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Outcomes from the Battle for Mariinka on June 3, 2015


Preamble: As promised in this report on the watershed battle in Mariinka, we are rounding out our discussion on the causes, the circumstances and the aftermath of the bloodiest few days of fighting in the Donbass since the fall of Debaltsevo to the Novorossiya Armed Forces in February 2015. This as-it-happened briefing from Boris Rozhin, one of the key commentators on the war in the Donbass, should prove useful both as a frank military analysis for future study and as a means to understand the direction this conflict is taking.

Original: Colonel Cassad
Translated by Gleb Bazov / Edited by @GBabeuf

Since today (June 4, 2015) we can observe a relative calm after yesterday’s bloody meat-grinder in Mariinka, we can summarize some of the results of yesterday’s battles.

  1. In the night of June 2-3, 2015, the enemy undertook offensive operations in Mariinka as part of continuing the old approach of intense shelling of front-line cities of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) followed by localized offensive actions using units no larger than a company tactical group (CTG). By morning time, reports from the positions of the Novorossiya Armed Forces (NAF) indicated that the Militia was repulsing the enemy’s attacks only with difficulty.

  1. By the morning (June 3, 2015), reserves were deployed from Donetsk, consisting of joint task-groups of various units, supported by armoured vehicles. The fragmentary data available suggests that the NAF cast into battle up to 1,500 men and forty armoured vehicles against enemy forces comprised of elements of the 28th Brigade, the Kiev Territorial Battalion and reinforcement units. Both sides were actively supported by artillery fire; use of multiple-launch rockets systems (MLRS) was also noted.

  1. At the start of the attack, the positions of the Junta forces were softened up with artillery, following which, infantry commenced its advance, entering the residential area of Mariinka from the north-east. The Junta forces clearly did not expect this attack, so it is possible to say that, at the outset of the battle for Mariinka, the NAF was able to achieve a certain degree of tactical surprise.

  1. The Kiev Territorial Battalion buckled under this concentrated assault, suffered serious losses, and started to retreat. Against the backdrop of these initial successes came euphoria, leading to hasty statements that the offensive, or, if you will, counter-offensive, concluded with the taking of Mariinka and the hoisting of the DPR flag over the city. At the same time, panic developed among the Junta units, which was mitigated only by the evening. Ukrainian mass media issued reports about a “strategic retreat” from Mariinka, and the volunteers and the military started writing about heavy losses and that the 28th Brigade and the Kiev Territorial Battalion had sustained heavy casualties and were retreating. Overall, against the backdrop of heavy fighting in Mariinka, our internet warriors were euphoric, while their Ukrainian counterparts were in a state of panic.

  1. Our forces advanced to the Mariinka hospital, but there met serious resistance from the enemy, supported by artillery fire, and stalled. Moreover, according to the commander of the Ryazan sabotage-reconnaisance group (SRG), the enemy’s resistance turned out to be so potent that our units on the captured positions immediately faced a very precarious situation because the enemy’s means of inflicting damage clearly surpassed those of our assault groups.

  1. While in Mariinka street battles continued, from Kurakhovo the enemy received reinforcements comprised of tanks and mechanized infantry. At the same time, the NAF also deployed additional reinforcements to the settlement. The opposing sides’ artillery units assailed the incoming reinforcements (there are not entirely confirmed reports that our forces successfully targeted one of the columns advancing from Kurakhovo, resulting in the loss of approximately twenty armoured vehicles by the Ukrainian side). As well, there are reports from the Junta’s side that our forces also suffered losses on the approaches to the settlement. At this time, it is very difficult to determine the overall losses of equipment sustained by both sides.

  1. Toward the evening, the NAF’s advance into the settlement stalled, while the positions captured from the enemy were being subjected to very intense tank fire and artillery barragesthe fighting transformed into a positional battle. By approximately 4-5 pm, the Junta’s command finally figured out what was happening and carefully reported that the positions were being held and that there was no breakthrough, even though on both sides of the front there continued frantic screaming about a possible cauldron.

