I’m sure many readers of this blog are familiar with the great analysis provided by Andrei Martianov, Doug McGregor, Brian Berletic, and Scott Ritter. Although we occasionally disagree on tactical issues, I am sure we all agree on the strategic picture of what is happening in Ukraine and its implications for the new world order on the international front. (I’ll comment at the end of this piece on recent news about American military KIA in recent battles around Bakhmut.)
Another name to add to this list of best analysts is Big Sergey. If you want to understand what the Russians are doing in the Donbass in terms of military strategy please take the time to read his latest, Russo-Ukrainian War: World Blood Pump. In short, they nailed it!
I would like to highlight some important points from his latest treatise (and it is a real treatise). Big Sergei (he was named after Sergei Witte, the first prime minister of the Russian Empire) provides a nifty map that will help you understand the four main defense lines that Ukraine has built since 2014. Russia broke through the first line at Lysichansk early. July (#1). It is now in the process of breaking through in Marinka (#2) and Bakhmut/Soledar (#3).
The next map shows the enormous military force committed to the Ukraine Bakhmut/Soledor sector. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you understand the military symbols on the map (I apologize for the different sizes of the images, I’m not a graphic artist and just take what I can get):
It helps you to read and understand the map. If there is an “X” on the box representing the brigade. “II” means it is a battalion (300 to 500 soldiers).
Big Serge provides a refreshingly clear description of Russian tactics to destroy Ukrainian defensive lines – pound it relentlessly with artillery before committing troops to clean up.
Russian forces, primarily Wagner PMC and LNR units, are slowly but surely collapsing this Ukrainian stronghold through liberal use of artillery. In November, now-former Zelenskyi adviser Oleksiy Arestovich admitted that Russian artillery on the Bakhmat axis enjoyed a roughly 9-to-1 tube advantage, turning Bakhmat into a death pit.
The final part of Big Serge explores a scenario in which the remaining Ukrainian forces in the Donbass are expelled and the road to Kharkov and the Dnieper River is opened.
Now, about news that a former US Marine is a prisoner and an AWOL Navy SEAL has died in combat in the Donbass. Michael Winter, a retired US Marine, was reportedly one of the prisoners captured by Wagner’s group at Soledar. Winter has reportedly participated in US military operations in Syria, Iraq, Libya, etc., and has been speaking with his captors.
The news is not so good for Daniel Swift’s family:
Navy Special Warfare Operator First Class Daniel Swift, who went AWOL, was killed Jan. 18 after being wounded by a unit under Russian attack in Ukraine.
The US Navy confirmed that the Swift “has been in an active decommissioned state since March 11, 2019”.
A sad reminder that guys like Daniel Swift may have incredible physical skills but they’re not bulletproof. He made a choice and suffered a terrible consequence. My condolences to his family and friends.