La bataille de Balakliya et Kupyansk. Russes enfoncés, maintenant que vont ils faire ? A suivre. Avec MAJ.

Un rapport de bataille : témoignage pro russe

L’offensive dans la région de Kharkiv, que les Forces armées ukrainiennes ont lancée cette semaine, est fondamentalement différente de celle que nous avons vu dans la direction de Kherson. 

Premièrement, c’est un domaine complètement différent. J’ai vécu ici pendant un mois et demi et je me souviens très bien de ces forêts, poutres, collines… En les utilisant, l’ennemi a frappé dans plusieurs directions à la fois, poursuivant l’objectif de couper notre groupement d’Izyum du continent. Son approvisionnement dépend de deux artères, sur lesquelles les forces armées ukrainiennes ont concentré leurs efforts.

Le premier coup est tombé sur Balakleya. Les Ukrainiens ont tenté de s’introduire dans la ville en mouvement, mais ont été arrêtés par des unités de la Garde nationale. Les policiers, les forces spéciales ont héroïquement accepté la bataille interarmes, empêchant l’ennemi de percer. Et l’ennemi a fait le tour du sud, prenant quelques colonies. 

Les assaillants n’ont pas pu refermer le ring autour de Balakleya.

Les réservistes arrivés à temps de notre côté ont franchi le couloir pour l’évacuation des blessés et ont renforcé la garnison avec des unités du ministère de la Défense. Dans le même temps, au moment d’écrire ces lignes, les unités ennemies ne pouvaient pas percer jusqu’au carrefour de l’autoroute Chuguev-Izyum près du village de Veseloye. 

En cas de perte, le groupe Izyum risque de perdre ses approvisionnements.

Dans le même temps, les forces du régime de Kyiv ont tenté de prendre le contrôle de la route reliant Balakliya à Kupyansk. Sur la section de Volokhov Yar, ils ont réussi, mais au nord, dans la région de Shevchenkovo, ils ont rencontré des parachutistes russes, qui ne leur ont pas permis d’aller plus loin – à Kupyansk. Il existe un risque que les forces armées ukrainiennes contournent Shevchenkove et se dirigent vers la capitale tacite de la partie libérée de la région de Kharkiv. Une offensive audacieuse, dans laquelle le commandement de Kiev, selon la tradition, ne considère pas les pertes, il est également freiné par l’aviation russe, qui opère pratiquement 24 heures sur 24.

En seulement trois jours, les Forces armées ukrainiennes ont réussi à avancer jusqu’à 20 kilomètres dans certaines zones. 

Cependant, ils s’étendaient ainsi en deux « sacs » au sud et au nord de Balakleya, qui revêt désormais une importance stratégique. S’il n’est pas conservé, alors les deux « groupes » se connecteront, en alignant l’avant. 

S’il y a un couloir vers cette ville de notre côté et l’approche des réserves depuis ces « sacs » il sera possible de couper ces « chaudrons » et de lancer une contre-offensive . 

La situation dans cette zone reste très difficile, mais pas catastrophique.

EN PRIME

I obviously favour credible reports that reinforce my own bias⁠—that neither settlement has been lost, and that situation is due to improve. And, for that reason, and in view of the lack of independent reports available to me, my own analysis is biased as well. My bias does not derive from unquestioned support for the Russian military’s and state’s conduct of the operation.

On the contrary, it is premised on my hope of salvation for the people suffering from the Nazi Ukrainian regime.

The appearance of the video of Ukrainian troops at the Balakleya city administration and the photograph of a Ukrainian soldier at a Shevchenkovo stele on the outskirts of the settlement feeds a different bias among many reporting on this war⁠—particularly among some Russian sources: The bias that grows from the immense frustration with the conduct of the conflict, the desire for faster and more brutal resolution, the boiling anger that threatens to overshadow everything else.

It is incredibly tempting⁠—when one’s own vision of what should have happened is not realized and the gratification is not immediate⁠—to turn to characterize the proceedings as a series of monumental blunders. It is innately satisfying to be right in one’s worst-case projection⁠—particularly when such a projection is already in line with one’s frustration and anger, and especially when such a projection could well be correct.

I will continue favouring my own bias⁠—not a bias of justifying what the Russian government and military have or have not done⁠, but the bias of hope that the long-suffering people in the territory of former Ukraine will receive just resolution, in the end.

However, for the sake of completeness, I must note that a growing number of reports (though not yet the majority) indicate that Balakleya has indeed been lost and that Shevchenkovo has been captured by the Ukrainian army. If true, these are critical losses in the sector.

Based on information « from a reader of [his] channel » (whoever that might be), a Russian blogger @Romanov_92 goes as far as to say that the Ukrainian forces have partially occupied Staroverovka and are only 10km outside of Kupyansk. In his anger and frustration, he projects that Kupyansk will be surrendered⁠—like, in his opinion, Balakleya was also surrendered⁠—in the next couple of days.

