Original: IAC Cassad – M.V. Litvinov
Translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov / Edited by @GBabeuf
The Conclusion of July Activity
As could have been expected, the last weekend of July was marked by yet another offensive gamble by the Kiev regime. More precisely, there were, in fact, two such offensive gambles. At the same time, it should be noted that the second of these—to which observers paid less attention—was in no way less dangerous to the Militia than the one that occupied prime position in the propagandistic efforts of the informational support specialists of the punitive corps. Both operations were gambles for the simple reason that they were constructed solely on the basis of the punitive forces’ firm belief in their operational-tactical superiority over the Militia and on their absolute certainty in the Militia’s inability to in any way offer a stubborn resistance.
It should further be noted that throughout the entire month of July, the Command of the punitive forces failed to achieve any operational-tactical successes that went further than capitalizing on the inevitable consequence of the Militia’s withrawal from the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk defence area. Simply put, the punitive forces were able to occupy only that which they were simply obligated to take control of after Slavyansk was abandoned.
In view of their numerical and technical superiority, the Ukrainian military formations have a plethora of advantages in a transition from positional to mobile warfare. Nonetheless, the most interesting outcome of the latest July escalation in the operational situation is perhaps the fact that the talentless operations of the Ukrainian military formations once again created the preconditions for the emergence of a positional front. Only time will tell whether or not the command of the Militia can manage to take full advantage of the developing circumstances.
The Kiev Junta’s Offensive Against the Donetsk People’s Republic
The first thrust of the punitive forces’ offensive became the advance in the Shakhtersk-Torez area from the north and from the south, the aim of which was to cut off the main lines of communication between Donetsk and Lugansk and the Russian border. This operation became perfectly obvious immediately following the withdrawal from Slavyansk, and it was then when attention was drawn to the reality of the checkpoints of the punitive forces being established in this region. It was also noted at that point that this operation is quite feasible, in contrast to the ambitions plans involving a breakthrough around Lugansk or the assaults on Antratsit or Snezhnoye. One can only wonder why this operation began on July 27th, rather than on July 8th.
The growing threat in this direction was obvious. Already on June 21st the Command of the DPR Militia had reacted quite nervously to information about the appearance of tanks of the punitive forces in Debaltsevo (as nervously as it had previously reacted to attacks by crime bosses on Artemovsk). And this reaction undoubtedly was noticed by the Command of the punitive corps. At the punitive forces’ headquarters, a new hope was born that a breakthrough in the Debaltsevo-Shakhtersk direction would lead to the Militia’s withdrawal from Donetsk, just as happened in Slavyansk. From this moment on, the Command of the punitive forces began to concentrate all available troops for a new offensive. These plans were constantly frustrated by the unexpected actions of the Severodonetsk Commandant’s Office, by the LPR counter-attack in Lisichansk and by the decisive actions of the Slavyansk Brigade in the area of the “Marinovka Corridor”, resulting in its complete closure on June 26th.
Despite all these difficulties, the punitive forces placed their main bet on a breakthrough in the Debaltsevo-Shakhtersk direction. And, on July 23rd, they commenced battles for the staging areas of this offensive—Debaltsevo and Blagodatnoye. On July 24th, they managed finally to secure control over Blagodatnoye; however, the battles for Debaltsevo did not produce the desired effect—they failed to oust the staunchly defending Militia units from the village.
Faced with this situation, the Command of the punitive corps decided to repeat the approach that had previously brought it success in Artyomovsk, and in the night of July 26th-27th it bypassed Debaltsevo with the tactical battalion group of the 95th Airborne Brigade and assaulted Shakhtersk. As far as can be told, the DPR Militia, absorbed in the fighting for the Marinovka Corridor and for Debaltsevo, did not expect this move. The manœuvre was a complete success. The reason for this success is that the DPR Militia, insofar as it seeks to maintain a continuous front line, does not have the ability to garrison key settlements located beyond the line of defence with forces sufficient for successful defence.
The Militia had no more than one company in Shakhtersk; moreover, these troops were not concentrated in a ‘fist’, but were instead dispersed between the checkpoints. At the same time, it is necessary to have at least 200-300 fighters to repulse an attack on a settlement by a tactical battalion group. And, in general, the minimum necessary garrison for such a settlement is 500 fighters. The main forces of the 2nd and the 3rd Battalions of the Slavyansk Brigade were located to the south of the Torez-Shakhtersk-Zugres-Kharzysk line.
As a result, meeting practically no resistance, the punitive forces established company strong-points in the areas of Gornoye and Olchovchik, thereby cutting off the shortest routes from Donetsk to Snezhnoye. The forces of the Militia at that moment were fettered by attacks coming from the front in the area of Stepano-Krynka. And although the attacks of the punitive forces in this area were repulsed, the punitive troops in Shakhtersk merged with the main forces of the Amvrosievka grouping of the Ukrainian armed formations that came up from the direction of Blagodatnoye.
