Another offensive on the Kharkiv/Donbas front – TTG

Map and thread by Thomas C. Theiner (@noclador), a film industry executive in Kyiv/Vienna
with prior experience in the Italian Army

I am not very good at graphics, but I tried to draw up an explainer for the Ukrainian Kupiansk Offensive. Redish = the territory occupied by Russia.

Yesterday Ukrainian troops liberated Balakliia (Blue 1)

During the night Ukrainian troops moved to Volokhiv Yar (Blue 2)

Currently Ukrainian troops are advancing to Shevchenkove (Blue 3)

Once Ukrainian troops have firmly established themselves in these three settlements, the Russian forces in the black hatched area must retreat north or will be crushed by Ukrainian forces. Once the black hatched area is cleared Ukraine can move its M777 up and take the rail and road junctions, and Russian supply depots in Kupiansk under fire.

The outer yellow rings show the range of M982 Excalibur rounds for precision strikes and the inner yellow rings show the range of unguided M795 155mm projectiles.

With Kupiansk (upper red circle) under artillery fire, the Russian supply line to its forces around Izyum (lower red circle) becomes unusable. If Ukraine then uses M777 fired Excalibur projectiles and M142 HIMARS fired M31A1 GMLRS rockets to take out the bridges over the Oskil river (the four purple pentagons) and whatever pontoon bridges the Russians try to build, then the Russian forces West of the Oskil river are trapped, just like the Russian forces in Kherson.

This will give Ukraine two options how to finish the Russians: either advance and take Kupiansk (Green 4) and then battle the trapped Russians into surrender or leave an escape route for the Russians between Shevchenkove and Kupiansk and then hammer them with artillery, TB2 drones, and rocket artillery when they flee north.

The first option guarantees annihilation for 10,000+ Russians, but will also cause many Ukrainian casualties, while the second will brutally decimate the fleeing Russians, with minimal Ukrainian losses. No matter what options the Ukrainians choose, the Russian forces West of the Oskil are doomed, as Putin doesn’t have 5-6,000 fresh troops for a counter attack.

This offensive (like the Kherson Offensive) makes excellent use of rivers, and while the Kherson Offensive ensures that Russia can never launch an attack on Mykolaiv, the Kupiansk Offensive ensures that Russia can never launch an attack on Sloviansk. And with no chance to take Sloviansk, Russia has also lost the Battle of Donbas.

Putin is a moron, and now all can finally see that.

Comment: This thread by Thomas Theiner is the clearest account of this offensive and what it means. Igor Girkin and Tom Cooper offer more colorful accounts.

This strike toward Kupiansk was talked about months ago when the Ukrainians cleared the Russians from the outskirts of Kharkiv. It was wishful thinking at that time. The Ukrainians were still too weak and the Russians were too strong. Conditions have changed and here we are.

This offensive is closer to the bold and decisive blow that Colonel Lang is talking about. It is maneuver warfare at its finest. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the long, clearly visible buildup to the Kherson offensive. Even the manner that Ukraine is carrying out the Kherson offensive seems designed to focus all Russia’s attention, much of her logistical support and many of her troops towards Kherson. The Ukrainian MOD is thinking and planning on a grand scale.

It is my opinion that the fall of Kherson will not break Russia by itself. But the death knell of Putin’s stated goal of seizing the Donbas just might do it. The two together point towards some sad times in the Kremlin.


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34 Responses to Another offensive on the Kharkiv/Donbas front – TTG

  1. Whitewall says:

    Sad times in the Kremlin for sure and maybe some work place accidents.

    • Fourth and Long says:

      I think they are in serious trouble. But am a pessimist by disposition inherited and experienced.

  2. Polish Janitor says:

    I hope the Ukrainians will succeed in liberating Kherson and manage to inflict a decisive blow to Russia. As a habit, I checked up on the alt-media’s coverage which is obviously pro-Kremlin too to see what they are saying on the ongoing operation. Some are giving out Ukrainian casualties ranging between (6k to 10k) and refer to certain twitter accounts of allegedly ‘on-the-ground-reports’ to back their arguments up. A sizable segment has also declared already that the Ukrainians have lost and it’s over, which I personally think is preposterous at the current stage of the counter-offensive. Some like the die-hard pro-Kremlin “Moon of Alabama” has claimed that Ukraine went forward with the operation despite the American opposition to it and that Zelensky pursued this Kherson operation for domestic political reasons in spite of the idea that it was a suicide mission for the young Ukrainian soldiers (his assumption not mine). I pray for the liberation of Kherson, so that the success of the operation will shut the mouths of all those who are to spreading doubt, misinformation and fake news for good.

