Espreso. Global

New A-50, use of 4-ton P-35, frontline situation: weekly military results by Serhiy Zgurets

20 January, 2024 Saturday

What happened on the frontline this week, what are the consequences of the A-50 aircraft destruction for Russia, and how did Russia's attempts to use old missiles to strike Odesa end?

Frontline situation

Russia started, so to speak, their third offensive planned actions around October, when they started attacking Avdiivka. At that time, fighting intensified along the entire frontline - Kupyansk, Svatove, Kreminna, and Avdiivka - and has been going on at a fairly strong pace for three months. If we saw about 30 combat clashes on New Year's Day, now the number has increased to almost 100 combat clashes per day, which means that the Russian troops continue to put pressure on Ukraine's defense line. Now Ukraine is in active defense, and speaking about different parts of the frontline, we see Kupyansk - Svatove - Kreminna - here the Russian forces are trying to create preconditions to ensure that Ukraine's grouping is pushed to the right bank of the Oskil River. This is a long-standing goal, Russia has been moving groups there for almost the entire duration of the fighting to ensure their advance, but this area remains difficult.

map of fighting near Avdiivka

Map of hostilities near Avdiivka

When talking about other targets, of course, the fighting around Bakhmut is aimed at trying to break through to Chasiv Yar to the dominant heights and then try to develop an offensive on Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. When talking about the situation around Avdiivka, Russia is trying to push Ukraine's troops away from the supply line in order to secure its railroad tracks, which feed the Russian group. When we talk about the south, Russia's goal there is to reverse the results of Ukraine's offensive and recapture Robotyne, which is held by Ukrainian defenders.

map of fighting in Kreminna-Bilohorivka sector

Map of hostilities near Kreminna - Bilohorivka

The situation in all these areas is actually predictable. Russia has now amassed a significant amount of forces. We understand that the number of personnel on the territory of Ukraine is 460 thousand. Before the war, in the first months of the war, there were 180, and now there are 460 plus 30 thousand Russian Guard troops, which means that 500 thousand troops are actually on Ukrainian territory.

At the same time, we understand that the front line hardly changes, which indicates an effective defense system, although we understand that Ukraine needs more equipment and ammunition, we need to revise approaches to defense actions, not to forget about fortifications and many other things that are now affecting the front line.

Events on the left bank of the Oskil River

When we think of Ukraine's Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna grouping, which is located on the left bank of the Oskil River, there is the Oskil River behind, the Zherebets River in front, and all of this rests in the Siverskyi Donets River - these waterways form the geographical conditions of this theater of operations. Now Russia is focusing its efforts on Kupyansk in order to control the transport hub that is located at the top of this water junction, because the Oskil becomes wider below, and if Ukraine loses the ability to supply its groups through Kupyansk, it will actually become more difficult to hold. We can retreat to the right bank of the Oskil River, but we should not do so prematurely. The strategy of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is to hold the lines with minimal losses for ourselves and maximum losses for the enemy. By the way, this was said by Colonel General, Commander of the Ukrainian Land Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi, who was just yesterday or the day before yesterday at this section of the front, near Kupyansk, where he held meetings with the brigade commanders who are currently holding this area.

There, Russia has been trying to move from Synkivka to Kupyansk for several months now without success. But its goal is to try to take control of this section of the frontline. When we go down to the very bottom, to the Lyman, there is also a wider stretch of the Oskil River, more powerful reservoirs, and Russia is also trying to put pressure on Ukraine's defense and the entire area from Kupyansk to the Lyman, thus complicating the supply of Ukrainian troops.

Russia has 100,000 personnel there, there are constant attacks, but the situation on the front line is such that there is no advance of the Russian enemy, who will try to continue offensive actions - these are actions using manpower and equipment, but the dynamics are such that if there are enough reserves and artillery, I hope that the enemy can be held. In case of a retreat in conditions when it is simply impossible to hold these sections of the front, we understand that the right side of the Oskil River looks quite acceptable, but it is too early to say.

Kupyansk direction

At the same time, the Russians have repeatedly reported that they have taken Kupyansk. For the first time, six months ago, propaganda ran ahead of reality, and now the village of Synkivka, which is about 6-8 kilometers from Kupyansk, is already a graveyard of military equipment, although they are making their way to the village, trying to enter the village, and Ukrainian soldiers are knocking them out.

