Ukraine War/Battle of the Donbas update. Sorry I have not done this for 3 weeks, but actually had a break and went to Sicily and have been trying to catch up with loads since. However, tbh, since the last update far less has happened on the ground than you might think.
Looking at claims of Ukrainian losses, the war and the Battle of the Donbas has stayed at a much lower (and overall decreasing) intensity over the last three weeks.
Ukrainian claims used as a gauge of intensity have losses running at around one third of where they were when the battle had its first peak of intensity, and around half (if not a little less) than it was for the first 3-4 weeks.
Claims about Russian ranged weapons losses (Artillery/MLRS) have not declined as markedly, though have declined. Showing overall there has been more of a switch to ranged combat.
Note--these losses are still extraordinary. In the last three weeks alone, even with the overall decrease, the Ukrainians have claimed to destroy 135 tanks, 266 APCs and 118 Artillery systems. The balance is not exact, but we are talking about 13 or so full strength, pre-war BTGs
Of course with the losses suffered the whole notion of what a BTG is has lost any clear meaning. However, the entire international coalition attacking Iraq in Desert storm lost around 30 tanks and 30 APCs.
Why losses in Ukraine have trended downwards is pretty clear. The area of the battle has shrunk significantly from the start of the Battle of the Donbas. Basically the Russians are only making an effort in a very small area of the line.
Using @War_Mapper maps from today and April 18 (start of the Battle of the Donbas) the area of fighting has shrunk to basically a small area at the edge of the most forward and exposed position of the Ukrainian line. June 25 SitmapApril 18 Sitmap
When the Russian attack started they were planning on the large drive down from Izyum for a battle on encirclement. However the advance from Izyum has barely moved for a month. Instead the Russians have basically thrown everything into the SDonetsk/Lysychansk battle.
Here is the area where the fighting has been in the last two weeks.
Ive put black circles in the area of combat. Its very much a small part of the line at the most exposed part of the Urkainian position.
Or adapting a @Nrg8000 map. Here is where the fighting has been the last few weeks. added black circle.
This scaling back is a sign of failure. The Russians have shown no ability to make and exploit a breakthrough in the Donbas (indeed I havent seen anything worthy of being called a breakthrough in the whole battle). They make small, incremental, expensive advances.
The situation was summed up quite well in the anonymous Pentagon briefing this week.…
Russian failure has led them to 'recalibrate' their entire plan and add very limited objectives. They have finally achieved one (seizing SDonetsk) but compared to where we were on April 18, this was probably the least ambitious objective Russia could have set.
And if you had said on April 18 that after 10 weeks, thats all Russia would have done, most analysts would have looked on the campaign as a failure.
Now one thing that is interesting, is that while the reporting of the last 10 days started with some examples of the normal panic-driven narrative when the Russian make small advances (Breakthrough! Ukrainian defeat! etc), that was quickly dialled down.
In fact, there are some attempts to try and look at tne engagement not in terms of territory (which is irrelevant in terms of force regeneration) but in terms of relative losses and ability to replace.…
Looking in terms of relative losses (and relative improvements in equipment) have led some very astute people to judge that what we are seeing is the petering out of Russian ability to advance. Otoh, Ukraine is getting newer and better systems, and will become more effective.
Also worth pointing out that there are signs of a growing Ukrainian resistance movement behind Russian lines.
@MarkHertling who has been one of the best interpreters of the war to this point put alot of his thinking on the subect in this thread on how the relative balance is shifting in the war, which is worth a read.
@general_ben , also great and worth a follow, has analyzed that with the present development Russian strength is beginning to relatively weaken and Ukraine might gain the advantage starting in July.
HIMARS are now being used and the Ukrainians are becoming increasingly more proficient using M777s, Caesars, Panzerhaubitze, etc. All these systems are far more capable than anything Ukraine had on Feb 24 (or even April 18). Ukrainians seem very pleased.
The one tricky question that we dont know is exactly what Ukrainian losses have been in mostly blunting the Russian assaults during the Battle of the Donbas. There were those rather worrying public claims by Ukrainian officials, which were then dialled back.
So would say nothing has changed. Russia growing weaker and having to scale back offensive action progressively. Ukrainian capabilities are improving. Sound like a broken record, but at some point the balance of effective military power will shift to Ukraine.
Worth commenting on this, many people think iam being optimistic on Ukraine or hopeful. I get that. However let me say that I decided right from the start to say clearly what I thought was happening, even if it strayed from the norm. I’m trying to be as objective as possible.
I might get things wrong, and I have. Though hopefully not wrong in a pro Ukrainian way. Tbh, most of what I believe I’ve gotten wrong came from not thinking the Russian command would do certain things that just seemed too rash and self-harming.
Btw, all the Russian command instability during the Battle of the Donbas is a powerful indicator of the failure of the campaign in Putin’s own eyes so far. You don’t get rid of commanders or command structures you think are succeeding.
This is what is called rapid command turnover.
This is what I mean about bad reporting. The Ukr withdrawal from Severodonetsk is not some great 'strategic' victory for Russia. It does not effect in any way Ukr ability to regenerate force and keep fighting the war. At best its a tactical adjustment.
The way that Russia ended up in control of Severodonetsk shows what a failure it was. There is no way, under modern combined arms war, that they would have wanted to do an urban assault against an enemy with open supply lines.
There are fewer than 20 miles between Russian forces to the North (coming out of Lyman) to the South (coming out of Popasna). Modern war 101, let alone Russian doctrine, says at a minimum you should be able to encircle Severodonetsk, cut it off, and weaken it before assault.
Its a very small distance and the Russians have been trying to cut off the cities for months--and they just cant do it. Thats left them doing the worst possible option, the direct assault on the city. And even then, the Ukrainians were able to withdrawal in good order
It is not a strategic victory, its a sign of strategic failure.
to be extra clear--The way the fate of Severodonetsk was decided was not a 'strategic defeat' for Ukraine, its a sign of strategic failure for Russia.
Instead of the brutally long tweet thread with lots of links I tweeted yesterday, I could have just waited a day and retweeted this….

