This one is not only going to be ‘quick & dirty’, but almost literally ‘written on the run’…. and focusing on just two points.
1.) As far as is known by now, what’s left of the ‘Russian garrison’ of Staromaiorske (south of Velyka Novoselivka, in south-western Donetsk) has capitulated yesterday evening. That is: some survivors tried to run away, but many of them run into their own minefields; others melted away, and those that were still around have had enough and gave up. Ukrainian naval infantry is mopping up the area between that place and Urozhaine.
2.) East/south-east of Robotyne, the ZSU continued pushing through in southern direction and widened its penetration by clearing additional Russian positions on the eastern flank of the same. So, if you hear somebody talking about Novoprokopivka…. let me express it this way: it does look like I’m going to need a new map of this area.
Today, another ‘major success’ was reported from this area, but more about this when the time comes.
With this, the ZSU is actually through the Russian 2nd Line of Defence in this area (which is precisely why it attacked so stubbornly in the Robotyne area: this is the place where there are ‘just a few kilometres’ between the Russian ‘1st Line’ and ‘2nd Line’: elsewhere, they are much more distant from each other).
Generally, it seems the Russians are starting to feel the effects of all the massive losses their troops have taken the last 1,5 months, of Ukrainian strikes on their headquarters, storage depots, and bridges in the rear. There are ever more reports about Russian commanders ‘stuffing the frontline full’ of troops (say: 100 per 100 metres of the frontline), like if this could stop Ukrainians. Actually, it’s just making the Russians perfect targets for all sorts of Ukrainian arms. There are also ever more reports about shortages of ammunition and supplies.
Of course, Pudding’s PRBS-industrialists are claiming ‘assaults by 100 tanks’ and ‘50 destroyed’ and ‘massive Ukrainian losses’. However, the only evidence for these are ever additional videos from early June: in some cases, it turns out back then they’ve recorded the same attack on the same M2/M3 Bradley with 7-8 different cameras. So, every week, they release another take of the very same scene…
Actually, the VSRF is meanwhile short on reserve units and on the best way of losing control of this battle.
Comment: In the last few days there are wild stories about a new phase of the counter offensive in several directions, the committing of previously uncommitted Ukrainian brigades, catastrophic casualties, not so catastrophic casualties and significant advances made after near two months of less significant advances. What to believe? I believe the truth will lag behind the initial stories by several weeks. Russian accounts are all over the map. The Ukrainians aren’t saying squat. The pundits and “analysts” are guessing, often out of pure emotion. Tom Cooper’s accounts are, at least, readable.
I do think we’ll have a fairly clear idea of where things stand by early September. In the meantime, I don’t see either side collapsing militarily, but they will both be exhausted. NATO will continue to support the Ukrainian war effort. Neither the US nor China want to risk chaos in the Kremlin and will take measures to ensure that doesn’t happen. Neither is willing to make that leap of faith.
I do see continued occupation of Crimea by the Russian invaders becoming more untenable, but I don’t see Ukraine reclaiming Crimea this year. Maybe next year.