map of fighting in Kupyansk direction

Map of hostilities near Kupyansk

Synkivka is an important settlement, it is located in a lowland, it is completely destroyed, but the defense line is being held there and actually looks like a trap for Russian troops, although it is easy for them to provide logistics there, because Russia is close from above and reinforcements can be sent. Syrskyi also said that new assault companies are being formed there, but the dynamics related to the defense indicate that Synkivka is being held, which is very good, although in some other areas, such as Orlivka, a little further from Synkivka, Russia has advanced by several hundred meters - this was just a couple of days ago. How did this happen? - It was very bad weather, there was a strong wind, poor visibility, no drones were used, and using such climatic conditions, when Ukraine could not effectively use reconnaissance UAVs and artillery, the Russian troops took advantage of the opportunity and advanced in certain areas. Counterattacks are now underway, and I hope that the front line will be normalized in those areas that are optimal for Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Why the Siversk direction is important

This is the bridgehead Ukraine is holding now. If looking at the map, Siversk is right in the center, and the Russian army realizes that either it has to move on to Lyman or move on to Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. This "pocket", which is now biting into that territory, is quite dangerous for the Russian enemy, because the grouping of Ukrainian troops around Siversk does not allow them to carry out any far-sighted actions using its troops in any direction.

Just this week, they carried out a series of powerful attacks aimed at two areas: one is Bilohorivka and the other is Vesele, where there are some Russia's advances at a short distance, and this is aimed at trying to push Ukrainian troops out of this area. But again, this is not the first time this has happened, we can now record some Russian advances, but in any case, we can hardly say that there are any systemic changes that will allow them to achieve what they want. In fact, the potential of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, despite the grueling fighting, is sufficient to deter the Russian army in this area of the front.

Military equipment near Avdiivka

Near Avdiivka, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been quite effective in holding back the Russian enemy for more than three months, trying to bypass Avdiivka from the north and south, trying to take Ukraine's garrison in a pincer, but failing. At the same time, we can see that the Russian army is trying to move towards Novobakhmutivka, and is trying to attack from the south somewhere to the north, but in general, there is no progress in narrowing the pincers from the north and south. Just one of the settlements, Stepove, which is located above Avdiivka, in the north, is being defended by the 47th Mechanized Brigade and is indeed using various types of weapons, including drones, artillery and especially M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.

This American equipment, in particular Bradley, is adapted to fight tanks, although everyone believes that tanks have more protection, a powerful gun, and in fact, if a tank hit an IFV, it would be hard for Ukraine's fighters, but we see that due to the mobility and intensity of fire from the Bradley gun, the tank simply does not have time to even orient itself in the situation on the battlefield. This suggests that Ukraine needs much more of these infantry fighting vehicles.

Now Ukraine has received, if I am not mistaken, about 200 vehicles, while the US Army has more than 3,000 Bradleys of various modifications. I think that if we put the supply of these models on a larger scale, not only Avdiivka but also other areas can show the opponent the advantages of Bradley infantry fighting vehicles over Russian models, including the new tank Proryv (Breakthrough).

Bradley is called a "tank killer". If we recall the history of Iraq, where the number of destroyed T-72 tanks of the Iraqi army as a result of Bradley's work was greater than the number of tanks destroyed by American Abrams, there were cases when one Bradley destroyed up to 5 T-72 tanks in one battle. So, this vehicle was actually adapted to be a tank killer. It has an anti-tank guided missile that can hit armored vehicles for several kilometers and an effective cannon that is balanced, stabilized, and has night vision devices. As we can see, when the Bradley IFV of the 47th Brigade was firing so densely that the Russian crew could not even orient where to run away, because the targeting sights, I think, were removed right away when the IFV was firing, and then it just ran away.

Russia uses new A-50 aircraft near Krasnodar

The situation after the destruction of the A-50 aircraft is that today Russia has raised another A-50 for patrol flights, but not in the Sea of Azov, it is afraid to fly there, and all these flights today were made from the airspace of the Krasnodar region, which means that it can see Ukraine's territory less by at least 200 kilometers, and therefore it allows Ukraine to plan more widely the actions using its foreign forces and aviation. I think that this is a good consequence of the destruction of the first A-50, so if another one comes close to the Ukrainian border, it can repeat this story. And when the F-16 with American missiles of certain versions appears, I think this work will be done without any problems.

Russia's use of the P-35 supersonic missile

This event is not so much significant as it confirms that Russia is already starting to pull out of its arsenals what has long been forgotten. This missile was put into service back in 1962, so it is actually one of the oldest models, but the missile has a history of being inaccurate, yet powerful enough to have a warhead that weighs up to one ton. A couple of days ago, the missile was launched, as we assume, from the coastal complex in Balaklava, where there is a settlement, and there is a division there that Ukraine once kept, where this launcher is lifted from the ground storage, launched and then goes underground again. That's why this missile was probably launched from this division. It was shot down by Ukrainian air defense, which suggests that the air defense system over Odesa has improved, but in any case, we understand that Russia still has a certain amount of these missiles. I hope that all of them will be shot down.

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