Operational Briefing of Hostilities (12 JUL 22)

Map by George Barros, Kateryna Stepanenko, Noel Mikkelsen, and Daniel Mealie courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War and AEI’s Critical Threats Project.

Russian forces failed to launch offensive operations on the central southern axis on 11 JUL 22, instead focusing their efforts on maintaining defensive positions. They have, however, continued artillery strikes along the entire southern line of contact. Ukrainian Intelligence reported that Russian fighter jets launched four Kh-31 missiles at an unnamed Black Sea coastal settlement and three Kh-31 missiles at an unspecified agricultural center in Odesa from Crimean airspace.

Ukrainian forces are targeting Russian ammunition depots and command centers in Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblast. An advisor to the Kherson Oblast Military Administration, Serhiy Khlan, has reported that their troops have struck an enemy command and equipment center in Tavriisk, which is 62 km east of Kherson City.

Khlan reported that the Russians had moved a military equipment reloading site from Oleskhy (5km southeast of Kherson City) to Radensk (25km southeast of Kherson City) in response to increased Ukrainian strikes on their military infrastructure in the vicinity of Kherson City. He went on to state that the Russians are preparing for urban warfare if a Ukrainian counteroffensive reaches Kherson City. They have significantly strengthened security and filtration measures in that area of operations.

In addition, the Ukrainian Strategic Communications Center noted that their forces had struck a Russian ammunition depot in Tokmak, approximately 50km northeast of Melitopol, a city of 150,000.

Russian forces continue to face desertion and personnel shortages. Multiple outlets have published an image of a billboard listing 300 servicemen of the 205th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 49th Combined Arms Army who refused to participate in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Russian 205th was deployed to Mariupol and Zaporizhia Oblast on 3 MAR 22. Billboards like this one support Ukrainian leadership assertions of mass desertions on the Russian side.

 

President Putin recently signed a decree greatly simplifying the process for Ukrainians to obtain Russian citizenship. A previous law had facilitated passport distribution in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. The new law may indicate Moscow’s intention to annex additional occupied territories such as  Kharkiv Oblast.

Utilization of US Military Assets

The latest round of US military assistance to Ukraine has a $400 million price tag and focuses on medium-range and precision artillery systems.

A Continental United States (CONUS) based HIMARS unit establishes a firing point during an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise in 2017 in Dacheon, South Korea. Image Credit: detroitnews.com via US Dept. of Defense handout

This latest aid package consists of 4 additional high-mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) for Kyiv. That will bring their total of US-provided HIMARS up to twelve. Along with the launchers, we’ve thrown in 1,000 rounds of what military officials are referring to as a “new type” of 155mm ammunition to use in the howitzers we have previously provided. The not to be named rounds (the government has refused to identify them due to security issues) are supposed to be more efficient in allowing Ukraine to meet its goal of destroying Russian military assets.

The current burn rate of 155 ammunition by the Ukrainians is 5,000 – 6,000 rounds per day. US officials state the usage of this new round will be significantly less. The anonymous government source, speaking off the record to The Washington Post, said the following:

“We know what their use rate is. We know what their store rate is; the Ukrainians have asked for more precision capability, and HIMARS is not the limit of what the U.S. is able to provide them for precision capability.”

This latest military aid package is intended to help bolster Ukrainian efforts to strike deeper behind Russian lines in the eastern Donbas region. Moscow has claimed complete control of Luhansk province in the Donbas. However, Kyiv states that Ukrainian troops still control a small part of the region, and fierce fighting continues daily in several villages. The map above will give you an idea of where the belligerents are currently located.

Ukraine Is Asking For More Powerful Weapons: This Is Why We Are Hesitating

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Tracking Our Assets

Former Special Forces officer and current member of Congress from Florida, Michael Waltz, said recently, regarding our military aid to Ukraine,

“Where I think we are, if not blind, then legally blind, is in how well the equipment is being used, what the expenditure rates are on the ammunition, is there leakage into the black market, is the ministry of defense playing favorites. We, from a congressional oversight standpoint, have a responsibility over now billions of taxpayer dollars to have better insight on where it’s going, who it’s going to and how it’s being used.”

Currently, we’re pretty much taking the Ukrainian’s word for it as to where these billions of dollars worth of firepower are going and how they are being used. To quote yet another senior US military official who requests to be left unnamed:

“From the time we send the capabilities to Ukraine, deliver them to Ukraine, they move into the battlefield, our military leaders and experts and professionals are in communication with the Ukrainians to understand how they’re deploying those capabilities, what their usage rate is. We are tracking that very carefully, and we are very mindful of our duties and obligations to maintain awareness of the capabilities we’re providing to Ukraine.”

I hope that’s the case. We have a lot of firepower over there that we would not want to see fall into the wrong hands.