David Axe


Jan 1, 2024


For 10 weeks, tens of thousands of Russian troops have been trying, and failing, to dislodge a few hundred Ukrainian marines clinging to a bridgehead in Krynky, on the otherwise Russian-controlled left bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine.

Western media coverage of the Krynky battle has characterized it as a “suicide mission” for the marines. But it’s the Russians who are dying by the hundreds in doomed assaults across minefields around the muddy fishing hamlet and adjacent forest plantations.

Incredibly, the outnumbered Ukrainians have managed to achieve local superiority in artillery and drones—by grounding Russia’s drones with radio-jamming, then launching their own drones to hunt down Russian howitzers and rocket-launchers.

“Russian attacks continue to hit Krynky hard,” analyst Donald Hill wrote in fellow analyst Tom Cooper’s newsletter on Jan. 1. “One of them actually pushed through the forest and gained a foothold in the town, but Ukrainian artillery blasted to rubble the houses that they occupied—and Ukraine regained all of their defensive lines.”

One recent attack—perhaps the same one Hill referred to—was the most appalling for a blogger from Russia’s separate airborne corps. “Even though the weather was on our side, the enemy’s tactical advantage in artillery remained,” the blogger wrote.

“An order was received to destroy the enemy with a daring Zhukov maneuver, just like 80 years ago,” the blogger added, referring to Russian general Georgy Zhukov, who has become notorious—fairly or not—for claims he cleared German minefields by ordering his soldiers to just walk across them.

According to Hill, the Ukrainians replenish the minefields around Krynky under the cover of darkness. “Ukrainian drones are mining the roads at night and disabling trucks and cars. In the morning, before the vehicles can be recovered, drones finish them off by dropping munitions.”

As a result of the recent Zhukov-style attack across reseeded minefields, the Russian 104th Air Assault Division “lost unique specialists,” the blogger wrote, “but the situation on the battlefield did not change.”

With each failed assault, Russian casualties accumulate, contributing to the wider Ukrainian advantage in what is turning into a long-term war of attrition. Since Oct. 14, the Russians have lost 143 pieces of heavy equipment around Krynky. The Ukrainians have lost 25.