Short updating of Ukraine crisis, mid-September 2022

AFU “counteroffensives” – a Pyrrhic victory

A pyrrhic victory is a victory that comes at a great cost, perhaps making the ordeal to win not worth it. It relates to Pyrrhus, a king of Epirus who defeated the Romans at Asculum in 279 BCE but lost many of his troops.

This idea necessarily came to my mind, when analyzing the AFU counteroffensives in Kherson and Kharkiv regions, during last couple of weeks. AFU losses, over 35000 troops and massive material losses (approx. 200 mbt/ifv/other vehicles and dozens of other heavy weapons), while Russia’s losses being about 10% of those AFU figures. AFU “normal” daily losses in August – September period have been in the size range of 1000 – 1500 troops and 15 – 20 heavy units”.

Anyway, Ukraine and Zelensky received plenty of Western MSM hype all over the western world. No matter of the costs.

Now, the situation on all frontlines have been stabilized, AFU is not pushing further, mainly due to those massive losses. Some clashes are still going in the south but Russian heavy artillery takes those attempts. It appears now that the biggest push and tempo have been seen in this autumn, before General Winter is coming.

From Russian side, “the meat-grinder mills” are going on 24/7 making slow advance possible in Donbas-region. It seems to be quite likely that Russia may make one bigger push before the winter and try to take the rest of Donetsk region (about 20% is still under AFU control).

On the other hand, many things indicate that Russia is forming new army groups, up to 100.000 soldiers fully-equipped with the modern armament. The aim is to make a Big Push and take control of the whole south coast (Nikolaev, Odessa, Transnistria) and eastern part of Ukraine (including Krivoi Rog region) up to the river Dnepr. Possibly, this takes place in the spring 2023.

The US/NATO involvement in Ukraine operations

As known, Russia calls this crisis as “Special Military Operation” (SMO) and the West simply “Ukraine war”. In the beginning of this crisis, it seemed to be a proxy war, where the factual opponents were Russia and the US and Ukraine serving as a proxy for the US interests.

However, the participation of US and NATO has been increasing all the time, not only in financial and military equipment aid, but also in participation at practical, operational level. The US/NATO has a large command center, located in the western Ukraine (near to Lviv), where over a hundred American and British military officers, technical experts and other military personnel are working.

This command center receives, processes and distributes the whole data of American spy satellites, which gives real-time picture and data of the whole operation theater in Ukraine. This data is delivered to American (and British) liaison-officers in each regional brigades/battalions.  The task of these liaison-officers is to coordinate and conduct the operative combat performance of their units, together with Ukrainian officers. In addition, many Ukrainian offensive combat operations are usually supported by American or British special forces troops.

One interesting curiosity might be the case of AGM-88 HARM missiles

There were speculations that on August 9 the Russian troops were hit by American planes flown by Ukrainian pilots or that American fighter jets simply flew into Ukrainian airspace and carried out a series of strikes. US authorities deny the incident, as they also deny supplying missiles.

However, reports from the frontline tells that the remains of a US-made AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-radiation Missile) have been found by Russian forces in Ukraine. AGM-88 is a tactical air-launched anti-radiation missile designed to home in on transmissions coming from air defense radar systems. The maximum launch range of the newer variants of the AGM-88 is said to be up to 150 kilometers, which would imply it had to be launched from within Kiev regime-controlled airspace.

Some days later, Pentagon announced that Washington had sent to Kyiv anti-radar missiles that could be used by Ukrainian aircraft against Russian radars. At a press conference, Deputy Defense Secretary Colin Kahl said that Washington had sent some missiles to Kyiv in the latest shipment, without specifying the type or number of missiles, which turned out to be HARM missiles. Kahl alleged that the missiles could be fired from Ukrainian aircraft. This was the first official confirmation from the US side of the transfer of AGM-88 HARM missiles to Ukraine.

This case appears to be the following.

In the first days of the war, Russia destroyed nearly all Ukrainian aircrafts on the ground or in the air but AFU managed to hide approx. 30 aircrafts (mainly SU-24, SU-27 and MIG-29) in the underground bunkers in various places in Ukraine. Later, a big group of American aviation experts and technicians came and started the re-design and re-calibration work to enable Soviet-type aircrafts to carry and shoot these HARM-missiles.

First indication of this operation was seen in early August, as said above. In August 25, AFU deployed five of those aircrafts on the ground, two (1 SU-24 and 1 SU-27) at Mirgorod military airfield in Poltava Region as well as three (1 SU-24 and 2 SU-27) at Dnepr military airfield in Dnepropetrovsk Region. They were immediately detected by Russian Air Forces and missile strikes destroyed them all. Later in August, at least three other similar aircrafts were destroyed by Russian strikes. The impact of these missiles has been so far very limited.

As to HIMARS, American multiple launch rocket systems, which are delivered to Ukraine about 20 units, the operation of these weapons is demanding and that’s why usually 2-3 American military experts are running each HIMAR units. So far, Russia claims to have destroyed half of them, which means that about twenty American soldiers have been killed in these incidents.

Peace proposal

In the case that Russia is going to make that push (see above) in Donetsk and manages to secure the whole Donbas, it is highly likely that Russia will make a new peace proposal, where its conditions for a peace to Ukraine will be stated. These conditions are certainly unacceptable to the West and Ukraine, which will flatly reject it but that is OK also by Russia.

The point of this offer securing the first objective of the SMO is to play positive to China, India, the global South and also to the more cautious and war-averse members of the Russian citizenry.

It was actually the Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic, who has good relations with Russia, said that Russia will make a peace offer and that the west will likely reject it (July 14):

“I know what awaits us. As soon as Vladimir Putin finishes business in Sieversk, Bakhmut and Soledar, and then on the second line Sloviansk – Kramatorsk – Avdeevka, his proposal will follow. If they don’t accept it and they don’t intend to, we will go to hell”.

So, war continues and so do sanctions, business as usual.