For nearly two weeks, the Ukrainian Army’s 128th Mountain Brigade has been testing Russian defenses in and around the town of P’yatykhatky, east of the drained Kakhovka Reservoir, which has emptied five billion gallons of water into the river’s watershed. Dnipro after someone … Apparently the Russians blew up the nearby dam on June 6th.
What the 128th Mountain Brigade found near Pyatikhatki, apparently, are pro-Russian separatists, Russian reservists, and some old T-62 and T-54 tanks that the Russians use as short-range mobile artillery.
The Russian battle order… not impressive. But the 128th Mountain Brigade has not yet broken through the defenses – because it seems that the brigade is deployed along this sector of the southern front.
The Ukrainian battalions launched their long-awaited counter-offensive of 2023 on the night of June 4. south along the Mokri Yaly River, 60 miles east of P’yatykhatky.
Ukrainian forces captured a Russian T-54 tank. pic.twitter.com/1akleaxHcU
– Clash Report (@clashreport) June 16, 2023
The western edge of the front is very quiet by comparison. Mountain Brigade 128 is still investigating. Then the separatists and Russian reserves opened fire with their artillery and mobile weapons, including 60-year-old T-62s and 70-year-old T-54s. Small territory moved.
The 128 itself contains more than a few legacy weapons, including at least one makeshift fighting vehicle that combines the chassis of a captured Russian T-62 with the turret of a captured Russian BMP-2 fighting vehicle.
The balance of power seems to be in favor of the Ukrainians. In 13 days of fighting, the 128th Brigade and supporting reconnaissance forces had apparently advanced a few kilometers south of their original positions.
A Ukrainian attack on Saturday included a handful of tanks and combat vehicles. Russian fire repulsed these attackers, according to a Russian blogger, but in the meantime the Ukrainians secured a route to P’yatykhatky from the nearby settlement of Lobkove. “There is a fight,” the blogger said.
It’s mostly an artillery battle now. “Now the Ukrainian armed forces are concentrating their efforts on counter-battery fire, trying to suppress our weapons and thus allow their units to pass,” the blogger explained. “For our part, the T-62 and T-54 tanks are also actively serving as improvised self-propelled guns.”
“Fighters on the ground highly commend the efforts of their crews.”
But these old tanks, which could fire—inaccurately—at only 10 miles or so, were almost certainly outclassed by the 44th Ukrainian Artillery Brigade, which provides fire support to the 128th Brigade. The 44th Brigade’s best guns, M American-made -777, firing GPS-guided projectiles out to 15 miles. It fires its old Soviet 2A36 missiles a few kilometers away, albeit with less accuracy.
The extent and speed of the Ukrainian Mountain Brigade’s advance depended largely on the outcome of the artillery duel around P’yatykhatky. If you see a series of reports of captured T-62s and T-54s, it probably means that the 128th Brigade has invaded.
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