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In recent days, Ukraine opened a new front south of the city of Kherson, where they crossed the Dnipro River.
They crossed a new place compared to previous crossings, and are said to have captured two settlements on the south side of the river and established a larger bridgehead.
The crossing is said to have caught the Russians by surprise, and there are unconfirmed rumors that the Ukrainians are now transporting heavier equipment across the river.
It remains to be seen whether the Ukrainians intend to use this bridgehead to attack the south, or whether the motive is primarily to force the Russians to redeploy forces here.
Both represent a problem for the Russians.
If the Ukrainians establish a permanent presence here, with the possibility of transporting heavy equipment across the river, they are very close to the Krym Peninsula.
One reason the Russians had few reserves was that they had deployed large forces to attack Avdijivka near Donetsk.
Jorn Sund Henriksen
Jørn Sund Henriksen was an election observer in Kiev during the Orange Revolution of 2004 and served in the Coast Guard Command. He has been involved in independent intelligence (OSINT) for more than 10 years in several conflicts and is a leader in the Norwegian-Ukrainian Society of Friends. His contributions are based on open source research and are therefore an accumulation and analysis of currently available information, with the risk of missourcing.
Avdijivka is already in the pocket, so naturally they would try to besiege the city by attacking northwest and southwest of the city.
If the Russians succeed, the Ukrainian forces in the city will be completely surrounded.
However, the attack was a complete disaster for the Russians.
They suffered heavy losses in personnel and equipment. Over the past week, they have lost (verified by photo identification) more than 100 armored vehicles such as tanks, armored personnel carriers and APCs.
The Russians also lost a lot of personnel.
Last week the average was more than 1,000 per day according to reports by Ukrainian authorities. This is twice what is “usual”.
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However, many of these forces were prison mobilized forces, which the Russians often used for pure storming missions where the probability of survival was low.
There are also rumors that many former Wagner soldiers were also used in such attacks, with low survival rates.
The Russians attack in flat terrain where they have little cover at long distances as they approach Ukrainian positions.
This gives Ukrainian forces, artillery and drones time to attack before they even reach the positions they are trying to fight.
On the northern side of Avdijivka, a former mine created an artificial mountain they called Terrikon, which became a kind of fortress.
Strong defensive positions
The Ukrainians had established very strong defensive positions there, and the Russians tried to attack them directly – with disastrous results.
But its elevation in a flat area also means that Ukrainian forces in Terekon could also hit Russian forces to the north during their offensive.
It has been shown that Russia can replace these rapidly mobilized forces with little training, especially relatively quickly.
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What they will struggle to replace is the equipment they lost. A large amount of tanks of different quality. Also the latest T-90M.
They have little automated production in Russia, so most of it is largely handmade.
Even if they increase the defense budget to this extent, they do not have the ability to increase production significantly.
The Russians are already beginning to notice this with regard to artillery. They had a huge artillery advantage from the beginning of the large-scale invasion.
But September was the first time Ukraine had an artillery advantage. Since Russian doctrine is based on artillery, this has serious consequences for its combat capability.
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Compensated with air support
The Russians have tried to compensate for this by increasing the use of air support for their forces. It also leads to increased risks.
Last week, the Russians lost several helicopters and five Su-25 fighter. There are significant losses for the Russians, but they nevertheless fly an average of over ten sorties per day to support their forces on the Avdiivka front.
The fact that the Russian Air Force is more active causes it greater losses, but it still has a significant impact on the Ukrainian offensive.
The fact that Russian planes and helicopters operate so freely on the front means that the Ukrainians have to adapt their operations to minimize this threat.
It makes it more dangerous, for example, to gather large forces in one place or to obtain a very advanced position.
If Ukraine had received Western fighters, they would have been able to practice deniability on the front, allowing ground forces to operate with greater freedom and less risk.
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Ukraine finally got ATACMS
It also became clear this week that Ukraine has received the long-awaited delivery ATACMS from the United States.
We were exposed to this through attacks on Russian air bases.
Two helicopters were attacked in Luhansk and Bergansk, and the attacks respectively destroyed at least nine helicopters in Luhansk and five in Bergansk. Of the nine in Luhansk, we know that five of them were Ka-52 Attack helicopter and the rest Mi-8 Transport helicopter.
The loss of 14 helicopters puts a significant damper on the Russians’ operational ability.
It is referred to as the worst day in the history of the Russian Air Force.
We have seen from the wreckage of the ATACMS missiles that this is the first version from 1996. It was already expired and was scheduled to be destroyed by the United States. It is a cluster version of the missile ideal for attacking airports.
Previous airport attacks often resulted in the destruction or damage of one or two aircraft, because they are so far apart that it is difficult to hit more than one aircraft with a single weapon.
Cluster munitions such as ATACMS destroy unarmored equipment over a larger area. That’s why they destroyed so many helicopters.
The helicopter does not need to be exposed to a lot of fragments to be out of operation for a long time with many hours of maintenance.
Therefore, it is likely that the number of damaged helicopters is much greater than those completely destroyed.
It was also reported that air defense systems, vehicles and barracks were destroyed in the attacks.
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Central Helicopter Forces
Although the Russians should have known that Ukraine had received ATACMS, they concentrated a significant portion of their helicopter forces at these two airfields.
Some have speculated that it was because they lacked an air defense system to defend several airfields, but there may also have been other efficiency considerations that made them make this choice.
But it proved disastrous when it led to the destruction of several helicopters.
The fact that the Ukrainians were able to destroy several helicopters on the ground using ATACMS is also used as an argument for not relying heavily on acquiring Western fighters.
The problem with this argument is that the main effect of acquiring Western fighters would not be to enable them to inflict casualties on the Russian air force, but rather to deprive them of the ability to operate freely across the front.
So, while the F-16s may not shoot down 14 helicopters in a short period of time, they will force them off the front and save Ukrainian lives.
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Biden called for support for Ukraine
Biden gave a very powerful address to the nation on Friday. It was about the situation in the Middle East and Ukraine.
He was very clear and powerfully explained why Ukraine’s struggle is so important to the United States.
Although there is chaos in Congress in the United States, it seems that President Biden has now decided that the matter is not limited to Ukraine no He must lose, but also win the war.
Another sign of this is the size of the aid package for both Ukraine and Israel, which Biden is requesting from Congress, and that the United States will now refrain from announcing what it is providing to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Europe continues to provide arms support to Ukraine.
Croatia recently became one of the few countries supplying the aircraft after supplying 14 Mi-8 helicopters to Ukraine.
Germany continues its ongoing support with tanks and very important armored personnel carriers.
Although winter and the slush season are approaching, the situation for Russians appears increasingly difficult.
Ukraine has not yet achieved a breakthrough on the battlefield.
But perhaps with support from the United States.
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