south front

Popasnaya New Stronghold For Russian Advance
South Front, May 20 2022

While Ukrainian militants continue to surrender in the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, the Russian-led forces continue to advance on the main front lines in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. In the Kharkiv region, Russian units are fighting for the buffer zone along the Russian border and for full control of the left bank of the Seversky Donets River in the area of Stary Saltov. No significant advances of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been recently reported. The Russian Armed Forces launched a counter offensive on the village of Ternovaya. Fighting continues in the area of Staritsa. Ukrainian units are strengthening their positions in the area of Cossack Lopan and Stary Saltov.

To the south, the front lines remain unchanged in the area of Chuguev and Balakleya. In the area of Izyum, the Russian-led forces resumed their advance to the west. Having secured their positions in the town of Velikaya Kamishevaha, they moved towards the village of Grushevaha. Positional clashes continue to the south of Izyum and east of Oskol. Some progress of Russian forces was reported in the area south of Yampol. They reportedly advanced towards the village of Ozernoe located nearby. In the area of Liman, the AFU are almost surrounded. After the Ukrainian military blew up a dam across the Seversky Donets River, they cut off the way to retreat for their units in Liman.

On the outskirts of the city of Severodonetsk, massive artillery shelling on the Ukrainian military positions continues. Russian-led forces took control over the villages of Schedrischevo to the north and Sirotino to the south of the city. The forest area on the north-eastern outskirts of the city was also moped-up. Fighting continues in the Voronovo area in the south-east of the city. The LPR units are likely attempting to cut the AFU grouping in Severodonetsk which counts about 300 to 400 servicemen, from their comrades deployed in Lisichansk. In Lisichansk there are reportedly more than 10k Ukrainian fighters. Clashes continue along the road leading to Lisichansk from the south-eastern direction. The joint Russian-led forces took control of half of the village of Toshkovka. Fierce battles continue in the area between Orekhovo and Gorskoe.

In the area of Popasnaya, Russian-led forces are surrounding the AFU in various settlements. Defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was broken through in three directions at once. The villages of Troitskoye to the south, Tripillya and Vladimirovka to the west, Kamyshevakha railway station and Vladimirovka to the north fell under DPR control. Fighting is going on in Kamyshevakha and Vrubovka. The AFU groupings in Gorskoe and Zolotoye are almost half surrounded. Fighting is going on for Novaya Kamenka. The Russians reached the outskirts of Soledar. In the city of Mariupol, about two thousand Ukrainian militants have already surrendered at the Azovstal plant. They are not the only Ukrainian servicemen who have laid down their weapons. Over the past day, twenty servicemen of the 95th airborne assault brigade surrendered on the front lines in the DPR.

New Military Aid From The US To Ukraine Approved
South Front, May 20 2022

The US continues to provide material and technical support to Ukraine. On May 19 2022, the DoD announced that the president had approved another $100b military aid package for Ukraine. However, yesterday the US Senate approved $40b so far. Of this amount, $19.7b will go to arm the AFU, $8.8b for economic recovery, and $4.35b for food and various humanitarian issues. It may be noted that this is already the tenth American package of military assistance to Ukraine since Aug 2021. The total amount of American military aid officially allocated to Kyiv since the beginning of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine has now reached $3.9b, and since Mar 2021 about $4.6b. This is only the official part, also these figures do not take into account the unofficial part of the expenses and the expenses that went into the pockets of companies that are involved in the production of weapons. The DoD reported that the newly-approved $100b military aid package includes supplies intended to meet Ukraine’s critical needs during the current hostilities as Russian forces continue their offensive in eastern Ukraine. When it comes to total Western aid to Ukraine, the amount will exceed $100b. This is approximately 100% of Ukraine’s entire economy. From Jan-May 2022, 36 Western countries donated $65.5b in aid to Ukraine: $34.7b for arms, $18.5b for the economy, and $12.5b for humanitarian purposes. Countries and organizations donated different amounts of money:

  • US – $43b
  • Britain – $4.8b
  • EU – $4.1 b
  • Poland – $2.6b
  • Germany, $2.35b
  • France – $2.1b
  • Canada – $2b
  • Italy – $0.48b
  • Norway – $0.32b
  • Sweden – $0.29b
  • Japan – $0.29b.

