Welcome to the bleated update on Putin’s War.
The big news was the firing of Ukrainian commander-in-chief General Valerii Zaluzhny and his replacement with General Olexsandr Syrsky, commander of Ukrainian ground forces. This replacement has been rumored for a while and was first announced, then unannounced, two weeks ago.
READ: Putin’s War, Week 101. How to Not Fire Your Commanding General and the EU Approves Massive Aid Package
Even though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appointed Zalushny in July 2021, the two men were never close, and there have been obvious tensions for months. I think Eliot Cohen writing in The Atlantic has it about right.
One need not pick sides in a dispute like this. Zaluzhny is a heroic figure who had the second-most-difficult job in the world for the past two years; his boss, however, had the most difficult job, and is continuing to do it. One hopes that if the general were asked to take another position by the president, he would do so, and that, if not, he will not make McClellan’s mistake and enter politics. In 1864, that served neither McClellan nor the country well, and it failed. Other Civil War generals fired by Lincoln—Major General Joseph Hooker, for one—set an example of soldierly discipline by swallowing their pride and taking a lesser position.
Generals invariably get more glory than politicians; they also subordinate themselves to them. That is part of the deal that military service in a wartime democracy entails. In the end, however, the subordination is indispensable, because in a functioning liberal democracy, supreme command is firmly in the hands of civilian authority.
Peter Feaver, a scholar of civil-military relations, likes to remind those who care about these issues that “civilians have the right to be wrong.” That is true, but one may also add that, not infrequently, they instead exercise the right to be correct.
And the graveyard is full of indispensable men.
Zaluzhny has rock star status among the online Ukrainian partisans. But Zelensky’s list of goals hints that he was dissatisfied by more than Zaluzhny’s press clippings. Read all of Mick Ryan’s thread for more insights.
This reform agenda, laid out in President Zelenskyy’s speech today about the dismissal of General Zaluzhnyi, is worth studying. There are some very interesting aspects. 1/8 🧵 pic.twitter.com/oZaDJQ3ysc
— Mick Ryan, AM (@WarintheFuture) February 8, 2024
I’ll add one of my own observations. The best trained and equipped brigades in the Ukrainian Army were so dispersed when the Spring Offensive began that they had little to no impact. Too often, armies, even ours, fall into the trap of ensuring everybody has a little bit of the newest equipment. I think Zaluzhny could not resist the internal demands that the best units were parcelled out equally rather than held as a cohesive force. I’m not saying that would’ve changed anything, but the failure to do so hinted at a commander who was unwilling to crack the whip.
MEET THE NEW BOSS: Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi has been promoted to replace General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi as commander of the armed forces of Ukraine. General Syrskyi has served as Ukraine’s ground force commander since 2019. https://t.co/lpAszueoUQ pic.twitter.com/W4jkKmSpsV
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) February 8, 2024
General Syrsky has, as the Brits would say, some blots on his ledger. He was responsible for holding Bakhmut and got the rap for burning through manpower Soviet-style. Without being inside the command post, knowing exactly what happened is impossible. But given the marching orders Zelensky issued, they hint that there may be more to the story.
Anyway, Syrsky has to take command of an army engaged in combat, with the old guy looking over his shoulder. It will be obvious soon enough if he has what it takes.
The other story to follow is the military assistance bill for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. It was initially strapped onto a so-called border security bill, which made zero sense as anything other than a way to delay or prevent additional aid to Ukraine. The bill has now passed two votes and will clear the Senate on Wednesday.
$96 Billion Ukraine-Israel Assistance Bill Clears Major Senate Hurdle
$96 Billion Ukraine-Israel Military Aid Bill Moves Closer to Passage Despite Trump’s Opposition
Speaker Mike Johnson will try to delay the bill for reasons one can only speculate about. There is talk that he will offer separate bills for the different military contingencies. I’m not sure what that does for him. It will be interesting to watch some of the more vociferous pro-Russian voices explain why they voted against military aid to Ukraine, which desperately needs it, but in favor of aid to Israel, which could easily pay its own way. There are sufficient votes for a successful discharge petition should he try to bottle the bill up. He may want to fight that fight, but losing it will make him look weak. In the end, the bill will pass because a supermajority in the House favors supporting Ukraine.
