Russia rushed its faux “referendums” within the occupied territories for a easy purpose: Vladimir Putin continues to withstand declaring formal struggle, so pretending that Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts are “Russia” will permit him to each deploy conscripts to the area (Russian regulation doesn’t permit their deployment exterior Russian soil), in addition to allow nuclear brinkmanship.
There’s a bizarre perception amongst nationalist pro-Russian Telegram bloggers that doing so may even permit Russia to wage “actual struggle,” as they’re beneath the idea that Russia has in some way “held again.” Their proof is that Ukrainian facilities of energy—the presidential palace, legislative chambers, and Ministry of Protection—haven’t been hit, and that Russia has been considerably restrained from systemically degrading Ukraine’s rail community (and with it, the regular provide of Western arms). That statement shouldn’t be with out advantage—the dearth of assaults on Kyiv authorities buildings is certainly bizarre. However the rail scenario? That’s only a matter of priorities—Russia prefers lobbing its rockets and missiles at civilian condo buildings and bus stops, relatively than legitimate navy targets like rail networks. There actually isn’t a lot left that Russia can do this it hasn’t already performed, aside from low-yield “tactical” nuclear weapons. That’s a line I’d wager Russia gained’t really cross, whilst Ukrainian intelligence charges the possibilities as “very excessive.” (It’s a wager I’d hate to lose.)
The actual hazard of Putin’s resolution to annex these territories (assuming he goes by means of with it, he’s erratic in spite of everything) is that he’ll inevitable look weak, unable to defend Mom Russia herself, and if a Russian chief can’t defend its personal territory, what good is he? But Russia doesn’t absolutely management any of the 4 oblasts, and he’s steadily shedding floor by the day. In actual fact, his forces are on the verge of being routed in Lyman, a key roadblock to Ukrainian management of everything of Kharkiv oblast, and a gateway into northern Luhansk.
Russian struggle propagandist WarGonzo is already fleeing the realm.
He additional reported (Telegram’s in-app translation):
This night time can be decisive for Krasny Lyman. Some could skeptically say “as soon as once more”. However we reliably assert, counting on a number of dependable sources without delay – it has by no means been so robust and so harmful there. Along with the breakthrough, to the Headquarters and the precise blockade of Drobyshev, fragmentary data was added that the battles for Yampol had additionally begun. Ticks round Lyman can shut at any second. There are nonetheless individuals there, together with fighters of the NM DPR and the Russian Military. Drama to the scenario is added by the truth that tomorrow, in keeping with the thought, must be a solemn and historic day. Subsequently, God forbid that the tragedy doesn’t occur! We pray for you, our Heroes!
That is what it seems like on a map:
WarGonzo says the battle of Yampil has “begun,” whereas different pro-Russian sources have declared it misplaced to the Ukrainian advance. They report that Stavky, additionally circled above, has already been recaptured by Ukraine. That cuts off Drobysheve and Derylove from their provide route east to Zarichne, whereas the street south to Lyman is already minimize. The Russian protection in these two cities are absolutely minimize off, and it’s reported to be a large garrison.
Lyman nonetheless has its street to Zarichne, however with Yampil both liberated or beneath excessive stress, that street will not be open for for much longer, and it’s already beneath Ukrainian “fireplace management” (coated by artillery and mortar fireplace). Both the Lyman garrison flees (hopefully in quicker and extra dependable civilian autos, donating all the good things to the Ukrainian military), or they may even be encircled quickly. Parsing WarGonzo’s report, I’d guess Russian forces will attempt to flee beneath cowl of darkness. We’ll know for positive tomorrow.
Given Ukraine has already recaptured greater than 1,000 sq. kilometers and liberated 50 settlements this week alone, the collapse of Russia’s greatest stronghold on this total nook of the entrance could be a momentous strategic accomplishment, and an incredible propaganda victory overshadowing Putin’s grand speech on Friday.
Let’s pull the map again:
Russia is pinning the protection of that total pink nook of Ukraine on Lyman, circled on the bottom-left of this map. By all indications, there’s nothing a lot behind it. That’s why Russia is dashing newly conscripted troops into Ukraine with 0-1 days of coaching. They don’t have anything else to attempt to maintain that line. But these heat our bodies gained’t be greater than an inconvenient pace bump as soon as Ukraine breaks Lyman’s defenses and walks away with a number of hundred extra trophy armored autos—Russia’s lend-lease for the Ukrainian military.
Publish Lyman, the primary prize is Svatove, and Russian sources declare Ukraine is already marching in that path. There aren’t any pure boundaries to gradual the Ukrainian advance, nor, apparently, Russian air defenses.
Russia’s regional logistics are already severely challenged. Svatove’s rail line was minimize at Kupiansk. It needs to be provided by way of Starobilsk, then 62 kilometers by way of truck to Svatove, after which extra vehicles to feed the remainder of the entrance. Russia does vehicles poorly, and struggles past 25 kilometers of a railhead. Liberate Svatove, and supplying what’s left of Kharkiv oblast turns into virtually inconceivable. Liberate Svatove, and Starobilsk is a wide-open straight shot, with zero pure obstacles save mud season.
Liberate Starobilsk … take a look at the map—each single street and rail line within the area crosses at Starobilsk. Like … a star. (“Star” means “outdated” in Russian. It’s nonetheless an apt title for the city.) Liberate it, and Russia can’t provide something in that total huge plot of sparsely populated agricultural steppe. That’s one other 10,000 sq. kilometers Ukraine might liberate earlier than turning its consideration towards the components of Donbas Russia occupied previous to the February invasion. And whereas turning all that vacant area Ukrainian colours will look nice on a map, doing so has immense strategic worth—chopping that rail line would mark the top of Belgorod’s standing as Russia’s predominant provide hub for the struggle, requiring a whole rerouting to some other place, to Ukraine’s east.
One thing is bizarre is happening, concerning Russia’s nuclear threats.
And it’s not simply state tv. That is RT:
It’s as if there’s a normal deescalation of such irresponsible threats. Hopefully that’s a very good signal, however Putin logic doesn’t appear to comply with precise logic.
Overlook “operationally surrounded.” A number of pro-Russian Telegram accounts report that as of midnight, native time, Ukraine is absolutely surrounded.
BARS are Russian reservist models, LPR are the faux “Luhansk Folks’s Republican” proxies, and so they imply the twentieth Mixed Arms Military. “Boiler” is a humorous translation of “cauldron,” which is strictly what it seems like—a strategically giant focus of trapped enemy forces. “Boiler” really works as properly. Estimates are that Russians had 2,500-3,500 troops inside town, and they’re now absolutely minimize off from escape. No purpose for Ukraine to interact in expensive street-by-street city preventing. They’ll preserve a blocking pressure to maintain them contained whereas the primary spearhead retains shifting.