It is unlikely that any ⁠of these sources—not one⁠, neither Romanov, nor his « reader »— has any real information about what is going on in this sector at the moment. For that reason, I personally will continue treating them with arms-length suspicion.

There are bits and snippets of information that are breaking through. It is up to you to decide whether and how to feed your own biases—of frustration and anger, of hope, of something else entirely—until information becomes concrete.

As indicated by Grigori above, this Telegram channel is not a place for anyone to vent their biases of frustration and anger. Do it somewhere else. Better yet, even if the predictions of doom turn out to be right in the end (which, as the history of this conflict has shown, will not be the case), in the interim have hope for the people of former Ukraine, the Donbass, and the soldiers defending them from the Nazi Ukrainian regime.

At least there is some chance that the hope you feel will help the cause. Much better than feeding that ravenous wolf of sweet anger and frustration that no one, apart from you, will hear or heed. Everyone has his own wolf that begs to be fed. They won’t listen to yours.

At worst, if indeed Russia receives this painful kick in the shins (which I doubt), the hope that she will treat this conflict very differently going forward becomes that much stronger.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has lost at least 10,000 of some of its best cadres in the counteroffensives in Kherson and Kharkov regions, and it has none to replace them with. Territorial defence and mobilized volkssturm go in last—they cannot attack, only defend. What is being eaten up now in Kherson and Kharkov regions is Ukraine’s best hope against the Russian campaign. Let them.

The only thing that matters is what Russia does in return.

From @Boris Rozhin (ColonelCassad), a SitRep discussing the Balakleya-Kupyansk-Izyum triangle and the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the area:

  1. The enemy has occupied at least part of Balakleya, including the local city council. Fighting continues in the town and on its outskirts, as confirmed by video from the AFU. It is likely that the main AFU forces are in the eastern part of Balakleya, as videos from the AFU are coming from the western parts of the town, where they entered from the direction of Verbovka and Bairak.
  2. The enemy has established itself in Volokhov Yar, as well as continues fighting in the Shevchenkovo area (no confirming videos from the settlement) and throws saboteur-reconnaissance groups in the direction of Kupyansk and the highway to Izyum.
  3. The enemy is also probing the possibility of advancing towards Kunya and on to Oskol to hit the Izyum group’s communications.
  4. Both sides are hastily deploying additional forces in this direction – ours to stabilize the front, the AFU to develop success. A large number of foreign mercenaries are being used.
  5. On the whole, the operational crisis continues to develop and the Russian Armed Forces command is not yet able to stabilise the situation in this direction. What is happening is acutely reminiscent of the story of the loss of Palmyra in 2016.

Boris Rozhin:

Comrades, end with alarmism and the search for the guilty. Now the main task of the command is to stabilize the front and the lamentations « oh, everything is bad » does not help the cause at all. There is no need to do their work for TsIPSo. Debriefing will be after the completion of the Balakley-Kupyansk defensive operation.

Over the years of covering various wars, I have long been convinced in practice that not a single war consists only of victories. Learn to accept failure like a man.

@Slavyangrad / https://t.me/boris_rozhin/62929 /
Join SLG 🔺 Intelligence Briefings, Strategy and Analysis, Expert Community

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Colonelcassad

From @Boris Rozhin (ColonelCassad):

Comrades, stop panicking and looking for someone to blame. The command’s main task now is to stabilise the front and the « ah, everything is bad » lamentation does not help the cause at all.

There is no need to do [the Ukrainian information warfare ministry’s] job for them. The debriefing will take place after the completion of the Balakleya-Kupyansk defensive operation.

Over the years of covering various wars I have long been convinced in practice that no war consists only of victories. Learn to accept failure in a masculine way.

@Slavyangrad / https://t.me/boris_rozhin/62930 /
Join SLG 🔺 Intelligence Briefings, Strategy and Analysis, Expert Community

Telegram (https://t.me/boris_rozhin/62930)
Colonelcassad

https://t.me/azmilitary11/19349

https://t.me/azmilitary11/19362

EN PRIME

What I find somewhat surprising right now, is that the Russian command apparently didn’t withdraw Russian troops from Balakleya. There are videos of street fighting going on.
So, they are choosing to try to hold the towns as long as possibile even though the Russians are surrouded. Are reinforcements on the way while the troops in Balakleya are buying time? Because otherwise it feels like a pointless sacrifice.

