Map of Operations, August 10-22, 2014 – Created by Kot Ivanov
English Version Created by Anthony Hartin
Original: Colonel Cassad LiveJournal
Translated from Russian by Daniel Mihailovich and Gleb Bazov
1. By August 22nd, 2014 it became completely obvious that the Junta will not be able to occupy Donetsk either by August 24th, 2014 or by September 1st, 2014. The general offensive that began on July 1st, 2014, and which was intended to crush Novorossiya, has chocked. The junta suffered key defeats near Shakhtersk and Krasniy Luch, when it was unable to cut off the DPR from the LPR, following which it became mired in bloody battles for Ilovaysk and Yasinovataya. At the same time, the southern battlegroup was crushed and routed in the Southern Cauldron.
2. It may still be too early to tell, but, overall, there is every indication that the army of Novorossiya is winning the strategic defensive operation. In the last several days, there has been a clear weakening of the Junta’s onslaught on the People’s Republics, as evidenced by the convulsive attempts to advance on Ilovaysk at all cost and the meandering of the semi-encircled troops to the south-west of Lugansk.
3. The fact that Yasinovataya and Ilovaysk were able to withstand the Junta’s onslaught completely derailed the announced assault on Donetsk. And the column of white trucks [Note: the Russian humanitarian aid convoy] that passed in the direction of Lugansk on August 22, 2014 vividly demonstrated that the plan of complete encirclement of Lugansk had failed and the breakthrough to Novosvetlovka and Khryashchevatoye had been pushed back. At the same time, the situation is worsening daily for the enemy troops that operated to the south-west and south of Lugansk, as the self-defense militia forces are conducting increasingly bolder and more decisive actions aimed at creating a new cauldron, which threatens to trap various units of three separate brigades and the attached support assets. Remember that only 4-5 days ago they were shouting that they were already in the center of Lugansk, sweeping the city.
4. On the whole, the Junta’s offensive has stopped, and the front has gradually stabilized. The Militia begins to nibble on the battlefront, probing for weak points in the positions of the Junta troops in order to cut off many of the incursions in the front line. Only a lack of forces stops the Militia from going on a full-scale offensive, which for now is replaced with actions of the saboteur-reconnaisance groups (“SRG”) and the creation of tactical encirclements. Nevertheless, the overall trend favors the Militia forces, who over the last 2-3 days have been successful in their defensive battles, in inflicting serious losses on the Junta and in driving the enemy forces out of a number of settlements.
5. The Junta is facing serious problems. It is necessary to stop the offensive to replenish depleted units, move up the reserves, concentrate armor, and resume the attacks in the new operational environment. The Junta instead continues to persist in trying to advance in the framework of the already thwarted plan and with the same forces, the very forces that could not succeed even when they were still at full strength. Theoretically, the Junta’s persistent attempts to break through the wall with its head are good for the Militia, as the Junta expends a great deal of infantry and armored vehicles in these attempts to take “something, anything” – attempts which have already lost their operational significance. Daily reports from our side and tantrums from the enemy show that the Junta forces every day lose dozens (on some days – hundreds) troops dead and missing. Military hardware losses are also heavy, and the worst thing for the Junta is that some of these vehicles fall into the hands of the Militia, which then uses them against the enemy troops.
6. The balance of power is steadily getting better, and we can no longer say that the Junta has an unequivocal numerical superiority. True, its forces are still numerically superior, several to one in armor, but the situation is no longer as hopeless as it was in June and July. Especially troublesome for the Junta was the creation of the Militia artillery groups, which have been the source of major losses inflicted on the attacking army units and punitive battalions (volunteer battalions not subject to military control and made up of activists/neo-Nazis/released criminals). Moreover, these artillery fists have grown mainly due to captured Ukrainian artillery systems, and judging by the statements of Bezler, militia has even captured “Pion” (203mm self-propelled artillery) systems by now. Without overwhelming superiority in men and military hardware, the Junta’s offensives start to meet the defensive lines of militias and stop due to artillery fire, while those breakthroughs that do happen are now fairly confidently parried by the Militia’s reserves. This means that the Militia command has spare forces and knows how to use them competently.
7. Panic-driven proposals to retreat to Slavyansk and Mariupol, fortifying checkpoints in Dnepropetrovsk, the construction of fortifications in the area of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, proposals to launch the fourth wave of mobilization and the transition to replenishing depleted units with vehicles from the 60-70s are all characteristic signs that not only has the offensive failed, but that the Junta’s forces have been seriously exsanguinated and forced to maintain their combat capability through recruits of dubious quality and obsolete equipment. In this regard, it appears that despite the seemingly huge amount of military equipment that Ukraine has inherited from the Soviet Union, the battle-worthy part of that heritage is running out. Hence, Ukraine has been using old junk and working on obtaining armoured vehicles from foreign countries to fill the demand.
