Ukraine War, 27 September 2022

Still short on time, thus here another ‘quick and dirty’ review, focusing entirely on developments in the ‘south-eastern-most corner’ of Kharkiv Oblast.

To help me save some time, have drawn a map of major action in this area over the last few days.

Sorry for the lack of details, but had to ‘zoom-out’, because this battlefield is meanwhile that large. From north towards south, and ‘in essence’:

1.) Ukrainian Armed Forces (ZSU) have punched out of their two bridgeheads in the Kupyansk area. The one in the north, opposite to Dvorichne, is still relatively small, and it took them few days to liberate and secure Tavilzhanka and Hryankyivka, but meanwhile they’re pushing on Lyman Pershyi and Vilshana.

2.) The major bridgehead — the one into eastern side of Kupyansk — was expanded handsomely, the last two days, with Ukrainians securing Synkivka in the north, Petropavlivka in the east, and all of Kupyansk-Vuzlovyi in the south.

One can expect these two bridgeheads to become one in the coming days (if this is not already the case), and then things to get only much worse for the Russian 20th Combined Arms Army.

3.) Putin has ordered all of the Russian Armed Forces (VSRF), his PMCs, and Separatists ‘not a step back’, and is rushing whatever troops he can only scratch together into the battle. Especially into eastern Kharkiv, slightly less so to the Bakhmut area. Over the last week, two major ‘groups of forces’ could be identified as being in the process of rebuilt with help of reservists and then rushed to Ukraine:

  • 3rd Motor Rifle Division (MRD), in Belgorod, and
  • 20th Guards Motor Rifle Division (GMRD), in Rostov na Donu.

….with results that must’ve been expected. Perhaps the ‘best example’ (or ‘worst’, from the Russian point of view) was what happened to the 237th Tank Regiment (TR) of the 3rd MRD. This had one of its battalion tactical groups rebuilt with mobilised reservists given less than 24 hours of ‘refresher training’. Tell me what you want, but all the trust in Christianity couldn’t have helped them: unsurprisingly, that BTG was smashed to pieces with ease, losing dozens of vehicles and most of troops (this was the clash that then prompted Ukrainians to wonder why are the Russians even trying, 2–3 days ago). AFAIK, ZSU was still busy collecting all the stuff they’ve left behind, as of yesterday: no surprise there are people who say there’s nobody scared of the VSRF any more, than Russian reservists…

A captured BMP-2 of the 237th TR being towed to repairs by its new owners.

4.) Meanwhile, some three days ago, first reports surfaced about trains carrying reservists hurriedly organised into BTGs of the 20th GMRD being rushed from Volgograd to Rostov. I expected them to pass Luhansk yesterday, and reach the Svatove area today, but… well, then a report arrived about Ukrainians HIMARS-ing one of trains in question as this was about to reach Luhansk…. and now all one gets to hear is about ‘lots of 200s’ (Russian radio-code for ‘killed in action’). Think, it might take a few days longer for…whatever was left of the 20th GMRD to reach the battlefield. If at all…

Further south and west…

5.) While the Ukrainian 25th Airborne (which is, actually, a mechanised formation, just like all of the Russian VDV-troops) is doing what such formations can do the best (i.e. ‘roam enemy rear somewhere in between of Borova and Svatove, wreaking havoc as it goes’) meanwhile, additional ZSU troops have pushed from Pisky-Radkivski north and, reportedly, already liberated the first few villages. There are rumors about Ukrainian push into Luhansk somewhere in the Zalyman-Krasnorichenske area, but haven’t found (nor heard) any confirmation for this, yet.

6.) Two days ago, the ZSU — in its rush to take part in Putin’s referendum in Luhansk — liberated Nove. The Russians then claimed to have counterattacked and recovered the village (seems, they wouldn’t let anybody else have fun, tsk, tsk). Meanwhile, RUMINT has it Ukrainians drove into their northern rear and are ‘somewhere between Ivanivka and Kolodyazi’. They should have liberated Zelena Dolyna, too (haven’t seen any evidence for that yet (too short on time), and then Ridkodub, north of Lyman (that is confirmed, meanwhile, and resulted in the capture of quite a few abandoned — but intact — T-72s).

7.) Drobysheve appears to be still in Russian hands, but (‘at least’) de-facto surrounded. At least there’s no end of Russian complaints about the ZSU driving up and down in between of that village and Lyman.

8.) Lyman is still under Russian control, but this morning RUMINT had it that Ukrainians punched through the Russian frontline somewhere between that town and Yampil, or between Zarichne-Torkse and further east (?) — reaching the road to Kremina. Haven’t found time to search for evidence, but have no doubts that at least Ukrainian special forces are raiding that road — for days already.

Mind: through all of this time, Ukrainian special forces are roaming the Russian rear — especially by night — in the entire area from Kupyansk down to Kremina (at least): planting mines, ambushing convoys, capturing one or another Russian soldier (always useful for intelligence) — and then disappearing before the enemy knows what’s going on. Thus, the situation is not only ‘fluid’ but, from the Russian point of view, ‘extremely uncertain’, and the defences of certain places collapsing ‘all of a sudden’.

One way or the other, with this the entire group of Russian forces in the Lyman area is — definitely — in deep trouble. I’m still not sure who exactly is in command there: southern side should be under the control of the I Army Corps (VSRF in control of Separatists), but the northern side….? Seems, is a mix of troops from the 1st Guards Tanks Army, 2nd Guards Combined Arms Army, the 41st Combined Arms Army and whatever reservists Putin was able to bring there by now. More likely, it simply doesn’t matter: none of local army commanders is in control, but, as usually, Putin. And, thanks to his micromanagement and frequent break-downs in the Russian chain of combat even the South OSK can’t say, right now, where should it send troops and where supplies…. (South OSK = Southern Military District of the VSRF; theoretically, the top Russian military authority for Ukraine). …which — hand on heart — is ‘good that way’.

That all said: weather is a growing problem. It’s raining and the soil is soft. ‘General Mud’ is taking over the control and both sides are experiencing growing problem with off-road movement of their mechanisation.

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Tom Cooper

From Austria; specialised in analysis of contemporary warfare; working as author, illustrator, and book-series-editor for Helion & Co.