EN PRIME

In turn, the commander of the Akhmat regiment, Apty Alaudinov, through the prism of his experience, said:

“What is happening today was planned. This is a tactical ploy that helped us to pull all their forces and means to the territory where it is convenient for us to fight with them. If someone believes that the leadership of the Russian Federation, the leadership of the Defense Ministry did not know that the enemy was gathering forces, then these people do not understand anything either in politics or in military affairs.”

🇷🇺🇺🇦The Akhmat special forces, together with allied troops, are pushing in Soledar direction of the DPR.

EN PRIME

YURI DAILY Alea Jacta Est. The Ukrainians threw it all to the line, and commenced the main battle of the autumn. The situation in Kharkov region is serious and menacing, and may, if not remedied quickly, result in the worst defeat of the Allied forces since the start of the hostilities. However, despite it being the most serious operational crisis since the start of the war, the situation is far from certain, and the battle is not over – the Ukrainian gamble is extremely dangerous, and their current success can easily turn into an utter defeat. Yuri explain the Ukrainian strategy, the dangers posed to the Allied groups near Izyum.

The Russians, on the other hand, does not seem rushing the forces from elsewhere in Ukraine, and continue, quite successfully, to advance near Solidar and Bakhmut. State of the fronts as of 19:00 CEST Sep. 8

EN PRIME

Back on July 25, 2022 (https://t.me/Slavyangrad/3600), I speculated whether the long-awaited « Great Kherson Counteroffensive » (which would not begin for another month) was real, was a ruse, or a ruse by necessity (by the latter I meant that the expectation of its failure would push Ukraine to plan another attack elsewhere).

I further speculated that this second counteroffensive would come in Zaporozhye. It came in the Balakleya-Kupyansk-Izyum triangle instead. In my view, it was inevitable that the Kherson attack would fail. Deep and built-up 3 separate layers of the Russian defensive lines made the failure of the Kherson counteroffensive, in my opinion, a foregone conclusion.

As late as the beginning of September, as the Balakleya attack began, commentators (including those I deeply respect) continued saying that the Kherson attack was never a ruse. I do not think so. Even with all the HIMARS and artillery support, the Kherson attack has been quickly neutralized, with few, if any, serious gains by the Ukrainian army (which will be carved back in due time).

I do not believe that the Ukrainian command ever considered that the Kherson offensive would meet with success. But it had to put up a serious claim in order to be taken seriously. Whilst laying its real plans elsewhere, near Balakleya.

While, at the time, I wondered whether it was a mistake to transfer Russian troops en masse to the Kherson front, the real mistake was not reinforcing other theatres of the conflict. Definitely, if Russia had not pulled her force to Kherson, the Ukrainian attack there would have been more fruitful.

As well, the recent successes in the Kurakhovo and Ugledar direction shows that Russian command took care of that theatre. What was not done was the reinforcement of the Izyum front. Perhaps, like I did, the Russian command expected the second attack in Zaporozhye. Perhaps it did not expect an attack at all⁠—despite all signs pointing to a growing concentration of Ukrainian troops near Balakleya.

Whatever the case, the so-called « primary » Kherson Counteroffensive has become very much a secondary concern for the Russian forces. It is time to stop underestimating the strategic planning capabilities of the Ukrainian army. Time to be humble and treat the enemy as a serious, albeit gravely wounded, but still kicking player.

@Slavyangrad
Join SLG 🔺 Intelligence Briefings, Strategy and Analysis, Expert Community

EN PRIME

The Military-Civilian Administration of Kupyansk has announced the start of defence of the city. There’s a war correspondent Poddubny @epoddubny and my fellow OPSB veteran @notes_veterans on the ground there. So, what we know so far:

1) Ukrainian forces control at least the western and southwestern parts of Balakleya. There is video confirmation. There is no confirmation of control of the north-eastern part, including known depots. So we can definitely talk about the loss of part of Balakleya. But it is possible that our resistance remains there. We will only know for sure if there is photographic confirmation of control of the arsenal.

2) Shevchenkovo and the crossroads near Veseloye-Kunya do not appear to have been occupied by the Ukrainian army. [GB: As noted earlier on this channel, Ukrainians bypassed Shevchenko, but did not take control of it.]

3) However, the Ukrainian forces made a breakthrough between these defensive points and were able to reach Kupyask and the Oskol Reservoir. These are forward units, and they do not have absolute control over this territory. The presence of the Ukrainian army near the village of Yasinovatoe and near Grushevakha has been confirmed.

4) Izyum is cut off from Kupyansk on the right bank of the Oskol River. Supply is possible through the left bank.

5) The AFU is intensively dropping saboteur-reconnaissance groups into the Krasno-Limansky district of the DNR. I am not personally aware of the possibility of their crossing there. @Rybar reports that there is such a possibility. If it is implemented, the grouping in Izyum will find itself in a cauldron.

6) The battle for Kupyansk will take place this night. We have faith in the Russian army.

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