Bad News from the South
Just a quick note today on the continuing threat emerging from the south, as Ukrainian armed forces seem to be doing more than a good job of holding their own in the northern theatre of operations, winning clashes on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Three news items give rise to concern. Destroyed Russian colums are reported at Dobre and Voznesens’k, both north of the major port of Mykolayiv, and Russian forces have apparently shot the school master in the small town of Bashtanka, north-east of Dobre.
The advances out of Mykolaiv are disconcerting, as they point towards a twin objective for the Russian forces in Mykolaiv. Moving north-east on Kryvyi Rih will take Ukrainian forces in Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro in the rear, threatening one of two open supply routes into Kharkiv and to the forces on the line of contact.
Moving NW from Mykolaiv towards Pervomais’k threatens Uman, and would enable linking up with the Russian proxy forces in Transdnistria, across the Moldovan border. This is one of the ‘frozen’ conflicts from the time of the break-up of the Soviet Union. I’m not aware of any rule that says that the Russians need to stop at Ukraine’s western border, so if I were Moldovan I’d be quite concerned at this point. It would in any case cut off Odessa and turn what remains unoccupied of Ukraine into a land-locked territory.
I continue to believe that what is happening around Mykolaiv and Zapo is critical and the area to watch. That the Ukrainian armed forces manage to stop Russian invader columns in this region is good news, but the depth of the invaders’ reach is not.
The column shot up at Voznesens’k was a supply column with fuel and a single APC riding shotgun, which again points to heavier forces being further ahead. At Bashtanka a proper battle maybe in progress.
Stuck in the mud? Not quite yet.
Thus, while the Ukrainians keep fighting, they are also clearly retreating in this region. This isn’t bad news, as they are trading space for time, inflict losses, and live to fight another day. It is bearable as there is a time limit on Russian operations right now, with the mud period, the Rasputitsa, forecast to become an issue for operations within the next ten days.