The assault on Nikolaev
UPDATE 1 AUGUST 2022
Nikolaev hospital has been almost completely destroyed, seemingly by a Krasnopol shelling system, with very substantial loss of life. Contrary to some media reports, Krasnopol shelling systems, using laser guidance technology, are highly accurate: almost as accurate as ballistic missiles with contemporary inertial guidance systems.
There is now no effective healthcare available in Nikolaev.
The Russian strategy is to render Nikolaev uninhabitable and thereby to force its civilian population westwards, and then to engage Ukrainian Armed Forces for final control over the city and its environs using street fighting and intensive ground bombardment. This entire process may, following the Mariupol model, take between two and three months to complete.
Nevertheless the unacceptable danger to human life has already been created and all civilians should leave immediately, irrespective of the hardship this causes because the alternative is high risk of arbitrary death.
One public authority in Nikolaev is estimating an exodus west of some 500,000 civilians from the Nikolaev city and region.
The principal challenge now is finding emergency / refugee accommodation for the civilians set to flee from Nikolaev. Odessa, a city of some one million but much of which is in poor condition particularly as regards quality of accommodation, cannot absorb 500,000 people in adequate conditions. Northwest Ukraine is also beyond bursting for refugees, and is less attractive for predominantly or exclusively Russophone displaced persons from Nikolaev as the region is virtually exclusively now Ukrainophone.
The question therefore arises as to Moldova's capacity to absorb the exodus of refugees expected from Nikolaev. Circumstances in Moldova are institutionally primitive and Moldova, a country officially without an army pursuant to the terms of the neutrality pact framed in her constitution, may not be able to cope without measures involving the entrance onto Moldovan territory of NATO member state troops and armed forces. Obviously this prospect raises the risk of direct conflict between the world's two largest nuclear Superpowers, as their troops get closer one to the other in this corner of southeastern Europe.
UPDATE 31 JULY 2022
Oleksiy Vadaturskiy, Nikolaev's richest man, a grain oligarch and the most powerful man in Nikolaev, was assassinated along with his entire family last night while they were at home, by what appears to have been a Russian Kalibr cruise missile.
The centre of the city has been the subject of extensive shelling, resulting in significant numbers of civilian deaths and the destruction of a substantial amount of residential accommodation.
Nikolaev bus station has been blown up, also by what appears likely to have been a Russian Kalibr cruise missile; thereby leaving Nikolaev civilian residents with only one exit route: the road west to Odessa.
There is a shortage of food, leading to rationing in some parts of the city.
Local government has broken down, with lines of authority between the Mayor of the city and the Governor of the oblast no longer being clear.
Ukrainian Armed Forces have infiltrated parts of the city from where they are attempting to attack proximate Russian positions, particularly those on the road to Kherson.
As a result large quantities of munitions are being exchanged between Ukrainian and Russian Armed Forces in the city of Nikolaev and in its environs.
The Mayor has recommended that all civilians evacuate immediately. We agree with that advice.
We anticipate that Nikolaev will be razed by Russian shelling and then totally destroyed by street-to-street fighting, much in the same way as Mariupol.
Effective immediately, visiting Nikolaev is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted.
Tonight, 4 May 2022, the Russian military assault on Nikolaev began. Here are some links to video and other footage of the beginning of the assault.
The following is a summary of events as we know them so far.
Russian hypersonic ballistic missiles have hit the railway tracks heading north out of Nikolaev to Dolynska, the principal Ukrainian logistics route to supply their armed forces defending the Nikolaev outskirts.
At the same time, unknown ballistic missiles have struck the only arterial road out of Nikolaev still open, that runs to Odessa. The missiles have created impassable craters in the tarmac, to prevent the road from being used as a Ukrainian armed forces logistics artery.
Yesterday, ship launched cruise missiles created several impassable craters in Odessa airport's runway, so that it is now entirely unusable by the US military cargo planes employing the runway as an artery for supplying Ukrainian armed forces in the southwest.
Now the only route out of Nikolaev is by train to Russian-occupied Kherson.
On this subject, see our earlier post: https://www.the-paladins.com/post/the-russification-of-ukrainian-railways
The road between Nikolaev and Kherson has been cut by a tank-based Russian military roadblock.
The daily civilian train from Kherson to Nikolaev is full of (a) FSB people; and (b) Chechen people.
The Chechens, under the leadership of Ramzan Kadyrov, now an officer in the Russian Armed Forces, are a band of assassins.
The Russian strategy for the occupation of Nikolaev is therefore apparently not to confront the significant Ukrainian armed forces encampment north and east of the city head on: but to cut logistical supplies to them while subjecting metropolitan Nikolaev to a door-to-door Chechen-led assassination policy, much as was done to Grozny during the Second Chechen War.
After the door-to-door exterminations have been completed, the Russian military will advance on Nikolaev principally from the sea, using the Yuzhniy Bug river that takes them into the city centre. Land forces will also enter from the east.
Dear God, let us pray for the people of Nikolaev who are not substantially evacuated so far due to a misplaced sense that their city was not (yet) the epicentre of a major episode in theatre in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The politicians in Kyiv are being alarmingly silent about the fate to befall Nikolaev, because they know, that as one of the principal Russophone cities in the South, the people of Nikolaev are at best tepid supporters of Kyiv's cause.
Once Nikolaev has fallen, Odessa will be the next to fall, her defences and logistics being cut off from all sides.
It is predicted that neither Kyiv nor the West will do anything about this. Ukraine's partition into a southerly / easterly industrial Russian parastate with access to the Black Sea: and a northern / westerly agrarian landlocked rump, will thereby become irreversible.