Saturday, July 15, 2023

NYT: "After Suffering Heavy Losses, Ukrainians Paused to Rethink Strategy"

This is the reason we posted "Oh My God, What Are The Ukrainian Generals Doing?" on June 5th: 
They are ordering their men to attack defense-in-depth without air cover and 1/10th the artillery the troops need....
There is a video taken by a Ukrainian drone showing exactly the hell the generals sent their men to. It is horrific, not so much in the war-porn gore sense but in the godawful situation these recruits are being forced into. The drone watches a small squad of soldiers who have been dismounted from their armored vehicle in a minefield to take cover in a low ditch.
About a minute into the video, one of the vehicle crewmen attempts to re-board the vehicle and carefully approaches. He steps on a mine.
Scrambling onto the vehicle he begins maneuvering the vehicle toward his buddies stuck in the low ditch.
Somehow a half dozen of the Ukrainians manage to board the armored vehicle,

A bit later another of the soldiers attempts a return from the vehicle toward a wounded buddy in the ditch and he steps on a mine and has a foot/lower leg blown to pieces. 
And he applies a field tourniquet. And that's when I turned it off with a couple minutes left.
From the New York Times, July 15:

Early in the counteroffensive, Ukraine lost as much as 20 percent of its weapons and armor. The rate dropped as the campaign slowed and commanders shifted tactics.
In the first two weeks of Ukraine’s grueling counteroffensive, as much as 20 percent of the weaponry it sent to the battlefield was damaged or destroyed, according to American and European officials. The toll includes some of the formidable Western fighting machines — tanks and armored personnel carriers — the Ukrainians were counting on to beat back the Russians.
The startling rate of losses dropped to about 10 percent in the ensuing weeks, the officials said, preserving more of the troops and machines needed for the major offensive push that the Ukrainians say is still to come.

Some of the improvement came because Ukraine changed tactics, focusing more on wearing down the Russian forces with artillery and long-range missiles than charging into enemy minefields and fire.

But that good news obscures some grim realities. The losses have also slowed because the counteroffensive itself has slowed — and even halted in places — as Ukrainian soldiers struggle against Russia’s formidable defenses. And despite the losses, the Ukrainians have so far taken just five of the 60 miles they hope to cover to reach the sea in the south and split the Russian forces in two.

One Ukrainian soldier said in an interview this week that his unit’s drone picked up footage of a half-dozen Western armored vehicles caught in an artillery barrage south of the town of Velyka Novosilka.
“They all burned,” said the soldier, who identified himself as Sgt. Igor. “Everybody is hoping for a big breakthrough,” he said, adding a plea that those scrutinizing from afar appreciate the importance of slow and steady advances.

Russia had many months to prepare for the counteroffensive, and the front is littered with mines, tank traps and dug-in troops, while Russian reconnaissance drones and attack helicopters fly overhead with increasing frequency.

Given those fortifications, experts say, it is not surprising that Ukraine would sustain relatively severe losses in the early stages of the campaign.
This week, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, acknowledged that there had been a brief pause in operations some weeks ago but blamed it on a lack of equipment and munitions, and called on Western allies to quicken the pace of deliveries.

American officials acknowledged that pause and said that the Ukrainians had begun moving again, but more deliberately, more adept at navigating minefields and mindful of the casualty risks. With the influx of cluster munitions from the United States, they said, the pace might pick up....