8. There are still serious problems with the competence of the command staff of the Junta forces. The generals in charge of the southern flank have already stuck their troops into encirclements twice, plus ground down a lot of the combat-ready units in the battles for Miusinsk, Saur-Mogila, Ilovaysk and Snezhnoe. Huge losses and modest results in the form of occupation of the southern slope of Saur-Mogila (by the way, the obelisk there fell yesterday, the soldier monument fell earlier) all resulted from disastrous decisions by the Junta’s southern battlegroup command that should be used as textbook examples to show young officers how not to fight. Take lack of talent, multiply it by the factor of political goals directing military operations – and here are the results. Previously, all the problems were ascribed to some SBU generals, which drove the three brigades of the Junta into the Southern Cauldron. They were removed. Now there is yelling about traitors in military general’s uniforms. But are there any competent generals in Ukraine at all?
9. The government troops north of Donetsk, between Gorlovka and Debaltsevo, are the only ones performing adequately in combat. It was from there that the attempts at decisive blows aimed at the dismemberment of the DPR and the LPR came from, and that is where the real threat to Novorossiya remained the longest. But there, too, junta troops bogged down in heavy fighting with the Militia’s reserves without achieving their goals. There is no need even to mention the reckless attempts to surround Lugansk while leaving the south flank open. It would be highly surprising if there will not be a new encirclement to the south-west of Lugansk within the next 1-2 weeks.
10. However, after suffering a defeat at the strategic and operational level, the Junta is trying to salvage the situation by purely tactical means. Simple frontal attacks against Ilovaisk and Yasinovataya were planned based entirely on the numerical superiority and logically led to protracted urban fighting. Naturally, a certain threat still remains, but this is probably no longer a threat to Donetsk itself, but rather to Ilovaisk and Yasinovataya. Even if the junta crushes local defense in, say, Ilovaisk, it will only get a salient in the battlefront lines touching the outskirts of Donetsk, where depleted punitive battalions will be met by a new defensive line. In general, there is no operational sense in continuing the attacks; the Junta now needs a pause for the organization of a new full-fledged offensive.
11. Nevertheless, political reasons related to the Ukrainian Independence Day holiday on August 24th, as well as the upcoming talks in Minsk, are pushing the Junta into overextending itself militarily. The idea is clear – to show the public at least some sort of peremoga (Note: Ukrainian word for victory, by now a running joke) and secure a more powerful bargaining position in Minsk. But so far it seems that by August 24th a complete peremoga over the Junta’s last offensive will be celebrated in Novorossiya, and in Minsk Poroshenko will have very little to show for the efforts of his military.
12. A slap to the face in the form of a humanitarian convoy that passed into the territory of Ukraine without his permission, and simply drove into the “surrounded and almost taken Lugansk,” shows how “in control” Poroshenko really is, and does so better than any words could. There were attempts to prevent this. It cost at least a couple hundred dead, wounded, and POWs, dozens of destroyed vehicles, loss of several planes and helicopters. And all this in vain – a reckless dash for Novosvetlovka predictably failed, although we must recognize the performance of the Junta infantry in this area. They held out about twice as long as the Militia expected. Such perseverance among the Ukrainian troops is rare these days, being the exception rather than the rule. Nevertheless, it did not seriously hinder the Militia. The route is more or less secured by now, the Junta’s military has been pushed back, and the convoy went straight to Lugansk.
13. Overall, unless there is some sort of political conspiracy, the war will continue in September with the same ferocity, and its significance will gradually move away from the question of “Will Novorossiya survive or not” to the question of “What will the borders of Novorossiya be after the war”. In general, all of our sources in Novorossiya in the last days radiate optimism, and some even euphoria. Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that the Junta, though it lost some battles, did not lose the war yet, and after pulling up new forces and regrouping, it can either carry out a new attack or begin to build a strategic defensive line to leave Novorossiya as a war-torn stub, which it would be systematically destroying with artillery. In this regard, the Militia needs not only to finally stabilize the front and hold strategic positions, but also to prepare for large-scale offensive operations to liberate Artyomovsk, Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Konstantinovka and Mariupol. Already in September, these places may again be mentioned in regular military briefings, in addition to the already frequent guerrilla action reports.
14. It should be understood that if the Junta puts together another offensive battlegroup somewhere, it could easily organize a new operational crisis for the Militia. So try not to indulge in excessive euphoria, winning the battle does not mean winning the war. There is a long and bloody struggle ahead of us.
15. In general, things we are improving, the trend is favorable. And yes, thanks to those who have already started to send us the first parcels with autumn-winter uniforms. Soon those will be needed.