The Other McCain

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Russians Surrounded in ‘Bucha Pocket’?

Posted on | March 24, 2022 | Comments Off on Russians Surrounded in ‘Bucha Pocket’?

Let me begin by saying we must be cautious in speculating about the tactical situation in Ukraine, as even the best-informed experts are uncertain and many of the reports we get can be discounted as wartime propaganda. Nevertheless, as I commented Tuesday, the report of a Ukrainian victory at Makariv was of strategic significance, showing that Ukraine has seized the initiative with a counterattack which — if the latest reports can be believed — subsequently exposed the right flank of the Russian forces in the nearer suburbs of Kyiv. If, after taking back Marakiv, the Ukrainians then pushed north to Borodyanka, the Russian forces around Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin would indeed be imperiled.

This is what local officials in Bucha claimed on Wednesday:

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have taken the towns of Irpin and Bucha and the settlement of Hostomel near Kyiv, while at the same time Russian forces continue to constantly shell Makarov, Bucha, Irpin and Dmyrovka.
According to the Town Council: “The inhabitants of Makarivska, Buchanska, Irpin, and Dmyrovka remain under constant enemy fire, and in Dmitrovka there is movement by Russian forces and shelling in surrounding villages. Shpytki was shelled at night, resulting in a fire. Constant fighting is taking place on the Zhytomyr road. Irpin, Bucha, and Hostomel have been encircled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine”.

Again, let me emphasize we must be cautious about this. However, there are estimates that about 15,000 Russian troops are in the “pocket” around Bucha, and these troops must receive tons of food, ammunition and other supplies every day in order to survive. If Ukrainian forces are able to threaten the Russian supply line, this could compel a Russian retreat from the suburbs of Kyiv or, otherwise, the “Falaise pocket” metaphor could become reality, and these Russians would find themselves surrounded and blasted into oblivion:

To the west of Kyiv, Ukrainian forces have launched counterattacks to regain territory occupied by Russian troops. They are reported to have retaken the small town of Makariv and encircled Russian troops in the suburbs of Irpin and Bucha about 25km (15 miles) from the city centre.
Russian advances had previously stalled in these suburbs as Ukrainian forces prevented them from crossing the Irpin River.
Justin Bronk from the UK defence and security think tank the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), says these new Ukrainian counter-attacks to the west of Kyiv could hamper Moscow’s plans to capture the capital.
“Essentially, what they are trying to do is cut off an entire side of the attempted encirclement of Kyiv, which would force the Russian forces to either try to break north and abandon those positions, or for Russia to reroute significant combat power all the way around Ukraine and back in from the north-west, to try to break through and release their own forces there.”

Given the uncertain nature of the information, this kind of analysis must be categorized as speculative. However, it appears fairly clear Ukrainian forces now have the initiative, and if their counter-offensive continues to make gains, the Russian threat to Kyiv could be eliminated, with thousands of Russian troops killed or captured as a result.

If that smoke is burning diesel fuel, whose fuel is it? Perhaps the Ukrainians hit Russian tanker trucks, destroying the supply of fuel for Russian vehicles, but as with so much going on in this war, we simply don’t know, and only time will tell the full story. Meanwhile, there are other reports that the Ukrainian counter-offensive has made substantial headway on the east side of Kyiv, with the Russians pushed back several miles from Brovary, scene of a major battle last week.



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