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Ukraine War, 3 December 2022

Most important fighting seems to be run by night

The weather is getting colder in eastern Ukraine: temps are down to -2°C, sometimes -6°C, and there’s a wind from north-east. I.e. the soil is starting to freeze. That said, things are ‘heating up’ on several spots along the frontline, so here an ‘unplanned’ summary for the last two days.


Let me start with the latest official release by the Keystone Cops in Moscow: the one from 2 December. According to the same, that and the previous day were two additional glorious days in history of the Russian Federation, its armed forces, humanity, Moon and the Solar System. To keep a (very, very) long list short: the Russians have destroyed 60 ‘Ukrainian servicemen’ (say, do they now mean there are official Armed Forces of Ukraine, or something?), then another 50, plus 50, plus ’78 artillery units in firing positions’ (to make sure: I’m really quoting their numbers from releases like this one, and seems they’re firmly convinced this is all truth), plus half the 40th Artillery Brigade… really, victories only, and everywhere, prompting ever more ‘interested Russians’ to start wondering how many ‘millions of troops’ Ukrainians have left to throw into this battle, and how Putin has set up a deadly trap for the West by his ‘leisure’ war in Ukraine…

But, I’m digressing. VKS interceptors — lately reinforced by a new batch of Su-35S’ delivered the last week — claimed a Ukrainian MiG-29 shot down over the Ukrainka area (south of Porkorvsk; obviously another R-37M-shot), while Russian air defences claimed a Su-25 shot down near ‘Nikolskoye’. As usually, no evidence was provided, thus this can only be truth. And, since the Google Earth shows the latter village as on the Kamchatka Peninsula, and I doubt any Ukrainian Su-25 overflew all the 11,000km of Russia to get shot down over its Far East, I’m left to wonder what place did they mean…

Doesn’t matter: all that does matter is that both places are in the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’…

Whether the latest Russian claims for downings of Ukrainian MiGs are truth or not, there’s no doubt that MiG-31s and Su-35S — both of which are armed with R-37M long-range air-to-air missiles — remain a major problem for Ukrainian Air Force. This is unlikely to change any time soon: at least not before somebody develops an effective electronic countermeasures system against that weapon.

…ah yes, and the Keystone Cops have released a video shown Su-25s of the VKS (or Wagner PMC?) that have ‘delivered air strikes against the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s military facilities and hardware. These air strikes have, ‘utterly annihilated camouflaged fortified positions and armour’….

By side that anybody with a trace of clue about air warfare can only wonder how do they want to do that with their usual, ‘spray and pray’ tactics, but: pay attention at ‘utterly annihilated’. ‘Annihilated’ wasn’t enough…?

In turn, the VKS lost a MiG-31 that crashed in the Far East of Russia — reportedly, after catching fire for unknown reasons. Except it was after that Ukrainian Su-25 shot down over Kamchatka, this was certainly not related to the Ukraine War.

With other words: things are running exactly along the plan for the 3-days invasion, and simply couldn’t get any better…. for all of Russia, for all the Russians (including Russians who do not know they are Russians — like you and me — and usually because of Nazi-propaganda), and for Putin…

Ah yes and: the first out of six MIM-23 HAWK SAM-systems pledged by Spain, should have arrived in Ukraine. Five more are to follow. At least something is happening in regards of bolstering Ukrainian air defences.

Now, due to my research about Iran-Iraq War, I happen to know a lil bit about that system, and thus think it might prove very useful in this war — especially because the version in the process of being delivered to Ukraine is much more advanced than the MIM-23B I-HAWK as used by the Iranians of the 1980s — and that one was ‘good enough’ to become known as the ‘Death Valley’ between Iraqi fighter pilots. That said, even HAWKs are certainly no replacement for all the Soviet-designed SAMs that are still forming the backbone of Ukrainian air defences, yet the ammo stocks for which are getting ever lower (apparently: as critically low as stocks of Russian ballistic- and cruise missiles).

A typical launcher with three MIM-23 HAWK surface-to-air (SAM) missiles of the Spanish Army, as are in the process of being delivered to Ukraine.


Kupyansk & Svatove… the Russian RUMINT is that Ukraine is preparing a new offensive from the area around Kupyansk towards east — on Svatove and Staroblisk. The Ukrainian RUMINT has it that the Russians are preparing a new offensive on Kupyansk and then down the Oskil River: indeed — and don’t ask me why — some are convinced that the Russians have already reconquered the eastern bank of the Oskil down to Kupyansk….

Sorry, this was not the case. Instead, the ZSU never wasted troops and time to advance north of Dvorichne: these would only find themselves within the range of the Russian artillery deployed in safety behind the border.