If you recall, I predicted the “border security + military aid” bill would go nowhere, and that was exactly what it turned out to be: Failure Theater. No one thought it would pass, but you’ll be reading about how hard they fought in fundraising emails for the next nine months.
READ: Putin’s War, Week 95. The Russian Air Force Takes a Beating as Disease Rips Through the Russian Army
There is no doubt that the White House has deliberately starved Ukraine of munitions to create the funding under crisis conditions that we see playing out now in Congress. Over $3 billion in Presidential Drawdown Authority remains on the books, plus there are hundreds of thousands of artillery and rockets that are scheduled for “demilitarization” because the US military no longer uses them.
And, of course, there was Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin. Personally, I think you have to be something of a moron to believe that Putin is upholding Christianity and family values as a bulwark against globalism, Klaus Schwab, the WEF, and gay groomers. But YMMV. I plan on hitting this more in detail in the next few days, but the fact that the vatnik accounts dropped coverage of the interview like a bad habit leads me to believe they think it was as horrific as I do. The people praising Putin’s knowledge of faux history don’t want to talk about this classic.
⚡️ Putin said the Poles forced Hitler to attack them in 1939.
Hitler just wanted to “realize his plans” and Poland was “uncooperative” and “forced” Hitler to attack and start World War II, Putin said.
So, 1939, late August.
Hitler: Poland, we want to annex you, agree!
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) February 9, 2024
I recommend this thread if you want a serious look at his speech.
For a Westerner, Putin’s narrative may sound like a bizarre, autistic rant, signifying some deep & obsessive interest in history. For a Russian, it’s not. This is just a normal history textbook for the junior high school
That is what absolutely everyone has learnt as a teen
— Kamil Galeev (@kamilkazani) February 9, 2024
My view is a lot closer to this but without the “making out” part.
For those who have not seen the Tucker Carlson-Vladimir Putin interview, this is a short version that hits the high points.https://t.co/o1bsnBZQvU
— streiff (@streiffredstate) February 10, 2024
Here are some of my past updates. For all my Ukraine War coverage, click here.
Zelensky Starts Government Shakeup
The dismissal of Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valeriy Zaluzhny points to an overhaul of the direction of the Ukrainian government.
“A reset, a new beginning is necessary,” Mr. Zelensky told the Italian media outlet Rai News. “I have something serious in mind, which is not about a single person but about the direction of the country’s leadership.”
Zelensky hasn’t been reticent about sacking ministers who aren’t performing, even when they are political allies. In September, he defenestrated his defense minister.
BACKGROUND: Putin’s War, Week 80. Ukraine’s Offensive Continues Slow Progress as Fingers Are Pointed
This week, he fired his Minister of Veterans Affairs, who oversees an agency widely viewed as inept and uncaring.
⚡️In his evening address, Zelensky announced the dismissal of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Yulia Laputina
“With all due respect to the minister, this is a management issue only. Ukraine needs strength, fresh energy and sufficient leadership in every sphere.” pic.twitter.com/JJ3tt9H4DN
— 🇺🇦Ukrainian Front (@front_ukrainian) February 5, 2024
Now that General Zaluzhny has been told to pack his bags, look for more changes.
Ukrainian Graim Exports Approach Pre-War Levels
It’s hard to believe only a year ago, Russia claimed it had a “close blockade” of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, and grain exports had to be negotiated with Russia.
Now, THAT’S how you deal with Russia.
Just seven months ago, the west cowered in fear when Putin threatened a world food crisis, stating intent to blow up grain cargo ships if he wasn’t given full control of the Black Sea.
