Espreso. Global

Ukrainian troops need cover 20 km to disrupt Russian logistics on southern front - military expert Zgurets

30 August, 2023 Wednesday

Russia is relocating its operational reserve units near Robotyne. All the most combat-ready troops of the Russian army are already on the front line

Southern frontline

Ukraine’s primary focus is currently on southern offensive. On the morning of August 29, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces announced the Defense Forces' progress in the direction of Novodanylivka - Verbove and the reinforcement of the secured positions, although without specific details. Nevertheless, it is evident that the movement southward, progressing from the liberated Robotyne towards Novoprokopivka, Verbove, and extending to Tokmak, holds significant importance in the Ukrainian offensive efforts.

When it comes to an offensive operation, there can be several criteria for evaluation. I'd like to touch upon this briefly. Starting from June 4, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have advanced approximately 9 kilometers from Orikhove to Robotyne, breaching minefields to access the primary Russian defense line. The ambitious goal is to eventually reach the Azov Sea coastline. Rough estimates suggest that there's still about 80 kilometers of land to traverse across different regions. This signifies an ongoing and persistent battle ahead, but there are important factors to consider, particularly the logistics of the enemy in the southern region.

All of Russia's supplies in the south are based on the railroad connection that runs along the Vasylivka-Melitopol-Tokmak-Kamianka-Volnovakha line. There is also a highway along the Azov coast. If Ukrainian forces advance another 15-20 kilometers from their current positions, in particular by blocking Tokmak, it will make it possible to destroy Russia's east-west transportation routes. And this significantly inhibits the ability of the Russian army to mobilize and fight. This is an important baseline objective.

But not everything is measured in kilometers during military operations. First and foremost, every military operation is aimed at destroying the enemy's combat potential, its manpower and equipment. Because a dead enemy will definitely not return to their positions. What is the situation in the south? Technically, Russia has the advantage in manpower, but it is stretched along the entire 170 km front. The Ukrainian side is now choosing the location of attacks, and Russia is forced to look for ways to compensate for losses.

What has happened here in the last few weeks? First of all, about a month ago, the Russian 7th Air Assault Brigade from the Kherson region was first redeployed to defend Robotyne. And a week ago, two regiments of the 76th Air Assault Brigade, which is considered the most combat-ready in the Russian army and is considered an operational reserve, were moved south to Robotyne from the Luhansk region. This indicates that Ukraine's offensive is fully capable of destroying the enemy force. And Russia has no choice but to plug the holes with such redeployments.

Why air assault brigades? There is a nuance here that is extremely important. Because paratroopers and marines are the units that still retain offensive potential. According to the Russian logic, it had to keep these airborne assault brigades for the most extreme case. This means that it is now moving units near Robotyne that belong to the operational reserve. This means that Russia’s reserves are being depleted. It has only four of these airborne assault and air assault brigades. Two of them are already in the south, trying to hold Robotyne, and two divisions and several brigades are trying to fight near Bakhmut. All the most capable troops of the Russian army are already on the front line. Russia’s potential to continue accumulating reserves is very limited.

Conclusion - the goal of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is to maximize the destruction of the enemy force and advance to new frontiers to take better positions for the next stages of the fighting. We hope they achieve it and help the Ukrainian Armed Forces as much as we can. Because combat operations are something that relies on the capabilities of the Ukrainian army and Ukrainian society.


The nuances of using drones on the battlefield

Transitioning to another closely linked topic involving weaponry, capabilities, and other elements that resonate on the battlefield, the prevailing sentiment is that this war is dominated by artillery and drones. A British institute's findings indicate that Ukraine either uses or loses around 10,000 drones of different kinds on a monthly basis.

Yevhen Maksymenko, head of the ComBat Vision project, noted that a drone is not just a flying camera under control, but a system that can automatically determine the coordinates of objects, measure distances and azimuths between points on the ground. It so happens that we are chasing the number, not the capabilities, of these devices. As a result, we have a large number of drones that are easy to lose, losing their visual orientation in space. This is because pilots navigate on their own, without any technical means. Most civilian drones do not know how to navigate in space. For example, the Mavic drone is a mass-produced drone with a very high-quality image and a long flight range. But sometimes you need to have a drone with a worse picture and range, which has certain technical means that allow it to operate in the EW suppression mode and navigate the terrain. That is, one of the reasons for the loss of drones, especially in winter, is the loss of visual orientation. A large percentage of drones are also shot down by "friendly forces" because no one understands whether these drones are enemy or ours flying around. We also cannot determine the coordinates of our own drones and cannot display the coordinates of our drones on automated systems.

The ComBat Vision project manager summarized that we need to rely not only on the purchase of hundreds of thousands of drones, but also on building a unified system of interaction between users and drones, as well as on the transmission of information between these drones not in a point form, but systematically. This is not yet in place at the tactical level.


Russia's hybrid actions in Poland

Next, let's talk about the hybrid actions of our enemy in neighboring countries. We are talking about how Russia is trying to act in Poland, through which Ukraine receives about 80% of its military foreign aid. Last week, several events took place in Poland that can be interpreted as Russia's attempts to complicate or completely interrupt the supply of arms through logistics routes to Ukraine.

In particular, an outbreak of a dangerous lung disease with a high mortality rate occurred in the Polish city of Rzeszów last week. Rzeszów is a transportation hub close to the Ukrainian border. By the way, this city is even covered by Patriot complexes to protect it from potential enemy attacks. Although, as we know, Russia is afraid to act against NATO countries. But at the same time, it is using various groups of spies who are trying to complicate the situation with the supply of Ukrainian weapons.

Poland's Internal Security Agency is investigating and considering options that the outbreak could have been caused, among other things, by deliberate interference with the Rzeszów water supply system. They do not rule out the possibility that it could be criminal actions on Russia’s part. Dariusz Materniak, a Polish expert on international affairs, head of the Poland-Ukraine Center, commented on the preliminary conclusions to this situation.

Mr. Materniak remarked that similar instances have been documented in Rzeszów and at least two other regions in Poland. Presently, the prevailing consensus is that this situation did not stem from the actions of Russia's special services or any other nation. The current perspective attributes this occurrence to the intense heat wave, which can lead to such incidents under such extreme conditions. Nonetheless, we await definitive findings until the completion of the Internal Security Agency's investigation.

The Polish expert gave details about the incidents on Polish railways when dozens of trains stopped. The train control system is mostly outdated in Poland. However, there is also some activity of people working for the Russian special services who monitor train traffic. And in recent incidents, they tried to stop the railroad traffic and partially succeeded. Some people have been detained and are awaiting interrogation. There may not be a big threat in what has happened. But we have been observing such activity for quite some time, since last summer. The police, the Internal Security Agency and the special services are closely monitoring the railroad connection through which aid is delivered to Ukraine.

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