Espreso. Global

Number of military leaders except Zaluzhnyi are to be replaced: weekly military results by Serhiy Zgurets

3 February, 2024 Saturday

Frontline situation and the most striking events, including Ukrainian drone attacks and the destruction of Russian military

Zaluzhnyi’s resignation

Let's start with the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. Usually, issues related to the course of hostilities are discussed there - this is a regular event where representatives of all the security agencies of the National Security and Defense Council gather. Usually, Zelenskyy tells what happened, what decisions were made, but now this meeting is causing some expectations, some tension, because during the week there was information that the Supreme Commander-in-Chief was preparing the resignation of Valerii Zaluzhnyi, and there were a number of publications in foreign media: CNN and other media outlets said that the resignation would take place and that it was likely to happen today. In particular, Yuriy Butusov wrote just an hour before that that the president wanted to make a comprehensive decision when a number of military leaders, in addition to Zaluzhnyi, would be replaced: a number of brigade commanders who were offered higher positions would be replaced, and there would be a comprehensive decision that would somehow legitimize the decision to resign Zaluzhnyi.

I think that, frankly, there is no answer to the question of why Zaluzhnyi should resign, because from the point of view of the situation on the front line, the efforts and planned actions that the commander-in-chief is currently implementing, everything is quite logical in the conditions and restrictions that exist today. The risks associated with the political circumstances of such a shift, which does not seem appropriate in the context of hostilities, come to the fore. So does the promotion of a number of brigade commanders. If this happens now, a significant number of changes in the military leadership at the brigade level may also have negative consequences, because each brigade is an organism where each commander gets used to the situation for a certain time, has a certain system of interaction, and if many brigade commanders are replaced now, this will create risks with management.

It was the same with the military administration or military commissariats when all the leaders were replaced and we saw the situation with the failure of mobilization. Of course, there are corruption issues there, but massive replacements always entail management risks, failures in leadership in certain areas.

Statement of the Commander-in-Chief to CNN

The article is not a simple one, but rather is intended for specialists who understand some of the background of the changes that have been taking place in the use and application of armed forces or armies over this period. In fact, the article is titled The Design of War has Changed. And this is actually a logical continuation of the previous article in The Economis, where Zaluzhnyi said that Ukraine needs to avoid a positional war and that it needs to create a certain kind of gunpowder. So now we understand what kind of gunpowder we already have and how to use it.

Many times the word "effects" is used in the article, which means that the concept proposed in this article is actually significantly different from the model of combat operations that is currently underway - a war of destruction, a war of attrition. Now we are in the format of a war of attrition, where everything is measured by the number of ammunition, weapons, tanks, and so on, which in fact turns into a format of combat operations only in quantitative terms. And when we say that we have to achieve certain effects, it is not the number that matters, but the result: we have achieved the effects now that we have no fleet, so to speak, we have ensured the displacement of the Russians from the Black Sea, we have ensured the existence of a transport corridor because we have used solutions that, given the Russian superiority in warships in general, have ensured Ukraine's own strategy by non-standard actions that focus on Russia's pain points. This is their fear of destroying ships and using drones in unexpected ways. In any case, this is the achievement of effects, this is what Zaluzhnyi is talking about.

He also says that within five months Ukraine can achieve new effects, change the structure of the Armed Forces, prepare new models of warfare, and adapt these models to the format of combat operations, if we have certain forces and means, relying on various robotic systems. And this is exactly the symmetrical approach that can be a model of combat operations for 2024 while maintaining the defense line and solving other issues of holding the front.

This article shows that war is both a science and an art. Why does it seem that a politician can come to the front line and set tasks for a brigade commander: how he should fight there, how to attack. And then, with this model, it is perceived that it is very easy to fight - then why the experience, why these training, why the understanding of the peculiarities of the fighting of each country, the limitations that exist on the battlefield are needed. This is an art that is primarily present in the high-level military, a politician will not become a military man, we should not mix it up, and it is precisely the symbiosis between politicians and the military that provides the maximum effect. If you try to simplify the situation to the point where everyone can command the troops, it will most likely result in negative things on the battlefield.

