Claimed Ukrainian tank kills per day:
June 27: 20
June 26: 21
June 24: 4
June 23: 3
June 22: 8
June 21: 0
June 20: 19
June 19: 9
June 18: 3
If you keep going back, you’ll see that 0-9 is about the usual range, with a few bigger days here and there, like June 20. I don’t recall ever seeing two 20+ tank days in a row.
Now, it’s reasonable to suspect these numbers. Combatants have an incentive to exaggerate the losses of their enemy. If you asked Russia, they’ve destroyed more tanks than Ukraine had at the beginning of the war, three times over. It’s hilarious. Ukraine’s numbers are more reasonable, but there’s no way to confirm. For context, Ukraine claims 1,440 total tank kills. Oryx’s list of visually confirmed kills puts the number at 789, and the guy is on vacation without updates for the past week. So, we can confirm 55-60% of Ukraine’s claims, which is actually quite remarkable. It lends some credence to the numbers. So assuming we can at least trust the trends, what’s going on these past two days? Combat isn’t any heavier than it has been for the past two weeks. Those lower numbers from previous days make sense given the current shape of combat operations: 1) Russia reduces ground to rubble, 2) Russia sends infantry to see if anything is left. If they die, then go back to (1), otherwise, 3) proceed to next objective. There is zero “maneuver combat,” in which armor columns face off against each other in open combat.
In the southern fronts—Kherson and southern Donbas—Counter-attacking Ukrainian forces are assaulting prepared entrench defensive positions and Russian artillery, so again, little chance to destroy Russian armor. In that kind of environment, it makes sense that few Russian tanks meet their demise. The ones that do, more often than not, are hit by Ukrainian artillery.
Needless to say, artillery isn’t the most efficient way to kill tanks.
So if the shape of combat operations hasn’t changed these last two days (i.e. we haven’t seen the emergence of new maneuver combat), and the intensity remains the same, where did those 41 new claimed tank kills come from?
Ukraine ain’t specifying, but I bet it has something to do with Ukraine’s targeting of Russian supply and command-and-control centers. With the arrival of HIMARS long-range rocket artillery, Ukraine appears happy to blow through its remaining supply of Tochka-U ballistic missiles. Between those two systems, Ukraine has made short work of Russian depots, giving us spectacular pyrotechnic displays. (Click the link above for many examples.)
One of the fires was so dramatic, that it was initially thought to have caused a secondary fire 10 kilometers away.
Yet as the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) crew dug in, they made a surprising discovery:
“Totally destroyed” is an understatement, what was once a series of roads, buildings, vehicles, and emplacements is now literally a dirt pit.
Click here (48.550551, 39.002990) for Google earth view of the location before Russia set up shop—you can see the dirt roads and plenty of shrubbery that no longer exists. This spot is about 65 kilometers (~40 miles) from Ukrainian territory, well within HIMARS’ 85 kilometer range.
This strikes wouldn’t have provide the dramatic light and sound shows like the nearby ammo depot. This is near a small hamlet, not a major city, making it less likely to deliver cellphone footage from the locals. And since HIMARS is operating at night, any cell phone footage would merely be flashes of lights with no hope of geolocation. And while the ammo depot burned all day, leaving a smoke trail over 100 kilometers long, vehicles wouldn’t smolder much past morning.
Had this one OSINT guy not dug into those curious fires near a major depot strike, we would’ve never known this base even existed. Yet Ukraine new the base existed and what was parked there. Their drones and access to military grade satellite imagery would assure that. So while we may not have the evidence (yet) to tally whatever was destroyed at that site, Ukraine would know, and add them to their public tally.
Meanwhile, this guy apparently has insight into what was happening on the other side of the HIMARS delivery. (“ZSU” is Ukrainian army. This is from Russian Telegram.)
What possible reason, indeed? Has to be sadistic “fun,” can’t be anything else. Why would “warriors” be struck in the middle of a war?
I’m really coming up empty here, guys…
That mall was hit midday, to maximize the number of civilian deaths. If Russia really thought it was a military facility, it would’ve struck at night, when vehicles would be stored for the night, and soldiers sleeping near them.
Russia wanted to kill as many civilians as possible. They are terrorists.
That alone is good reason to strike Russian forces behind the front lines, and it’s just one of thousands of similar reasons.