    • ked says:

      “so that the success of the operation will shut the mouths of all those who are to spreading doubt, misinformation and fake news for good.”

      PJ, that’s asking alot. it’s a well-funded industry with a raison d’être all its own. Vlad needs a powerful positive feedback loop, if only to keep his (estimated) 400,000 palace guards in good cheer.

  3. Babeltuap says:

    The best offensive would be not allowing them to invade at all.

  4. Fred says:

    So the Ukrainians advanced 50 kilometers (25 miles) from Blue 1 to Blue 3 and there are 10,000 Russians trapped in the hashmarked area? The two red circled areas are now “in range” of Ukrainian artillery?

    Where is the Russian artillery? Was it all over-run because it was on or adjacent to the highway the Ukrainian assualt drove along? Where are the range lines from known (satelite image reference) positions and what’s in range of that? Maybe some dotted red lines would do?

    What prevents the Russians (LDPR?) troops in that hash-marked region from going right through the ‘thin blue line’ (the map, not a Balaklava reference) along highway T2110 and escaping East towards either of the red circled cities or the bridgeheads? Isn’t the highway the Ukrainian supply route? Where’s the Ukrainian air cover and how effective is that versus what was reported off the link Barbara Ann provided?

    “Putin is a moron, and now all can finally see that.”
    Thanks to Mr. Theiner. Of course it is not the Russian PM that resigned, that was Draghi of Italy (Mr. Theiner’s birthplace?)

    It’s a hot summer and everything is boiling over in Europe other than Germany’s economy, and the rest of the EU for that matter:

    • TTG says:


      A lot of the Russian artillery was overrun, ambushed or captured. BM-21 rocket launchers and Msta-B guns are normally kept far behind the front lines and are among the destroyed and captured. I doubt there are any defenses or Russian units between where the Ukrainian forces are now and Kupyansk, although reinforcements are surely being pulled from further south. It will be a race.

      For the troops in the cross hatched area to escape to the SE, they will have to face the Ukrainian blocking forces at the captured towns and road junctions. Maybe they can do something like that, but that would take organization and initiative.

      • Fred says:


        So towed artillery and truck mounted rocket launchers. How many and are they Russian or LDPR? It begs the question of what Russian intel people were doing. Don’t they have satelite coverage of the battle area and couldn’t they see a build up coming? Again, if that artillery were that close then what were they shooting at and what happened to their command&control network that they couldn’t respond or move before being overrun?

        • TTG says:


          Yes, the Msta-B is towed and probably belonged to the Donbas militias. A number of MT-12 100mm Rapira AT guns were also captured that vey likely belonged to the militias, although VDV units in the area also had some. At least one Russian Msta-SM2 152mm self-propelled howitzer was also captured. This is an upgraded Msta-S with an automatic fire control systems, higher rate of fire and ability to use digital maps. It’s top of the line for tubed artillery. Don’t know what unit had that.

          This is a Russian account of the first hours of the offensive on Balakleya. It answers some of your questions.

          “The AFU occupied Sosnovka and Dementievka in the direction of Ud. The AFU concentrated a powerful tank group in the direction of Ud, at the peak of the offensive 15-17 vehicles were moving forward. Aircraft of the Russian grouping could not help the Rosgvardia garrison in time, because the direction was saturated with Ukrainian air defenses. No one had tasked GRU reconnaissance and special forces with detecting and destroying them, because reconnaissance was used to storm strongholds and towns due to the lack of infantry.”

          “As happened a fortnight ago during the evacuation of civilians from Ud by the Rosgvardia OMON, this revealed almost zero interaction between artillery of the Defense Ministry and police units of the Rosgvardia which acted autonomously from each other for the 7th month of the war. When a request was made to suppress the enemy, unnecessary clarifications and nods were made to the presence of the Rosgvardia’s own artillery units (120mm mortars).”

          • Fred says:


            “at the peak of the offensive 15-17 vehicles were moving forward”

            That doesn’t sound like much mass is behind it.

            “due to the lack of infantry”

            That’s been a common refrain. What on Earth are the previously reported 10,000 Russians, they can’t all be artillery and support?

          • TTG says:


            The 15 to 17 vehicles was all that observer saw at his position. You can only see so much at the grazing fire level. The Ukrainian MOD said there are three mech brigades and an artillery brigade committed to this offensive.

            In the Russian military, everybody rides. They’re a little rusty on the employment of dismounted infantry.

