Original: Voice of Sevastopol, August 8, 2014
Translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov
Edited by S. Naylor
The Collapse of the Southern Cauldron
The Southern Cauldron has reached its boiling point; it is living out its final hours. Everything that did not manage to flee to Russia or to break out of encirclement is in the process of being cooked. Yesterday, following a de-blockading strike from without, the remnants of the surrounded brigades, having gathered an armoured group and abandoned everything that could not move, rushed to break through in the direction of Miusinsk. This led to battles, in the course which the city continually passed from one faction to the other. In order to prevent the unification of two enemy groups – one attempting to break out and the other – a relief group advancing through Orlovka to the north of Enakievo – the Militia attempted to push the breakout troops to the north-east of Miusinsk.
At this time, the fighting is continuing. The Junta is trying to use the breakout from encirclement to cut off communications between the militiamen and Donetsk. The leadership of the DPR understands this, and that is why yesterday there were head-on battles, which have continued today. The result of these battles will have operational significance. The situation is difficult in this area, as there are no clear front lines and the factions continue to maneuver with their reserves in order to achieve their respective goals. The Junta’s objective is to pull out the remnants of the encircled brigades, while retaining control over Miusinsk. The Militia intends to dislodge the Junta troops from Miusinsk, in the process creating a new cauldron for the breakout troops.
With respect to Panteleimonovka, it has been reported on the Internet forum where Strelkov used to share his briefings that it remains in the hands of the Militia – even though yesterday there were conflicting reports suggesting that it had been abandoned. It appears that there is ongoing fighting and that, just as with Miusinsk, control over this settlement continues to pass back and forth between the opposing sides.
And here is a Ukrainian side’s description of the breakout from the Cauldron. In a manner of speaking, this is piping hot news from straight from the mouth of the boiling Southern Cauldron…
The worst fucking telephone call of my life.
Petunya, Lyosha, Seryoga, Oleg, and all the other Odessites are alive.
There is a huge number of “200s” [Note: Killed in Action / KIA] among the border guards from Belgorod-Dnestrovsk, Mogilyov-Podolsk, a pile of dead paratroopers from Nikolayev, from the 24th [Brigade]. This is the outcome of our troops’ withdrawal from the border. Over the past two days many more people were killed than over the course of the entire 42 days of the deployment at the positions. Many of the dead were left there, in the sunflower fields, on the roads …
After refueling their vehicles at the Ukrainian Armed Forces field base, they intend to run all the way to Odessa.
The operation with respect to securing the border failed miserably, yielding a pile of corpses and minimal advantage. Everything was fine until Russia started shelling our troops from its territory.
Ninety percent of all the hardware of our military grouping was burned down at the border; hundreds of guys perished …
Everyone who survived took off from the border: paratroopers, artillerists, mechanized infantrymen, border guards. They did not take off voluntarily, and when they did they simply ran “home” without any sensible plan for a retreat. By and large, no one commanded the withdrawal; they fled in all directions … They drove out on vehicles that were a hundred times broken: BTRs with dead transmissions systems, Gazels, UAZ jeeps, Shishigas. Those who were riding in Ural trucks, functional BTRs and Kamaz trucks were lucky. Any time a vehicle broke down, right away there were corpses and “300s” [Note: Wounded in Action / WIA].
Our guys cried on the phone. They cried from shame, the cried about those who were left lying in the fields … because to pick them up, to stop, would have meant death. They resented the fact that they were being shot at, that their equipment was being burned down, but they could not respond across the border with everything they had.
Petya says: “I will never forget how we drove at full speed, while from across the border Grads and howitzers pummeled us. We are fleeing on a broken-down Shishiga and see a waving hand stick out from a field of sunflowers. The body has no legs; a Gazel is burning next to it. The column turned to chaos … whoever had a stronger engine got ahead and tried to pick up our guys while still in motion. If a BTR broke down, it was immediately abandoned; the crew would pick up their light arms and wait for the next vehicle, then jump on it … I have only ever seen this in movies. And it was no column at all; it was simply a line of vehicles moving cross the field. I do not know who these colonels are who sent us to retreat along the border, knowing ahead of time that Russia was shooting at us.”
Seryoga on the telephone: “On the pontoon bridge, the separatists hit us with mortars, and that’s where we finally hit back; we gave them a good beating. Caught a Cossack – he turned out to be an officer of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. He begged us to let him go till his eyes bled, saying that he had kids at home … he told us that many of the Cossacks are officers of the Russian army in disguise. We shot him. Kept his identification; later we will demonstrate it. I can’t tell you for certain, but there were about 300 vehicles in the column … who fucking knows how many were left at the end – I’d say about a half. Right now we are figuring it out, confirming our lists.
