Mercury Rising 鳯女

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An estimate of captured materiel at Debaltsevo/updated

Posted by Charles II on February 25, 2015

This from rebel commander Aleksandr Zakharchenko (uploaded Feb. 23), so take it as one side of the story:

170 tanks captured in repairable condition.
50 artillery pieces captured
too many mortars captured to count
enough ammunition to fight a battle equivalent to Debaltsevo captured
the only American foreign weapons he mentions are the counter-mortar radar and radio jamming equipment, an M4 carbine, a machine guns, and shells (here he is very vague)
predicts a breakdown of the ceasefire at the end of March or in April
very roughly 3,000 dead Ukrainian soldiers and 300 still evading capture
Debaltsevo proper had 2,500-3,000 defenders (and others presumably in surrounding villages) vs. 1,000 rebels

There’s no confirmation of the presence of western mercenaries from Greystone-Akademi-Xe-Blackwater-whateverthehell that Der Spiegel reported on (it appeared in Bild am Sonntag; see here to see how unsure the report is).

I don’t know what is meant by repairable, but 170 tanks is a lot of armor. As of 2012, there were only about 700 tanks in the whole Ukrainian military–including the navy.

Some sources are reporting activity near Mariupol, including Russian tanks apparently crossing the border (the latter from a channel 4 reporter, Alex Thomson). And there are reports that rebels have taken some villages, but it sounds as if these are in a no-mans-land buffer zone.

The Kyiv Post is reporting that the UK will send military trainers. Washington Times and HuffPo say so as well. So, there’s the danger of escalation. As congressman Seth Moulton interviewed by Rachel Maddow pointed out, trainers often get caught up in combat and have to fight.

I really hope that Russia recognizes how dangerous the situation is becoming. Brinksmanship was a bad policy when the U.S. used it. It’s a bad policy if Russia uses it, too.

Update: Fortruss published a claim about losses by Kiev from Jan 12-Feb 20. This would include the garrison at Debaltsevo, forces involved in fighting on the access road to Debaltsevo, forces involved in fighting at Donetsk airport, and forces involved in skirmishes in Mariupol. However, by far the largest component would be Debaltsevo and environs. The claim is sourced to the Donetsk People’s Republic Ministry of Defense.

The personnel losses listed are:

6,830 wounded
4,110 killed
1,178 captured

This is about 1/3 of the strength of the regular army.

Claimed materiel destroyed or captured
299 tanks (this is nearly half the total number of tanks Ukraine had in 2012)
290 motor vehicles
24 Grad and 1 Smerch multiple rocket launcher
45 self-propelled howitzers
205 towed artillery
16 anti-aircraft guns

Let’s just say I am skeptical.


2 Responses to “An estimate of captured materiel at Debaltsevo/updated”

  1. jo6pacjo6pac said

    Some sources are reporting activity near Mariupol, including Russian tanks apparently crossing the border

    Russian tanks cross the border about every other day and by now there must be a few thousand in the Ukraine;)
    I read somewhere in the East Ukraine is a big repair shop were all the equipment is repaired. They make one working model out of 2 or more broke one, there is plenty of mechanics around.

    I guess it was just a rumor about merics being there.

    • Charles II said

      Jo, just as I don’t dismiss the idea that there is western intervention, I don’t dismiss the idea of Russian intervention. So far, there has been no clear evidence of organized Russian intervention, just as there is very little evidence of American intervention. The counter-mortar radar is the only actual major western weapon system that I have seen documented as American involvement. A lot of claims about Russian involvement have been proven to be false. The Kiev government and the Kiev press are lying on a vast scale.

      That said, it’s a lot easier for the Russians to meddle undetected than it is for the U.S. Cossacks cross the border, saying they’re doing this for patriotic reasons and not because of Russian government promises. Large amounts of heavy weaponry are captured– so large as to be a little bit incredible. 1,000 militia members rout 2,500 – 3,000 defenders? And then there are reports from credible sources like Thomson. He never says he saw Russian tanks. He just says that there are tank tracks leading from the border westward.

      I take all these things into consideration. One good reason to blog is to keep track of claims and counterclaims to decide who is telling the truth. So far, I’d say the pro-rebel side is more honest than Kiev. But I am pretty sure that Russian units have been intervening on a limited basis. They would be fools not to intervene.

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