Russia loses two supply trains in a day … but only one to Ukrainian attackAugust 3, 2022
Given last night’s focus on our resounding abortion rights victory in Kansas, I don’t have the energy left to write the usual cogent longer-form narrative (I write these before I go to bed). So please forgive me for this “grab-bag” format including interesting vignettes collected through Tuesday.
Let’s start with this, which … is exactly as he describes it:
Mark and I have long discussed Russia’s “reconnaissance by fire” approach: Send Donbas cannon fodder forward until they’re shot dead. Drop artillery on that position. Send more Donbas cannon fodder forward to see if anything is left alive. If they live, then great! They have just advanced a few dozen meters. Otherwise, rinse, lather, repeat.
It’s bad enough they employ tactics so callous to the lives of their allied Ukrainian proxies. But here they are bragging about it. Apparently they don’t realize that this isn’t how competent, civilized militaries wage war! They don’t even respect these poor suckers enough to give them helmets and body armor, leaving them fully exposed to even incidental shrapnel a well-equipped soldier would shrug off. I guess it makes little sense to protect men whose entire job is to get shot.
Down in Kherson, Ukraine is still keeping a lid on details, but one government official offered some good news:
The previous reported number was 46, so Ukraine continues to advance. Note that most of these are tiny agricultural towns. But like we’ve seen with Dovhen’ke and Bohorodychne, the width of that dot on the map can’t always be measured by its pre-war population.
Now let’s tell the tale of two Russian supply trains. The first is Brylivka railway station, Kherson.
There are two train routes from Crimea to Kherson, leaving them exposed to attacks. On July 31, that’s exactly what happened as Ukraine smashed a military supply train.
HIMARS missile systems crushed the railway echelon of the Russian occupation army – the occupiers complain on social networks about the effective operation of American weapons in the hands of the Armed Forces.
It is noted that a railway echelon with more than 40 wagons, which arrived from the temporarily occupied Crimea at the Brylivka railway station in the Kherson region, was hit by a high-precision HIMARS missile.
It is claimed that 80 occupiers were killed as a result of the strike, and another 200 were injured. In addition, all drivers and engineers of the “Russian Railways” company, who were transporting military cargo, were destroyed.
This is supposed video of the attack (clearly too dark to confirm via geolocation):
NASA FIRMS imagery confirms big fire at the rail station. A fuel storage site was also confirmed hit (along with surrounding fire damage) by satellite imagery. One Russian Telegram user in Crimea noted the emergency services effort in the aftermath (run through image translator):
I didn’t realize that this rail line is a single track:
The other two peculiarities are that the station at Brylivka has “passing loops” that allow trains headed in opposite directions to share the line. That means one train has to “pull over” into one of those passing loops, which is where the train column likely got hit. The other peculiarity is that just north of this location, that single track passes over the North Crimean Canal, giving Ukraine a juicy bridge target to hit to fully cut this line. At that point, Russia would be dependent on that second line that goes to Melitopol, 230 kilometers away from Kherson.
This isn’t the only Russian supply train to have issues that day, although this next one is more of an own-goal: The Kalanchak railway station, on the same rail line but further south, went up in flames.
The how it happened is freakin’ hilarious:
On July 31, an echelon with military equipment and ammunition for the occupiers arrived at the “Kalanchak” railway station of the Kherson region. At 8 a.m. the next day, the Russians began unloading the echelon. Apparently, in order to mask the unloading process and protect against HIMARS strikes, the occupiers used powerful means of smoke. At approximately 11:20 an explosion rang out in the work area. It was not possible to accurately determine its nature due to a thick smoke screen. However, immediately after the explosion, the echelon without any warning started moving in the direction of Crimea. The enemy’s personnel scattered in panic.
Presumably, the explosion resulted from careless handling of ammunition during unloading or a fire that arose due to inept use of pyrotechnics during the creation of a smoke screen.
Smoke is widely used in combat to hide troop movements, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it used to hide an entire train station. The ultimate goal might’ve been to prevent a HIMARS attack, but the proximate goal was to hide the activity from Ukrainian drones scanning for targets.
It’s been assumed that Ukraine had a list of depots, and was systematically working its way through it. But if Russia is working this hard to hide actual loading and unloading of war material, it suggests that Ukraine is acting more opportunistically with real-time intelligence, hitting depots in the middle of operations.
So sure, smoke might be helpful, as long as you don’t blow yourself up. And even then, Ukraine is clearly aware of the ruse. If there’s smoke at a depot, odds are good Russia is up to no good.
One last fun tidbit: Here’s a recording of me playing one of my favorite compositions:
I got new studio recording equipment and I’m pleased with the results.