Combined Air, Rocket, and Artillery Attacks

Russian Air Force Su-34 attack bomber.
Russian Air Force Su-34 attack bomber.

On August 27, the Russian Federation Defense Ministry announced completion of major combined air, rocket, and artillery attacks against Ukrainian forces,  It was led by Russian Air Force bombing and major rocket and artillery forces bombardment on key Ukrainian military positions. The fact that the Russian Air Force led such a significant combined attack is strongly indicative that the Russians are launching a major campaign to defeat and drive out Ukrainian forces in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. All information in war is subject to emotional bias, distortion, and perpetrated deception. A Sherlock Holmes approach to interpretation is advised.  

Source: Douglas MacGregor: According to a Russian Federation Ministry of Defense, press release about 8:00 AM EDT and 3:00 PM Moscow, August 27, Russian Air Force units performed air strikes on the combat positions of the 107th battalion of the  Ukrainian  63rd Mechanized Brigade and “eliminated” 40 percent of the battalion’s personnel.  Russian aircraft also made high-precision air strikes in the Kharkov region “eliminating” up to 100 Ukrainian troops as well as three Ukrainian Russian-designed 122mm Grad BM21 HIMARS [high mobility artillery rocket systems] trucks and 10 other armored and transportation vehicles. In addition, there were Russian strikes on 7 Ukrainian command posts in the Zaporozhe region, near the nuclear plant.  Russian Air Force planes also destroyed a Ukrainian Mig-29 aircraft and a Buk-M1 surface-to-air missile launcher.

Russian anti-aircraft weapons destroyed 7 Ukrainian drones in the Donetsk region and intercepted a Tochka-U ballistic missile and 18 HIMARS rockets.

Russian forces hit Ukraine’s Kraken “neo-Nazi” formation near Kharkov as well as 37 artillery units and 142 military equipment and manpower concentrations.

Russian forces destroyed 6 Ukrainian ammunition depots in the Donetsk-Nikolaev region and Kherson region. They also destroyed a large ammunition depot belonging to the Ukrainian 44th Artillery Brigade, which was equipped with US-made truck-mounted M142 HIMARS multiple-launch rocket systems and shells for the US-made M777 howitzers in the Dnepropetrovsk region.

The Ukrainian Army has lost over 130 military personnel in 10 combat units in an unsuccessful stealth attempt to cross the Ingulets River. Over 200 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the Kharkov region. 

The next morning, the Kyiv Independent Ukraine Daily, a major Ukrainian internet news source reported these news items:

Ukrainian General Staff: “Russia shells Ukrainian military with all sorts of weapons and tries to resume offensive in Donetsk Oblast.”

 “In Kharkiv Oblast, the Russian army shelled 12 villages with artillery and carried out airstrikes near three more settlements. Russians also shelled eight villages in Zaporizhzhia Oblast [near the nuclear plant] and 18 settlements in Southern Ukraine. In Donetsk Oblast, Russia tried to resume the offensive near Sloviansk but was repelled by the Ukrainian army.”

The US-backed Ukrainian Institute for the Study of War also reported that Russian forces in the occupied areas “remain unlikely” to conduct sham referendums on Sept. 11. According to the U.S. think tank, Russian forces in Zaporizhzhia Oblast have allegedly already completed all the preparations for the referendum, but they’re undermined by constant “frictions within occupation administration” and attacks from Ukrainian partisans. Earlier on Aug. 17, deputy head of the Kherson Oblast Council Yurii Sobolevskyi also reported that the Russian forces may have already been planning to postpone the referendum later than Sept. 11.

UK Intelligence:  “Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's claim that the offensive was deliberately stalled to prevent civilian casualties is ‘misinformation.’  Russian forces in Ukraine have repeatedly missed planned operational timelines.”

Governor of Kamianka and Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Russian shelling killed 5: “The Russian army shelled residential buildings in the temporarily occupied village of Kamianka on Aug. 26, killing five people, including a woman and her two children who were eight and two years old, reports Zaporizhzhia Governor Oleksandr Starukh. According to locals, people are still under the rubble. Starukh also reports that the Russian army shelled the regional center and surrounding areas overnight on Aug. 27, hitting infrastructure facilities. No casualties from this latest attack have been reported at this time.”

