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Steamrolling the Defence - Ukraine and the Invaders

Updated: Jul 15, 2023

UAF infantry assault a position with AKMs and forest combat fatigues.
UAF infantry assault a position, by Staff Sgt. Adriana M. Diaz-Brown, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ukraine has made great progress amid the most heavily mined war zone known to man. As we speak, the UAF is head-butting Putin's wall of conscripts and disillusioned regulars.

Progress has been made in the surrounding hills of Bakhmut, Rozdolivka, and south of Velyka Novosilka. Much like the Korean War, the UAF is fighting to gain high ground for long-tube artillery to reach further into the enemy's lines. The hills they've secured south of Bakhmut will allow them to hammer Russian positions deep into the oblasts.

This will make reinforcing Bakhmut difficult, and if the UAF continues to make progress north of the city, then retreat will be impossible.

However, the UAF has given up on trying to encircle and force the capitulation of Russian field armies. It has become clear in this war that the Russian army is poorly trained and therefore slow to recognize defeat.

This doesn't mean encirclements are off the strategic table; rather, the UAF wants to deprive the enemy of ammunition and artillery support. In this state, capitulation will be moot, for the enemy will have no teeth.

The advantages of the UAF are ever stacking. As we speak, cluster munitions are decimating trench lines.

Cluster munitions may be controversial, but the end justifies the means in these dire circumstances. For one, they are one of the few ways to clear entrenched Russian forces. For two, Russia is already using them. Finally, the longer Russian forces occupy the sovereign nation of Ukraine, the more mines, destruction, and chaos they will cast upon the civilians.

Another advantage Ukraine is gaining is in airpower. F-16s are still on their way, and Australian AWACS are arriving soon for air monitoring.

AWACS are large aircraft with massive radars designed to support enemy fighters and acquire targets for their radar-guided missiles. In short, the AWACS allows F16s and other fighters to hit targets vastly out of their own radar's range. This will deprive the fighters of their key range advantage in air-to-air combat.

Despite the UAF pushing faster than the Russians in the spring, the counter-offensive is slow.

The Ukrainian forces need to attack in narrow corridors where they have cleared mines. This makes large combined arms tactics very difficult and leaves infantry vulnerable. This is why many disturbing videos of Ukrainian infantry being pinned down are surfacing. The long narrow corridors are part of NATO doctrine, yet NATO doctrine was written under the assumption of helicopter and close air support. And despite Ukraine gaining the ability to clear the skies, the ability to use ground attack craft for close air support is still hampered by layered Russian surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

All this boils down to the steam-rolling tactics we are witnessing. The UAF has to first clear mines, then probe, then rinse and repeat. This is exactly why cluster munitions are being supplied to the UAF.

A cluster artillery round with a cutaway section showing deadly bomblets on the inside.
Cluster artillery round, by U.S. Army, original print located at Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Commerce City, Colorado, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Cluster munitions can not only detonate mines, but they can annihilate Russian infantry waiting in trenches. The Russian poorly dug trenches are no match for thousands of bomblets blanketing a wide area. These weapons were invented for this exact purpose. Weeks of Russian defensive preparations can be undone in seconds thanks to these fiendish weapons. And subsequently, thousands of Ukrainian lives can be spared in the process.

Yes, Ukraine will have vast amounts of land to de-mine and clear of bomblets after this war, but it's easier to clear mines and bomblets than take on dug-in Russians pouring machine gun fire on you as you wade across the vast open fields of the oblasts.

The progress may seem slow at this moment, but to seasoned analysts, it is very hopeful.

If we take a look at this map around Bakhmut, we can see the ground the UAF has taken recently. Fierce Ukrainian counter-attacks have taken the hills around Klishchiivka and gained good artillery firing positions in the hills.

Deep State Map of Bakhmut area showing progress of Ukrainian forces in blue
Deep State Map of Bakhmut area showing the progress of Ukrainian forces in blue, by DeepState, Open Source

The UAF's ability to progress this far is impressive, especially since Russia has known about the counteroffensive and has been preparing its defences for six months due to its pitiful gains on the offence.

The absurd amounts of mines mean it's up to the infantry to win this war. Well-supported infantry, but infantry nonetheless. The bravery we are witnessing is exceptional. UAF soldiers seem stoic in the face of impending artillery fire–and likewise, many Russian units as well, which tells us they're not only trained but experienced.

This war, like all wars, is creating warriors, which makes it more and more difficult to make progress simply because attacking seasoned troops is beyond perilous.

Russia is beginning its own counter-offensives in the territories Ukraine gained with thunder runs last fall.

Deep State Map of northern Ukraine showing counter offensive vectors of Russian Forces
Deep State Map of northern Ukraine showing counter offensive vectors of Russian Forces, by Deep State, Open Source

They have made little progress compared to the UAF in the south. At the same time, reports are flooding in of the UAF repelling attacks and Russians suffering heavy losses.