  1. The NAF command made a decision to shut up shop and, under cover from tanks and infantry, our units retreated to their main positions, retaining only a portion of the territory captured in the morning and during the day of June 3, 2015. Each side accused the other of attacking, while claiming fealty to the Minsk accords. In fact, however, both sides attempted an offensive on June 3, 2015, but neither one was able to secure a decisive success in their operations. Unsurprisingly, everything was routinely blamed on Russia, and the Junta’s shelling of the DPR cities and the night-time attempt by the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) to move the line of the front went unnoticed.

  1. In the course of the heavy fighting on June 3, 2015, both sides sustained serious manpower losses. Just one of the special forces units of the DPR that I spoke with reported 25 killed in the course of the fighting at Mariinka. An overall number of about 40 dead was mentioned, but, in reality, the tally could be even higher.

  1. According to the participants of the battles on June 3, 2015, the UAF lost over 200 fighters—the main losses occurred in the retreating Kiev Territorial Battalion and the units that received the brunt of the concentrated artillery fire on checkpoints in the Mariinka area and on the approaches to Mariinka from the Kurakhovo direction. As a result, a blood drive is still ongoing for Donetsk hospitals, while the Junta is collecting blood for the hospital in Kurakhovo and for those in Kiev, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, and other cities where the heavily wounded were transported after yesterday’s meat-grinder.

  1. Overall, and on the whole, what transpired resembled more than anything the battles at Peski in the winter of 2014-15: an obstinate battle without a decisive outcome. If we were to talk about those who fought for Mariinka, on the one hand, the special forces assault units of the DPR performed well, and on the other—the Junta’s infantry from the 28th Brigade demonstrated decent resilience in defence. Artillery on both sides also performed well. Overall, the opponents were worthy of each other.

  1. In the end, after the losses that were sustained and given the uncertainty of the results of the battle for Mariinka, the sides are now evidently licking their wounds and the intensity of the battles in the Mariinka area has sharply declined. The Junta was unable to realize the objectives of its offensive in the night of June 2-3, 2015, and the NAF was unable to take control of Mariinka in the course of the counter-offensive in the morning—during the day of June 3, 2015. All in all, the opponents, on the whole, ended up where they started—the line of the front moved somewhat in the NAF’s favour, and both sides paid dearly for it in blood.

  1. At the same time, in the course of the battles on June 3, 2015, and as a result of artillery shelling by Ukrainian forces, at least fifteen to twenty civilians were killed and dozens were wounded in Mariinka and in the suburbs of Donetsk. Overall, this was the bloodiest day of the war in Ukraine since the end of the battle for Debaltsevo, when the UAF suffered enormous losses during attempts to break out of the cauldron.

  1. Whether or not this fighting will continue will depend on the conclusions that the command will draw from analysing the outcomes of the battle for Mariinka. On the whole, frontal assaults against heavily fortified settlements are unlikely to yield quick victories and, as the NAF’s experience of successful operations shows, victories are not to be gained in such positional fighting, but in situations where a weakness in the enemy’s formations can be identified—just as was done in the battles for Kozhevnya and Marinovka in the summer of 2014, or in the Amvrosievka and Ilovaisk cauldrons, or with Logvinovo and Uglegorsk. The persistent assaults of Peski, Avdeevka, Nikishino, and Chernukhino, on the other hand, as a rule yielded very modest results accompanied by substantial losses.



4 thoughts on “Outcomes from the Battle for Mariinka on June 3, 2015

  1. the agresivenes from junta’s army, must to be explained by the number of foreign soldiers fighting along, specialy from US marines, poland etc.
    faulted strategies by NAF comanders, must to be rethink, frontal asaults are useless suicidals.


    Posted by aueg | Jun 18, 2015, 03:30


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