So, Ukraine just started blowing up Russian warships.… pic.twitter.com/I4huF8Tr7x
— Jay in Kyiv (@JayinKyiv) February 5, 2024
BACKGROUND: Putin’s War, Week 75. Putin Cucked, Moscow Droned Again, and the Industrial War Hits High Gear – RedState
US Ramps Up Artillery Ammunition Production
I’ve posted frequently on the efforts many European countries are making to increase ammunition production, particularly artillery shells. This thread gives one of the best overviews I’ve seen of what is happening in the US. By way of background, in the early 1990s, we produced about 200,000 155mm shells per month. Then, the Soviet threat went away, and we celebrated the “peace dividend” by gutting our defense production infrastructure. We are at a point where we don’t have the machine tools to make machinery for the factories we need to construct. Some of the skills are human skills, and because of the destitution of the industrial base, only a handful of Americans know how to do some critical tasks. Now, we are trying to get back on our feet to deal with a war in Ukraine and the looming prospect of a war in the Western Pacific.
🚨BREAKING: Assistant Secretary Bush has blessed us with a graph of projected US 155mm ammunition production. This confirms that they will hit ~36,000/month by the end of Q1. Looks like it will be closer to 70,000/m by year end. https://t.co/rLuT4pwxqQ pic.twitter.com/jxrklUbz0w
— Colby Badhwar 🇨🇦🇬🇧 (@ColbyBadhwar) February 5, 2024
Zelensky at the Front
President Zelensky visited the defenders on the front lines near Robotyne. He did the same last year during the battle for Bakhmut. I think this says several things. First, Zelensky has the physical courage to place himself in danger. I’m sure the Ukrainian military did everything possible to ensure his safety, but being within artillery range of the enemy does entail risks. Second, these visits increase the bond between soldiers and their government. Third, it clearly conveys that Zelenky is “hands-on” in this war and not just sitting around playing president.
Zaporozhye region. Robotine. Location of the 65th Separate Mechanized Brigade. He spoke with the defenders, thanked them and presented state awards , – Zelenskyi
It is an honor to be here today. Support warriors and reward. On their shoulders is a difficult, decisive mission – to… pic.twitter.com/Ph9WykWnv7
— Feher_Junior (@Feher_Junior) February 4, 2024
‼️ Zelensky in Robotino, Zaporizhzhia region
🇺🇦 President visited the location of the 65th Separate Mechanized Brigade and presented awards to the fighters. pic.twitter.com/kFgp0kJxv5
— MAKS 23 🇺🇦👀 (@Maks_NAFO_FELLA) February 4, 2024
Duma Defense Committee Chair: We Can’t Defend St. Petersburg
Ukraine has carried out dozens of drone strikes on targets in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities far from the frontlines. At first, the Russians denied such a thing happened. Then, anti-aircraft defenses started sprouting in large Russian cities. Now, the Chairman of the Duma’s defense committee has admitted that it is impossible to defend Russian cities from Ukrainian drone attacks.
The Russian defense ministry does not have sufficient air defense resources to fully protect St. Petersburg from drone attacks – Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee Andrey Kartapolov.
St. Petersburg and the region, Russia’s second largest city by population, have been… https://t.co/vBtCg2ltl5 pic.twitter.com/djhP9ExISd
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) February 1, 2024
In July, Russian Navy officer and former submarine commander Stanislav Rzhitsky was shot multiple times while on his morning run. He was killed in a location that CCTV did not cover. Rzhitsky had previously commanded the Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine Krasnodar based in Sevastopol. Under his command, the Krasnodar frequently launched Kaliber missiles against Ukrainian population centers.
BACKGROUND: Putin’s War, Week 72. Ukraine Misses NATO Membership but Still Wins and Ground Combat Gains Velocity
Now we have a new case.
Ukrainian GUR reports that Tu-95 strategic bomber pilot Major Oleg Sergeevich Stegachyov was shot in the Russian city of Engels. He served as a pilot on Engels-2 airbase from which Tu-95 bombers often lift up. The GUR said he was directly involved in launching missiles on… pic.twitter.com/Z9iwRigYTE
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) February 3, 2024
The fact that Ukrainian special operations forces can carry out targeted killings like this has to have a morale effect on the aircrew carrying out these missions.