That’s how it is, guys. I want to kill.
According to the Junta’s reports, about 1,000 men were able to break out from the cauldron. It bears mentioning that, at the time of the encirclement, the grouping numbered between 5,500 and 6,000 men. Taking into account the units that retreated into Russia and those that returned to Ukraine, in the course of the encirclement in the Southern Cauldron the Junta lost 2/3 of the surrounded troops. The losses of military hardware are also significant – a part was destroyed in fighting, a part was captured by or transferred to the Militia, and a part was destroyed during the retreat due to lack of fuel and breakdowns.
In the next 1-2 days the army of Novorossiya will conduct a sweep of the enemy groups that remain in the Cauldron. In the course of this sweep, the number of the trophies obtained by the Militia and the Junta’s overall losses of military hardware will be finally clarified. The information with respect to the 18 Grad MLRS captured by the Militia has been confirmed. According to Russia Today, at this time, the total number of trophies is on the order of 70 units. Their operational condition is unknown. In addition, the Junta has reported that everything that could not move was destroyed during the retreat. The amount of destroyed military hardware is unknown.
Video: A Column of Trophy Grads of the Militia in Makeevka
At this time, apart from conducting a sweep, the army of Novorossiya is freeing up troops that earlier were engaged in blockading the surrounded enemy grouping. The main part of the forces will be transferred in the direction of Shakhters-Snezhnoye, some of them will be sent to finish off the Lugansk airport. It will take 2-3 days to redeploy tanks, MLRS and howitzer batteries, following which strikes at the positions of the Junta troops can be expected. Overall, the front lines have narrowed for the Militia, while the density of artillery fire will inevitably rise, which carries critical significance, because it is this artillery fist that, at this stage, has been permitting the Militia to parry if not all, then the majority of the Junta’s attacks.
Video: The Location of the Shot-Down MiG-29
The approximate time for the recovery of the 79th and the 24th Brigades to battle-worthy conditions is on the order of 2-3 weeks. The same period for the 72nd is up to one and a half months. Large losses of manpower and equipment cannot be easily compensated. Overall, the Militia won the battle for the Southern Cauldron. The southern grouping of the enemy has been defeated and routed. Suffering substantial losses, the grouping was forced to attempt to break through to their own troops.
At the same time, the military transport and the combat air force of the Junta also sustained significant losses, constantly suffering from MANPADS and antiaircraft fire of the Militia. The gap on the border now has become unseemly large, enabling the DPR and the LPR to organize supply routes through the southern border crossing checkpoints, which were previously controlled by the Junta due to their location on the territory of the Southern Cauldron. The logistics of supply lines has significantly shortened for Militia units in Southern Donbass.
Ataman Kositsyn has already managed to issue an order rewarding the commander of the Prapor group that liberated the Dolzhanskiy border-crossing checkpoint:
“For the successful execution of the combat mission to liberate from Ukrainian occupants the Dolzhanskiy border-crossing checkpoint, the commander of the Prapor unit is hereby awarded the highest honour – the Order of the Golden Star “Hero of the Cossack People”.
“Yesterday, August 7, 2014, at 22:30, the flag of the Cossack National Guard was hoisted above the Dolzhanskiy border-crossing checkpoint. On August 7, 2014, we began a sweep of the Dolzhankiy border-crossing checkpoint and the adjacent territories in order to purge them from American-Banderite military formations. The Prapor unit executed a combat mission assigned by General N.I. Kositsyn. During the battle, in the course of liberating the border-crossing checkpoint from the occupants, two armoured vehicles and a large amount of the enemy’s manpower was eliminated. At this time, the final sweep and de-mining of the adjacent territories that were mined by the Ukrainian military are being performed.”
The fact that the Militia was unable to finish off the remnants of the surrounded forces in the Cauldron points to persistent problems of the Novorossiya army in repelling the strikes of large mechanized formations. At this stage, the shortage of tanks, antitank weapons and artillery prevents the Militia forces from being able to counteract the enemy’s ability to conduct razor strikes. This objective factor is, essentially, what prevented the complete defeat of the enemy.
Even as it is, however, this is a victory, particularly considering the enormous losses of the enemy and strategic consequences of the widening of the gap on the border. Overall, the next several days will be devoted to localizing the effects of the breakout of the remnants of the surrounded forces and to stabilizing the front lines in the Shakhters-Snezhnoye-Torez area. It appears that the Militia is fully able to accomplish this by the end of the week, considering the reinforcements that were freed up by the liquidation of the Southern Cauldron.