The largest part of the latest US aid package is armaments. The announced delivery will include 18 M777 towed 155 mm howitzers and 18 prime movers for them, three AN/TPQ-36 artillery position detection radar stations, field equipment, and spare parts. Earlier in April and early May, in previous aid packages, the US had already provided Ukraine with a variety of equipment. The previous deliveries 90 M777 155mm/39 howitzers with Oshkosh M1083 prime movers and 209k shells. Now the total number of these to be transferred by the US to the Ukrainian side will reach 108. It is also said to be working on providing Ukraine with long-range anti-ship missiles. This time the US Senate and the president of the US decided on the financing of Ukraine rather quickly. Although the project, which was earlier approved in the US to provide $40b in military aid to Ukraine, was discussed for a very long time and caused lively discussions in the Senate. Based on this, US politicians are increasingly starting to agree that Ukraine needs military aid. Most likely, future US financial projects for Ukraine will no longer take time and will be accepted even faster. The Pentagon confirmed the information about the provision of military assistance and published a list of the equipment to be provided. The shipment of these weapons will be made soon. The new US military aid package to Ukraine includes:

  • 36 counter-battery radars
  • 18 155mm howitzers
  • 18 tactical vehicles.

Blinken has said that Ukraine will soon be provided with additional assistance. According to Blinken, the US will provide $215m in food aid. In turn, representatives of the EU, the US, and Canada say they will help Ukraine remove tens of millions of tons of grain from its territory. Most of the agricultural products are exported through the sea. In this light, the US is considering supplying Ukraine with advanced Harpoon and NSM anti-ship missile systems to fight the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet. The White House, according to some officials, is working on supplying modern anti-ship missiles to the Ukrainian armed forces to help overcome the Russian naval blockade, amid fears that more powerful weapons, which can sink Russian warships, will only escalate the confrontation. Therefore, this issue has two sides: on the one hand, Ukraine does not want to provoke Russia to increase its military might in the Black Sea, and on the other hand, it needs to restore grain supplies. Ukraine has made no secret of its need for more advanced American capabilities, in addition to the artillery pieces, Javelin and Stinger missiles, and other weapons it receives. Among other things, Kyiv’s wish list includes missiles that could push the Russian Navy away from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, thereby allowing it to resume shipments of grain and other agricultural products for delivery around the world. US military assistance to Ukraine would prolong the conflict indefinitely in the long run. However, it remains to be seen when Western countries will feel the lack of money and begin to refuse further aid to Ukraine.

$65b In Western ‘Aid For Ukraine’ Is Neither Aid Nor Is It For Ukraine
Drago Bosnic, South Front, May 20 2022

In recent weeks, much has been said about the political West’s (primarily US) “aid” to the embattled Kiev regime. The US Congress has so far approved or is in the process of approving at least $54b to Ukraine. In addition, various reports put the amount of EU “aid” at up to €10b thus far, although the actual number is most likely orders of magnitude greater. When put together, this pushes the publicly acknowledged figure to a staggering $65b, which is equivalent to Russia’s annual military spending in nominal USD exchange rates. The number seems rather impressive and may give an outlook that Ukraine will be able to defeat Russian forces. However, the situation on the ground says otherwise. With the political West’s post-industrial economy, their ability to mass-produce affordable and easily replaceable military hardware has increasingly been called into question. Thus, most of the “aid” from the US/EU is essentially a half measure. Throwing money at a problem is highly unlikely to resolve it, as actual situations require genuine, not monetary action.

The amount of hardware Ukraine lost so far is difficult to determine, as both sides provide diametrically opposing data, while independent confirmation from the ground is virtually impossible due to ongoing military operations. However, war footage taken by civilians, alternative media embedded with frontline troops, and soldiers themselves, clearly shows that Ukraine’s losses in manpower and equipment have been massive. To replace lost hardware, the Kiev regime will require enormous resources. However, this will be quite challenging, as the country’s Military-Industrial Complex has been virtually annihilated by Russia’s long-range strikes. Thus, the regime will need to acquire additional military hardware elsewhere. The political West is the go-to address for this purpose, as Ukraine has been getting NATO weapons for years. Still, this hardware has had a limited impact on the battlefield. To change that, NATO powers decided to ramp up the so-called “lethal aid.”

However, in reality, the prospect of Ukraine getting the promised “aid” is rather grim. An obvious question arises, what will happen to nearly $65b? The first go-to address for such a question should be the US Congress. With the lawmaking body trying to fast track the deal, some US congressmen have voiced concerns that corrupt officials would be able to steal the “aid,” as was the case for decades during numerous US invasions across the globe. However, corruption and embezzlement, which geopolitical expert Paul Antonopoulos recently covered in a superb analysis, is the lesser problem in this situation. Mainstream media have been portraying the political West as if it will be sending actual, physical money to the Kiev regime. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The funds will essentially stay in the “donor” countries. The largest share of those funds will officially be allocated to arming, or rather, rearming the Kiev regime forces. But who exactly, or more precisely, which companies will be producing weapons for the Ukrainian military? It’s safe to assume we all know the answer: the US Military-Industrial Complex, the largest and most powerful arms manufacturing cartel on the planet. Household names such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, to name a few, will be getting the vast majority of those funds.

