A Polish general dies in Chasiv Yar

9:53 31.03.2024 •

Before the Ukrainian "counter offensive" got started, the important city of Bakhmut fell to the Russians.  I wrote that it seemed to me that the Russians would aim to take the town of Chasiv Yar, notes Stephen Bryen, a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense.

Chasiv Yar was extremely important during the battle for Bakhmut. It was the feeder for troops being sent into Bakhmut, and for rotation of soldiers fighting there. It was the source of supply of ammunition, food and medical support for Ukraine’s army in the city. Chasiv Yar was also the command center not only for the Ukrainians, but for their Western military advisers.

That latter role is what has again become clear in the last week of March, as the Russians successfully bombed a six-story deep command bunker in Chasiv Yar on March 26th. According to the Russians, the bunker was hit by one or more Iskander missiles. The Iskander is a short range ballistic missile that can operate at hypersonic speed (Mach 5.9). It has different types of warheads including bunker busters.  The warhead size is between 1,000 and 1,500 lbs.

Inside that command center were very senior NATO officers, some of whom were killed. One of them was Brigadier General Adam Marczak of the Polish army. Poland reported his death which the Polish Army said was due to "unexplained natural causes."

Various Telegraph channels report that other NATO officers were either killed or wounded in the attack at Chasiv Yar. According to these accounts, some of the wounded were hastily evacuated to Poland. We don't know the names, the ranks, or the nationality of any of those killed or wounded other than Marczak.

Many analysts think that the Russians will soon take Chasiv Yar, even though it is heavily defended. Reports say that Russian forces are only a kilometer or two away from the town, although engaged in fierce fighting as Ukrainian forces try to push them back.

It is unusual for such high ranking NATO military officers to be so close to the line of contact with the Russian army. The only reason for them being there is an act of desperation: deep concern that the Russians might successfully push through, endangering the entire second tier defenses that Ukraine is trying to build to prevent the Russian army driving toward the Dnieper, potentially splitting Ukraine's forces and endangering Kyiv.

Chasiv Yar and the fighting around that town now going on seems like a more important and immediate target for the Russians. The fact that it is full of top NATO personnel also says it is a very important strategic asset of the Ukrainians.

Probably in the next week or two we will see what happens in Chasiv Yar and whether the Ukrainians can hold the town and thwart the Russian advance. If they cannot, then NATO will have to think up an alternative that could include opening negotiations with Russia. This won't please President Biden or his national security team, who prefer a prolonged fight in Ukraine. Olaf Scholz reports that a number of unnamed NATO players already are meeting about some sort of negotiated deal, although so far he says the Russians are not included in the process. Depending on what happens in the next few weeks, Scholz and his colleagues better hurry, Stephen Bryen concludes.


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