Espreso. Global

Russia's attacks on energy sector, use of Kh-69, comparison of battles in Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Chasiv Yar. Weekly military review

13 April, 2024 Saturday

Why Russia resumed bombing campaign of Ukraine's energy infrastructure, what is special about the new strikes, and what happened on the contact line

Russian attack on Trypilska TPP

There was another Russian attack on Ukraine's energy sector. Different methods of destruction were used — cruise missiles and Shahed drones. When talking about Shahed and the use of missiles such as the Kh-101, the air defense worked quite effectively, because about 90% of the targets were shot down. But the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missiles were aimed at gas storage facilities in the western part of Ukraine, in areas where there are no Patriot SAMs, so there is nothing to shoot them down.

However, there was indeed a single nuance that we talked about, and it was confirmed, because I had some concerns about the veracity of the information about the attack on the Trypilska TPP with a Kh-69 cruise missile. On April 12, Ukrainian Pravda has confirmed the information and published the wreckage of this missile that was found near the Trypilska thermal power plant.

What is the danger of using these Kh-69 missiles? They are new modernized missiles, supposed to have a range of 400 km, but they are not used from strategic bombers like Tu-95, like the Kh-101 missiles that we track: a bomber flies, and we know anyway that missiles will be launched. But these Kh-69s are used from Su-34 and Su-35 frontline bombers. It is difficult to determine when exactly they will be launched. In addition, this missile flies at a lower altitude and is actually used for insidious strikes.

Air Force spokesman Ilia Yevlash said that Ukraine needs Patriots to shoot down these cruise missiles. This is not entirely true, because these cruise missiles are subsonic, they can be shot down even from MANPADS, from any system that shoots down Shahed drones. The question is that Ukraine needs to increase the number of different means to protect its HPPs and TPPs, both independently and in cooperation with its partners.

Programs to strengthen Ukraine's defense

Ukraine has two state programs. One concerns the ammunition industry, and the other is directly aimed at creating long-range strike systems. We understand that these two programs are secret, because the Russian enemy is trying to spoil any initiative of the Ukrainian side, but when speaking about missile weapons, there have been previous statements when, if I am not mistaken, the Minister of Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshin said that Ukraine has a missile with a range of 800 km, which is already in use. Perhaps these were promotional statements, but in any case, it means that developments in this area are taking place, i.e. if it is 800 km, it may be a version of the operational and tactical missiles such as Hrim or Sapsan, which were originally with a range of 300 km, perhaps now it will be even more.

However, we understand that these projects are technologically challenging. In any case, they are a priority, and the creation of missiles that can, in addition to long-range drones, strike deep into enemy territory or on the defense line is essential for Ukraine's Armed Forces. We understand that for several years now we have been hoping to receive ATACMS - we received 20 ATACMS and then there was a long pause, meaning that in fact we do not have a distance of 300 km covered by anything when talking about missile weapons. Ukraine has drones, yes, but it doesn't have missile systems of this range, the maximum it has is a 150 km weapon - GLSDB (Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb - ed.), which is launched from HIMARS. This is still Ukraine's longest arm in terms of its ability to destroy the Russian enemy.

Statements on the supply of Patriot air defense systems for Ukraine

Rather, the statements from the EU are political, and when it comes to finding and allocating Patriot systems from their own arsenal and transferring them to Ukraine, the voices of government officials and politicians, officials who may not support these aspirations, are already beginning to be voiced, who have announced that at least 7 systems should be found for Ukraine. In any case, there are about 30 Patriot systems in Europe that are used by a number of armies, and it is essential to find at least 3-5 for Ukraine. Because the president is talking about 25, the foreign minister is talking about at least 7 Patriot systems. Still, I hope the Europeans understand the challenges facing Ukraine and their armies and states.

There are 16 countries in the world that use Patriot, and indeed, there are 96 of these divisions that perform combat missions in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East; 30 of these systems are in Europe, 60 are in the United States. Probably Saudi Arabia has about 25 of these divisions, maybe the British will help Ukraine convince Saudi Arabia, but it's about time.

Analysis of the battles in Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Chasiv Yar

Each battle is unique, it is related to Russia's forces, Ukraine's approaches, the availability of certain weapons, and the prevailing forces. When speaking about Bakhmut, what we remember are waves of Wagner troops; when speaking about Avdiivka, we remember the active use of aviation and guided aerial bombs, which was not the case particularly in Bakhmut.

When talking about Chasiv Yar, we see that Russia's approach is similar: they are trying to bypass the town from the north and south, using certain features of the location and aviation and artillery to advance.

In Chasiv Yar, the terrain is quite convenient for defense, firstly, because of its height, and secondly, it is cut off from the Russian enemy from north to south by the following obstacle: the Siverskyi Donets - Donbas Canal, which is about 10 meters wide and is a water barrier. But in two sections, this canal enters a lowland: one near Bohdanivka and the other near Ivanivske; and there, relatively speaking, such tubes pump water. Most likely, the Russian army will try to advance through these lowlands. I hope these lowlands are mined.

Now all Russia's efforts are focused on getting into Bohdanivka. The information for today is that the Russian army is in Bohdanivka. When it comes to Ivanivske, about 20% of it remains under the control of Ukraine's Armed Forces, and all these positions can be held further, especially Chasiv Yar, if there is enough artillery. Just this week, I had a conversation with my colleague, a serviceman who is now near Bakhmut, responsible for artillery, who said: there is a significant problem with ammunition, we have less ammunition than we had even a week ago, which complicates the possibility of deterring the enemy, advancing in the area of Bohdanivka and Ivanivske.

Now, if there is ammunition, I think holding Chasiv Yar will be quite effective. The question is to have units ready for such work, and especially artillery. So far, the lack of artillery is being compensated by Ukrainian FPV drones, and there are many videos of Russian equipment being destroyed on the outskirts of both Ivanivske and Bohdanivka. The area is extremely difficult, but each battle is unique in its own way.

Mobilization is as important as equipment and ammunition

When we talk about the situation with the United States' assistance, the need for ammunition from America is extremely important. The Europeans are now trying to compensate for the lack of American ammunition, and we know about the initiative of the Czech president. So far, they have not yet been delivered to the front line in full. I hope that this will be accelerated as much as possible. Ammunition is playing a huge role in the situation at the front.

The second situation is Ukrainian brigades themselves: mobilization, the possibility of rotation. When we watched the parliamentary discussion of the mobilization package this week, the commander of the Ukrainian Joint Forces, General Yuriy Sodol, said that the department is being held by two soldiers instead of 10. They are exhausted, there are losses. So now the need for mobilization is extremely urgent, and it is as critical as the availability of equipment and ammunition.

When speaking about artillery divisions, sometimes artillerymen are used for assault missions, because there is a shortage of infantry rather than artillerymen. Because artillerymen are a bit far from the trenches and their specialty is extremely important, but the ammunition they are given per brigade per day is about 20 shells, which I think is critically low, i.e. 20 shells per division per day, and it is difficult to hold back the enemy.

But even under these conditions, even near Ivanivske, Ukraine managed to destroy the Russian units with artillery and cluster munitions in other areas, including Krasnohorivka and many other examples where artillery inflicts significant losses on the Russian enemy.

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