Ukraine War, 4 September 2022: Ukrainian Attacks in Kherson Oblast

Hello everybody!

The last few days we’ve seen a lots of claims about Ukrainian offensive in Kherson Oblast. Early on, even the aim and scope of the operation were unclear, while Putin’s propaganda machinery exploited the opportunity to claim the operation for ‘failed’ before soon: quite a lot in the West are meanwhile following in fashion. Kind of, ‘the operation failed because Ukrainians are suffering losses’.

Troops of the Ukrainian Armed Forces raising the flag of Ukraine over Vysokopillya, formerly a major Russian stronghold in northern Kherson Oblast, early on 4 September 2022.

I’ll start this one in an unusual way.

As somebody ‘actually specialised’ in (aerial) warfare in the Middle East and Africa, the entire situation is meanwhile reminding me of the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War and especially the famed ‘failed Egyptian offensive’ into Sinai, from 14 October 1973. Let me explain why.

Wherever one reads — and there are dozens of books and hundreds, if not thousands of articles about that war — that operation was launched to lessen Israeli pressure upon Syria, and it included two full corps-sized formations of the Egyptian Army (The Second and the Third Field Armeies), on a wide front, without focus. Foremost, it resulted in the biggest tank battle since Kursk, and the Israelis defeated it with ease, and Egyptian lost 300, 400, 500 or whatever main battle tanks….

Ironically, not one of all the books and articles about this operation was based on any kind of documentation.

….until, decades later, an Israeli reseacher working himself through the captured documentation of the Egyptian III Field Army, concluded the Egyptians never run a ‘two armies onslaught’, but a luke-warm effort by 4,5 brigades. These ‘attacked a little bit’, quickly lost some 70+ tanks destroyed, another 50 damaged, and then withdrew. And that in addition to the fact that by 14 October 1973, the Israeli offensive into Syria was checked for at least two days, already…

Don’t worry: the book in question remains de-facto unknown in the wider public until this very day.

This is so because at the time of events in question, on 14–15 October 1973, the situation was such that ‘everybody was in need of good news’. Especially so in Cairo and Tel Aviv. In Cairo, President Sadat was in need of news showing that Egypt was ‘fighting and winning, at least trying hard to lessen Israeli pressure upon Syria’. In Tel Aviv, the government of Prime Minister Meir was in need of good news after all the ‘catastrophes’ (often over-hyped) of the first few days of the war. Both sides needed news indicating they’re ‘breaking enemy’s bones’….

Foremost, and above all: the Israelis were expecting that Egyptian offensive already since 8–9 October, and they were all the time counting it would fail. Thus, they quickly concluded the ‘huuuuuge’ Egyptian offensive for failed, because they expected and wanted it to fail.

…and then both sides were more than happy to create a myth about the ‘biggest tank battle since Kursk’, because this served their interests and purposes at the time — and despite the fact that all that actually happened were 4,5 minor clashes (of course, I do have to be cautious with such descriptions because it is still so that plenty of people got killed in the process).

In the case of this Ukrainian offensive in the Kherson Oblast, it looks like not only the Russians, or armies of Putin-fans in the West, but even many of Western ‘experts’ are meanwhile jumping to similar conclusions: Ukrainian offensive ‘must have failed’ — because they expect it to fail.

Now, whether it is so that they think Ukrainians can’t fight, can’t do better, that the GenStab-U was not cautious enough or whatever, is a different reason. Indeed, and ironically, for months already, different people were complaining about ‘overcautious’ GenStab-U, and demanding ‘counteroffensives’: now when one is taking place, then the same GenStab-U is ‘not cautious enough’, and the operation is ‘failing’…?

Point is: although both sides (Kyiv and Moscow) are next-to zip-lip about what’s going on, when one cross-checks available information, conclusions are quite clear, actually. Here an example based on something like 15–20 minutes of ‘scrounging’ the internet.

