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Invader’s depots are burning. When will the effect be seen in the battle for Donbas

The extermination of Russian rocket artillery depots using high-precision Western weaponry is underway. How is Ukraine striking Russians’ stocks, and when will we be able to launch a serious counteroffensive?

What depots are targeted with new weapons

On July 8, a target in Nova Kakhovka was hit, where, near a wholesale market, munitions were detonating and black smoke from burning fuel and lubricant materials was coming.

Yesterday, Kherson caught it: Russian propagandists speak of a plastics factory, but somehow recognizable munition explosions were seen in the workshops.

The much-suffering Topaz works in Donetsk caught it too: intensive smoke there suggests that the Russians moved their stocks closer to the tactical rear in preparation for their attempt to draw the AFU away from the so-called DPR, but it turned on them.

Finally, there was a huge blow to depots near Shakhtarsk at night: the explosions were so intense that the occupational authorities declared an evacuation while alarms went off. Buses are carrying away the locals in a centralized effort because the remains of munitions that flew away all over the city are lying everywhere.


The routes across Donbas cannot be hidden

The constant problem of Donbas is the densest urban agglomeration in Europe comprised of industrial cities, which are typically built around chemical, coal-mining, and metallurgical enterprises. Hence, there are branch lines and goods sheds surrounded by densely arranged multi-story housing and residential areas everywhere.

Russian railway-based logistics work with depots and railroad cars, but a station-centered route cannot be hidden, and if hit, whole depots and cars are blown into the air.

This is what happened in Shakhtarsk. Rockets and shells came to Postnikovo station, where they were reloaded and stockpiled in hangars to the south of block #7 and Zhuravlivka. In the era of satellites and video cameras in every ATM, there is no way to conceal such activity. And the separate warehouses surrounded by dikes there are a perfect target: a minimal threat to civilians and a maximum damage to the invaders.


How soon will hits on depots take effect

But how soon can the strategy of firing at the operational rear take effect? Even now, when, according to the head of the Council of National Security and Defense Danylov, Ukraine already has 9 HIMARS and M270 launchers (and this is a considerable number: France has 13 launchers of this class, while the UK has 40), will we be able to use them to routinely provide artillery support on the frontline at the request of our infantry and blow out enemy’s batteries and depots?

For example, this is what Americans did in Iraq, firing M26 cluster rockets and rockets with unitary warheads, often targeting separate buildings.

Unfortunately, no, because the US alone accumulated 90 launchers against Saddam, and launched 5,900 rockets within a month and a half. Considering the statement that we need 300 MLRS launchers, these numbers appear to be sobering. It looks like the "ask for more to get what you want" strategy also has its limits.

This much we won’t get anyway due to logistics and enormous costs, and every battalion commander won’t have an М270 as their personal shotgun in our theater of war. At least in the near future, it’s not going to happen, even if the whole Alliance pulls out its stocks and withdraws numerous М270 launchers from storage, for instance, in the UK and Germany.

But they can serve another purpose: counter-battery fire against important targets like Smerch and Uragan multiple rocket launchers. After all, 13 additional AN/TPQ-36 radars, which can effectively detect rocket launches, have been given to Kyiv by the Pentagon for good reason. Each attempt to fire at us will now have painful consequences: we already have proof of at least two Uragans struck in recent weeks.

M270 can further devastate the rear: 40 cars in Kryshtaleve and 50 cars near Shakhtarsk have a cumulative effect because of destroyed transport, cranes, forklifts, and everything used to reload munitions from stations to hangars.


Let’s not forget about the personnel: for instance, after a series of strikes at the Melitopol airport, wounded servicemen were carried away by helicopters, hospitals in the city were encircled by the Russian military, and it was heard that a lieutenant colonel, a commander for sustainment of an aviation regiment.

The stations themselves are being spared for a while because there are civilians around, but there will be strikes at the railway infrastructure, as it was in Krasnyi Luch, Kupiansk, and Donetsk. This process will snowball, making it harder to fire 45 thousand rounds a day, and attempts to accumulate centralized munition stocks before an attack can result in combat losses and losing the pace of operations.

When will we launch an active counteroffensive

But the main question is, how soon will this strategy start to work? I don't think it will happen until we have a battalion and a half, a pack of high-precision rockets a day that we will be able to fire, and two vehicle-carried reserve packs for each of them. This would be as much as nearly 280 rockets a day, speaking of М270. And a pool of targets, which will include not only operational level depots, but also headquarters, radars, electronic warfare vehicles, and fuel and lubricant materials.

I don’t think it will happen sooner than in September, given the speed of weapons transfer and increasing firing activity.

But the Russians are already beginning to feel the beauty of high-precision weaponry: that’s why they make up fakes about HIMARS launchers they’ve allegedly hit and buy Caesars in bulk, and that’s why there are operational pauses and statements about "haven’t even yet started anything in earnest."

It’s because the "unparalleled" Pantsir systems don’t work against dagger blows at a distance of 84 km without a deep air attack. And this will be impossible while our air defense is working.

Therefore, around September, the Russians’ operational capabilities will begin to fall, while our artillery and stocks will begin to grow. Until it happens, WWI-style battles will continue in the East, with sides fighting over a 30-km strip of land for 1,5-2 months, bearing heavy casualties and firing hundreds of thousands of rounds.

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