More to ignore, Book 91......

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Ukraine update: A closer look at Ukraine's bridgehead across the Inhulets River

Mark Sumner

The intention this morning was a “what’s happening everywhere else” update, but it’s hard to get away from Kherson. That’s true both because everyone knows there is active combat in the area, and because Ukraine has practiced very careful operational security, deliberately not exulting over liberated villages. However, on Friday evening there were a few points of news—including from the Ukrainian general staff—that seem to warrant coverage.

First is Vysokopillya. That’s the town (pre-invasion population around 4,000) on the northwestern edge of Russia’s area of control which has long represented more of the most secure, fortified positions for Russia in the region. Reports that Russian forces in Vysokopillya were under attack by Ukrainian troops go back to May, and for over a month it has seemed that the Russian forces inside the town had been isolated as Ukraine freed surrounding villages and all but cut off Vysokopillya from resupply or reinforcement.

On Friday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying that Ukrainian forces have “established positions in the town” and that Russia no longer controls Vysokopillya. In addition, some images and footage from the area has appeared which seems to clarify the status as of Friday. One of those is video of a warehouse being shelled, in the middle of a series of warehouses, light factories, and agricultural buildings, which reportedly represents one of the last positions of Russia in Vysokopillya.



Looking at a map, reports that Russia is limited to the “southern edge” of the town seem to come down to just a few buildings at the very tip.

image4.png


The image above is Vysokopillya. That red circle represents the area where any remaining Russian forces appear to be isolated. This looks to be a sort of reversal-in-miniature from the kind of position we’ve seen before, with Ukrainian troops desperately clinging to the last position in a city or town. It’s unclear if this group of buildings contains anything like tunnels or hardened locations. It’s honestly hard to know if there are any Russians remaining as of Saturday.

On the other hand, that blue box on the lower right side of the image is the approximate location of a short column of Ukrainian vehicles, including three formerly-Polish tanks along with several trucks, that Russian sources have been showing with the indication that these vehicles were “damaged or abandoned by Ukraine.” This could well indicate that the area is still far from safely under Ukrainian control, though it’s hard to tell if the image is genuinely new and whether the vehicles are genuinely abandoned.

Considering that Ukraine’s own Ministry of Defense is reporting progress in Vysokopillya, it seemed safe enough to repeat what’s being said about the situation there. Now I’m moving on to more of what Russia is saying … which seems safe enough to talk about, since it’s not exactly something that needs to be hidden from Russia.

That something concerns that breakthrough across the Inhulets River. For several days, Russian Telegram has been buzzing with reports from this area, including complaints from Russian sources on the ground, that Ukraine was expanding their bridgehead and attacking in new directions. On Friday, Russian messaging on this area split. On the one hand, Russia began reporting that it had (third time’s the charm) destroyed Ukrainian forces on the east side of the river. It had pushed back their advance, recaptured villages, destroyed a Ukrainian outpost along the river, and even destroyed a Ukrainian command center on the west side of the river. Just a little mopping up to do, folks, and this little issue will be over.

On the other hand, those Telegram sources, and a few Ukrainian voices, continued to indicate that Ukraine’s bridgehead is expanding, pushing farther to both the south and west. In fact, this now appears to be the biggest territorial gain and greatest sustained effort of the counteroffensive (unless operational security really is hiding something big).

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This is definitely one of those “open the image in another tab to view at a larger size” moments. But wait. This image gives a pretty good sense of where this breakthrough is located along the line, and how it relates to both what’s going on in Vysokopillya (at the very top of the map) and the distance to the bridge at Nova Kakhovka (very bottom of the map).

But here’s a closer look at the breakthrough, with more of the towns and villages labeled so it’s easier to talk about what’s going on.

screencap.jpg


The bridgehead, established several weeks ago, has long consisted of the three villages along the river — Adriivka, Lozove, and Bilohirka. It was at Adriivka that Russia now claims to have destroyed the eastern Ukrainian base, though there’s no evidence for this. Shortly after the bridgehead was established, Ukraine pushed cross-country toward Bruskynske, which led many to believe that their goal was to bypass Davydiv Brid and move down the T2207 highway toward Beryslav and Nova Kakhovka.

In this counteroffensive, it seems that Ukraine moved first to liberate Sukhyi Stavok before again attacking Bruskynske. However, the thrust of the assault then seems to have turned south, capturing Kostromka and attacking the Russian “second line” at Shchaslyve. That’s were things were on Thursday. But as of Friday, it seems that Ukraine has broadened its attack, also hitting Russian forces at Bezimenne.

GettyImages-1242882379.jpg


[NOTE: There’s currently a lot of clouds over the area, so most of these hot spots are at the limit of that 24 hour window.]

The latest NASA FIRMS images show that Ukraine is hitting positions well to the south of both Shchaslyve and Bezimenne. This could be a good indicator that Russian forces have already been pushed out of both villages and are attempting to hold positions on the opposite side of advancing Ukrainian troops. As always, the FIRMS reports are somewhat mysterious, plagued by hot spots unrelated to the war (because, darn it, spotting artillery is not FIRMS job), and it’s impossible to tell a Russian-caused hot spot from a Ukrainian-generated hot spot. All that said, the fact that the line of FIRMS hot spots is well inside Russian territory (and not just at Davydiv Brid) seems like a good indicator that Ukraine is continuing to advance.

What’s not on the FIRMS map? Any indication that there’s a lick of truth behind Russian claims to have rolled back the Ukrainian advance and hit two Ukrainian outposts near the river.

As to what’s happening elsewhere — we’ll get to that later.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Saturday, Sep 3, 2022 · 10:41:56 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
Now seeing unconfirmed reports that Ukraine has taken both Bezimenne and Bruskinske. I’m mentioning these reports, but I’m definitely not running to update my map.

“Unconfirmed” is the key word here. These reports, from pro-Ukrainian sources, are likely to be either very optimistic, or to have simply misread “contested” as “liberated.”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Saturday, Sep 3, 2022 · 11:32:59 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
This a very interesting way of looking at the total change in control, across Ukraine, over the last three months.



The biggest chunk of red is that area in the Donbas which Russia occupied immediately following the fall of Severodonetsk. Otherwise, their advances have been very small. Russia has actually done a better job of retaking territory north of Kharkiv than they have advancing in the east.

Over in Kherson, you can see that red bulge which is that area where Russia has pushed forward between Snihurivka and Kyselivka. Everywhere else in Kherson, Ukraine has advanced. Ukraine has also made significant movements in Zaporizhzhia. That total change means that all the area taken by Russia in the last three months would fit within the city limits of Huntsville, Alabama or Lexington, Kentucky.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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.....First, I asked respondents a series of basic questions about American politics. This quiz included topics like which party controls the House of Representatives – the Democrats – and who the current Secretary of Energy is – Jennifer Granholm. Then, I asked them how well they thought they did on the quiz.

Many respondents who believed they were top performers were actually among those who scored the worst. Much akin to the results of a famous study by Dunning and Kruger, the poorest performers did not generally realize that they lagged behind their peers.

Of the 1,209 people who participated, around 70% were overconfident about their knowledge of politics. But this basic pattern was not the most worrying part of the results.

The overconfident respondents failed to change their attitudes in response to my warnings about political falsehoods. My investigation showed that they did read the statements, and could report details about what they said. But their attitudes toward falsehoods remained inflexible, likely because they – wrongly – considered themselves political experts.......
 

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