Espreso. Global

Fog of war is now playing in Ukraine’s favor — military expert Zgurets

20 October, 2023 Friday

The return of the Dnipro River to its natural course has changed the geography of the area, and the frontline of active operations has expanded by 200 km

The left bank of Kherson region

The situation with Russian forces in the Kherson region, particularly on the left bank of the Dnipro River, is becoming increasingly intense. It's worth noting that the offensive operations in the Kherson direction were temporarily halted after the hydroelectric power plant in Nova Kakhovka was destroyed on June 6 of this year. However, the restoration of the Dnipro River to its natural course has altered the area's geography, and the frontline has once again expanded by an additional 200 kilometers. Consequently, Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces have become more active on the left bank of the Dnipro River.

In recent weeks, especially in the last couple of days, Russia’s hysteria has become much more pronounced. Z-military bloggers claim that on October 17-18, units of two Ukrainian marine brigades, probably company-sized, advanced across the Dnipro River to the eastern left bank of the Kherson region.

The point of reference is Prydniprovske, on the right bank. It is a few kilometers from Antonivka and the Antonivskyi road bridge, which was destroyed. To the east is Prydniprovske, which has a railroad bridge to the left bank of the Dnipro to Pishchanivka and Pidstepne. The Russian Ministry of Defense recognizes that the Ukrainian army is conducting operations near Pishchanivka and Pidstepne. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense has not yet confirmed this but it is interesting that in the earlier report of the General Staff, it was said that the enemy carried out air strikes near Prydniprovske, on the right bank, and near Pishchanivka, on the left bank. We can say that certain qualitative changes are taking place on this section of the front.

I won't reveal any big secrets, but given the resources that are available, I can say that at the end of September, several Ukrainian marine brigades were transferred to the right bank, including the 35th and 36th, which previously operated in the Berdyansk direction. And now Russia is somewhat hysterical and uncertain because it says that there may be a large-scale landing by the Ukrainian side. I won't delve into the specifics of whether such an operation is currently feasible, but it seems that the primary consideration revolves around the availability of the necessary forces, resources, and the timeframe required for such an operation, should it be deemed necessary from the perspective of our General Staff. This uncertainty works in Ukraine’s favor because Russia is no longer transferring units from the left bank of the Kherson region to other areas, as it did before. And this fog of war is now playing in our favor.

Other areas along the frontline where the situation is equally intense and challenging

Let's talk about the Bakhmut direction, where units of the 92nd Separate Assault Brigade named after Otaman Ivan Sirko are operating.

Oles Malyarevych, a sergeant with the Achilles company of the 92nd separate assault brigade named after Ivan Sirkan, has stated that Ukraine's progress toward the liberation of Bakhmut is being pursued step by step.

Map of fighting near Bakhmut

Photo: Espreso

The sergeant added that it is difficult now, the weather is deteriorating, and the effectiveness is decreasing, but there are results and movement. That is, the situation is fully controlled and on the side of Ukraine. There are positive dynamics, but heavy fighting continues. Russia keeps trying to regain the strongholds it is losing. The war on counter-movements continues.

Malyarevych highlighted the increasing use of FPV drones, which offer a wide range of capabilities. These drones are employed for tasks such as targeting enemy assets, surveilling manpower, and identifying fortified positions. However, a crucial concern is the availability of resources, including the number of drones at hand and the capacity to plan and execute these missions effectively. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are actively leveraging local expertise and innovations emerging in Ukraine, with the unit sharing knowledge and experiences with drone manufacturers. The use of repeaters, a discrete function to maintain signal integrity, is also in play and is employed across units to facilitate communication and coordination, all aimed at a singular objective: neutralizing the occupying forces.

Development or hindering of Ukrainian defense enterprises

And then we will move on to the topic related to the development of Ukraine’s defense enterprises or, on the contrary, to the inhibition of their development. Let me remind you that this tragedy has been going on for 6 months now after the State Audit Service of Ukraine (SASU) concluded that the companies that fulfilled state defense orders last year should return the profits they made to the state treasury. This decision was based on an ambiguous interpretation of certain resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers. After that, there were several meetings of the Verkhovna Rada and government committees, and it was said that the SASU decision was not logical, and therefore it should be canceled.

However, the situation has not changed for 6 months. And a number of companies are already appealing to the authorities through the public and letters to change this situation. In particular, the Luch Design Bureau, which manufactures the Neptune system, appealed to Ukraine’s government officials and political forces on Facebook. There were also statements from three companies involved in the missile program.

The situation appears to be persisting and affecting other companies as well. Pozhmashina, a renowned Ukrainian manufacturer of specialized equipment for the State Emergency Service and the Ministry of Defense, is reportedly grappling with challenges stemming from the SASU's determinations regarding the reimbursement of earnings from state defense contracts. Furthermore, the State Bureau of Investigation of Ukraine (SBI) is apparently attempting to carry out searches at the company.

Oleh Averyanov, CEO of Pozhmashina, believes that this situation is absurd. The company is the market leader in the production of equipment for the needs of emergency services. Almost 90% of the equipment used by the emergency services is manufactured at Pozhmashina. Six months ago, the State Audit Service of Ukraine came to inspect the company and issued a report that the profits declared in the contract were a loss to the state. And according to the SASU, the company should return this loss to the state. And then the SBI began to check all the SASU acts and, based on the acts, initiated criminal cases for causing damage to the state. The SBI is following the criminal case procedure, claiming that the company is a criminal who made a profit, because according to the SASU, the company has no right to make a profit, and therefore it is a loss for the state.

The CEO noted that during Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Pozhmashina relocated part of its production to Lviv from Pryluchchyna, where active hostilities were taking place. During this time, a new enterprise was set up in Lviv. By the way, the profits the company made in 2022 were used to create a new enterprise in Lviv. At this enterprise in Lviv, 70% of the 250 employees are IDPs from the war zone. And the company paid tax on the profit it made.

Averyanov added that in addition to establishing production in Lviv, Pozhmashina plans to build a completely new plant in Lviv. This production facility will be used to manufacture demining equipment, which is extremely important for the country today. But after such decisions and conclusions of the SASU, they give up doing anything. Agricultural machinery is still being manufactured in Lviv, and a company has been set up in Poland to export products to EU countries. And the Poles are ready to give money to relocate the company to Poland. It's no secret that the main corrupt officials in our country are officials and law enforcement officers who create artificial criminal cases to create nightmares for businesses and to receive bribes.

The CEO added that Pozhmashina has helped the Armed Forces of Ukraine for about UAH 30 million. The company also paid taxes of about UAH 100 million. To summarize Oleh Averyanov's comments, I would say that this is not the only company that finds itself in such a grip of madness. I hope that by highlighting these problems, common sense will prevail.

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