UAV attacks on Russia

The situation with drones should also be considered in the context of Zaluzhnyi's article. First of all, because it actually means that this system of actions is being implemented to achieve effects that are to limit Russia's ability to use its energy reserves, to limit the use of certain systems, as a result of unexpected asymmetric actions. This is exactly what started last year, when drones were hitting Moscow, and then Ukrainian UAVs became more accurate, more powerful, and are now hitting various Russian terminals, bases, and storage facilities even in the Baltic Sea, making it virtually impossible for the Russian armed forces to use these stockpiles. This is just an echo of this asymmetrical concept, which is seen in Zaluzhnyi's article. In any case, now we have an increase in the number of long-range systems made in Ukraine, which is affecting the limitations of Russian air defense systems, which cannot cope with such a number, especially since they have deployed this air defense to protect their capital, and the areas around St. Petersburg have remained completely empty.

Plus, the capabilities of Ukrainian defense industry, as the same Minister for Strategic Industries of Ukraine Oleksandr Kamyshin said that Ukraine's army is already using Ukrainian-made drones with a range of over 1,000 km. We see that there is other positive news, when Swiss companies have been supplying us with long-range drones for a long time, which we had not even suspected before.

At the same time, it is known that the Russian is making long-range, jet drones in conjunction with Ukraine's former high-ranking official, and there is even a number of families of these drones. In fact, this Russian worked with the Pentagon about three years ago, he made a hypersonic solution for the Pentagon, and then there were some nuances with the contract. But now in Switzerland, a new startup is building drones that are already working on the battlefield in Ukraine's interests - this is a very high-tech project that shows that human geniuses are working for Ukraine's interests.

Situation in Avdiivka

When speaking about Avdiivka, it is one of the most tense areas right now. Even if we look at the report of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, more than 15 out of 60 combat clashes took place in Avdiivka. Since October 9 last year, Russia has been trying to attack and surround Ukrainian garrison, and Ukraine's troops have been defending themselves quite effectively, with logistics working.

The ticks from the north and south do not approach each other. However, on January 20, there was a story that in the north, where there was a stronghold in the area of the Tsarska Okhota restaurant complex, which has been fortified and used for defense since 2014, the Russian troops dug and cleared a 1.5 km long positional channel for several weeks or even a month to get to the rear of Ukrainian forces holding the complex. They came out and then there was active fighting, which led to a certain advance of the Russian enemy. Since then, active counterattacks have been ongoing on the Ukrainian side: the Russian army is trying to advance towards Avdiivka through this suburban area, along the line of summer cottages, where three streets - Soborna, Sportyvna and Cherniakhovskoho - meet in the direction of Avdiivka. In this area, the 116th Brigade is destroying the Russian enemy quite actively, but so far it has not been possible to drive them out of the suburban areas, because on the one hand everything is destroyed, and on the other hand there are basements and they are trying to hold on there, although the supply is quite difficult.

However, counterattacks are underway and the Russian army is trying to advance in other areas, in particular to the north of Opytne and Tsarska Okhota, from the industrial zone it is attacking towards Avdiivka, but, again, Russia's advances there are minimal, some positions are changing hands. The Ukrainian side is actively using armored vehicles, artillery, and drones. Russia's losses are significant, but it is clear that Russia will continue its efforts to push Ukraine's defense.

I was surprised by Putin's statement yesterday, when he said that nine houses were captured near Avdiivka, but he probably means nine destroyed summer houses where these Russians are sitting in the basements trying to move towards Avdiivka. In any case, the area is extremely difficult, but for the fourth month we have actually held the area where about 45 thousand Russian troops are concentrated, there are huge losses, and in these conditions, even with a limited amount of ammunition, Ukrainian soldiers are holding the area.

map of fighting near Avdiivka

map of fighting in Avdiivka

Situation in Krynky

Ukrainian marines are holding these areas. I would not talk about expanding the bridgehead yet. The question now is to keep the Russians in this area and, using artillery from the right bank, to inflict maximum damage on the Russian enemy, which is actually happening.

map of fighting in Kherson region

Shell hunger

The ammunition shortage is now affecting all parts of the frontline. Yesterday, Defense Minister Umerov sent a letter, as reported by Bloomberg, to the defense ministers of European countries saying that we are currently using only 2,000 large-caliber ammunition per day on average, while Russia has three times as much, and Umerov again reminded them to keep their promises and fulfill the plan to supply Ukraine with 1 million rounds of ammunition. Although we understand that by March the European Union can supply at best about 600,000.

In any case, it is true that ammunition is crucial for defense and offense. So far, Ukraine is compensating for this by actively using drones, and so far it has an advantage over the Russian troops in terms of both numbers and use.

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