Essentially, what both armies have to do is pasteurize areas with absurd amounts of explosives in order to bring armour and infantry fighting vehicles to bear. When they can use their armour, the defending infantry becomes pinned under heavy fire and can no longer fire upon the infantry approaching their positions.

However, both armies can be seen just pushing with infantry in many situations. This isn’t just desperation, but can sometimes be successful. Despite the heavy losses that will be incurred, highly trained infantry can push certain advantages to overwhelm enemy trenches with small arms fire.

Automatic grenade launchers–although cumbersome–are incredibly useful in these situations. If the attacking forces can get a good position to pour grenades on the trenches, then the regular riflemen can do the rest.

The UAF is especially good at clearing trenches now. They need only to gain entrance to one side, and they can clear it length by length. Often the squad will spread out with about three soldiers in the trench while 3-4 cover the flanks. The flanks slowly crawl next to the soldiers in the trenches, and the trench troopers slowly work their way up and shoot anything that peeks its head out from cover.

Obviously, this is incredibly costly. Many things can happen. If the defending foes throw grenades well, the tight trench-clearing formation can be forced out of cover or succumb to the grenade's deadly shrapnel. Whichever the case, it is often deadly. Grenades are designed to kill, but they often are used to force warriors out of hiding. When this happens, the defending soldiers can pour rifle fire on the expelled troops.

So, as this steamroll continues, we will see heavy losses on both sides. The amount of cluster munitions Ukraine needs to make large gains is astronomical. Essentially, the more, the merrier. Because more means less work for the infantry, which means less risk.

The real weapon that will drag this war on and on is the mine. Both armies have deployed monstrous stockpiles of mines.

Mines force enemies into kill zones, disrupt supply lines, and subsequently give defenders time to react and maneuver. This means even if the UAF is making heavy but slow progress, the Russians can reinforce and dig in more in that area.

Couple mines with the vast distances in Ukraine, and you have a recipe for an extremely long and painful war. If the Ukrainians can deploy cluster munitions in a vast area allowing their armoured regiments to break through and assault Russian logistics, they run the risk of running out of ammunition, being encircled, and becoming cut off themselves.

Neither army is prepared to run these risks at the moment. The UAF is steamrolling into positions on either side of Bakhmut, but this is more than likely to hammer the forces from both sides rather than a full encirclement. In the newly acquired positions, they can make life hell for the Russian 217th Airborne Regimen and the 137th Guards Airborne Regiment occupying Bakhmut. But they can only achieve this with a full commitment of resources.

In the process of capturing the hills west of Klichiivka, the UAF forced the RU 83rd Guards Air Assault Brigade to retreat toward Klichiivka under the cover of the 80th Guards Tank Red Banner Regiment. Again, hopeful progress, but alas, just a small step in the grand scheme of the war.

Deep State Map of Klichiivka highlighting the progress of Ukrainian forces in blue
Deep State Map of Klichiivka highlighting the progress of Ukrainian forces in blue, by Deep State, Open Source

As for the other objectives of the war, they are arguably scheduled for next year. At this point, the UAF more than likely understands that taking Crimea will be too costly without massive amounts of airpower and long-range munitions. So this summer will be devoted to the oblasts.

The military-industrial complex also understands this. Rheinmetall, the German arms dealer, is planning for a long and agonizing war. They are building a factory in Ukraine which suggests they see no end in the near future. While the US arms dealers are ramping up production and transforming their assembly lines to conventional warfare production as opposed to the asymmetrical anti-terrorist weapons they’ve been focusing on for decades.

The most hopeful conclusion is a vast leadership overhaul or revolution in Russia, causing a mass withdrawal of forces from Ukraine. However, a Russian mass withdrawal is highly unlikely, even if mass leadership changes happen. A new leader would have to show strength and more than likely grow in popularity by making the absurd promises we often see up-and-coming politicians make. Promises like we will hold Crimea and the annexed lands in Donetsk.

Essentially, Ukraine will have to keep steamrolling very slowly and pounding Russian positions with acquired Western specialized munitions. This means Zelensky will have to work non-stop on acquiring more weapons and support. So far, he’s done a tremendous job and barely shows signs of fatigue.

Hopefully, Russian citizens will begin to understand they have nothing to gain from this war and begin to discuss a means to an end. Yet Ukraine seems unwilling to budge on giving anything to the invaders. This includes parts of the Donbas and Crimea.

At this rate, both brave Ukrainians and disillusioned but equally brave Russians will be killing each other for little gains and for years to come. The reality is hard to swallow, but this is the Ukrainian War today. An arms dealer's wet dream and the civilized worst nightmare.


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