Saur-Mogila, Miusinks and Trophies
Original: Colonel Cassad LiveJournal, August 8, 2014
Translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov
Edited by S. Naylor
Today was a very strange day. Despite the contradictory situation near Saur-Mogila and the collapse of the Southern Cauldron, the information from our sources literally had to be ripped from the battlefield. There were no usual gloomy reports from Strelkov discussing the heavy fighting; no bravado communiqués about the large losses sustained by the Junta troops in the Cauldron. It appears that the reason for this is that the command of the DPR and the LPR is now focused on collapsing the Cauldron, retaining Saur-Mogila and continuing the battles in the Shakhtersk-Torez-Snezhnoye area, coupled with attempts to force the Junta from Miusinsk.
Essentially, here is what has been determined:
With respect to Saur-Mogila
With respect to Saur-Mogila – 4 sources in the DPR were queried. Two of them confidently stated that the Militia continues to retain the height. Another one stated that the Junta forces took control – not of Saur-Mogila, but of the Saurovka village and of some numbered height. According to another, more detailed version, the top of the height was controlled by 15 militiamen. Following massive artillery shelling, they retreated from the mountain, but Junta troops are also unable to take control of the height, because our side continues to shell the top using artillery. At this time, an intense battle is ongoing there.
The fact that neither of the factions is able to present photographic evidence of having control of the height could mean that it should now be classified as a disputed territory and that the Militia does not control it completely. Trophy Grads apparently are being redeployed to Saur-Mogila; however, they have a fairly limited supply of ammunition. In order to understand which side controls the height, all that remains is to wait for the conclusion of the engagement (all the sources confidently stated that the battle of Saur-Mogila continues).
The loss of Saur-Mogils would, to some extent, negate the victory in the Southern Cauldron, because coverage from Saur-Mogila would enable the Junta to concentrate its forces for a strike on Donetsk from the southeast. At the same time, the Junta would be able to deploy a powerful artillery formation there, by analogy with the Karachun Mount.
With respect to the Southern Cauldron
With respect to the Cauldron, while some of the Junta forces managed to break through to their troops, other units were forced to the north of Miusinks, where the Militia is attempting to create a mini-cauldron for those who did not manage to make it out. The fighting continues there, however, this is rather a secondary objective. The main goal of the counterattacks being undertaken is the restoration of the communications with Donetsk that were interrupted in the course of the breakout. Here the mood is more optimistic. The enemy is sustaining losses, and the Militia has not lost hope of securing trophies; however, by the looks of it, and given that battle for Miusinsk has already lasted 2 days, this will not be an easy task to accomplish.
The military hardware that was captured does, in fact, number in the dozens. Taking into account the equipment that is not immediately operational or is partially damaged, then the total number could be as high as a hundred units. However, out of this mass of disparate hardware and guns, perhaps only half can be entered into battle in short order. Some units require field or factory repairs, and some lack ammunition. The situation with regards to fuel is somewhat better.
Importantly, the problem of the lack of specialist cadre has not disappeared. There are not that many qualified tank and BMP operators and even fewer artillerists. Considering the sharp increase in the number of available howitzer and Grad MLRS, this creates a situation of serious lack of specialized cadre to fill the newly created positions.
23:30 – July 8, 2014 – Briefing from the Militia
Because everyone is worried, I will share some brief news. Just now my friend spoke with the commanders of two separate units. The say, unequivocally, that Saur-Mogila is under out control. Battalion Vostok was surprised to learn of its untimely death (I hope they will live long as a result). Provocateurs should be shot on sight – I have been a staunch advocate of this for some time.
22:20 – July 8, 2014 – Briefing from a Militiaman from Battalion Vostok
We made it out! Despite everything, we made it out! Ukies tried to surround our guys on the mound. Irrecoverable losses are 8 “200s” [Note: Killed in Action / KIA] and 11 “300s” [Note: Wounded in Action / WIA]. This is being confirmed. But we did not leave without a surprise! Two BMPs and four BTRs certainly burned down. Our Saboteur-Reconnaisance Group (“SRG”) reports that they downed a helicopter. We have no other information with respect to Ukie losses. Our guys are very angry right now! We lost combat comrades! We shared food together, share our water and supplies … We will pay them back. No doubt! Height No. 277 is ours! Ukies and their equipment will never make it up there. There is a present waiting for them on top. We’ll be back after we lick our wounds a bit …