The militarily logical thing for Russia to do would be to fall back to Svatove, east of the administrative border with Kharkiv Oblast, and build defenses to protect that mass to its east. Yet Russia isn’t bothering to try. Ukraine General Staff reported last night that “In Luhansk region, the Russian military and their families left the town of Svatove. Only soldiers of the so-called ‘people’s militia’ from among the local residents remained.” With Russia abandoning them, will the Donbas cannon fodder decide to fight? Hopefully not. And with Svatove liberated, Ukraine can look east to the vast empty nothing of northern Luhansk Oblast.
The town of Starobilsk (pop. 16,600) anchors the entire region’s transportation network—all the major roads cross through town, as well as the lone rail line east of Svatove. It’s wide, it’s open, it’s flat, with few settlements standing in the way. The Aidar River borders Starobilsk to the west, but that would be nothing more than a nuisance to Ukrainian forces, who could cross it with little interference to the north or south of the town.
So if Svatove falls, so does northern Luhansk, and we’re almost back to the pre-February borders in that region. Ukraine could station a small territorial defense force garrison in Starobilsk, just for early-warning if Russia decides to cross that long border again, but the bulk of the force could head south and lay siege to Luhansk city, pressuring it from both the north and west. If Luhansk were liberated, western Luhansk would be effectively cut off. Pushing further south would threaten Donetsk city from multiple directions.
As for Russian forces, reinforcements were seen heading toward Mariupol. Russia isn’t feeling too great about its “land bridge” to Crimea, and for good reason. Ukraine doesn’t want to just cut that land bridge, but wants its Azov Sea coastline back. Not only is it of upmost economic importance, but it would also threaten more of Russia’s Black Sea fleet as well as the Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland.
Comment: I first saw the map above last night and have been looking for evidence that this was more than just aspirational. The conventional wisdom trumpeted by Moscow and most Russian shills was that a new line was being established on the east bank of the Oskil River. It looks logical. A long stretch of that line is a natural water barrier. But this is apparently not what’s happening, although Russian units are still trying to organize a defense at the town of Oskil. The Russian forces from the Kharkiv and Izyum front are in such disarray that they are unable to establish a coherent defensive line, especially in front of Kupiansk. They’re not holding at the oblast border nor are they holding at Svatove. Maybe they can manage at Starobilsk. Maybe that much vaunted 3rd Army Corps, composed of mostly fat old men dreaming of reliving their glory days in the old Soviet Army, will anchor that new defensive line.
The chaotic nature of the Russian withdrawal is shaping this still evolving defeat. Much equipment was abandoned intact rather than destroyed in place. The same goes for substantial ammo stores. The retreating Russians are failing to establish minefields or other obstacles to slow the Ukrainian advance. Panic has set in among Russian supporters and collaborators in the occupied territories. The roads are clogged with those seeking to escape to Russia. Oddly enough, the Russians are refusing to let them into Russia even though many of the refugees have their newly issued Russian passports. Maybe the Border Guard are trying to spot Russian deserters among the refugees. There are even rumors that the leaders of the DNR and LNR have “unassed the AO” as we used to say.
Another shaper of this evolving Russian defeat is Ukraine’s aggressive use of reconnaissance forces. Much like our armored cavalry, Ukraine’s sabotage-reconnaissance units push forward of the main forces probing for the locations of the enemy and the gaps between enemy locations. They appear to be somewhat lighter than our armored cavalry using a lot more lighter wheeled vehicles, armored and unarmored than we do. They are also quick to employ dismounted assaults and appear to be adept at infiltrating enemy defenses. As long as these sabotage-reconnaissance units can be kept resupplied or, even better, rotated from the front lines, the Russians will have a hard time establishing a defensive line.
We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico
Yeah, they ran through the briars
And they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes
Where a rabbit couldn’t go
They ran so fast
That the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico
– Johnny Horton
Forgot “nigh.” You had an acquaintance Nigel you’d prefer forgetting? Or a special forces officer who stole the t from night for one of the letters in his handle. Or you wanted to omit that something is nigh, or some thing mixed up with the nights?
No you were stationed in UK and did the daily cryptics. ))
Hmm. Geacy Aitch Quetips called and said lay this on that — who insults our lime solutions for scurvy?
You left out this old artilleryman’s favorite part of the song:
“We fired our cannon ’til the barrel melted down.
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round.
We filled his head with cannon balls, and powdered his behind
And when we touched the powder off, the gator lost his mind.”
BTW, anyone notice the parallel between the Russians’ belief in the potency of their energy supply weapon and the Confederacy’s belief in the potency of their control of cotton supplies?
“Russians are failing to establish minefields or other obstacles to slow the Ukrainian advance. ”
Shouldn’t that have been done forward of the position the Russians were holding before the attack began?
The hasty minefields should be emplaced as the Russians withdraw to slow down the pursuit.
If an ex-submariner can so state (not that I want to aid the invaders any, but): The Russians should have planted mines in the weeks leading up to the attack. There should have been continuous patroling to the front so just this kind of thing didn’t happen. They are in a war and maybe it was a stalemate but that doesn’t mean sit on your ass and give the initiative to your opponents.