Anyway…. Ukrainians say that the Russians have deployed one battalion of VDV, plus four battalions and two tank companies of the 18th Motor Rifle Division, and then 5–9 artillery battalions to this area, lately. Therefore, Ukrainian artillery is heavily shelling numerous targets in the Svatove area, really from north through the centre down to the south of the town. Moreover, somebody blew up a Russian POL depot in the Bryansk area, torching about 50,000 tones of fuels and lubricants: that’s certainly going to delay any kind of a possible Russian offensive, or make their defence operations problematic for a while. In turn, Ukrainians are (grudgingly) confirming that the Russian artilery barrages are hampering the movement of their units and supplies in the Kupyansk area.

Actually, I would say: the ZSU is still pushing east-wards in this area: has secured the Yahidne, smashed lots of Russians there, and thus probably reached Orlyanske. Therefore, Surovikin can’t but react with deploying reinforcements to stop this advance.

Kremina…. Hard on the heels of complains from his troops (see my last report), now even the CO of the BARS 13 is complaining about vivid Ukrainian activity in the Serebryansky Forest, north of the town. Makes me think that the Russians should decide: are the Ukrainians throwing their ‘5th wave of Volkssturm’, consisting of (old) women and whatever into the battle, so the Russians have it easier to shot them to pieces, or skilfully infiltrating BARS-positions…?

Ukrainian T-80, ‘somewhere in the Bakhmut area’. Read: could be anywhere from Svatove in the north to Novoselivka in the south…That said, Ukrainian armour is mostly held back as a reserve for counterattacks in reaction to such Russian breakthroughs like south of Bakhmut, the last few days.

Bakhmut… Meanwhile it’s sure: this is now the major show-down in this war. In reaction to the Russians massively bolstering their forces in the area, RUMINT has it that the ZSU has already re-deployed — or is in the process of re-deploying — no less than six brigades to this area.

Not all of these are in the line yet, though, and thus the Russians are pushing, wave after wave, very hard, along the entire frontline from Bilohorivka on the Siversky Donets in the north, via Soledar down the eastern side of Bakhmut to Optyne, Klishchiivka, Kurdyumivka, to Pivnichene at least. Wagner attacks on Bilohorivka, Verkhnokamyanske, and Spirne were all smashed with relative ease.

That said, the centrepiece of the fighting in this area, the last two days, was the area from Kurdyumivka to Novoselivka, south of Bakhmut. Kurdyumivka is bitterly contested while, further south, and after securing Kuzemivka, Wagner’s convicts have reached the northern and then the eastern side of Novoselivka, one kilometre further west. Of course, the place was already razed to the ground by their artillery, and it’s near-certain that it was captured meanwhile. Facing attacks from multiple directions by numerically superior enemy, the 30th Mech withdrew, once again.

Characteristically, the Russian aim in this area seems to be a ‘typical Putin’: reach the ‘border’ of the Luhansk Oblast (i.e. ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’) in this part of Ukraine. Ukrainians have their own opinion about such ideas, and thus it seems they’re repeatedly subjecting the Russians to flanking counterattacks. One of these drove all the way to Kuzemivka, the last night, but without any lasting results.

Generally: although local Russian attacks are taking place by day, too, most important fighting seems to be run by night. The reason is that ‘even’ Wagner PMC has figured out how to operate by night, and is meanwhile quite well equipped for this purpose. Apparently, the same was not valid for the Ukrainian 30th Mech — or the Russians found a different way to keep its outposts busy before overrunning them, at the start of this offensive, about a week ago.

Russian reservists hauled to the frontline on a BMP-1 IFV. After all the video-reports demonstrating the quality of their plastic helmets and bordy armour, and about Moscow now importing these from China and Iran, I cannot but wonder: is Tehran exporting plastic ‘Keys to Heaven’ to Russia, too…?

Avdiivka… I have to repeat the same I’m reporting about this area for at least six months. Which is that the Russians attacked Krasnohorivka and Marinka, and that with massive support of their artillery… Actually, there’s no way to describe what kind of artillery barrages are ZSU troops there enduring. Thus it’s unfair, but cannot than summarise this with the following: the sole ‘true news’ I was able to find from this area was a Russian mechanised attack on Pervomaiske, apparently run on 1 December. Didn’t get trough but, hey: for once, they tried it with tanks, not only with artillery and infantry.

Finally…. Southern Zaporizhzhya….and southern Kherson… the last two days, have caught yet more RUMINT about a Russian withdrawal from the Polohy area. Also from the eastern bank of the Dnipro, in south-east Kherson. But still: there’s no hard evidence for any kind of a major Ukrainian advance — whether in the Polohy area, or on the Kinburn Peninsula, or in the Oleshky area. We’ve got to be patient and wait to see what comes out.

AUTHOR: Tom Cooper

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