Posted by Curt on 31 July, 2023 at 3:30 pm. 12 comments already!


by MoA

Yesterday I linked to a fresh NY Times piece about the horrors of the war in Ukraine.

It has a somewhat uplifting headline and the first few paragraphs describe an Ukrainian ‘success’.

Amid the Counterattack’s Deadly Slog, a Glimmer of Success for Ukraine:

Recapturing the village of Staromaiorske was such welcome news for the country that President Volodymyr Zelensky announced it himself. But formidable Russian defenses have stymied progress elsewhere.

The piece is accompanied by this staged photo which shows some trashed uniform on a dirt road with two boots put next to it.


The line below the picture, which I strongly believe is false, says:

The body of a Russian soldier outside a village in the Zaporizhzhia region of southern Ukraine this month.
Credit… Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

I wonder what the editors thought when they came up with it.

Now onto the first paragraphs of the report:

For 10 days, Ukrainian marines fought street by street and house by house to recapture the southeastern village of Staromaiorske, navigating artillery fire, airstrikes and hundreds of Russian troops.The Russians put up a ferocious defense but that ended on Thursday when they folded and the Ukrainians claimed victory. “Some ran away, some were left behind,” said an assault commander from Ukraine’s 35th Marine Brigade, who uses the call sign Dikyi, which means Wild. “We were taking captives,” he added.

The recapture of Staromaiorske, a small village that is nonetheless critical to Ukraine’s southern strategy, was such a welcome development for Ukraine that President Volodymyr Zelensky announced it himself.

I have bad news for the NY Times readers. The village Staromaiorske (Staromayorskoye in Russian writing) is no longer in Ukrainian hands but in the gray-zone:

Tony @Cyberspec1 – 22:00 UTC · Jul 30, 2023❗️Despite the fact that [Donetsk leader] Pushilin announced the recapture of Staromayorsk, our troops are absent from the village itself. The enemy is knocked out, but there is nowhere to gain a safe foothold.

Russian troops periodically enter the village to organize ambushes. Yesterday, several AFU soldiers were taken prisoner in this way.

There is also video of Russian artillery bombarding the village.

Staromajorske (at the bottom of the map) on June 04 2023

via LiveUAmap – bigger

Staromajorske on July 31 2023

via LiveUAmap – bigger

Satellite picture of Staromajorske


After two months of ‘counter offensive’ the frontline south of Velyka Novosilka has moved only some six kilometers south of the original frontline. Starmajorske consist of about 200 houses. Like the other four small villages along the way it has largely been destroyed.

This was not a ‘counter offensive’ but a bloody slog with mediocre results.

The NY Times piece is by Charlotta Gall who at times writes realistic reports from the ground in Ukraine.

After the uplifting start of her piece the reporting becomes grim:

As officials celebrated Ukraine’s progress in Staromaiorske, troops elsewhere on the ground said that Russian defenses and firepower remained formidable and in places impassable.A soldier at a medical post, awaiting evacuation for a concussion, recently described how his battalion had been decimated when it came under Russian artillery and tank fire. His brigade, the 23rd, was one of nine newly formed, Western-trained units prepared and equipped for the counteroffensive. But the brigade, he said, had been thrown into the fight without sufficient artillery support and had been unable to defend themselves against Russian firepower.

In one battle in which his unit took part, Ukrainian soldiers attacked in 10 American-made MaxxPro armored vehicles, but only one came back, he said. He showed photographs of the damaged vehicles, ripped open and burned out, which he said had been hauled back to a repair base. The soldier declined to give his name for fear of getting into trouble with his superiors.

The soldier lost a 22-year-old friend, Stas, in the shelling the day before, he said, adding that in just over a month, his battalion had suffered so many dead and wounded that only 10 men remained at the front line.

Previously that battalion has had some 400 to 500 men.

Next Gall speaks to a soldier from a different unit:

Another soldier, who joined up last year and asked to be identified only by his first name, Oleksiy, said that his unit had taken heavy losses as Russian troops directed artillery fire and aerial bombs onto their positions.“We were shot like on a shooting range,” he said. “A drone was flying above us and correcting the artillery fire.” Their positions were in former Russian positions, hemmed in by minefields, he said, and the Russian forces were able to keep them pinned down and under constant drone surveillance.

Soldiers were running out of ammunition and water but could only sneak in and out of their positions in ones or twos, on foot, when the light was poor just before dawn and at dusk, he said.

And a third case:

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