          • Fred says:


            If they had 4 brigades committed then again, what’s the vaunted Russian Aerospace forces (and those satelites they allegedly have) doing? Sounds like yet more armature-hour generalship over there.

          • TTG says:


            You missed this line.

            “Aircraft of the Russian grouping could not help the Rosgvardia garrison in time, because the direction was saturated with Ukrainian air defenses.”

          • Fred says:


            No, I saw that one. It brought to mind my comment from a couple months ago suggesting the UA go about forming a few BTG of AAA units since they didn’t have an effective air force then.

          • TTG says:


            Ukraine’s Buk-M1s and S-300s are organized into anti-aircraft missile regiments or brigades under the Air Force. Each tank or infantry brigade also has an anti-aircraft missile battalion. NASAMS will probably replace those systems as they come in and the older systems are destroyed. Not sure how the Strelas, Grails, Stingers, Starstreaks and Polish Pioruns are organized. I imagine they’re pushed down to battalions and artillery/missile batteries.

  5. jim ticehurst.. says:

    MaArticles and News of Interest at the Ukraine State Media MEDIA Outlet
    Today for Example..Valerly Zaluzhnyl Ukraine Commander In Chief..WARNED
    That “Limited NUCLEAR WAR Cannot Be Ruled Out.. ” Many Articles of Interest.

    Wars Reach MAX Limits…Desperate Measures..
    Putin Is Desperate..OPTIONS Putin has Shut Down Gas Supplys..
    Truman Gave The OK.. The Retaliation on DRESDEN.. Surrender Is The END..
    No One has Surrendered..

    • Fourth and Long says:

      I don’t think things are at that point yet Jim. I’ve gratefully been lucky with my thighs but my Backhearsts quite un pleasantly, though. At wurst maybe a virtuouso performance of Pictures At An Exhibition, by Pay Vell Muss Sour Sky or Skype. March Salvo by Tchia Coughs Sky, times past that this season but there may be a Fall season version with the silly jokester words “I Played Fiddle For the Tsar,” which repeats on infinite loop to that great melody. Try it. You probably know the tune.

      Ivan Susanin
      In truth or legend he is referenced as a hero who mislead some raiders to their doom leading to Tsar Mikhail Romanov’s 400 year rain.
      Since I have enough memnomnies, I apologize for the insulting in many ways sigh suppose for the insulting title Title Lingo in the performance from Auckland. Didn’t the Aucks go TextTinctually effinchewally Huntley and Brinksmanskipperly?

      Oh. You need to alternate a bit. After I played fiddle for the czar – twice – switch to I played fiddle, fiddle diddle diddle, I played fiddle for the czar. Properly sung it includes wonderful crescendos accelerandos, dimm menuendos etc.

  6. Pat Lang says:

    If this is what the UA is actually doing, I applaud the initiative. Perhaps the Kherson front broad scheme of attacks are an elaborate feint intended to draw Russian reserves to that area. That would be fine if these UA forces do not become too heavily committed. The intention should be to force large scale surrenders.

    • Poul says:

      I believe the Kherson offensive is a real effort. The gains if Ukraine succeeds are great.

      However I also believe that the Ukrainians planed for the possibility that a shift in Russian reserves to Kherson could create opportunities in other parts of the front.

      They may also have a third or fourth offensive planned if the Russians move their reserves in order to stabilize the Kupyansk front.

  7. Barbara Ann says:

    The EU President just received an open letter from the metals industry entitled “Europe’s non-ferrous metals producers call for emergency EU action to prevent permanent deindustrialisation from spiralling electricity and gas prices” (my emphasis). Among other things it says “50% of the EU’s aluminium and zinc capacity has already been forced offline due to the power crisis..”. Forget heating German homes over the winter, this is critical industry shutting down right now.

    I have the feeling the European leaders will have to bring this conflict to an end sooner rather than later (within weeks) unless they wish to face the wrath of a populace unwilling to “permanent[ly]” leave the industrial age for the sake of Ukraine. In fact this shows something else too; EU leaders are utterly inept. A competent leadership would have listened to industry representatives long before it got to the open letters stage and done something about it.

    When the dust settles after this conflict I expect either Russia or the EU to remain standing, not both.

    • Fred says:

      Barbara Ann,

      “…EU leaders are utterly inept.”

      That depends upon the intended consequences of their actions. I don’t think Ursula von der Leyen is going to go broke (she’s immensely rich) because of the policies she espoused for decades. She was German defense minister and failed completely to make sure her country was adequately prepared – you see the mess now. There are plenty of other immensely rich Europeans serving in the upper reaches of government, elected or not. Other than heads of government losing elections there’s been little repercussion. Lots of “trumpies” in the electorate are going to get ruined though. If making them wards of the socialist state is the intent then they are doing a fine job.

