Map: Hostilities in Novorossiya, August 6-15, 2014
Original: Colonel Cassad, August 16, 2014, 02:27
Translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov
Briefly about the situation in Donbass as at the beginning of August 16, 2014
In the last two days, just as was announced earlier, the Militia was finally able to enter into battle the reserves that were freed up following the rout of the Southern Cauldron, as well as some of the trophies that were obtained there. This immediately improved the situation at the front – the breakthrough to Krasniy Luch was localized and isolated, the Junta grouping in the area of Snezhnoye and Miusinsk was defeated, and the breakthrough to Marinovka was effected, leading to the formation of a new mini-cauldron, which have now become commonplace. At the same time, the Junta’s offensive against Enakievo and Gorlovka was stopped in its tracks, and fighting began on the outskirts of Debaltsevo. Overall, Zakharchenko’s counteroffensive appears to be more effective than the counteroffensive previously announced by Bolotov. Truth be told, however, it still manifests more as local counterstrikes that stabilize the front lines than a full-fledge counterattack.
The consequences are undeniable – there is clear evidence of substantial losses incurred by the Junta in manpower and military hardware, new mini-cauldrons (to the east of Marinovka and near Miusinsk), the retention of control over the key highway from the LPR to Donetsk, the preservation of communications with Gorlovka, and the success in repulsing the attacks on Ilovaisk. Overall, over the last several days, the Junta’s offensive clearly has begun to run out of steam, which is not surprising, given the serious losses sustained by the Ukrainian army. The Militia’s arriving reserves have facilitated obvious strikes aimed at wedging into the Junta’s forces.
Nevertheless, to the north of Donetsk, the Junta retains sufficient troops to maintain the initiative. Shielding itself from the Alchevsk grouping of the DPR Army with barrier groups, the Junta continues to concentrate forces in the area of Debaltsevo, with the intention of retaining this key centre and developing its attempt to flank Donetsk from the north. At the time, it is certain that the Ukrainian army will make an attempt to push through Uglegorsk, aiming thereby to encircle Gorlovka. This is the most obvious next step.
The Junta’s problem is in the fact that practically all the reserves have already been entered into battle. Moreover, instead of a concentrated strike on Donetsk, these reserves ended up being spread across multiple sections of the front – whether for the purpose of tactical strikes or to save the encircled brigades. High losses and the lack of reserves will gradually force the Junta into taking an operational pause, whereas political considerations will continue to compel it to pursue the operation at all costs.
Overall, over the past two days, the situation on the territory of the DPR has improved. However, it should be understood that, despite all the losses, the Junta continues to retain the initiative in certain areas and still maintains an overall superiority in manpower and military hardware. Accordingly, wearing rose-coloured glasses is not recommended. The struggle here will be difficult and bloody.
On the territory of the LPR, using the troops of the group that was located at the Lugansk airport, the enemy stretched a long and narrow intestine from the airfield to Novosvetlovka. At the same time, in an effort to support this line, it attempted to take control of Khryashevatoye. It appears that the motivation for this strange operation conducted using clearly insufficient forces was to try to impede the passage of the Russian humanitarian convoy. Equally predictably, the Junta forces that burst into Novosvetlovka was already in the afternoon of August 15, 2014 surrounded on three sides and sustained serious losses in attempts to retain Novosvetlovka.
From the operational standpoint this was a manifest gamble, considering that the southern flank of the enemy grouping advancing on Khryashevatoye and Novosvetlovka was left almost entirely unprotected. As the breakout stretched to the east, an intestine squeezed on three sides was formed, which simply cries out for being severed and completely encircled.
Moreover, in the evening of August 15, 2014, the Junta forces entered into battles in the suburbs of Lugansk, and the fighting continued until nightfall. If the original plan consisted of breaking through to the Lugansk-Krasnodon highway and holding it as long as possible, while other troops moved in to assault Lugansk, then, considering the nature of urban warfare, and provided the LPR Army acts competently, then the defeat at Novosvetlovka will come about a lot sooner than any appreciable advance into Lugansk. Essentially, here we have to wait for the outcome of the battles.
Overall, the situation remains difficult; however, in the past couple of days it has improved somewhat for the Militia.
Commentary from John Kochang
Debaltsevo and Gorlovka I still think are the key. If the SDF [Note: Novorossiya Self-Defence Forces] can utilize the ‘1200’ troops trained in Russia, who it is claimed joined the ranks the other day, along with all the trophies from the Southern Cauldron, this could be the foundation for a brigade that would go on the offensive, using the 1200 men as NCOs for the Militia and a Spearhead Battalion made up of the most combat experienced men.
It would still only be on a small scale as offensive operations require a cohesive C&C and experienced staff. If they could push Ukrainian army back out of Debaltsevo, the Ukrainian forces will have to pull troops from around Donetsk, as they seem to have no reserves, which is evidenced by the 3rd mobilization call up and training.
The shock and panic I believe this would create will spread through the demoralized Ukrainian troops. There is also talk now of Right Sector [Note: Praviy Sector] issuing a 48 hour warning to the Kiev Junta [Note: Confirmed], that they will stop fighting and march on Kiev if their demands are not met! I hope Poreshenko fails to deliver, as the SDF could do with all the good luck!