Espreso. Global

Ukrainian army’s advance near Bakhmut, ratio of weapons losses during counteroffensive: weekly military results

2 September, 2023 Saturday

Ukrainian military expert Serhiy Zgurets comments on the Ukrainian army’s gains near Bakhmut, the counteroffensive in the south and its assessment through the prism of losses in equipment, and tells about new missiles for Ukraine from the US

The situation in Bakhmut: Ukrainian Armed Forces have prerequisites for success

Two days ago, General Syrskyi, who was in the Bakhmut sector, set a task regarding Klishchiivka and Andriivka. He said that Ukraine needs to drive Russian forces out from there. I have talked to the soldiers and they said that this task concerning Klishchiivka has been accomplished, but it is not mentioned in the General Staff's reports. Probably, Ukrainian troops are waiting for Russia's counterattacks. They realize that Klishchiivka is in a lowland and they need to move further.  There are positive prerequisites, because there are few Russians there. They may launch counterattacks, running into Ukraine's artillery. As for Andriivka, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have outflanked it from the north and south. The Russian forces are pressing up against the railroad that runs there, which is a defense line that has been held for a long time. I think they will be driven out of this railroad near Andriivka in the near future.

In Bakhmut, there is a significant amount of forces and artillery on both sides. Russia cannot leave this part of the front because of the political task. I think that the Ukrainian army is now using this to hold a significant enemy grouping. According to various estimates, we are talking about 50,000 fighters.

Counteroffensive assessment due to the loss of equipment and supplies

There are two indicators for assessing the counteroffensive, which has been going on for three months now - either quantitative (destruction of enemy forces, equipment and weapons, or advancement along the front line). We remember after the first month there were ‘information swings’ that Ukraine was allegedly not advancing in the right way. Literally over the last week, all foreign generals have been saying that Ukraine is implementing a strategy of stretching and exhausting the enemy. These indicators of the destruction of enemy forces and equipment and the need for the Russian troops to move their reserves indicate that the strategy is correct.

The ratio of losses of Ukrainian and Russian equipment on the southern front is 1:1.  As for artillery, it is 1:3. Russia is losing three times as many artillery systems, which indicates a good counter-battery fight on Ukraine's part. That is, the destruction of important Russia's targets that prevent Ukrainian units from advancing. Serhiy Baranov, head of the Main Directorate of Missile Forces and Artillery and Unmanned Systems of the Ukrainian General Staff, said that Ukraine's counter-battery combat has caught up with the enemy. Now the counter-battery measures of the Ukrainian Armed Forces far outweigh Russia's capabilities. 

Counteroffensive in the south: Russian troops are holding out to the last, but the trend is clear

Ukrainian units are carrying out several offensives in the Tokmak direction or, in the long term, in the Melitopol direction. In particular, an offensive in the direction of Novoprokopivka and beyond, as well as an offensive between Robotyne and Verbove, and a separate offensive on Verbove. All three of these settlements are under pressure from the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In the direction of Verbove, the ‘Surovikin line’ is being crossed in a certain area from 3 to 6 kilometers. Now we need to measure not this, but Russia's withdrawal from the forest belt. Russia is mainly holding the line there, and depleting its troops in the forest belts will allow for further advancement. The dominant heights to the east of Novoprokopivka are occupied by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The situation near Verbove and the pressure on the Russian enemy allows us to talk about the dynamics reported by the General Staff.

On September 1, Estonian intelligence said that the Russian forces are barely holding their positions and are deploying reserves. I think "barely holding" is an emotional statement from journalists. Indeed, there are prerequisites for pushing Russia's defense, and they are indeed pulling up reserves. The dynamics are on Ukraine's side, but they will still hold out to the last. There will be many more difficult moments on this section of the front, but the trend is generally clear.

Another area of Ukrainian offensive is Pryiutne, Staromlynivka, Staromayorske. There are Russian units in Pryiutne. This settlement is also protected by rivers in front and behind it, which complicates the actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Given that Pryiutne is under pressure from three sides, there was information that the Russian troops have begun to withdraw from this area. It's hard to say how far, though. There is an understanding that the withdrawal will be to another line of defense. There is a fortified line there that the Russian army will hold to the last. In my opinion, the situation there is better in terms of reserves than in the Robotyne area. If during this period of fighting the Ukrainian Armed Forces increase their activity in the Vuhledar direction or in the Vasylivka area, it will accelerate the process of breaking the Russian defense. We do not know the total number of Ukrainian forces and reserves. As for the Russian troops, we assume that they have started using their reserves. Through the use of elite airborne units from the Kherson and Kupyansk directions to hold the defense in the Robotyne area.

The effect of the Il-76 destruction in Pskov and new American missiles for the Ukrainian Armed Forces

Judging by satellite images of the airfield in Pskov, two IL-76 transport aircraft burned down completely and two more aircraft were severely damaged. The head of the Intelligence Directorate, Kyrylo Budanov, said that units operating in the territory of the Russian Federation were used to carry out this task. "It was a risky operation, it relies on human resources. The destruction of these aircraft is a significant blow to the capabilities of the Russian Federation. It is also an ideological blow, because to go 700 kilometers and destroy four planes means that you can go to any area in the Russian Federation with a group and ensure the fulfillment of the task. The Russians have about a hundred such aircraft, half of which are more or less combat-ready. 4 planes in one run is a good indicator.

The Pentagon has ordered $192 million worth of AMRAAM missiles for Ukraine. These are the most advanced missiles used for air-to-air aircraft. They can destroy targets at a distance of 160 km. Each missile has its own radar that searches for a target at a distance of 26 km. These are really cool missiles that will be suitable for the F-16 aircraft that Ukraine will receive in the future. But they are also used in NASAMS systems. We have two divisions, and in some time there will be 15 of them. They will need missiles. It is quite clear that the Pentagon is looking ahead and ordering missiles to be used for both missiles and air defense systems.

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