by the arrival of rested and replenished troops of the “Wagner” infantry regiment led by Prigozhin, who are expected at the beginning of August exactly on this front. In the meantime, units from the Caucasus also arrived there.

In summary: Ukraine itself is building up units on this northern front and wants to cut the direct supply link between Russia and Lugansk—specifically, the Svatovo front—which runs just east and parallel to the Oskil River. This would be another distraction tactic to take attention away from Ukraine’s failed main offensive. But Rybar suggests that Russia is preparing a powerful counter-offensive in this area by the end of the month, as soon as they thwart Ukraine’s attack, which will be snowballed into a broader development of the cordon sanitaire for the entire Kharkov region.

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