Staryy Saltov, sometimes translated as Stariy Saltiv, lies east of Ukraine, and has been in Russian hands for much of the war.
The city lies on the eastern bank of a long bridge over the Pechenihy Reservoir, created by a dam over the Donets river. You might remember this old video from early March on the horrendous losses Russia suffered while taking that region. Today, it was announced liberated by … the Twitter account of a purported local. Translation:
Old Saltov is ours! Ours control the territory right up to the Rubezhansky bridge. The orcs completely blew up the bridge during the retreat. Behind the dam, in the direction of Volchansk, they burned a bunch of orc equipment, but the territory is still behind them. An armored personnel carrier of the Horde drove through my apiary during the retreat, there are losses in evidence
I don’t know why, but the detail about the apiary makes it more believable! Staryy Saltov is around 15 kilometers from yesterday’s front lines, which would suggest a collapse in Russia’s lines (and likely a strategic retreat). But of course, no one is hanging their hats on this one tweet. Ukrainian general staff announced yesterday:
Russian occupiers suffered losses near the settlement of Stary Saltiv - General Staff of the Armed Forces
“Suffered losses” isn’t the same as “liberated.” Nor is another report from Ukrainian General Staff that the town was “fired upon.” Meanwhile, this Russian video, recorded at least several days ago, shows the bridge already destroyed. It would’ve been impossible for anything to retreat through that bridge, so that tweet above isn’t correct that the bridge was blown during the retreat. It’s got clear previous combat damage (artillery/rocket craters), and a significant segment seems long-blown. That local tweeter is, at best, a little confused. Fog of war and all. Meanwhile, a pro-Russia Telegram channel posted the following (run through translator):
APU=Armed forces of Ukraine.
LPR=Luhansk People’s Republic (one of the two separatist regions in Donbas).
Lnrovtsky=not sure, but presumably soldiers from the LPR.
Again, all of this is unconfirmed. I’m just giving you guys a taste of what it’s like sifting through the fog of war, looking through both pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian sources, trying to find video of the area, and attempting to parse official proclamations from official channels. What we do know for sure is that Ukraine was targeting the town as part of its broad-based offensive in the region. We’ll know within the next 24 hours if it has been officially liberated. And if it has been? Woah.
The city of Vovchansk to the northeast is one of just two major railways from Russia toward Kupiansk, the logistical hub of the entire Izyum effort in the northern Donbas region. Even more importantly, it is the major rail and highway line from Belgorod, the Russian logistical hub for the entire war effort.
Staryy Saltov is around 30 kilometers away, or 19 miles from Vovchansk. The range of M777 artillery, currently en route to the front? For regular dumb rounds, it is 30 kilometers.
It also gives Ukraine some options as they continue to roll up Russian forces around Kharkiv: They can push toward Vovchansk itself, or with their northern flank secured, head toward Kupiansk. Either one would deal a severe logistical blow to the war effort in the eastern Donbas front, which has already ground to a halt because of severe attrition of Russia’s forces and logistical woes.
Russia has to respond, right? Ukraine is pushing closer to the international border. Vovchansk is only around 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Belgorod—at the end-range of dumb artillery, but well within range of smart rounds, which can hit up to 40 kilometers (24 miles). That’s why I still don’t believe claims that Russia will invade Moldova, joining two previous implausible claims: an amphibious assault on Odesa, and a Belorussian invasion of western Ukraine.
Right now, Russia is stuck in Donbas, with zero territorial gains in the last three days. Down in the south, near Kherson, they are inexplicably trying to push toward Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih. They are losing ground around Kharkiv, putting their own city of Belgorod at risk of Ukrainian artillery. Mariupol still stands. And despite all that, they're going to invade another country, far from their supply lines, and with no broader strategic value to the Ukraine war effort?
Russia is stupid enough to want to do it, especially if Vladimir Putin is calling the shots with incomplete information (no one is telling him the truth on the ground). But do they have the means and troops to actually pull it off? I’m not buying it.
Listen to Markos and Kerry Eleveld talk Ukraine and speak with Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler on how hitting back at Republicans helps win elections on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast
I know a lot of you will like this news:
Great thread on Russian tank design decisions, and how they show contempt for the lives of their soldiers:
From user culturejammer in the comments:
‘KOS! The “-vtsy” suffix in LNRovtsy is the same as the VTSY in Kadirovtsy… it means -ites” like Trumpites, literally meaning “OF”
Kadirovtsy — Brigades of Kadirov “Kadirovites”
LNRovtsy — Troops of the LNR “LNRites”
DNRovtsy — Troops of the DNR “DNRites”
Sumdumguy in the comments catches something I totally missed:
Kos. “Rubezhansky bridge” refers to bridge at Ruizhne not at Staryi Saltov. This a bridge much closer to the border. If they control everything up to that bridge then they control Verkhniy Saltiv and likely at leat some part of Rubizhne. That would put them roughly 10 miles from Vovchansk. If this tweet is right then Ukraine controls everything it needs to that side of the river. Much of the Kharkiv vicinity is about to be cleaned up and liberated then. Expect visible changes on the map soon in that case (in favor of Ukraine).