Starlink Joins the Russian Army
This is an interesting story. Starlink internet terminals have been delivered to Russian military units in Occupied Ukraine. The Ukrainian military has had access to Starlink since the first week of the war.
⚡️The 🇺🇦Ukrainian military reports that Starlink has begun to be delivered en masse to the 🇷🇺Russian military through Dubai, the accounts are activated and work in the occupied territories pic.twitter.com/1KsbiqYbvp
— 🇺🇦Ukrainian Front (@front_ukrainian) February 8, 2024
The fact that the Russian military is using Elon Musk’s Starlink is disturbing. While I doubt that Musk, despite his open sympathy for the Russian point of view that he expresses on “X,” would engage in this kind of sanction busting, this is something that should get the interest of the Justice Department if it can pry itself away from prosecuting grannies for jaywalking. At a minimum, Starlink should be at least pretending to follow a “know your customers” policy.
Despite imagery to the contrary, Starlink says it isn’t happening.
SpaceX does not do business of any kind with the Russian Government or its military.
Starlink is not active in Russia, meaning service will not work in that country. SpaceX has never sold or marketed Starlink in Russia, nor has it shipped equipment to locations in Russia. If…
— Starlink (@Starlink) February 8, 2024
Muddying the message is Starlink’s service map, which shows Occupied Ukraine served by Starlink. At the same time, areas occupied by Russia before February 24, 2022, are blocked from coverage by Starlink to prevent the Ukrainian military from using the system in those areas. There is no reason for non-Ukrainian military Starlink access in Occupied Ukraine.
⚡️The 🇹🇷Turkish company Baykar has started the construction of a plant in 🇺🇦Ukraine, said Haluk Bayraktar, CEO of Baykar
The Turkish drone factory in Ukraine is already under construction and will take about 12 months to complete, after which the company plans to move on to… pic.twitter.com/Dg1filyFZB
— 🇺🇦Ukrainian Front (@front_ukrainian) February 6, 2024
Ukraine Creates a New Military Branch
We probably need to keep an eye on this to see how it plays out. But creating drone units in the Army and Marines is probably inevitable.
🧵 It’s been a bumper week for drones. Zaluzhny wrote an entire essay on them last week. On Tuesday Zelensky announced a new combat branch—the Unmanned Systems Force. A few drone-focused reports are out or due shortly. We put the issue on the cover of this week’s @TheEconomist. pic.twitter.com/QpEjfGoPBC
— Shashank Joshi (@shashj) February 8, 2024
Missile Strikes Against Cities Continue
Russia attacked Ukraine early this morning. Out of 64 missiles and drones, 44 were shot down.
15/20 Shahed drones
26/29 Kh-555/55/101 air launched
0/4 Kh-22 anti-ship
3/3 Kalibr cruise missile
0/3 Iskander-M ballistic
0/5 S-300 ballistic / anti aircraft pic.twitter.com/sYsJPVFlqx
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) February 7, 2024
This is part of a pattern that has seen Russian missile, air, and multiple launch rocket strikes increase in temps since the last half of December.
This is one of the few documented cases of combat refusal by Russian military units. There have been rumors of others. The best leadership in the Russian Army died in February-September 2022. The backfill, both in leaders and soldiers, has been incompetent. With weak leadership, combat orders become items of negotiation, and sometimes, the negotiations fail.
Russian soldiers refused to fight? If this is true, this will be significant.
Word spreads fast, and other Russian soldiers in other places along the front will soon figure out that if the 328th and 104th could balk and get away with it, they can, too.
It is worth remembering… https://t.co/4xc96pHJfm
— Fred Hoffman, D.Sc. 🇺🇸 (@InfoAgeStrategy) February 3, 2024
Only the Best Men
The chief logistics officer of the Federal Customs Service, Lieutenant General Oleg Zavgorodny, was arrested and spent the night in the drunk tank in Kaliningrad after brawling with police. Read the whole story; I can’t do it justice.
Meet the 🇷🇺russian Lieutenant General Zavgorodniy.
