Ukraine Situation Report: The Brutal Wait For Ukraine’s Counteroffensive

Those Ukrainians who have endured this winter’s Russian onslaught in the ruins of Marinka, Avdiivka, Bakhmut, and all the trenches in between, know the counteroffensive is coming, but no one knows whether they’ll live to see it.

Ruined towns and cratered fields turned into no man’s land have borne the brunt of Russia’s war machine while Ukrainian units spent much of this winter training on Western equipment with NATO partners. As they ready their Bradleys, Leopards, and more to take back territory, each day at the frontline brings a high cost.

The Institute for the Study of War’s (@TheStudyofWar ) latest assessed control of terrain maps show the frontline towns continue to see heavy fighting and video from the Russian side. It also shows tanks from Russia’s 150th Motorized Rifle Division in action in Mariinka, with shells from tanks and artillery landing throughout the piles of debris.

Haunting accounts from the frontline confirm just how badly Ukraine needs the initiative back with some help from its NATO-trained mechanized units. The besieged town of Bakhmut perhaps illustrates this best, the grueling battle now a bloody street-by-street fight as Russia attempts to punch through the city’s ruins. Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM ) with the Financial Times wrote about combat training for Ukraine’s provisional units as the country scrounges for manpower, and it includes a grim anecdote of Ukraine’s casualties.

A soldier in a Kyiv Territorial Defense Brigade told Miller that, in a single day at Bakhmut’s frontline, he was one of only three in his platoon of 21 to escape alive and without injury.

Outside the city’s ruins, fighting continues along the trench lines. Francis Farrell (@francisjfarrell ) of The Kyiv Independent brings us to the harrowing situation at Bakhmut’s “zero line” for Ukrainian soldiers while embedded with the storied Ukrainian 10th Mountain Assault Brigade to the north near Soledar.

The relentless human wave assaults of Wagner PMC fighters have filled fields between the trenches with bodies, while a Ukrainian aid station has blood-stained stretchers and used tourniquets near its temporary morgue. 

In its update on the battle, the Institute for the Study of War noted limited Russian gains as their attempted encirclement remains a bloody slog.

Recent weeks have seen Russian Ministry of Defense troops assume responsibility over parts of the Bakhmut frontline from Wagner PMC forces, among them this 152mm Msta-B gun section from the VDV’s 106th Airborne Division.

Videos and pictures of the besieged city are beyond words. Entire neighborhoods stand scorched and burning, with debris from shelling covering the ground below like snow. There are also incredible clips of Ukrainian tanks making mad dashes into the dust-blown ruins to blunt Russian offensives.

Taking pressure off the Donbas frontline has to be at least a desired side-effect of any Ukrainian counteroffensive. Some of those towns, namely those on Donetsk’s western edge like Avdiivka and Mariinka, have been at war since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Longevity aside, Kyiv certainly doesn’t want the staggering cost of troops and materiel in this region to be in vain.

Before we head into today’s latest updates from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.

The Latest

In its latest intelligence update, the British Ministry of Defense reported that Russian efforts to analogize its war in Ukraine to the Second World War are beginning to fall flat.

On April 18, Russian state media announced the cancellation of its Immortal Regiment “Great Patriotic War” remembrance marches, citing safety concerns. Although that’s just the kind of event a propaganda machine could rally the people around, the British MoD noted it may in fact have the opposite effect given Russia’s staggering losses in Ukraine.

The “Nazis in Ukraine” theory parroted since Russia began justifying its invasion in late 2021 has been a central tenant of Moscow’s callbacks to WWII. But even Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin publicly questioned that justification in recent remarks. 

The latest chapter of Russia’s revisionist history played out via state news agency RIA Novosti, reporting on “unique” documents from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) implicating Nazis in the 1940 Katyn Massacre. In reality, the Soviet NKVD, the FSB’s predecessor, carried out the mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish nationals on Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s orders. 

The bombshell leak of numerous classified documents on the war in Ukraine reportedly began long before the arrest of Massachusetts Air National Guard Airman Jack Teixeira on April 13. 

The New York Times reports a Discord user profile matching Teixeira’s began posting secret intelligence on the Russian war effort on Discord less than two days after Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022

Despite summer inching closer, spring’s mud and muck remain in parts of Ukraine, with this M113 churning through some rather chunky stuff on maneuvers.

Ukrainian drone operations continue to terrorize Russian armored vehicles in the open, both with dropped munitions and first-person view (FPV) kamikaze drones.

There are also new images and video of the Ukrainian-produced “Wizard” drone in use performing forward observer and target acquisition duties for Ukrainian artillery. 

Video shows a Ukrainian truck-mounted AZP S-60 57mm anti-aircraft gun providing fire support, the Cold War-era autocannon having seen new life in the role on both sides of the conflict.

We wrote about the concerns for Ukraine’s stockpile of Soviet-era surface-to-air missiles, and there are now indications Ukraine acquired some of Jordan’s former stock of 9K33 Osa (NATO: SA-8 “Gecko”) SAMs.

In occupied Zaporizhia Oblast, a Russian 9K330 Tor SAM (NATO: SA-15 “Gauntlet”) transporter-erector-launcher and radar (TELAR), took a spill off its transporter.

Finally, we have a rather interesting improvised minelayer used by Russian forces. It appears troops mounted a Universal Minelayer UMZ in a truck bed, allowing a moving truck to quickly scatter a minefield as it drives. The standard UMZ has six honeycomb-style mine launchers, capable of saturating an area with anti-personnel or anti-tank mines. 

That’s it for now. We’ll update this story when we have more news to report about Ukraine.

Contact the author: