Russia accumulates failures to start its new offensive

Ukrainian soldier greets a dog in Bakhmut.

Nobody knows very well what Russia is doing nor is it easy to guess what it wants to do. At least in the medium term. In it Kremlin are now flirting with the idea of ​​entering Transnistria – “We are very concerned about what is happening”, they say, without the rest of us knowing very well what is happening in Transnistria that they are not causing – after having tightened the screws on Belarus as much as they could and more. Their attacks are still concentrated in Donbas, around the core of Sloviansk-Kramatorsk, but these attacks are not coordinated and do not seem to respond to what was announced as a second major offensive on the anniversary of the first.

Or maybe yes. The head of Ukrainian military intelligence, Kyrilo Budanovdeclared last Wednesday in the local edition of the magazine Forbes his conviction that said offensive had begun as such, with an immense increase in the number of troops in the Donbas area… but with such deficiencies in weapons (missiles and ammunition, basically) that all the attacks were being rejected. In short, that the offensive was in full swing, but we had not found out because it only accumulated failures.

It is difficult to know how much is propaganda in what Budanov says and how much is true. What is clear, as we said before, is that Russia seems to be blindsided and falling into the same old mistakes: there is no clear goalthere is no single command and there is no path to victory that does not involve the loss of hundreds and hundreds of men a day, treated as if they were cannon fodder, without any kind of consideration, with what that implies for the morale of an army

[Zelenski destituye al comandante en jefe del Donbás por el avance del Grupo Wagner en la región]

Bakhmut hold out one more day

We say “an army”, but in reality we refer to several, although we focus mainly on two: the Russian regular, led, it is assumed, by Valeri Gerasimov, and the Wagner Group, led in turn by his archenemy Eugeni Prigozhin. The Kremlin has been sending Prigozhin messages for months to get him out of the way, but there is no way the tycoon will obey. There he continues, with his men, determined to capture Bakhmut after eight months of wasteful siege, closer every day, yes, but at a totally unacceptable price in terms of human lives.

It is in Bakhmut, as always, where Russian propaganda focuses its joys. The city is surrounded by all its accesses except the west. Russia intends to complete a clamp joining its troops from the north with those from the south. In the north, they have occupied Krasna Hora for weeks and are looking to do the same with Yahidne, to fully control the T0513 and M03 junction, which goes directly to Sloviansk, although we do not know what state it is in. In the south, the objective is Ivanivske, a key town to control T0504, which could be an escape route for the Ukrainian defenders if they decided to withdraw from the city… but the advances are also minimal.

Ukrainian soldier greets a dog in Bakhmut.


The issue is the same as always: a victory that never comes is being sold as a success. Is true that Russia advances -The Wagner Group and their elite mercenaries do it, completely devoted to the task, rather-, but they continue to do it with enormous difficulty, all to gain control over a pile of ruins, which is what each one turns into of the cities they besieged. At best for Prigozhin, if he manages to break into the city and take it for himself, what is he going to do with it? He will have no choice but to continue chasing Ukrainian shadows that await him elsewhere.

In the last few hours, there has been speculation about a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northwest, but the information must be taken with tweezers. Bakhmut is on the wire right now and can fall to one side or the other at any time, but we’ve been saying this for too long and he’s still holding on. Eight months to take one city ​​of 73,000 inhabitants that no longer exists. Tens of thousands killed in the effort. Two armies divided among themselves even if they share the same flag. Absolutely surreal.

[La táctica de Ucrania: resiste en Bakhmut “lo que sea razonable” para lanzar su próximo contraataque]

The impossible offensive on Limán

From talking so much about Bakhmut, we forget that Bakhmut’s strategic importance is very limited. Bakhmut is what you attack when you cannot attack Sloviansk or Kramatorsk, when you cannot threaten Izium or when the attacks on Limán, intensified in recent days, also end in nothing. Precisely, these attacks on the important city of the Donetsk region, another of the emblematic enclaves of the Ukrainian Donbas, north of the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk coreare being heavily publicized by Russian propaganda, but there is nothing to make us think that significant attacks are taking place.

The idea was to move a large contingent of troops and armored vehicles from Belgorod to Kreminna and from there to move to Limán… but that’s easier on a map than in reality. Just as the Ukrainians had to halt their attempt to take Kreminna in September due to the difficult terrain, now the Russians are facing the same problem, causing them to resort again to the abuse of artillery and somewhat suicidal tactics, such as This is demonstrated by the images of dozens of Russian soldiers killed in the middle of the roads, after being exposed to enemy fire.

The Ukrainian war front in Bakhmut.

The Ukrainian war front in Bakhmut.


One of the objectives of marching on Liman, which is of course much more important than Bakhmut, was to make people forget what happened a couple of weeks ago in Vuhledar, when hundreds of Russian soldiers were killed in another senseless and uncoordinated attack. The Russian commitment to sending tanks into minefields to see them explode one after the other is surprising… and that Vuhledar, again, is not a key player on the map either. It can help, of course, as a bridgehead for an attack on Zaporizhia from Mariupolbut little else.

Taking Vuhledar means sending tens of thousands of soldiers for kilometers without any protection on terrain completely exposed to Ukrainian anti-tank missiles. We return to the initial sensation of absolute confusion. One could understand that Russia would give everything for everything to recover Limán, since it already fought with what it could to retain it -not as it did with Izium, from where it ran-, but Bakhmut? Vuhledar? They are access points to other points. Places that could be important within a context of superiority to keep moving forward, but when you are not even able to reach those intermediate points, thinking about going further is an exercise in self-deception and calling that “offensive” is an abuse of language. .

[Un año del inicio de la guerra en Ucrania: las imágenes del conflicto que han dado la vuelta al mundo]

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Written by Editor TLN

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