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The Ukrainian Army Just Blew Up A Russian Ammo Train—The Fourth Of The War

A Russian train hauls T-62 tanks in June 2022.

Photo via social media

Ukraine continues to escalate its bombardment of Russian supply lines in southern Ukraine. But it might not matter that much in the end. Emphasis on might.

Before dawn on Sunday, Ukrainian forces—perhaps a battery of American-made High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems—reportedly struck a 40-car train carrying ammunition from supply dumps in occupied Crimea to Russian forces in Kherson Oblast.

The train exploded, killing as many as 80 Russians. Video reportedly depicting the blaze circulated online Wednesday.

The artillery raid in Brylivka, 20 miles southeast of Kherson, reportedly wrecked the train and the rails. It was the fourth time the Ukrainians have destroyed a Russian supply train.

“As a result of a Ukrainian strike against a Russian ammunition train in Kherson Oblast, southern Ukraine, it is highly unlikely the rail link connecting Kherson with Crimea remains operational,” the U.K. Defense Ministry stated.

That’s a problem for the Russian army, which never had enough trucks and thus heavily relies on trains to shift supplies to front-line forces. The Ukrainian army for weeks now systematically has been severing Russian supply lines in southern Ukraine—blowing up ammo dumps, poking holes in bridges.

The train strike compounds the destruction and deepens the supply woes for Russia’s 49th Combined Arms Army, which oversees most of the 30 or so battalion tactical groups gathering in and around Kherson.

The Russians can patch bridges and unbend rails, but that takes time. And with every day that passes, the 49th CAA draws down its existing supplies.

It’s apparent the 49th CAA is in trouble. It’s less apparent the supply crunch will be decisive as the Ukrainian army puts more weight behind its slow counteroffensive aimed at liberating Kherson with its strategic port and pre-war population of 300,000.

Having expended most of its combat power—first trying and failing to capture Kyiv and then trying and succeeding in capturing the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region—the Russian army is tired.

It has buried at least 15,000 of its best troops. A frantic recruitment drive is raising a few new battalions, but the recruits are heading to the front with outdated weapons and just 30 days of training.

But the Ukrainian army is tired, too. It also has lost thousands of its best troops. Donations of modern weaponry are helping to restore some of the combat power the Ukrainians have lost in five months of brutal fighting, but these weapons are thin on the ground.

Indeed, it’s apparent that Kyiv is devoting its newest and best artillery, including the initial 16 HIMARS the United States is providing, to long-range strikes on Russian supply lines. The same rockets aren’t available directly to support front-line troops.

Which is why you can read seemingly contradictory news in the same few days. It’s true the Ukrainian army destroyed a Russian ammo train. But it’s also true that a Ukrainian battalion, defending the village of Pisky in eastern Ukraine, is totally outgunned—with just two small mortars to shoot back against Russian forces packing 152-millimeter howitzers.

What you’re seeing is two exhausted armies gambling their dwindling resources on increasingly desperate operations they hope might—somehow, eventually—contribute to a wider victory.

Ukrainian troops blow up Russian trains. Russian troops assault a few Ukrainian villages. The war grinds on.

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