Northern Kherson Oblast, 29 August — 4 September 2022

As can be easily concluded if one cares to check the militaryland.net website (publishing only official Ukrainian releases), from West towards East, the ZSU arrayed ‘approximately’ the following forces:

  • Foreign Legion (1 battalion) + Chechen Battalion
  • 17th Tank Brigade (I Battalion)
  • 45th Artillery Brigade
  • 73rd Naval Infantry (Battalion or Brigade?)
  • 128th Mountain (Infantry) Brigade
  • 60th (Reserve) Infantry Brigade

As can be deducted from Henry Schlotmann’s excellent work on this map, these were facing battalion tactical groups (BTGs) from at least four brigades of the Ground Forces VSRF, plus one brigade- and one regiment of artillery. More precisely:

  • 10th Special Purpose Brigade
  • 34th Motor Rifle Brigade
  • 126th Guards Coastal Defence Brigade
  • 205th Motor Rifle Brigade
  • 227th Artillery Brigade
  • 140th Artillery Regiment.

Action

Now, as can be assessed just from the few videos released so far, on 29 August, Ukrainian 60th Infantry launched a pincer attack from Ivanivka and from Potomkyne into the area south of the major Russian stronghold in Vysokopillya.

The 60th destroyed a BMD-2, captured a T-72B3M, a BMP-2 and BMD-2 of the 11th Assault Brigade (the unit was destroyed at Hostomel, must’ve been rebuilt ever since). But, obviously, didn’t manage to capture Vysokopillya right away.

Further east, there were next to no reports about Myrolubivka, except that Ukrainians have entered the village and captured two BMP-2s.

At Petrivka, the 128th lost one T-72M1 early on, followed by another. Then the Russians hit one of follow-up columns with artillery, knocking out 3 T-72M1/M1Rs, plus several trucks and a BRM-1K (this is from the well-known video) — after which the Keystone Cops in Moscow rushed to declare the 128th for at least ‘defeated’, if not ‘destroyed’…

In Ljubymivka, Ukrainians lost three T-72M1s and a BMP.

….in reaction to which, and rather logically, Ukrainians called in their 45th Artillery and this shelled Ljubymivka and Khreshchenivka: knocked out a BTR and a 2S5 in Ljubymivka.

Foremost, the 73rd Naval Infantry knocked out 3 BMDs and damaged 3 other vehicles in Khreshchenivka. This, probably, opened the way for the 60th and the 128th further east: they attacked the BTG 205th Motor Rifle Brigade in Zolota Balka and liberated the place. By 30th, they liberated Mykhalivka, further south, too (this was never officially announced, though, and thus the Militaryland.com is having the place still marked as ‘under the Russian control’).

Meanwhile, Ukrainians assaulted Ljubymivka from NW, N, and NE, took at least positions in its northern outskirts, capturing a BMP in the process.

As of yesterday, the GenStab-U reported ‘shelling near Khreshchenivka’ (another confirmation that Petrivka was liberated). The Foreign Legion is known to have entered Arhanhelske, but the place remains contested.

Foremost: this morning, the 60th Infantry finally — and ‘officially’ — liberated Vysokopillya, while the ‘destroyed’ 128th reported the capture of a Silok M1 radar (specialised in tracking UAVs, and jamming their control- and telemetry signals).

A clue in this place: such ‘stuff’ like Silok radar is never kept ‘in the first line of defence’. That means: the ‘destroyed’ 128th must’ve broken through and then driven ‘at least few kilometres deep’ behind the Russian front. No idea where, though.

Conclusion

It seems that all of this doesn’t matter to all too many of talkingheads. One-two videos of destroyed tanks of the ZSU? Ukrainian offensive failed. A report on a third-class Ukrainian click-bait-website about ‘at least 9 killed from the 128th Brigade’ is ‘confirmation’? ‘Ukrainian offensive is a costly failure’….Not to talk about endless reports by the Keystone Cops in Moscow — all of which are in style of, ‘ah, we’ve lost another place in Kherson? …but the Ukrainian militants suffered 1000, 2000, 3000 killed, and we’re counterattacking, there’s no problem’…

And all of this, just because people are too lazy to do a bare minimum of something as simple as online research.

Now, perhaps Ukrainians didn’t reach Moscow, not even Rostov-na-Donu, as of this morning, and, hand on heart, I have never heard of Vysokopillya before Ukrainians counterattacked it for the first time, at least a month ago. But, they did liberate a heavily fortified place this morning — and that atop of mauling 3–4 Russian BTGs, and liberating some 4–5 other villages, nearby. And mind: that’s just this sector of the frontline: I’m not even trying to discuss the Inhulets Bridgehead or southern Kherson.

Bottom line: face it, and accept it. Yes, this is another of ‘systematic and slow/no lightning advance’ operations, but ‘perfectly normal enterprise’ — for this war.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper

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