« To some extent, Bakhmut matters to [Ukraine] because it matters so much to Russians said a senior US official, noting that controlling Bakhmut will not have a huge impact on the conflict or jeopardize Ukraine’s defensive or offensive options. in the eastern region of Donbass.

The manager added: Bakhmut will not change the war ».

I believe the senior US official is absolutely wrong.

Soledar and Bakhmut bleed the Ukrainian army dry. It is relevant. Look at the insane number of Ukrainian units deployed on this sector of the front only 50 kilometers long.

I count the equivalent of some 27 brigade-sized formations in that area. The usual size of a brigade is around 3000 to 4000 men with hundreds of vehicles of all kinds. If all the brigades were at full strength, this force would amount to 97 men.

In a recent interview, Ukrainian military commander Zaluzhny said his army has 200 combat-trained men and another 000 have other duties or are currently in training. The forces that are currently in the Bakhmut region constitute 500% of the combat-ready Ukrainian forces.

Zaluzhny withdrew units from other fronts like the Kreminna and Svatove sector further north in Luhansk Province to supply Bakhmut. This has reduced any chance that Ukrainian forces in these areas will be able to make progress.

What almost all reports from Ukraine seem to ignore is the enormous damage that Russian artillery causes on a daily basis.

Ukraine has little artillery to respond to this and all it still has is dwindling day by day.

A few weeks ago, the Russian army launched a systematic counter-artillery campaign which has since made great progress.

The typical Western way of detecting enemy artillery units is by radar. The projectile’s flight path is measured and the coordinates of its source are calculated allowing its own artillery to react. But the counter-artillery radar itself depends on radiation. It is thus easily detectable and vulnerable to fire.

Over the past few months, Russia has deployed a very different counter-artillery detection system with the rather tongue-in-cheek name penicillin. Penicillin or Penicillin 1B75 is an acoustic-thermal artillery reconnaissance system developed by Ruselectronics for the Russian Armed Forces. The system aims to detect and locate enemy artillery, mortars, MLRs, anti-aircraft or tactical missile firing positions with seismic and acoustic sensors, without emitting radio waves.

It locates enemy fire within 5 seconds at a distance of 25 km (16 mi; 13 nmi). Penicillin completed testing in December 2018 and entered combat service in 2020.

Penicillin is mounted on the 8×8 Kamaz-6350 chassis and consists of a suite of 1B75 sensors placed on a telescopic boom for the infrared and visible spectrum as well as several seismic and acoustic receivers installed on the ground as part of the suite of 1B76 sensors. It has an effective range for communication with other military assets up to 40 kilometers (25 mi) and is capable of operating even in fully automatic mode, without any crew. One system can apparently cover an entire division against enemy fire. In addition, he coordinates and corrects friendly artillery fire.

The Penicillin System can hide in the woods and hold its telescopic pole to watch and listen to the battlefield. Since it doesn’t radiate, there’s no good way for an enemy to detect it.

The system spots Ukrainian guns as they fire. They are then eliminated by an immediate and precise counter-fire. As asserted by the relevant part of the artillery of the list of clobbers provided by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Ukrainian counter-battery fire against Russian artillery is no longer possible as the necessary detection equipment is eliminated and Ukrainian counter-fire is shot down by Russian air defenses.

This Russian counter-artillery campaign has been going on for several weeks. It disabled much of what was left of the longer range Ukrainian capabilities. Meanwhile, Russian artillery continues to shoot down Ukrainian troops holding the front line. Only when all parts of the Ukrainian trenches have been hit by intense fire will the Russian infantry move in to clear what remains.

This form of battle causes huge casualties on the Ukrainian side while the Russian forces incur minimal casualties.

We can say that Ukraine has now lost the nominal equipment of two large armies.

At the start of the war, the Ukrainian army had approximately 2500 tanks, 12 armored vehicles and 500 large artillery systems. It is doubtful that more than half of them were in serviceable condition, but they may have received enough repairs to be serviceable.

The Russian army claims that most of them have been eliminated :

« 7549 tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, 984 MLRS-equipped fighting vehicles, 3853 field artillery guns and mortars, as well as 8 units of special military equipment were destroyed during the special military operation.

In his interview with The Economist, General Zeluzhny asked that a third army be delivered to him immediately:

“I know I can beat this enemy,” he said. “But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 IFVs [infantry fighting vehicles], 500 howitzers.

As the journalist from The Economist dryly noted:

“The additional arsenal he seeks is larger than the total armored forces of most European armies.” »

source: Bruno Bertez

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