— АЗОВ South (@Azovsouth) February 5, 2024
Ukrainian Jet Drone
This new drone made its combat debut several weeks ago, but this is the first look at a largely intact one. I’m not an engineer, so I have no comments on it beyond that this war is doing for drones, what previous wars did for aircraft and tanks. Increasingly sophisticated and capable models quickly supplant the primitive models that, mark the first appearance of a weapon type. Read the whole thread if you’re interested in this subject.
2. There have been a few previous crashes of this model of drone. One of the crash sites showed a lot of detail including a C3-6 explosive. It is not clear why this drone crashed largely intact.https://t.co/HMuGymyqVC pic.twitter.com/889WsG49hz
— DanielR (@DanielR33187703) February 9, 2024
A Look At the Shahed
The Iranian-designed and supplied Shahed-131/136 has become the workhorse of Russian drone attacks on Ukrainian cities. Hackers recently obtained documents detailing the manufacturing process and costs for the Shahed-136.
The Prana Network hacker group breached the email servers of the Iranian company IRGC Sahara Thunder, that facilitates arms sales from Iran to Russia. The servers contained data on the production of Shahed-136 attack drones for Russia. The documents do not directly mention the… pic.twitter.com/t320YLFE6v
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) February 6, 2024
They ain’t cheap. And the payment is in hard currency, not in (lol) rubles.
$291k for each Shahed 136?!?! 5x-6x market price? Claims of 80% interception rate….so 1 in 5 hitting target…so that brings effective price to $1.5M each one? And that’s the price from an ally? Iran must remember the… pic.twitter.com/vzQoBaFxIr
— HerrDr8 (@HerrDr8) February 6, 2024
The Russians would have unironically extracted vastly more value out of the Shahed platform if they had just directly pursued a seeker/datalink and employed it as an actual loitering munition against tactical and operational targets. https://t.co/SNeEk23zBJ
— John Ridge 🇺🇸 🇺🇦 (@John_A_Ridge) February 8, 2024
Russian Armored Attack Stopped
This attack took place southwest of Donetsk City at Novomykhailivka. What appears to be a Russian mechanized infantry company team attacked Ukrainian positions out of march column. It was engaged by Ukrainian artillery, drones and direct fire. Three tanks and eight infantry fighting vehicles were lost.
Footage of the destruction of a large Russian column of AFVs during yesterdays Russian attack on the Donetsk front. Video from “Bulava” unit of the 72nd brigade. https://t.co/tpI6abWLPo pic.twitter.com/norkDln7jP
— Special Kherson Cat 🐈🇺🇦 (@bayraktar_1love) January 31, 2024
All Drone Attack
There are as yet unconfirmed reports that the Ukrainians executed an all-drone attack on Russian positions. Ground drones mounting a machinegun and guided by other drones overhead were used in a single attack. This is reminiscent of the introduction of poison gas and tanks during World War I. Both were revolutionary, and both were first used in very localized attacks and frittered away the element of surprise.
ROBOT WARRIOR: @PStyle0ne1 reports that Ukrainian ground units have employed the Shalblja (Sabre) remote-controlled turret mounted on a Rys (Lynx) platform for mobile fire support. https://t.co/ZmVUbZvk0K pic.twitter.com/WELejB8DZN
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) February 5, 2024
What Air Defense Doing?
“What air defense doing” is a snark social media phrase you’ll see in comments below videos or images of damage from air or missile strikes. The last update I posted covered a Ukrainian Storm Shadow or SCALP-EG cruise missile attack on the Russian airbase at Belbek in Occupied Crimea. This video was taken by the crew of a Russian surface-to-air missile site, supposedly a Tor M-1 (SAM identification is not my thing) in Crimea. The cruise missiles pass overhead at 0:17. Note the missile battery is not set up and operational. My guess is that the Ukrainian attacks on SAM sites are beginning to have an intimidating effect.