Nice song BTW, but if memory serves Jackson took initiative early (in the days prior to the main battle), giving him time to select the terrain and build up a wall/field fortifications with enfilading fire and then waited for Packenham to come on in the same old way, which he did.
Yes, they should have done all that, but they didn’t. They also expected to eventually take Kharkiv. Nothing’s working out for the sorry bastards.
As for New Orleans, Jackson played it well. A few of us were drinking with a bunch of Australian and British officers when we were training in Australia. They were all singing regimental songs. We sang this song because we knew no other one. Turned out two of the Brits were with the Black Watch Regiment. Our singing brought tears to their eyes as they recounted their version of the battle.
Holy miss Molly. 2022 – 1814 = 208
So 14 plus 208 years after 1800 or 14 + 208 = 222.
Wasn’t there some wizardry with the twos in 02-22-2022 the day of the crazy speech to his staff?
If I know my Twisted Genius, he thought of this just to say hi, Effn L, because I posted that old hit song of Johnny Horton’s. Hmm. A great tip of the hat to you. The nuts I grew up with would only call you Big TTG from here on.
So much for defence in depth. What were the Russians thinking?
Which brings up the next question: What other little surprises are we quietly cooking up far away from the front line?
My guess is a “new” Ukrainian airforce, probably under training somewhere in North America.
I have read Russian bombers are dropping big bombs over Karhkiv and other Ukrainian infrastructure. If true, can the “new Ukrainian A.F.” be far behind?
Gotta stop those bear bombers somehow.
P. S. maybe now is the time to test swarm technology. The wingman thing; one manned F16 among 6 drone versions.
Up to this comment I didn’t know that fighter planes could be turned into drones.
Jovan, the Russians claim they can do that – control a drone wingman to a manned aircraft, I am assuming then that so can we…..
Here’s a few comments from Strelkov’s Telegram channel that Barbara Ann linked to in an earlier thread.
What if the Russian military is back to where they were before the “special military operation” began – effectively pushed back by the Ukrainian armed forces? How would Putin survive such a debacle?
The question now is – where would the Russian military hold down a serious defensive line to regroup and then counter-attack? The morale of the Russian grunt doing the fighting must be in the crapper if they’ve had to run with just the clothes on their back.
Fascinating. Agree with Strelkov on all but one point while also agreeing on that as well. Villain named: Cretinism.
Close. Forgot another tinism. But it would be risky to say it out loud.
Colonel, is this the closest that Russian ground troops are fighting NATO ground troops (volunteers, mercenaries) in post WWII history?
The MIG valley was a place for air battles between US and Russian pilots, but I read of no occasion on which ground troops crossed paths. Did it happen somewhere in Korea? Or maybe Vietnam? Maybe in Afghanistan, during the Soviet occupation?
Georgia was part of the partnership for peace program when Russia and Georgia fought their short war. Before that, NATO almost came to direct blows with a company of Russians at Pristina Airport. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed.
thanks for clarifying.
Seems to me that the latest events play in some kind of ,,1914” vibe.
Here is the latest from Big Serge. Among the conclusions, the Russian gloves are coming off.
It is such a privilege to read Colonel Lang’s and your commentaries about the war. I also really enjoy reading some of the pro-Russian shills’ mental views in the comment section and get a good laugh out of their slavishly pro-Putinist and anti-American ramblings especially in the midst of the latest developments on the eastern front. I feel like that some of them are just one-dimensional trolls and whatnot, but to those who have been accustomed to eating dog-crap from RT, Sputnik, the Saker, Moon of Alabama, SF, and so forth and who are ideologically-conditioned to expressing pro-Putinist views, oh man! I sincerely advise these ‘comrades’ to stop it because more Ukrainian humiliation of the Russians are coming and it will be exhausting for them to keep doing what they are doing for so long. And lastly I have to admit that boy is it so fun to read their kneejerk reactions here! For every Russian humiliation they have to find the next lamest excuse to justify whatever they think needs justification.
They got QR code. All digital surrender and processing. Unless they have absolute confidence that reinforcements and supplies are coming soon with the main supply bridges out of commission it would seem that many Russian soldiers may take the route of surrender.
“IBS3” : internet-based surrender support systems. an advanced way to speed & organize end-of-battle processes. heck, linked to accurate combat simulations & objective scoring maybe the 3rd Corps can stay home & just log-on to bail.
It’s probably run by a call center in the Philippines.
“Maybe that much vaunted 3rd Army Corps, composed of mostly fat old men dreaming of reliving their glory days in the old Soviet Army, will anchor that new defensive line.”
Nope. The Russians have no interest in moving their reserves to where Zelensky wants them to be. They want to make such decisions for themselves.
They already have.
The 3rd Army Corp are positioned opposite the Ukrainian forces that are about to launch themselves towards Mariupol.
Then we’ll see how old and fat they are.
Maybe Mariupol is the next Kherson.
Ukrainians are tricky, who knows where they are hitting next.
It appears the Ukrainian military has all the initiative and the Russian military are reacting. The Ukrainians are massing forces on many axes, so who knows where they’ll try to punch through again. Command & control for the Russian forces could be challenging as their units may not have the same level of cohesion and confidence when there is uncertainty about reinforcements.