The Meduza daily newsletter, an anti-war Russian website that has had to move to Latvia, has not updated it news of this writing. Yesterday, however, they reported a Ukrainian artillery strike dangerously near Zaporizhzhia nuclear facilities. They also reported that  the Belarusian president announced Belarusian Air Force combat aircraft were being refitted to carry nuclear weapons. They believe the Kremlin still plans to push ahead with annexation referendums for the predominantly Russian Donetsk and Luhansk republics. 

At least 17 percent of Ukrainians are native Russian speakers. According to Col. MacGregor, about one-third of the Ukrainian population is ethnically Russian and have many grievances against their treatment by the Ukrainian government. These Russian ethnics are a majority in much of Eastern and Southern Ukraine, certainly in Crimea, where Ukrainians have never been more than 25 percent of the population.  Crimea was annexed by the Russian Empire under Catherine the Great in April 1783. It had previously been under Muslim rule. In 1954, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, formerly the First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party, through the Supreme Soviet, transferred Crimea from the Russian SSR to the Ukrainian SSR in order to gain the alliance of the new First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party and solidify Khrushchev’s position of Premier and First Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR.  Both Russia and Ukraine have been non-Communist since 1991. Crimea was not a problem until Russia and Ukraine went their separate ways. Western economic and military  influences in Ukraine began to drive the two East Slavic nations apart politically.

Crimea was taken back by the Russians in the 2014 Ukrainian-Russian conflict following the November 2013 “impeachment” coup d’état aka Maidan Revolution against pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. A large percentage of Ukrainians and especially Russians believe this was a US State Department-CIA backed operation. Local Crimean support for Russian forces and the crumbling of Ukrainian forces there in 2014 indicate a strong preference in Crimea for Russian rule. This was further affirmed by a referendum and still shows up in recent elections.  

According to Meduza, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s strategy before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine was reclaiming the peninsula through diplomacy. Now, six months of all-out-war have led the Ukrainian president to hint at the possibility of taking Crimea by force. This may have prompted recent remarks by former Russian President and current Deputy Chairman of the Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, to declare that Russia was invading Ukraine to prevent World War III. This may sound absurd to some, but it reflects the multi-year Russian fear of growing encroachment of Russian national security by NATO.  US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin increased  Russian  distrust of  the US and  NATO on May 25, saying that Russia needed to be weakened to the point of negligible offensive capability. This was much applauded by the Washington Post and CNN, but a military attempt by NATO to take Crimea would be a senseless blunder into World War III and enormous casualties nobody outside of a madhouse would consider anything but insanity.

On August 24, President Biden pledged another $3 billion in military weapons for Ukraine, bringing the total to over $10 billion. On August 26, Tucker Carlson on Fox News revealed that  only about 30 percent of arms shipments were getting to the Ukrainian armed forces. This is not entirely surprising. Surveys by Ernst & Young and Transparency International rank Ukraine as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. Many of the weapons have disappeared into the global black market for arms. Some may wind up in the hands of those who do not wish the United States well. Until a year ago, The US State Department published an annual report on international arms trades. That annual report was cancelled by President Biden.

The August 20 car-bomb assassination in Moscow of Darya Dugina, the 29-year-old daughter of popular Russian political philosopher and Ukraine War advocate Aleksandr Dugin has enraged Russians. Dugin is a Russian nationalist and prominent Russian Orthodox Christian and anti-globalist traditionalist. His daughter supported these beliefs and support for the war in the Russian media. Dugin is influential on Putin but not a close adviser. Putin  most often quotes conservative 19th and 20th Century Russian Orthodox conservative nationalist writers Nikolai Berdyaev, Vladimir Solovyov, and Ivan Ilyin. Dugin sometimes disagrees with Putin, and Putin may be wary of some of Dugin’s ideas, but they are both Russian nationalists and advocates for Russian Orthodox Christianity.  President Putin posthumously presented Darya Dugina the Order of Courage Medal on the day of the funeral. The Russian FSB (Federal Security Service) claims that a woman belonging to the Ukrainian Special Services and the so-called “Nazi” Azov Regiment was materially involved in the bombing and immediately fled to Estonia. Russian media is now avoiding coverage of the murder. There is widespread demonization of Aleksandr Dugin in the usual liberal Western media.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released August 24, American adults who believe the US should support Ukraine until the Russians leave had dropped to 53 percent, but only 18 percent are strongly opposed.  Only 51 percent believe the US should continue supplying weapons. The support is highest with Democrat voters at 66 percent. Only 26 support sending US troops to Ukraine. Ukraine is beginning to look like another Biden combination of incompetence and scandal. The downside this time is somewhere between extreme embarrassment and the twilight of half the civilized world.

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