Ukrainian Storm Shadow cruise missiles fly past Russian S-300/S-400 air defense system launchers without hindrance, hitting the command post at the Belbek Airbase in seconds. pic.twitter.com/HASSPwKjuv
— Clash Report (@clashreport) February 6, 2024
Clash of Aces
I’ve written before about how there are two levels of drone warfare underway in Ukraine. The more visible ones are FPV drones attaching enemy vehicles and positions or larger drones calling artillery fire. The other level is drone pilots searching for other drone pilots and using either FPV drones or artillery to kill them. Last week, Ukrainian drone operators in the Krynky bridgehead in Kherson hunted down and killed the most famous Russian drone operator known on Telegram milblogger channels as “Moisey.” This is one of those seeming throwbacks to 1915-1916 when pilots on opposing sides knew each other by name and carried on their own war above the trenches.
He was located along with his support element in a farmhouse and killed by FPV drones.
This was reported by several pro-Russian channels referencing a message that appeared in Moses’ channel posted by his wife, reading “Very… pic.twitter.com/Z9vEH6n0aC
— Piotr Kulak (@KulakPiotr) January 20, 2024
— 𝐀𝐧𝐧𝐚 𝐊𝐎𝐌𝐒𝐀 | 🇪🇺🇫🇷🇵🇱🇺🇦 (@tweetforAnna) January 19, 2024
Rus. milcor Romanov states that after liquidation of Russian FPV ace Moisey in Krynky, and disablement of his group as a result of a successful strike, Ukrainians resumed active rotation of forces into the settlement. pic.twitter.com/GM8dDgxALQ
— WarTranslated (Dmitri) (@wartranslated) January 23, 2024
Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures
Don’t Try This At Home
🇺🇦⚔️🇷🇺 Ukrainian soldier extracting individual bomblets from a BM-27 “Uragan” MLRS rocket for use in UAV missions. pic.twitter.com/TckLLNTUbB
— Astraia Intel (@astraiaintel) February 3, 2024
Ukrainian paratroopers are on the second floor, and Russians are on the first.
FPV drone helped Ukrainians escape a building occupied by Russians. Commentary from DeepState:
Fighters of the 14th regiment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine shared footage of the rescue of their comrades who were in a building, the first floor of which was occupied by russians,… pic.twitter.com/NEsbi0gtOO
— WarTranslated (Dmitri) (@wartranslated) February 3, 2024
War is often a race to the bottom of human conduct. We’ve seen gratuitous killing and summary executions by both sides. Perhaps it’s just a function of Ukraine being more attuned to Western sensibilities, but we’ve seen a lot of video involving Russian soldiers leaving wounded comrades behind. This video is a refreshing change. Read the tweet.
Wounded Ukrainian border guard Serhiy Kupin couldn’t be evacuated because of his proximity to the enemy positions.
A drone operator of the aerial reconnaissance of the 68th Separate Huntsman Brigade discovered him and dropped a note to Serhiy that instructed him to follow the… pic.twitter.com/2Hfw4JmuFM
— Natalka (@NatalkaKyiv) February 5, 2024
Someone Call For a Tow?
Last week, I posted on the Ukrainians combining unmanned ground vehicles with aerial drones to attack Russian positions. This video is one of those UGVs, guided by an aerial drone, recovering a crashed Russian reconnaissance drone.
Ukrainian unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) retrieves crashed Russian Orlan-10 UAV. pic.twitter.com/c8Ud3h2L8d
— Clash Report (@clashreport) February 7, 2024
The implications of ground and aerial drones working as a team are immense.
Even though the Russians launched several major attacks last week, the situation remains static, with some marginal Russian gains.
💬 Positional fighting continued along the #Kupiansk–#Svatove–#Kreminna line on February 9. Geolocated footage published on February 9 indicates that Russian forces marginally advanced east of #Bilohorivka, – The Study of War#Ukraine #UkraineWar #UkraineRussiaWar pic.twitter.com/EblHCH6TxM
— @BlogUkraine (@BlogUkraine) February 10, 2024
Attacks on Civilians Continue
Reality always speaks louder than any words. An entire family was killed in a fire last night as a result of a Russian strike on Kharkiv using “Shahed” drones. Parents and their three children were killed. Oleksiy, the older son, was seven; Mykhailo, the middle son, was six; and… pic.twitter.com/qRKKujZRbQ
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 10, 2024
— Alex Kokcharov (@AlexKokcharov) February 10, 2024
The situation around Bahkmut had fewer attacks than last week, and the front lines remain essentially unchanged.
