In summary: good news, hopeful new and bad news.
1. The good news is that all Russian armies (there were 4 IIRC) in North Ukraine have withdrawn to Belarus and have even abandoned border crossings. Ukraine forces are still clearing the forests of Russian stragglers. Rail lines are being restored, one is already operational.
1a. The Russians, with their well known sense of humor, have awarded 126 and 155 Naval Infantry Brigades that fought in the Kiev region the coveted title of “Guards”. 155 Brigade from Vladivostok saw 225 troops arrested for refusal to fight. Back in the day, “Guards” was given to units that fought in a heroic offensive or defensive. Don’t see any heroic offensive or defensive here, but then no one asked my opinion.
2. The hopeful news is that the Ukraine offensive to retake Kherson in the south is underway from multiple directions. Russian forces are resisting fiercely and have counterattacked one Ukraine thrust.
2a. All Russian naval infantry brigades are committed/reconstituting; an amfib operation against Odessa is out. (Personally, I never thought it was a serious threat because of the enormous difficulty of assaulting an opposed shore, and particularly because Ukraine has anti-ship missiles
2b. No news from Mauripol. Russians claim 267 Ukraine Marines surrendered. Problem is, the Ukraine battalion is not in Mauripol; the soldiers are clean shaven – you don’t expect that from troops desperately fighting for weeks; no signs of burns, soot, wounds, and pouches are full. As Tom says, first thing you do to a POW is empty his pouches. see fotos below.
2c. May I again politely request Russia to allow me to get their propaganda correct? I really hate it when war propaganda is done wrong, because its so easy to get it right.
2d. BTW, the Russian marine brigade in Mauripol (now withdrawn due losses) lost TWO commanders in five days. One – IIRC – was lost to a Ukraine sniper, the other was fragged by own troops.
3. The bad news is that the Russians are engaged in a full offensive in the East. The details are complicated, best you read them yourself. Ukraine has some success, but there are definite losses.
3a. I am presuming Ukraine is reinforcing with units from North and possibly from its reserve (two of 3 tank brigades from reserve have been identified as in action). I have not been keeping track, but I estimate upto four regular and some territorial brigades have moved, or are moving to the East. None of the reinforcing tanks sent by NATO have been identified, so I assume they are with the reserves. Ukraine prefers the T-64; the reinforcements are T-72s; I don’t know how much time it will take to bring them into action.
3b. The danger is, as Tom notes, that if the Russian pincer in the East succeeds, a serious loss of territory results. Conversely, where there are heavy forests attackers will make no headway, and in any case the attackers cannot hold against guerrilla attacks. They have almost nothing in reserve to meet a Ukraine counteroffensive. Also, of course, Ukraine will not accept a ceasefire until Russian troops leave; meanwhile, more and more equipment from the west keeps arriving.
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