Excerpts from March 17 Kyiv Independent et al.
I have subscribed to the Kyiv Independent Ukraine Daily for a little more than a year as a source of news on political, economic, military, and foreign policy issues in Ukraine. This has, of course, been largely war news since March 2022. Shortly after the war began, all news on the war had to be approved by the Ukrainian Army General Staff. There is no longer unfettered free speech or a free press in Ukraine, and political parties and media opposed to President Volodymyr Zelensky have been closed down. Nevertheless, carefully read, the Kyiv Independent Daily, despite its obvious restrictions, understandable pro-Ukrainian bias, and ultra-strong anti-Russian slant, can sometimes be a source of truth unavailable elsewhere. Sometimes you have to read between the lines, and sometimes someone slips in something you know the Ukrainian General Staff and Internal Security Police would not approve unless they had some circuitous special objective. One possible motive is the desperate need for more financial and political support from the West against impending Russian victory. However, sometimes journalists insist on slipping some uncomfortable truths in their work despite pressures to conform to propaganda objectives.
Ukrainian government propaganda is the most exaggerated and counterfactual I have ever seen, but Ukrainian soldiers and ordinary Ukrainian people suffering from war and its tragedies and miseries tend to tell the truth.
On March 17, an article by Asami Terajiima, dated March 15, including interviews of Ukrainian soldiers, entitled, “Battle of Bakhmut: Ukrainian soldiers worry Russians beginning to ‘taste victory,” appeared in the Kyiv Independent Daily online English version. Let’s just call the interviewer KI for Kyiv Independent.
According to KI, a Ukrainian soldier, Volodymyr, 54, interviewed at Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, about 15 miles from Bakhmut, said he felt ill-prepared to return to that embattled and besieged city, after a brief rest. He told KI:
"When they drive us to Bakhmut, I already know I'm being sent to death,"
According to KI, Volodymyr, an infantryman from the 93rd Mechanized Brigade, said he struggled to eat after fighting in Bakhmut for months. He looked shaken as he talked.
Volodymyr's unit was tasked with guarding Bakhmut against small Russian assault groups. The brigade was constantly under mortar fire. According to Volodymyr,
"(The Russians) keep firing at us, but we don't have artillery – so we have nothing to attack them back with," I don't know if I will return or not. We are just getting killed."
Ukrainian infantrymen interviewed by the Kyiv Independent described the fighting in Bakhmut as a:
“desperate survival challenge against Russia's ‘infinite’ stocks of artillery munitions and manpower. With just their machine guns and rifles, they say they braced relentless Russian mortar and artillery attacks…”
Bakhmut, was a city of over 70,000 in 2021. Now it is almost deserted. More than 90 percent of the population of Donetsk Oblast are Russian-speaking Russian ethnics. The Russian name for Bakhmut was Artemivsk until 2016, when the Ukrainian government changed it in a plan to “Ukrainize” the Russian-speaking areas of the Donbas. The Russians have now almost encircled Bakhmut and have entered the city. Ukraine has been clinging to Bakhmut at a high price. Withdrawing from it would give the Russians an important propaganda victory and most importantly, clear the way for a Russian advance all the way to the Dnieper River. Bakhmut has a large meat processing plant. But it has gained its unattractive nickname, “the meatgrinder” as a result of tremendous Ukrainian Army casualties in an uneven artillery battle with the Russians, whose artillery weapons and munitions have more than an 8-to-1 advantage over the Ukrainians.
Russian forces now outnumber the Ukrainians on the Bakhmut front, with approximately 20,000 to 30,000 troops fighting in the area, according to Mykola, a staff sergeant from the 28th Mechanized Brigade. According to Mykola,
“If Russia keeps up its current pace of attacks, "it could be a few weeks, and that's it"
"The situation is now very difficult because they [the Russians] have already felt the taste of victory in Bakhmut," Mykola said. "And now they know that there is only a little bit left."
Valeriy, a Ukrainian infantryman, said that “most of his fallen comrades were fatally wounded by projectile fragments.” He continued:
"It's a pity that probably 90% of our losses are from artillery – or tanks and aviation… And much less (casualties) from shooting battles."
Valeriy told KI that "only a few" of the original 27 members of his platoon got out of the Bakhmut front with him, though he explained that most of them were wounded, not killed. Valeriy continued:
"The Russians have so many weapons, and there are so many of them, "They are firing at us all the time. Sometimes, you hear an incoming (shell) every second.”
Infantryman Vladyslav, of the 58th Independent Motorized Infantry Brigade. who had seen combat at Soledar, about 9 miles northeast of Bakhmut said that “many soldiers in his platoon have refused to go to Bakhmut as Russians came closer.”