The situation in Avdiivka is messy and opaque. It is difficult to divorce what is being said about the battle from the backdrop of the debate over more defense funding for Ukraine playing out on Capitol Hill. Is the city about to fall? Or are messages saying it is about to fall aimed at an American audience? I don’t trust any of the sources enough to say more than the fighting for Avdiivka is intense, and the Russians are reporting some gains in the city.
AVDIIVKA AXIS /1650 UTC 8 FEB/ Using MANPADS, Ukrainian forces have shot down a Russian Ka-52 attack helicopter during heavy combat at Avdiivka. RU reported to have expanded gains N and S in Avdiivka urban area. pic.twitter.com/GTSZEGdBXq
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) February 8, 2024
I don’t think I have enough trustworthy information to make a guess on what might happen. What I can say is that the Russians seem to have abandoned their effort to cut off and reduce the Avdiivka Salient in favor of sledgehammering the city.
🇺🇦⚔️🇷🇺 The battle for Stepove is over. The battle for Avdiivka has officially begun. Russian forces, having failed in their initial plan of taking the city into a pocket by achieving a breakthrough in the flanks, are now storming the city head-on.
Welcome to hell. pic.twitter.com/Zg9d7sauaS
— Astraia Intel (@astraiaintel) February 4, 2024
They have gained some ground and have lost some to counterattacks.
Control over the fortifications south of Tsarska Ohota is disputed, and it’s not at all clear if the Russians in the north are still able to withdraw through the tunnels.
If they dont immediately breach Ukrainian defense in Tsarska Ohota this will not end up well for them.
— Astraia Intel (@astraiaintel) February 5, 2024
More Attacks on Civilians
this Selydove in Ukraine after an overnight visit by russian culture. peaceful homes, schools, shops, kindergartens — obliterated by missiles
— вареничок.eristavi 🇺🇦🏳️🌈 (@maksymeristavi) February 8, 2024
Don’t Bunch Up
I’ve posted several times on opportunistic Ukrainian strikes on Russians at parties and once on an artillery strike on a Ukrainian unit that was stupidly ordered to an awards formation within Russian artillery range.
BACKGROUND: Putin’s War, Week 97. The Missile War Continues
This is another one.
On Monday, the head of the Russia-annexed Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) said that the strike killed the minister of emergency situations, Alexey Poteleshchenko, who had been celebrating his birthday at the restaurant that was hit.
Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that the Ukrainian Armed Forces deliberately targeted the bakery, knowing that “locals traditionally come there on Saturdays for baked goods and groceries, including the elderly and families with children”.
The unofficial death toll is 26. The Russians are claiming that this is terrorism.
To clarify. Russian officials state a bakery was hit, while other Russian sources claim a group of Russian officials met at the Adriatica restaurant/cafe to celebrate the birthday of a high-ranking Russian official which was then hit after their location was leaked.
In total,… pic.twitter.com/ZRQpqH4Cwr
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) February 5, 2024
The Russians complained to the UN.
“This is the fourth terrorist attack of this kind in the past month and a half. The actions of the Kyiv regime are astonishing in their cruelty and sophisticated hateful nature. The shelling in Belgorod, the two strikes on Donetsk and now in Lysychansk took place on non-working… https://t.co/j6IDXl5edZ pic.twitter.com/ziBTh8QqFz
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) February 6, 2024
Like the rest of the front, there are repeated Russian attacks but very little, if anything, in the way of gains.
ORIKHIV SALIENT /1720 UTC 9 FEB/ Five Russian attacks broken up in Orikhiv salient. RU forces are confirmed to have deployed CS gas during attacks on Robotyne. pic.twitter.com/nJiczWUWJN
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) February 9, 2024
The Ukrainian bridgehead at Krynky continues to hold and marginally expand.
