As Vladimir Putin has called for a partial mobilization in Russia over the past couple of days, President Joe Biden blasted Russia at the UN for major violations of the charter, as well as a massive prisoner exchange that saw many Azov defenders and US POWs returned in exchange for an oligarch and some captured Russian agents, it’s understandable that the last few updates haven’t been far behind.
This afternoon is an attempt to prevent that, at least for the area around the northern Donetsk city of Lyman.
Despite 100 “any moment now” claims over the past few days (2PM ET, 10:00 PM Kyiv), it does not appear that Ukrainian forces have fully released Lyman. There are definitely Ukrainian forces in the city, and Russia has definitely surrendered several positions it held during the last week of fighting, but the latest reports indicate that the conflict in Lyman is continuing. However, there seems to be something else going on that may be more important than whether the last Russian forces have been driven out of Lyman.
In the last 24 hours, Ukrainian forces are reported to have broken through the Russian defense lines at Rubtsi, on the east side of the Oskyla River, resulting in significant frontal movement. Reports on Telegram and Twitter at this point show the same jittery, rapid swing seen during the Kharkiv counter-offensive, with some reports suggesting that Ukraine has already liberated the city of Lozov, which was Russia’s position. using mass for your counterattack. One report suggests that Ukrainian forces failed in their attempt to capture Karpivka. In other reports, Ukrainian forces are as far north as Rydkodub (one of several new locations I had to add to the map).
Several Ukrainian sources have pictures of Ukrainian troops in Koroviar. However, it is not clear whether this is more than just a driving force moving through the area. Now there are several sources that claim that this city has been liberated. This alone would create 5 kilometers ahead on the last day of the line.
Ukrainian-controlled territory may now extend as far as the Lozovei River and north to the Kharkiv-Donetsk border on the western side of Liman, making this counter-offensive much wider than the map indicates. Or of course not. After the Kharkov counterattack period, there have been many more reports in which formerly reliable sources appear to be jumping the gun to be first with some new announcement. In this case, it seems clear that there has been some breakthrough near Rubtsi, Ukrainian forces have moved towards the next line of cities to the north, and that Russia is back on its heels in the area, fighting to hold positions around the area. Lyman.
The map above is a pretty good middle ground when it comes to reviews. Ukraine may have released more. We should find out soon. Some reports also suggest that instead of continuing to advance north, Ukrainian forces are teetering on putting Lyman in the kind of “pincers” that Russia has tried but failed to achieve in so many places. If so, it should be obvious in the next day or so.
Elsewhere, Russia continues its offensive in the Bakhmut area, and Ukrainian sources say Russia is making “some progress” in the south. It appears that Russia will not attempt to enter the city from the east, but instead will support the current Ukrainian positions in an attempt to advance southwest from Bakhmut. However, as always, the movements in this area have been small. In Kherson, Russia reportedly took the village of Pravdyna in the southern part of the region, which Ukrainian Telegram channels called an “unpleasant loss”. This could be related to images seen in Russian sources showing a convoy of Ukrainian vehicles being destroyed in Kherson.
Earlier on Thursday, images were circulated purporting to show Ukrainian special forces in Enerhodar near the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. The best that can be said about them is that they are fake. Also… why?
The other story that has been doing the rounds in recent days is the rumor that the US is planning to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. This has been a request of Ukraine for some time, and there is no doubt that the Pentagon would like to please them on this matter. The US has built over 10,000 Abrams. They can save some. It’s a matter of figuring out how to make it happen.
More than 40 years ago, the United States and Russia took radically different directions in tank development. The Russian T-72 (and all of its many successors) is essentially what in earlier times would have been called a light or medium tank. Although swollen to more than 40 tons, the latest versions are designed to be cheap, fast and maneuverable. At the other end of the spectrum, the M1A2 Abrams has a scale weight of 70 tons. That’s about 10 km/h slower than the T-72, but this T-72 isn’t clad in a sandwich of depleted uranium, graphite, ceramics, jet explosives, and steel. Nor is it equipped with the technical wonderland of thermal and infrared vision systems.
Basically, the Abrams is a tank designed to hit and keep hitting. The T-72 is a tank designed to take a hit and … be replaced by the next cheap T-72 in line.
Does the Pentagon want to see how the M1A2 SEP stacks up against the T-80M or T-90? Or just how does it hold up on a battlefield with a drone and man-portable anti-tank weapons? Yes, it definitely is.
However, almost every tank currently in service with the Ukrainian military is some variant of the Soviet T-72 family (or older). Each of the variants presents problems with different engines, different electronics, different fire control systems, etc. At first, even these differences seemed too great, but as the war progressed, Ukraine became quite fair. an expert in handling mixed bag tanks and other vehicles from several countries.
Abrams, on the other hand, is nothing common with anything now on the battlefield in Ukraine. Not only does it have a different engine, it’s different way engine (1500 hp multi-fuel turbine) and none of the fire control, visual systems and communication tools inside the tank are compatible with anything else. The tank company stands out with thousands of spare parts and truck maintenance equipment, none of which Ukraine has. It is not just a matter of learning how to operate the tank, but also learning how to maintain it, repair it and handle specialized systems that are used only for maintenance.
But you can load it with 500 gallons of almost anything that burns. It’s something.
The training, maintenance and logistical challenges associated with using the Abrams in Ukraine are almost insurmountable. The US may be interested in seeing a tank perform on the battlefield against Russia, but it is much less interested in seeing Russia drive off with an Abrams that was abandoned because it was missing one of its 10,000 required parts. And that, given how often Russia and Ukraine have traded blows at this point, is a serious concern.
It is difficult, but not impossible. And Ukraine really wants it, so maybe it will happen.
For now, expect other NATO nations to continue working to clear their older Soviet projects for shipment to Ukraine. But don’t be surprised if once the mud season really starts in Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers are training in Texas.
Remember that part of Putin’s speech where he said it was only for reserve members with combat experience and it wasn’t like he was going to draft college students? These are college students plucked right out of their classrooms.