I am sure that many readers of this blog are acquainted with the great analysis offered by Andrei Martyanov, Doug MacGregor, Brian Berletic and Scott Ritter. While we may occasionally disagree on tactical issues, I am pretty sure we all agree on the strategic picture of what is unfolding in Ukraine and its implications for a New World Order on the international front. (I will comment at the end of this piece on the recent news about American military KIA in the recent battles around Bakhmut.)
Another name that must be added to this list of superb analysts is Big Serge. If you want to understand what the Russians are doing in the Donbas in terms of military strategy please take the time to read his latest, Russo-Ukrainian War: The World Blood Pump. Stated succinctly, he nails it!
I want to highlight some of the salient points from his latest treatise (and it is a genuine treatise). Big Serge (he takes his name from Sergei Witte, the first Prime Minister of the Russian Empire) provides a nifty map that should help you understand the four major lines of defense that Ukraine erected since 2014. Russia cracked the first line at Lysychansk in early July (#1). It is now in the process of breaking through at Marinka (#2) and Bakhmut/Soledar (#3).
The next map shows the enormous military force that Ukraine has committed to the Bakhmut/Soledar sector. Here is a cheat sheet to help you understand the military symbols on the map (I apologize for the different sizes of the images, I am not a graphic artist and take what I can get):
This should help you read and understand the map. If there is an “X” above the box that represents a brigade. A “II” means it is a battalion (300 to 500 soldiers).
Big Serge provides a refreshingly clear explanation of Russia’s tactics for destroying the Ukrainian defensive lines — pound it relentlessly with artillery before committing troops to do the clean up.
Russian forces, primarily Wagner PMC and LNR units, have been slowly but surely collapsing this Ukrainian stronghold by making liberal use of artillery. In November, now former Zelensky advisor Oleksiy Arestovych admitted that Russian artillery on the Bakhmut axis enjoyed roughly a 9 to 1 tube advantage, which is turning Bakhmut into a death pit.
Big Serge’s penultimate section explores one scenario that could eviscerate the Ukrainian troops that remain in the Donbas and open the road to Kharkov and the Dnieper River.
Now, about the news that a former U.S. Marine is a prisoner and an AWOL Navy SEAL died in battle in the Donbas. Retired US Marine Michael Winter, is reported to be among prisoners captured by the Wagner Group in Soledar. Winter reportedly participated in US military operations in Syria, Iraq, Libya, etc. and is talking to his captors.
The news is not so good for the family of Daniel Swift:
A Navy Special Warfare Operator First Class Daniel Swift who had gone AWOL, was killed in Ukraine on Jan. 18 after suffering injuries with a unit under attack by Russia.
The US Navy confirmed that Swift has been in “an active deserter status since March 11, 2019,”
A sad reminder that guys like Daniel Swift may have incredible physical skills but they are not bulletproof. He made a choice and has suffered a terrible consequence. My condolences to his family and friends.