Ukraine’s Armed Forces Strategic Command Information

The Russian army continues to attempt offensive operations as they prepare an offensive in Eastern Ukraine.   At Mariupol, Russian troops are fighting house to house and block by block slowly leveling everything as they go.  Resistance remains fierce and Ukrainian troops are making the Russians pay for every foot of ground they take.  The battle itself is pretty fluid and if Russians leave a block or neighborhood to regroup they find Ukrainian forces retake it and they have to fight all over for it.

The main Russian effort remains fixed on Mariupol while also launching ground attacks near the city of Izyum to the SE of Kharkiv. This city is an important supply and communications hub at the intersection of four roads running North, North East, West, and South.

In Belarus, Russian forces are conducting operational and combat training activities at training grounds throughout the country. As many as four Belarus battalion tactical groups were moved close to the border with Ukraine.  The effect will be to tie down Ukrainian troops on the border to counter any move they might make into the country.

Ukraine is concerned that Belarus will be used for missiles and airstrikes launched against the country on infrastructure and civilian targets.

There are unconfirmed reports(likely taken from signal intelligence that Belarus is attempting to raise “volunteer”  battalions to help replace Russian losses in their own units.  They may be formed into a private military country or “hired” by Russia’s Wagner group to preserve the illusion of Belarus’s neutrality.

The Russian army may have restored the combat capability of Central Military District units in the Bryansk and Kursk regions.

Units of the Russian 6th, 20th Combined Arms Army, 1st Tank Army, Coastal Troops of the Baltic and Northern Fleets deployed to Ukraine were seen hardening their positions and making preparation for further operations. The main focus would appear to be the restoration of the railway sections from Kupyansk to Kharkiv, Izyum, and Svatove. For this purpose, units of the railway troops of the 38th separate railway brigade of the Western Military District from Yaroslavl were involved.  To protect their repairs to these rail lines after they are repaired significant numbers of Russian troops will be tied down to patrol and defended them from attack. We should expect to see Ukrainian videos of trains being destroyed next. blown up tracks are relatively easy to replace, train locomotives are not.

The Russian blockade of the city of Kharkiv continues with minefields slowing the advance of Ukrainian troops trying to break its encirclement.

In occupied areas of the Donbas region, representatives of the Russian invented Donbas People’s Republic “DNR” appear and replace the Ukrainian police. They are performing spot checks of documents and searches of vehicles and homes.

As reported today in the missile strike on a rail station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine reports air and artillery attacks on civilian areas and infrastructure in Kreminna, Severodonetsk, Novotoshkivske, Popasna, Novozvanivka, Sukha Balka, Novoselivka Druha, Stepney, Troitske, Novobahmutivka, Marinka and Solodke.

In the areas of the settlements of Rubizhne, Popasna, Nyzhne, Novotoshkivske, Zolote, and Borivske, Ukrainian forces claim they repelled assaults by Russian troops of unspecified strength.

In the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Ukraine claims that seven Russian attacks were repulsed in the past 24 hours, destroying four tanks, two artillery systems, ten units of armored vehicles, and eleven other enemy vehicles.  No word on casualties inflicted upon Russian troops or statement on their own casualties.

 

Don’t Bunch Up

The photo below from Mariupol is a visual reminder of why you don’t bunch up on a wall at a corner.  One guy with a full magazine can cut everybody down in two seconds, which is what seems to have happened here.  Not just to the 5 Russian soldiers in the frame of this image, but to about four more in other images of this wall. So a whole squad was cut down in one burst and was left there for Ukrainian forces to find and film.  The Russian army has been engaged in heavy fighting for 6 weeks and seems to have learned nothing in that time tactically.

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Ukraine has received Harpoon Missiles from the UK.

The UK shipped an unknown number of Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Ukraine. The Harpoon system is nearly 50 years old and has been continuously upgraded in terms of range, payload, and guidance systems.  It is battle-tested and can be launched from the air, on land, at sea, and even submerged.  Only two Royal Navy frigates are currently carrying the Harpoon with approximately 8 reloads.  The Royal Air Force operates an air-launched version of an unknown number.

The UK was planning to replace its current stock of Harpoons with the newer Block-2 version next year and this transfer may represent a deal with the US Navy to accelerate the replacements.

For Ukraine, these missiles represent a significant asset in countering the Russian Navy in the Black Sea. As many as 12 Russian naval vessels remain off the coast menacing the port of Odesa.  By keeping them out there occasionally launching missiles into Ukraine they also present the threat of using its amphibious elements to make a landing on the coast. This means they are able to tie down Ukrainian forces on the coast and prevent them from assisting in liberating other parts of the country. A successful amphibious landing may be the most difficult of military operations to pull off and the performance of the Russian army so far gives little reason to think they would be able to do it without disastrous casualties to its troops and ships.  The coast is also known to be mined. These Harpoons make such a landing even less likely and may free up Ukrainian ground troops to other areas.  The Russian navy will also have to ensure they are well out of range of these Harpoons which deliver a pretty hard punch. Depending on whether the Harpoon is ship or air-launched they have a range of 67 to 120 nm which would require the Russian navy to keep their ships far off the beach.  We doubt the Russian Navy is any more competent than the army and the Harpoon may defeat their anti-missile systems and punch big holes in their ships if they try to move them towards the coast.

We contacted a source at the Ukraine Ministry of Defense to verify that the Harpoons had arrived.  He stated that the Government could not confirm or deny the report.

 

Boeing Harpoon anti-ship missile at the RAF Museum, Cosford, 8 July 2020. It can be fired from aircraft, ships, submarines or shore batteries. Photo; Wikimedia commons, Hugh Llewelyn from Keynsham, UK

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