It’s stated the definition of madness is doing the identical factor time and again whereas anticipating a distinct end result. If that’s the case … Russia qualifies.
We noticed it within the early days of the conflict in Hostomel airport northwest of Kyiv. Russia made an unsupported airborne touchdown on the bottom. Bought worn out. Tried it once more. Similar end result. There could have been a 3rd try, however the airport wasn’t captured till the spearhead of Russia’s assault, on the bottom, arrived just a few days later.
We’re at the moment seeing it on Snake Island, of “Russia warship, go fuck your self” fame. Over the previous week, Russian forces have been worn out a number of occasions (here, here, here, and here), and but final evening we noticed Russian troops touchdown there once again. (Russia state media tried to claim that it was Ukrainians who have been defeated on the island … utilizing the Ukrainian armed forces video (with their brand on the highest proper nook) that includes the Bayraktar TB-2 drone interface, of which Russia has none. The destruction of the ship, when Ukraine has no navy, was a pleasant contact of hilarity.)
However nothing is as dramatic because the saga of the riverside crossing at Bilohorivka, the place Russia didn’t simply undergo one disastrous river-crossing try, however three of them over the previous few days.
Rubizhne, prime proper, was captured by Russia this week. Severodonetsk, on the suitable, is at the moment hell on earth, Russia’s present primary goal, being hit on three sides and underneath relentless months-long bombardment. As I famous earlier, Severodonetsk is on the north facet of the river, so its Ukrainian defenders can, if wanted, retreat throughout the river to Lysychansk, the place the river supplies pure safety.
On condition that Russia will ultimately have to cross the river, they clearly thought, why not now, permitting them to utterly encompass Severodonetsk, slicing off its defenders, and short-circuiting any fall again positions in Lysychansk. Bilohorivka was such an apparent place to make the try, that this Ukrainian military engineer claimed to have guessed it forward of time (account is unconfirmed, however a lot of it checks out).
Russia made its first effort Might 8, and it was totally decimated, destroying a number of dozen automobiles. The bridge lay half-sunk.
Russian command and management construction is extremely centralized, giving native commanders zero means to deviate from said orders. So if excessive command stated “get to Bilohorivka,” properly, who was to say one thing like, “Guys, Ukraine has our quantity, possibly we should always search for a brand new place to cross?” Nah, giving native commanders, or any commanders for that matter, the reward of “free pondering and initiative” would possibly result in a navy coup. Greatest to maintain them silly. Therefore … attempt quantity 2:
You’ll be able to see the remnants of that first bridge simply above it, both utterly submerged or towed away throughout the second try. Extra charred automobiles have been added to the record.
Then somebody from Moscow or Belgorod known as and screamed, “do we now have Bilohorivka but?” And because the reply was no, then yeah, sigh, there they went once more.
The open supply intelligence (OSINT) crowd received to counting the harm, or at the very least, what could possibly be decided from drone footage. Simply picture after picture tagged like this:
The automobile rely retains rising because the OSINT of us discover extra automobiles amongst the wreckage. The newest? 82.
These 82 automobiles embody eight within the river. The tally contains 14 tanks and 62 infantry combating automobiles. A Russian battalion tactical group (BTG) has 10 tanks and 40 IFVs, however there’s no such factor as a full-strength BTG in Ukraine. Doubtless by no means was. So Russia simply misplaced two BTGs value of troops making an attempt to make the identical compromised river crossing three occasions. Are you able to think about the drone operator calling it in?
Drone operator: ”One other crossing!”
Artillery fireplace path: “Shit! What are the coordinates?”
Drone operator: “Uh, similar ones!”
Artillery fireplace path: “Ha! Okay, I actually thought you have been kidding the second time! That was loopy. However severely, what are the brand new coordinates?”
That engineer I linked to above claims 1,500 lifeless, citing “rumors.” That might recommend two practically full-strength BTGs, so is nearly definitely overstated. InformNapalm, which has been overlaying the conflict since 2014 and has sources inside Ukrainian intelligence, claims that solely 65 of 550 Russians making an attempt the crossing survived. Whereas ~490 lifeless appears believable, solely 550 Russians making an attempt the crossing appears low. A single BTG would have 600-1,000 troopers, so 550 would solely workers one undermanned BTG.
Russia has 22 BTGs on this axis, so on this ill-fated multi-effort river-crossing debacle, it has misplaced practically 10% of its complete combating pressure. However hey, why cease after they’re so near succeeding? Right here’s hoping they’re silly sufficient to offer it a fourth shot.
And when you suppose I’m joking, from that InformNapalm report:
After [the third attempt], different servicemen of the brigade started to jot down “refusal”, however the zampolits [political commissar] tried to intimidate them with jail phrases and exert psychological strain.
Additionally, InformNapalm sources report that they noticed a automobile on this path in the present day, which is visually similar to the cellular level of psychological work of the Russian Armed Forces. Most likely for the psychological therapy of the servicemen of the brigade, which suffered heavy losses.
If that report is appropriate, it means Russia is actually making an attempt to pressure its troopers to offer it one more shot. Hopefully these troopers select properly—jail appears far preferable than no matter destiny met the poor souls on these three bridging makes an attempt.