      “50% of the EU’s aluminium and zinc capacity has already been forced offline due to the power crisis”

      They can kiss the auto and aviation sectors goodbye then, however there’s wonderful news: Mercedes and Rivian (a start up that has produced less than 10,000 vehicles last quarter) are going to make commerical ev’s together. Stock’s up 10% today. Apparenlty they don’t need aluminum (or batteries).

    • cobo says:

      Perhaps it would be best to go all in on the complete destruction of Russia, now. Why let Puteen decide Europe’s fate. Destroy the Russian and take their land and resources – no horse carts necessary. If they want to play their nuclear option, melt them into glass. Flip that threat around and arm systems for immediate launch. Then, it’s up to them… War

      • TTG says:


        And who’s going to do that? Russians will defend Russia as effectively as Ukrainians are defending Ukraine.

      • Barbara Ann says:


        “Destroy the Russian and take their land”.

        It didn’t end well for the last person who advocated that and 6,000 nuclear warheads says it won’t this time either. But my own preference is to delay the point at which the cockroaches inherit the earth for as long as possible.

        • Bill Roche says:

          Ditto. My heart felt belief is that the Russian people will finally get to learn who/what they are, can do, and want, when cut free of the Czars, Boyars, and Commissars. Liberation of Ukraine will mean liberation (finally finally) of the Russian peasant. Thus Ukraine’s bid for independence affects all of eastern Europe. Where in that hope is there any call for destruction of the earth? Cobo has had too much piwa this AM I fear.

  8. Al says:

    Waiting to hear from “Eliot”!
    Is he still of thought that an Ukraine offensive would ne foolish?

  9. jim ticehurst.. says:

    Im Not Sure..But I believe I Recently Read there is Concern among the Military in Kviv about Zelinskys
    decision to continue an Advance towards KARKIV..I See in the Map..That TWO Main Hiways Come Out of Moscow South KURSK.then BELGOROD,,.and on beyond Karkiv.. That isRussian Hiway E-105.. It Then Joints Hiway E-38…Which Go,s EAST All Across Eastern Russia into KAZAKHSTAN… Where ..(by The Way) President XI of China is going on his FIRST Foreign Trip since Covid..

    Supply Lines for Rapid Transit to Russia..Including Railraod Connections..

    So How Soon Are THe North Korean Artillery Shells and Rockets Reaching Russia..?

    I Read N. Korea Offered Troops Also…Artillery..and Missle Types..Mainline Defense..
    Something May Be Developing Soon..

    • Worth Pointing Out says:

      jim, the Ukrainians are trying a different tactic in Kharkiv to avoid being chewed up by Russian artillery.

      Previously when they counter-attacked then the Russians would pull back to keep distance between the two forced. The Ukrainians would then rush to consolidate their hold on the liberated towns and villages, and the Russians would simply blast the crap out of them with artillery.

      In Kharkiv the Russians have pulled back but the Ukrainians have stayed mobile: they are employing flying columns to move from village to town to village. Raise the Ukrainian flag, take their geo-tagged photos, then move on before the Russian artillery is called in on them.

      Looks great – look at all that flag waving! – but it really amounts to the Ukrainians playing a game of whack-a-mole, with them as the mole.

      “So How Soon Are THe North Korean Artillery Shells and Rockets Reaching Russia..?”

      Even the Pentagon admits that the Russians have not ordered any munitions from North Korea.

      What the Pentagon claims is that the Russians are talking to the North Koreans about what the latter *could* supply if the Russians *did* place orders.

      Seems a very prudent thing for the Kremlin to do. But it simply indicates that the Russians think ahead, it doesn’t mean that the Russians are now desperate.

    • Bill Roche says:

      Cheaper to kill N. Korean infantry than to feed it? Or is Kim chee offering his troops to Putin for fee?

      • borko says:

        well, now that Russia is also heavily sanctioned, it can offer N. Korea a lot. It can provide, oil, gas, food, military hardware and upgrades and much more.

        N. Korea can provide, say 100k troops and the Russians need to feed them, train them, equip them and off they go to fight the proxy of the hated US. It is not that far fetched.

  10. jim ticehurst.. says:

    I Read Norway is Sending Ukraine 120 Hellfire Missles…Launchers and Night Vision Devices….How Much Of UA Operations Are Prepped..Planned And Directed By US,?


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