KI writes, apparently according to Vladyslav, that “soldiers from other brigades also said they’ve encountered many ‘refusers’ who did everything not to be deployed back to Bakhmut.”
According to Vladyslav, after his last rotation in late February, “Only eight out of 25 soldiers in his platoon headed out to Bakhmut – and the rest said they couldn't go because of sudden fever or body pain.”
“The eight then headed to a position at a crossroad near the Bakhmut River, where destroyed houses lined up. The platoon came under heavy Russian mortar fire as soon as they arrived.”
According to Vladyslav, ”two were killed, and two were severely wounded – one soldier lost his arm, and the other was hit in the stomach by a projectile.” According to KI, “the rest, including Vladyslav himself, received a severe concussion…They were all evacuated from Bakhmut that day and lost the position.”
Ukrainian soldiers fighting in and around Bakhmut told the Kyiv Independent that “Russia's tactics are potent. They locate Ukrainian positions, use mass fire to kill as many as possible, then move forward with infantry, usually also witnessing heavy losses.” Infantryman Vladyslav said that “the Russians would usually appear in a group of about five people at night, but they seemed ‘scared’ to launch close-range attacks. So instead, the Russians would use mass firepower to destroy the houses – where the Ukrainians hid to monitor invading forces – to the point that they were forced to abandon the position to seek another position with better protection.” Also according to Vladyslav. "They are (now) fighting smartly, too," Vladyslav said. “Some soldiers deployed in Bakhmut said the Russians split into small assault groups of about ten people and launch waves of nearly suicidal attacks. They say that Wagner mercenaries could have been among them, but it was difficult to assess since they all wore similar uniforms.”
Ukrainian propaganda often mentions high Ukrainian casualties, but claims Russian losses are five times as high. This is among the most outrageous of Ukrainian propaganda, repeated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky himself.
It is remarkable and highly revealing that the soldiers interviewed in the KI article were in their 40s and 50s, a sure sign the Ukrainian Army has a severe manpower shortage probably caused by high casualties.
According to retired U.S. Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, one of the most knowledgeable, most decorated, and experienced media commentators on the Ukrainian War, about 75 percent of Ukrainian casualties are from Russian artillery firing from miles away. His research on casualties corroborates the reality of Russian artillery supremacy. The Russians are inflicting a KIA (killed-in-action) ratio of better and 8-to-1 on the Ukrainians. Macgregor has also developed well-informed, more reliable methods and sources for estimating casualties. Total Russian Allied KIA casualties including Chechens, the Donbas militias, and Wagner Group mercenaries amount to between 20,000 and 25,000, while Ukrainian military KIA and missing could be running over 200,000. The Russians also have a deep supply chain of artillery shells, rockets, and missiles, while the Ukrainians are running low on everything but small arms and machine-gun ammunition. The ratio of artillery shells fired is now better than ten Russian shells for every one shell the Ukrainians are able to fire. The Russians also have near complete air and missile dominance. Both the U.S. and Russians have precision strike capabilities. NATO is of little help in the ordinary artillery war. They have no hope of matching Russian production of artillery shells and rockets. NATO artillery and rocket weapons are also hard to maintain and far from the nearest maintenance base. The Russians have a huge logistical advantage.
See Douglas Macgregor Straight Calls, on YouTube, (39) The Russian Forces are Sweeping Forward - YouTube for an indispensable 49-minute video for understanding the Ukraine War and America’s national security, public safety, and financial, economic, and cultural future. Very important!
No one doubts the bravery of Ukrainian soldiers and the suffering of the Ukrainian people.
However, more than one-third of the population are either Russian ethnics or of mixed Russian and Ukrainian heritage. Ukrainian government discrimination and cultural cleansing of the Russian minority was and is a major cause of the war. Since 2019, this has also been extended to Ukrainian government cultural cleansing of traditional connections between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which tends to be culturally and Biblically conservative, while the new Independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) is under pressure to adopt unbiblical popular secular “values.” Joe Biden met with OCU Metropolitan Epiphanius I on February 23 in Kyiv, showing the Biden Administration’s willingness to sacrifice religious liberties and values to secularist/globalist politics.
This is a war that Joe Biden, Department of State Under Secretary Victoria Nuland, and National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan managed to start with the Ukraine Maidan Revolution and regime change in 2014. “Fighting to the last Ukrainian” is beginning to have a woeful reality. We need to put Biden and his ilk out to politically inactive pasture before they destroy Ukraine and start World War III.