For instance, the “Phoenix Ghost” drones, manufactured by the California-based Aevex Aerospace and “Switchblade” drones, manufactured by AeroVironment, both designed to strike tanks and other armored vehicles, as well as infantry units. M113 armored vehicle is also being sent and while old, largely obsolete and not in production since 2007, it’s quite numerous, and getting rid of it will make way for the acquisition of its immediate successor, the AMPV (Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle), a turretless variant of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, produced by the BAE Systems. Another BAE Systems product is the M777 howitzer, a towed 155 mm artillery piece designed for direct fire support. Ukrainian troops are already using them, while recent videos released by the Russian military show some have already been destroyed in battle. Interestingly, the howitzers delivered to Ukraine lack digital fire-control systems. The much-touted “Stinger” MANPADS (produced by Raytheon) and “Javelin” ATGMs (co-produced by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon) have been sent in the thousands. However, their effectiveness has been questionable at best, despite Western media trying to portray them as supposed “game-changers.” Russian tanks have been filmed surviving up to 7 “Javelin” hits, even continuing to fight, much to the frustration of Ukrainian forces, which have recently been ordered to stop publicly complaining about the lackluster performance of Western weapons. Raytheon’s AN/MPQ-64 “Sentinel”, an X-band range-gated, pulse-Doppler radar used to alert and cue short-range air defense systems has also been sent. In addition, 40m rounds of small arms ammunition, 5k assault and battle rifles, 1k pistols, 400 machine guns and 400 shotguns have been sent to Ukraine, along with more than 1m grenades, mortars and 200k artillery rounds. These deliveries have been completed by early May. The actual number is most certainly much higher as of this writing.

The weapons in question are not changing the strategic balance between Russia and the Kiev regime, but are prolonging the fight, resulting in even higher military and civilian casualties. Also, logistics-wise, having so many different types of weapons creates a lot of problems for the Ukrainian military, which is barely holding together as it is. There are also issues of training and doctrinal incompatibility. M777 howitzers are immobile when deployed and are designed with air dominance in mind. US troops are supposed to use them from a safe distance, serving as fire support by striking very specific targets during overseas operations, which is completely opposite to what is going on in Ukraine, where the other side (Russia) enjoys air dominance and uses massed artillery to punch holes in Ukrainian lines, followed by massive and well-coordinated armor assaults. Thus, US weapons not only fail in providing an effective counter to Russian troops, but are even getting Ukrainian forces killed, as they are still not accustomed to using them. And last, but not least, the “aid” provided (and soon to be provided) by NATO countries are essentially long-term loans which will have to be repaid in the following decades. The WWII-era Lend-Lease program for the USSR, estimated at $160b in present-day USD, was repaid in full only in 2006. Thus, we can assume Ukraine will be paying off the current $65b “aid” for the rest of this century. That is, provided there will be a viable Ukrainian state to do so after the conflict ends.

Azov Commanders Surrendered. First Interview Of Commander Of 36th Marine Brigade
South Front, May 21 2022

Deputy Commander Svyatoslav Palamar (Kalina) L;
Commander of the Azov regiment Denis Prokopenko (Radish) C;
Acting Commander of the 36th Marine Brigade Sergei Volynsky (Volyna) R.

Since May 16, 2,439 Nazis of “Azov” and servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces blockaded on the territory of “Azovstal” surrendered, according to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

The video shows the acting commander of the unit of the 36th Marine Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Sergei Volynsky (Volyna), who voluntarily surrendered to the Russian military. From the text of the interview:

A: As a result of the fighting, I got to the territory of the Azovstal plant, from where I surrendered.
QAre you all coming out?
A: Yes.
Q: Is anyone else staying at the factory?
A: The entire 36th brigade and its representatives are here with me now. There are no more Marines on the territory of the plant.
Q: Are there any foreigners on the territory of the plant?
A: There were some.
Q: High–ranking officials?
A: I don’t know about this.
Q: And who was there?
A: There are foreigners in the AFU units
Q: And the foreign advisors?
A: I don’t know any foreign advisors who would give any instructions.

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