Russia’s seven-month battle for Bakhmut continues, with Russian forces advancing locally on three sides of the city. The Wagner Group is calling for the city’s surrender, The Guardian reports: “Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner Group, has called on President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to order the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut. Bakhmut is “virtually surrounded” by Wagner fighters with only one route for Ukrainian forces, Prigozhin said in a video released today. The video has been geolocated to the village of Paraskoviivka, 4.3 miles north of Bakhmut center.” When Bakhmut became a Russian target seven months ago, the city assumed a symbolic importance that dwarfed its tactical, operational or strategic significance.
The three-week battle for Vuhledar and the evidence of a lack of learning.
The New York Times this week published an account of the battle for the town of Vuhledar in Donetsk. It was apparently the largest tank battle of the war and a disaster for Russian armor. Ukrainian sources claim that the Russians lost approximately one hundred and thirty tanks, or about one and a half regiment’s worth. Battle damage assessment is a difficult art, and such reports must be treated with caution, but it seems to be the case that Russian losses were unusually large. More important than the losses themselves is how they were sustained. The Russian armored columns were apparently carelessly and repeatedly driven down access roads, stopped by ambushes and obstacles (including mines), and then destroyed by Ukrainian tank and artillery fire. In short, the Russian forces continue to show little willingness to learn from bitter experience. Business Insider details the ways in which the Russian formations fighting for Vuhledar repeated the mistakes that their comrades made earlier in the war during the fight for Bucha. The Russian army is still stuck on the roads and tactically inept. Their Ukrainian opponents appear to be neither.
Tank warfare has long occupied a prominent place in Russia’s military self-image. The Times writes: “The Russian military has focused on, and even mythologized, tank warfare for decades because of its recollection of Russian victories over the Nazis in World War II. Factories in the Ural Mountains have churned out tanks by the thousands. At Vuhledar, by the past week, Russia had lost so many machines to withstand armored attacks that it had changed tactics and resorted only to infantry attacks, Ukrainian commanders said.” People used to be afraid of Russian armor. They are no longer afraid of him.
International arms markets.
None of this has stopped Russia’s arms industry from seeking market share internationally. UK Ministry of Defense writesin this morning’s situation report, “Despite the war in Ukraine, Russian defense companies continue to exhibit their products at major international arms fairs. The Arena-E active protection system (APS), designed to improve the survivability of armored vehicles.at a recent event.Its promotional literature claims to “defeat the threats that are most dangerous to armored vehicles…if you value your armor and crews, you need Arena-E.” There has been no evidence that Arena-E systems have been installed on Russia’s own vehicles in the Ukraine, where it has lost more than 5,000 armored vehicles.This is likely due to the inability of Russian industry to manufacture high-tech systems at scale ; a problem that is aggravated by the effect of international sanctions”.
War crimes and crimes against peace, seen from Moscow.
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Andrey Kelin, when asked about the atrocities in Bucha, denied that Russian forces had anything to do with the massacres there or elsewhere, Al Jazeera reports. “Bucha has been staged and there is no doubt about it,” Kelin said, adding that the killings were “arranged by Ukrainian special forces.” The Washington Post describes the discovery this week of another mass grave near Bucha, containing the bodies of three men apparently killed by Russian forces. The AP reports that the investigation and exhumations in the region have been ongoing since the Russian withdrawal from the region last April.
Ambassador Kelin also blamed the West, especially the UK, for Russia’s continued advance into Ukraine. It stands to reason, from the Kremlin’s point of view, that Russia needs to seize enough ground to put its borders out of reach of the long-range weapons that the collective West (especially the UK) is supplying Ukraine with. Therefore, it would follow that the current Russian operations are a defensive response to Western aggression. Mr. Kelin also characterized the fighting in the Ukraine as a kind of civil war. “”In a way, yes. In a way it’s even, you can call it, a civil war because on both sides it is, we don’t draw a line between the Russian people and the Ukrainian people.” [in areas] which contains many Russians. So, in a way, it’s yes.”
The US National Cyber Security Strategy was based on the lessons of the Russian war.
The US National Cyber Security Strategy, released yesterday, was shaped in part by lessons learned from watching Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine, Defense News reports. Emphasis on resilience, close association with industry, and advanced commitment to threat were among the features of strategy influenced by the conduct of that war.