The NY Times has put together a 9-minute video clip which combines intercepted Russian radio calls with snippets of video which have been geo-located to the same area. What they found is that even in the very early days of the invasion, Russian units at the front were struggling.
Most of this clip focuses on a Russian attack on the town of Makariv, a small town directly west of Kyiv. On February 27, Russian tanks and armored vehicles started rolling in to Makariv. The unit commander, who goes by Yug-95 on the radio, coordinated plans to strike a residential area once it has been cleared of Russian assets. And there’s evidence that’s exactly what happened:
Residents in Makariv and surrounding villages including Kopylov and Motyzhyn told us Russian forces fired randomly into their houses with small arms and at least once with a tank round, as what happened to this house where a family was sheltering in Lypivka. They survived. pic.twitter.com/PmUTmNSk52
— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) March 23, 2022
But the tide of the battle in Makariv turned. Russians lost multiple vehicles and Yug-95 called for urgent air support. “The boys are suffering, suffering,” he reported over the air. Half an hour later, no air support had arrived and Yug-95 was shouting over the radio, “You f**king forgot about the f**king air support!”
Photos of the scene taken the next day show what he was worked up about. Multiple vehichles were destroyed by a Ukrainian drone.
#Ukraine: New, detailed images of Russian hardware destroyed by what is suspected to be a TB-2 drone in the area of #Makariv in the first days of the war.
A Buk-M2 9A317 SAMR TELAR, 9A316 TEL, an MT-LB with a variant of EW truck, and finally a KrAZ-255B with EOV-4421 excavator. pic.twitter.com/beCKf6l0Xw
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) March 16, 2022
Here’s the full clip which also contains intercepts in which Russian soldiers at the front are requesting food, water and refueling. Again, much of this comes from the first few days of the invasion when, you would think, supply lines were still relatively intact.
There is a coda to this story. Tuesday Ukraine announced that it had retaken Makariv and pushed the Russian forces out.
Video of the liberation: pic.twitter.com/b2GtI4Vm4X
— OSINT UK (@jon96179496) March 22, 2022
The retaking of Makariv was widely reported.
Update on Makariv from Ukr cabinet member:
"That is official information that the Ukrainian forces have retaken this town and now it's under control of our army. And I believe that today and tomorrow and the nearest future and other cities will be under control of our army." pic.twitter.com/ISFMay5o5H
— Nora Neus (@noraneus) March 22, 2022
But the Washington Post reported last night that Ukrainian control of the town remains shaky at best.
Since Tuesday, top Ukrainian government officials had been touting what they called a key victory in their month-long war against invading Russians. They said Makariv, a key gateway for Russian forces to potentially surround and seize Kyiv, had been liberated from Russian forces — and that Ukraine’s flag was now flying victoriously over the town’s center…
But as a team of Washington Post journalists passed through the checkpoint on Wednesday, Ukrainian soldiers ordered them to quickly leave the town, warning of incoming Russian rockets or artillery. Minutes later, reporters heard the sound of shells falling. Black plumes of smoke rose over the houses. Soon more blasts followed.
Makariv remains a contested front line.
“The military doesn’t control all of Makariv, only partially,” said Mayor Vadim Tokar, standing on the town’s outskirts shortly after the shells landed. “It’s 100 percent no-go for civilians to return.”
So claims that Russian forces had been completely pushed out seem not to be true. On the other hand, the fact that Makariv is contested ground a month after Russian military vehicles rolled in and started firing on civilian homes demonstrates the tide has turned a bit.
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