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More from @PhillipsPOBrien

Jun 27
Will be interesting if this translates into decreases in Russian combat intensity. Anecdotally there is some evidence of a concerted Ukrainian attempt to hit depots (smart) and now they have more and more systems that can do so.
Putting this here as it’s an important question, and I don’t know. I heard going into the war that the Russians had many years worth of ammo stocks. However wartime usage is always far higher than anticipated, so it might not have been as large as calculated.
Read 21 tweets
Jun 26
Been a week since leaving Sicily and missing it. Won’t bore with holiday details, but would like to tell you about one place in Catania (a fabulous city) you should visit if you can. Catania has loads by the way, you really should visit.
Anyway, if you are admiring the wonderful baroque architecture on Via Crociferi (pic) and you head by via Gesuiti, turn and walk up the hill. Image
When you reach the top, you will have this extraordinary sight, what was going to be one of the grandest churches in Sicily, San Nicolo l’Arena. The bottom half was built but then they ran out of money for the rest and just stopped. Image
Read 12 tweets
Jun 25
Happy to find you 20 prominent southern politicians who started as democrats and became Republicans. The CRA statement you make is bogus as those were passed in the 1960s and the strong party switching started later.
Many segregationists such as John Stennis, remained Dems
But voted with the Republicans. However here is a list of 20 prominent politicians who switched.
1 James Byrnes: 2 Strom Thurmond. 3. Thad Cochran. 4 Jesse Helms. 5 Bob Barr. 6 Trent Lott. 7 John Connally. 8 Phil Gramm. 9. David Duke (enuf said) 10 Rick Perry. 11. Tommy Robinson. 12 John Tower. 13 Charles Pickering. 14 Albert Watson. 15 Thomas Wofford. 16 William O Mills
Read 4 tweets
Jun 25
Its amazing how Republicans are so ignorant of their own party's history that they think this is owning the libs. The southern whites that founded the Klan, etc, moved wholesale to the Republican Party in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Republican Party of today is the Democratic Party of the 1865-1920 period. Indeed the two parties have basically just switched the state's that backed them. Here is a map of the 1896 and 2022 election. Image
It was the constituency of today's Republican Party that founded the KKK and brought in enforced segregation. Just shows how those who claim to be patriotic Americans know nothing of the country of which they claim to be so proud.
Read 4 tweets
Jun 24
Speaking of HIMARs the Pentagon anonymous briefing was explicit today on why they really matter. These are not to be compared to traditional artillery or presently anything the Russians have that seems to be working.
These are longer ranged and far more accurate. Both these factors are massive effectiveness multipliers. Impossible to put a number on it, but a working HIMARs system is far more valuable than a large number of traditional howitzers.
Ukraine does not necessarily need masses of HIMARs to compete with Russian artillery mass. They need a significant number and, maybe more important, the right ammunition with the most range that they can get. That’s why they are so important
Read 5 tweets
Jun 24
Why are only decisions considered a sin by certain religious faiths to be reconsidered? This is worrying, a Supreme Court justice prioritising the deligitimizing things that are religiously motivated. Does anyone secular have a problem with any of these?
Btw, if within the American context you don’t admit that this is being driven by a religious interest (evangelical Christians and more fundamentalist Catholics), I don’t think you’re being honest with what’s happened. The anti abortion movement is dominated by these groups.
What I bet they discover though, is that they will accelerate the secularisation of US society. The US was already becoming much less religious over the last 20 years.… Image
Read 6 tweets

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