The DPR Militia ended up in a very difficult situation. Its forces were split apart. Communications to the north, of course, were maintained, and to cut them off the punitive forces would have needed at least three free battalions, which the Ukrainian armed formations did not have available. However, that was not the problem. The withdrawal from Slavyansk had placed a heavy psychological burden on the shoulders of the DPR Militia: “The enemy is too strong; it is too well armed”; and it is this mental attitude that became the main obstacle to the transition of the confrontation again to the positional phase. The Militia needed to make a stand somewhere; it needed to win a psychological victory over the punitive forces and to break the enemy’s will to attack. It seemed that there would again be a retreat, and that a decisive battle would come later.
But then the talentless command of the punitive corps did a favour for the DPR Militia. Rather than being satisfied with their success, pulling up artillery and digging into the ground at the newly acquired positions, it decided to finish the DPR once and for all. And on July 28th it commenced a new offensive. Bypassing Torez, the punitive forces rushed from Gornoye through Manuylovka and Petrovskoye into the rear of Saur-Mogila. From Semenovskaya and Tarany, their armoured columns rushed toward Stepanovka and Marinovka. Their most battle-worthy units located in the Southern Cauldron attempted a breakout from Djakovo in the direction of Dibrovka and, from there, toward Dmitrovka and Chervonnaya Zarya. All the artillery was aimed at Saur-Mogila in an attempt to suppress the Militia’s artillery battery.
But the DPR Militia—and, first and foremost, its Slavyansk Brigade—managed to withstand this assault, in the process retaining all the key settlements. The successes of the punitive forces were limited to yet another occupation of the village of Saurovka, which the Kiev propagandists quickly renamed Saur-Mogila, and the displacement of the Militia from Dmitrovka. The punitive forces were even unable to force a corridor to the south of Marinovka. But the main thing was that the Militia withstood the strike of the 250-armoured vehicle armada of the Ukrainian regular army. In the course of these battles, the Militia has proven—above all to itself and to its Command—that it is capable of withstanding an assault of such magnitude.
The Command of the punitive forces was unable to transfer reserves from the north. Bogged down in the fighting on the approaches to Gorlovka and in Debaltsevo, and shackled by a counter-strike in Popasnoye and—on the part of the LPR Militia—an assault near Depreradovka, aimed at the rear of the Debaltsevo grouping, it had no available troops. The final effort of the punitive corps on July 29th allowed them to enter Stepanovka, but, on the very same day, the DPR Militia punched open a corridor from Shakhtersk through to Torez.
The July offensive of the punitive corps on the territory of the DPR has petered out. Despite the fact that the situation remains exceedingly difficult, due primarily to the numerical and technical superiority of the punitive forces, and despite the regular terroristic shelling of the DPR cities, the DPR Militia has been able to create the preconditions for a transition to positional fighting in the sections of the front selected by the Militia.
The Kiev Junta’s Offensive Against the Lugansk People’s Republic
The situation in the Lugansk area was developing in a less dramatic fashion, even if the danger it entailed for the Militia that it carried was no less significant. The key point in the LPR defence is the settlement of Novosvetlovka to the south-east of Lugansk. The settlement itself is not large, but all the roads leading to Izvarino pass through it. Losing it would cut off not only Krasnodon, but also the main highway to the Russian border. Certainly, its loss would not result in a catastrophe; but it would significantly complicate the situation in Lugansk.
Starting on July 27th, the Command of the punitive corps undertook several attempts to break through to this settlement from the direction of the Lugansk airport, as well as from the area of Lutugino, through Pervozvanovka and Krasnoye. Air-strikes were conducted on Novosvetlovka. In the end, however, the LPR Militia utterly defeated the 24th Territorial Defence Battalion, “Aidar”, along with supporting units of the 1st Separate Tank Brigade [“OTBR”] and the 30th Separate Mechanized Brigade [“OMBR”]. The punitive forces sustained significant losses not only in terms of killed and wounded, but also captured soldiers.
The reason why the success achieved by the Militia here did not entail such dramatic twists and turns as that near Donetsk is that the LPR defence is built on proactively taking control with sufficient forces of key settlements, even those that are not subjec to a direct threat, often to the detriment of control over connectedness and continuity of communications. What allows the command of the LPR Militia to employ such a tactic is its advantageous position with respect to the Russian border.
On the same day—July 27th—the Command of the LPR Militia continued to apply pressure to the isolated garrisons of the punitive forces in the area of Krasnodon—where the remnants of the 51st OMBR are being finished off—and in the area of the Dolzhanskiy border crossing checkpoint—where the liquidation of the Ukrainian Border Guard Service [“GPSU”] garrison is being completed.
On the following day—July 28th—the command of the LPR Militia enhanced its positions, continuing to extend its success: it took control of the key strategic height near Georgievka and extended its proactive manœuvres to the west, in the direction of the settlement of Cheluskinets. Accordingly, in the Lugansk area the Militia was able to maintain its key positions and to prevent the Lugansk airport from being de-blockaded. This course of events signifies that in this region also, the necessary preconditions for a transition of the hostilities to a positional phase have developed.
At this moment, the least stable situation continues to persist in the Pervomaisk-Stakhanov-Bryanka-Alchevsk-Krasniy Luch strip. Here the outcome of hostilities has not been determined, and significant changes to the positions of the warring sides remain possible. Likewise, changes of any kind cannot be excluded in the area of the crash of the Malaysian Boeing.
Author: M.V. Litvinov