Russia Suspends Most Offensive Operations in Reaction to Ukraine – Opinion

Tueday, it became evident that the Russian Army was abandoning territory in Ukraine that it seized shortly after Putin’s War began on February 24 (Russian Troops Retreat From Ukraine to Russia: Planned Redeployment or the Beginning of Collapse?).

Today’s news is solid, even though it was not confirmed last night.

The New York Times published an article that tried to tell a different story than what you can see in intelligence summaries and video.

The New York Times offering is Ukraine War’s Geographic Reality: Russia Has Seized Much of the East.

Russia’s nearly three-month-old invasion of neighboring Ukraine has been punctuated by flawed planning, poor intelligence, barbarity and wanton destruction. However, the geographical reality of Russia’s gains in the field is being lost in daily fighting.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday that its forces in eastern Ukraine had advanced to the border between Donetsk and Luhansk, the two Russian-speaking provinces where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine’s army for eight years.

The ministry’s assertion, if confirmed, strengthens the prospect that Russia could soon gain complete control over the region, known as the Donbas, compared with just a third of it before the Feb. 24 invasion.

I’m not going to take the time to “fisk” this line by line but there are three points to be made. First, Russia lost most territory in Ukraine that it seized during the initial phase of its invasion. Second. It controls more Donbas than before the war but it isn’t over. Third, the territorial gains Russia has made will only survive if Ukraine agrees to give them up as part of a ceasefire, that seems unlikely (Ukraine President Zelensky Sets His Terms to End Russia’s Aggression in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin Isn’t Laughing).

The territory lost north of Kherson has more meaning than just symbolic.

Russian railroads are the backbone of Russian logistics support. Three-fourths the logistic capability of an equivalent US unit is available to a Russian unit. Russian armies and corps do not possess a logistic capability. The war has seen the destruction of organic Russian army transport to the point that civilian vehicles were put into service. The Ukrainian artillery is within striking distance of major Russian railroad lines from Belarus to Western Russia and Donbas.

The Forward Edge of the Battle Area (FEBA) is marked by the thick red lines. While the rail lines and the bridge symbols are for key bridges, the location of the FEBA’s forward edge can be identified with the dark green lines. Concentric rings signify the range of Ukrainian artillery.

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Below is an overview of the area. Izyum, the logistic and command centre for the Russian Army’s northern region of Donbas is home to the Russian Army’s logistics and command centers. It can be found just west from the railway intersection in the lower right corner of the map.

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Recall that Izyum is where the Russians nearly lost their Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov last weekend, Mysterious Ammunition Dump Explosion Rocks Russia and Did Ukraine Nearly Kill Russia’s Top Military Officer?

This rail line is within easy reach for Ukrainian artillery and within striking distance to Switchblade drones, which are used by special forces. The supply situation becomes difficult for the Russian Army.

This is why it is important. According to the Department of Defense, the major Russian effort is Izyum.

NOTE: Popansa is the lost town to the Russians and can be found in the circle at the bottom of this image.

It is safe to assume that there will be no good news if the areas for unit assembly and the logistics train are within range of artillery fire.

Russia is much more than “two weeks” behind schedule. Just before Easter, it announced the new offensive. Two weeks behind schedule literally means it hasn’t moved (10 Days Into Putin’s ‘New Phase’ of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, There Are Minor Advances but the Clock Is Ticking). It was going to be hard. Below is my reaction to the announcement.

Crossing the river network in an operational area takes its toll. If you are trained, a river crossing can be a difficult operation. If you haven’t trained for it, it is brutal. If you haven’t trained for it and the enemy has your bridging operation under observation and within range of indirect fires, you are buggered like a fish in a jailhouse shower.

Quick vehicle counts show that the tank company for a tactical battalion was almost exterminated. Even worse than losing tanks, is the destruction of ribbon bridge segments as well as their transportation. There is always a shortage of bridge equipment.

The SOSR mnemonic is a way to get around obstacles, all kinds of them. Obscure where you’re going to attempt to decrease the obstacle. River crossings are very expensive without smoke generators that cover the area. Especially when the Russians don’t seem all that interested in trying to engage in counterbattery fire with the Ukrainians. (I’ve read of the Russians setting forest/grass fires to try to mask bridging sites, suboptimal but better than nothing, I suppose.)

This report was today issued by the Ukrainian General Staff.

If you aren’t familiar with the names, those areas cover everything except the three middle green circles on the Important ThreatsBelow is a map

Just a note, NBC’s report of Russian troops being pulled from their direction of attack and sent north to confront the Ukrainian counteroffensive sounds like the Russian retreat I discussed yesterday is much more of a bug-out than a carefully considered operational move.

Recall the New York Times article. In articles such as this, the assumption is that Ukrainians lack agency. This means that they wait to see Vladimir Putin make the strategic moves. That isn’t how any of this works In Colonel Harry Summers’ book about our strategic failure to understand the Vietnam War, he recounts an episode when he was a member of the US team discussing the terms of our withdrawal from that war in Paris. His counterpart was a North Vietnamese colonel.

“You know you never defeated us on the battlefied,” said the American colonel.

This comment was pondered by the colonel of North Vietnam for a while. “Thbat may be so,” he replied, “but it also irrlevant.”


.Russia may occupy most of Donbas, but that is becoming increasingly irrelevant as it looks like it doesn’t have the combat power to make those gains stick. An assumption that Volodymyr Zelensky has been waiting impatiently for Vladimir Putin’s offer to make negotiations with him is ridiculous and juvenile.







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