4th March, 23:00
The combat fronts appeared mostly static on day nine, with the Russians consolidating control in some southern areas. Fighting raged around the north of Kiev for a second day, which conflicting reports regarding the status of Bucha and Hostomel, captured yesterday by Ukrainian forces. Protests continue across occupied territory, as well as potential guerrilla action contributing to the supply and logistic issues that appear to be hamstringing the Russian Army.
In a recent video for lotuseaters.com, I touched on some fundamental problems with Russian vehicle maintenance that may be contributing to their slow progress. These speculations were reinforced today by footage of abandoned Russian vehicles where the tyres had either collapsed or been stripped for spares.
Due to the thick Spring mud (rasputitsa) and the tendency for poorly-maintained vehicles to suffer burst tyres or broken wheel hubs when traversing this terrain, the Russian Army appears to be limited to major roads — particularly in the north of the country. This makes them extremely vulnerable to all kinds of attack, ranging from airstrikes to ambush and sabotage. Traffic jams on these narrow roads delay the rate of resupply and reinforcement.
Plenty of footage shows Russian vehicles destroyed around Irpin and Bucha after fighting today, including remarkable drone capture footage of what appears to be a live firefight between Ukrainian Army and Russian Airborne Forces (VDV).
[Disturbing scenes]: Several Russian armoured vehicles knocked out in Irpin, just south of Bucha on the outskirts of Kiev. Earlier footage from the area showed what appeared to be Russian vehicles firing up at apartment buildings; whether they were receiving fire from those buildings is unclear.
A considerable amount of fighting also appears to have taken place to the west of Kiev around Makhariv, where the Russians have been attempting to close the Kiev-Zhytomyr highway and push south to cut off the capital from resupply with advanced foreign weapons and supplies. Fighting has continued into the night, where the Ukrainians may have an advantage in night-fighting equipment. No progress on this front for the Russians.
A new batch of British NLAWs arrived in Kiev today, highlighting the importance of the highways into the capital. Each successful supply run could translate easily into dozens or hundreds of destroyed Russian vehicles, and potentially thousands of dead soldiers.
Zhytomyr Territorial Defence captured a Russian cargo truck loaded with Konkurs-M tandem anti-tank guided missiles (likely for BMP-2 and BMP-3 resupply). Note that the wheels are in terrible condition; one is unaligned and another has a tyre missing.
The Sumy front appears to have been relatively quiet for a few days now, after intense fighting at the start of the campaign, in which numerous Russian vehicles were destroyed. Much recent footage is likely showing the aftermath of these early battles, such as this destroyed BMP-1 IFV.
In the morning of day nine, there were enormous overnight explosions in a sugar factory on Russian side of the border. The governor of the Kursk region Roman Starovoit claimed this was due to a short circuit in a combat vehicle under repair. However, the possibility of commando action or sabotage could also be considered.
While shelling continues, most of the footage emerging from Kharkiv today showed captured Russian vehicles, including T-80 tank variants and an abandoned Kamaz-5350 truck. The Ukrainians claim to have captured 8 tanks today, although only 2 have been verified by footage.
Note that the tyres on this vehicle appear to have broken down, rotted, or been cannibalised to furnish another broken down vehicle; this provides more evidence of incompetent or corrupt maintenance practices in the Russian army.
As the separatists continue to upload footage documenting their gains in this sector, we surprisingly have more footage of Russian captures than Ukrainian ones. Separatist footage shows a captured BMP-2 IFV, and a few captured T-64 tanks, as well as a disabled or discarded Javelin missile from either US or Baltic military aid. The separatists are quite keen to show how quickly they have repurposed these vehicles and put them into action. Despite these successes, there is as yet no evidence to suggest any significant territorial advances in this sector.
However, a Russian Su-25 was claimed to be shot down in recent fighting, and today an Mi-8 helicopter was allegedly shot down by MANPADs while searching for the downed pilot.
Brutal fighting in the surrounded city of Mariupol continues; the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion knows it is unlikely to receive any quarter here. Humanitarian corridors have allegedly been established, but how well they will be respected by either side is anyone’s guess. Mariupol has not fallen on day nine.
Fighting concluded around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station at Enerhodar, with the Russians taking control. The Russians now control just over half of Ukraine’s nuclear power supply. Cutting off Kharkiv and other cities from the national grid could accelerate the sieges in those regions.
The leader of Sluga Naroda, Zelensky’s main political party, claimed that the facility is controlled by Chechen Kadyrovtsy and that they have murdered several nuclear plant operators.
Ukrainian civilians continue to protest in Melitopol.
Kulbakino airfield was apparently recaptured by the Ukrainian Army and National Police. In addition, the movement of Russian materiel and supply out of the Crimea has allegedly been halted according to Ukrainian intelligence sources, though the veracity of this claim and the reason for any stoppage remain unclear.
A Kamaz 4310 technical was recorded being burned out by locals north of Mykolaiv, on the road to Kryvi Rih. Russian advances in this sector will likely be hindered by protests and partisan/guerrilla action.
Ukrainian morale is high, and people appear to be finding plenty of cause for humour in this perilous situation. These three clips win the Ukraine Observatory Banter Award of 10,000 Roubles (redeemable in Siberian book vouchers).
Thanks to social media, you can now learn to start a Russian tank on TikTok! If you speak Ukrainian, that is.
The Ukrainian Tax Office has kindly announced that there is “no need to declare captured Russian tanks or equipment as income” which I’m sure will be a relief to many Ukrainians. As to whether they should prepare this year’s tax return according to Russian or Ukrainian tax codes, no guidance has yet been released by either side.
One group of people who will be relieved by the tax office’s announcement is this lively bunch of Ukrainian lads, who today appropriated a 120mm heavy mortar using a motorbike and sidecar. But have they got a valid trailer licence for it? Is the vehicle rated for the number of people riding aboard? Are they liable for distracting someone in charge of a vehicle with his phone? No word from the Ukrainian DVLA just yet, but we can expect a stiff fine and a stern talking-to when things settle down.
A Turkish transport plane landed at Rzeszow-Jasionka airport in Poland, probably carrying a shipment of TB-2 drones. Additional planes have landed from Estonia, Canada, and Spain. Rzeszow-Jasionka is likely an operations base for Ukrainian military aid; whether it is used as a staging point for Ukrainian fighter jets is unknown at this stage. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian diaspora and foreign nationals are heading to Ukraine to fight against Russia.
Two B-52 strategic bombers have flown over Hungary, continuing the regular patrols of US nuclear-capable bombers.
Photo Credit: Фото Дмитрий Муравский, Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. CC 2.0.
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