KHERSON AXIS /1645 UTC 10 FEB/ Ukrainian forces break up Russian attacks on Krynky. Ukrainian FPVs interdict Russian positions. Russian air strikes hit north bank locations. pic.twitter.com/q1ayosDED5
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) February 10, 2024
Operating under a formidable air defense umbrella and with a disproportionate number of drones, the Ukrainian forces in Krynky have turned Russian attacks on the bridgehead into another meatgrinder that is wearing down what should be the Russian operational reserve.
I’m still not sure how this will become more than it currently is, but for the time being, it is proving its worth as a distraction for Russian planners.
More Attacks on Civilians
Ever since abandoning Kherson in the autumn of 2022, the Russians have continued to shell the city. The purpose seems to be to inflict damage and casualties. This is just another incident.
On 5 February, Russian forces carried out two artillery attacks on downtown Kherson, indiscriminately bombarding the streets, which resulted in the deaths of three men and one woman, in addition to injuring a 24-year-old man. https://t.co/f2Kuwb73jm
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) February 5, 2024
Even at a funeral in Kherson, Russian attacks continue.
February 8: 82 attacks at Kherson region; 342 shells launched from artillery, mortar, MLRS, tanks, drones and aviation. 2 killed, 1 injured.
114 shells at the city of Kherson.#Kherson https://t.co/GNrAbzAWzQ
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) February 9, 2024
Lukoil Refinery at Volgograd
Lukoil-Volgogradneftepereraobtka refinery in Volgograd will partially halt operations after drones attack overnight https://t.co/ikHN4oJGyQ
– Refinery in Volgograd was in top 10 in Russia by refining volumes
– Russian Mindef said 2 drones were shot down in the region pic.twitter.com/nXhKHMD1LE
— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) February 3, 2024
Last week, I posted about a Ukrainian drone attack on an oil refinery near St. Petersburg.
More Refineries Hit
Overnight #Ukraine struck another 2 of Russia’s vulnerable oil refineries. Both in the Krasnodar region, near occupied #Crimea. Videos show large fire at Ilsky refinery & nearby Afipsky oil refinery was also targeted, but no reports yet of damage there.
The closer Ukraine gets… pic.twitter.com/UzYcUd9lmY
— Glasnost Gone (@GlasnostGone) February 9, 2024
Votkinsk Machine Building Plant is a machine & ballistic missile factory, based in Votkinsk, Udmurtia, Katsapiya.
It produces RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles, most recent ICBM development, as well as the submarine-launched Bulava SLBM.
it is 52 km from Izhevsk pic.twitter.com/7ShHgAxDX3
— Roman Motychak – ATACMS ASAP 🇺🇦 (@motytchak) February 7, 2024
RELATED: Putin’s War, Week 101. How to Not Fire Your Commanding General and the EU Approves Massive Aid Package
With the Ukraine funding bill looking more and more certain, Ukraine will have access to the funding it needs to stay in the fight for the next year. The fear of God that Putin put into the EU and NATO by invading Ukraine is beginning to be felt in increased European production of ammunition and weapons and increased emphasis on military affairs.
I think we can expect the Ukrainian military, except the drone/special forces, to be quiescent as the new CINC gets his bearings. If the Russians do have the capacity to launch a major attack, look for it in the next couple of weeks before Syrsky is firmly in the saddle. If they could hand Ukraine an obvious defeat as a welcome gift to the new CINC, it could cause a lot of damage.
Look for the fighting around Avdiivka to intensify. The Russians want to take this city before Putin’s “election” in March. Syrsky can’t afford to lose the city after presiding over the loss of Bakhmut.
Though most commentators predict 2024 as a year of stalemate and positional warfare, I don’t think we should rule out a major offensive action by either side. I have doubts that the Russians are technically capable of much more than “hey-diddle-diddle, straight up the middle” because of the losses they have suffered in trained personnel and first-line equipment. The Ukrainians have received ground-launched small-diameter bombs, and we’re probably less than 60 days from the appearance of Ukrainian Air Force F-16s. Smartly handled, those could cause some anxious moments for the Russians.