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Russia’s river-crossing debacle is beyond belief

It’s mentioned the definition of madness is doing the identical factor over and over whereas anticipating a special outcome. If that’s the case … Russia qualifies. 

We noticed it within the early days of the battle in Hostomel airport northwest of Kyiv. Russia made an unsupported airborne touchdown on the bottom. Bought worn out. Tried it once more. Identical outcome. There could have been a 3rd try, however the airport wasn’t captured till the spearhead of Russia’s assault, on the bottom, arrived just a few days later.

We’re at the moment seeing it on Snake Island, of “Russia warship, go fuck your self” fame. Over the previous week, Russian forces have been worn out a number of occasions (here, here, here, and here), and but final evening we noticed Russian troops touchdown there once again. (Russia state media tried to claim that it was Ukrainians who had been defeated on the island … utilizing the Ukrainian armed forces video (with their emblem on the highest proper nook) that includes the Bayraktar TB-2 drone interface, of which Russia has none. The destruction of the ship, when Ukraine has no navy, was a pleasant contact of hilarity.)

However nothing is as dramatic because the saga of the riverside crossing at Bilohorivka, the place Russia didn’t simply undergo one disastrous river-crossing try, however three of them over the previous few days. 


Rubizhne, prime proper, was captured by Russia this week. Severodonetsk, on the precise, is at the moment hell on earth, Russia’s present primary goal, being hit on three sides and underneath relentless months-long bombardment. As I famous earlier, Severodonetsk is on the north facet of the river, so its Ukrainian defenders can, if wanted, retreat throughout the river to Lysychansk, the place the river supplies pure safety. 

On condition that Russia will finally have to cross the river, they clearly thought, why not now, permitting them to fully encompass Severodonetsk, chopping off its defenders, and short-circuiting any fall again positions in Lysychansk. Bilohorivka was such an apparent place to make the try, that this Ukrainian military engineer claimed to have guessed it forward of time (account is unconfirmed, however a lot of it checks out). 

Russia made its first effort Might 8, and it was totally decimated, destroying a number of dozen autos. The bridge lay half-sunk. 


Russian command and management construction is very centralized, giving native commanders zero capacity to deviate from said orders. So if excessive command mentioned “get to Bilohorivka,” effectively, who was to say one thing like, “Guys, Ukraine has our quantity, perhaps we must always search for a brand new place to cross?” Nah, giving native commanders, or any commanders for that matter, the present of “free pondering and initiative” may result in a army coup. Greatest to maintain them silly. Therefore … attempt quantity 2: 


You possibly can see the remnants of that first bridge simply above it, both fully submerged or towed away throughout the second try. Extra charred autos had been added to the checklist. 

Then somebody from Moscow or Belgorod referred to as and screamed, “do we have now Bilohorivka but?” And for the reason that reply was no, then yeah, sigh, there they went once more. 

Bridges numbered to your comfort. 

The open supply intelligence (OSINT) crowd received to counting the injury, or not less than, what may very well be decided from drone footage. Simply photograph after photograph tagged like this: 


The automobile rely retains rising because the OSINT of us discover extra autos amongst the wreckage. The most recent? 82.


These 82 autos embody eight within the river. The tally contains 14 tanks and 62 infantry preventing autos. A Russian battalion tactical group (BTG) has 10 tanks and 40 IFVs, however there’s no such factor as a full-strength BTG in Ukraine. Seemingly by no means was. So Russia simply misplaced two BTGs value of troops trying to make the identical compromised river crossing three occasions. Are you able to think about the drone operator calling it in? 

Drone operator: ”One other crossing!”

Artillery hearth course: “Shit! What are the coordinates?”

Drone operator: “Uh, identical ones!”

Artillery hearth course: “Ha! Okay, I actually thought you had been kidding the second time! That was loopy. However critically, what are the brand new coordinates?”

That engineer I linked to above claims 1,500 lifeless, citing “rumors.” That will recommend two almost full-strength BTGs, so is nearly definitely overstated. InformNapalm, which has been protecting the battle since 2014 and has sources inside Ukrainian intelligence, claims that solely 65 of 550 Russians trying the crossing survived. Whereas ~490 lifeless appears believable, solely 550 Russians trying the crossing appears low. A single BTG would have 600-1,000 troopers, so 550 would solely workers one undermanned BTG. 

Russia has 22 BTGs on this axis, so on this ill-fated multi-effort river-crossing debacle, it has misplaced almost 10% of its total preventing power. However hey, why cease once they’re so near succeeding? Right here’s hoping they’re silly sufficient to present it a fourth shot. 

And for those who assume I’m joking, from that InformNapalm report: 

After [the third attempt], different servicemen of the brigade started to put in writing “refusal”, however the zampolits [political commissar] tried to intimidate them with jail phrases and exert psychological strain.

Additionally, InformNapalm sources report that they noticed a automotive on this course immediately, which is visually similar to the cellular level of psychological work of the Russian Armed Forces. In all probability for the psychological remedy of the servicemen of the brigade, which suffered heavy losses.

If that report is right, it means Russia is actually attempting to power its troopers to present it one more shot. Hopefully these troopers select properly—jail appears far preferable than no matter destiny met the poor souls on these three bridging makes an attempt. 

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