“The Next Move Is Ours”–Frontline Update, January 24 Summary



 “The Next Move Is Ours”–Frontline Update, January 24 Summary

By Cassad

Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

Junta is continuing positions north and north-west of the
Donetsk Airport runway. Yesterday our forces took the destroyed flight control
tower, and today pushed the enemy out of the bunker under the radar station.
Terminals and the adjacent town of Spartak is firmly held by Novorossia.
Avdeevka, Opytnoye, and the air defense garrison are still held by the junta.
The front here is comparatively stable. No major changes in Peski, both sides
hold a piece of the town and the front has stabilized.

Combat operations are continuing on the approaches to
Mariupol. Zakharchenko announced the beginning of the offensive there, but then
clarified that he did not intend to storm the city frontally. Nevertheless,
nobody is about to stop the operations there, and the junta positions east of
Mariupol are still being cleared. Mariupol saw yet another attempt to stage a
bloody provocation. The junta is quite predictable. There were plenty of
warnings, including through intelligence channels, that the junta was preparing
a bloody provocation. The reasons are entirely prosaic—the Volnovakha story did
not get traction, and there were plenty of indicators the bus was destroyed by
an anti-personnel mine explosion (although OSCE managed not to notice those indicators),
so the Grad version fell apart in two days. The subsequent hysterics could not
change the situation, just in the case of the Boeing, the bloody provocation failed
due to the clumsiness of its implementation (in this instance, due to the
clumsiness of the attempts to pretend a mine explosion was a Grad explosion).
But does clumsiness mean we should stop altogether? Not at all. Therefore we
should expect new provocations and they are taking place. In the case of today’s
Grad shelling of Mariupol it was clear in the first hours that the rockets flew
in from the western or north-western part of town, and Mariupol residents themselves
wrote that fire came from that side, pointing toward Mariupol airport (where
junta forces have been located since May, and which was used as a launching pad
for the seizure of Mariupol in June) and the town of Staryy Krym where
artillery positions covering Mariupol are located. Let me say again this is the
view expressed by Mariupol residents who witnessed the shelling. They were
voiced even before the official DPR position was made known.

Aside from the traditional junta version, that it was bloody
Putin using Novorossia forces to kill, there were already questions whether the
junta struck Mariupol accidentally or on purpose. The accidental shelling
suggests that the junta was trying to hit Novorossia forces located near
Mariupol and conducting operations on the approaches, but due to the clumsiness
of the artillerymen the volley hit the city (this version is supported by the
fact that junta artillery struck their own forces marching in a column by
Vinogradnoye). The other version is that it was done on purpose in order to
blame Novorossia, make the offensive more difficult for our forces, and cause a
reaction in Europe. It’s also possible it was a provocation on the go, when
after the accidental bombardment of Mariupol the junta tried Novorossia using
the same mechanism used in the case of Volnovakha. This version is supported by
the fact that in addition of rockets coming from west and north-west, the junta
and OSCE claim that additional rockets came from north-east, the direction of
Oktyabrskoye. Since it is difficult to imagine that at the same moment both
sides opened Grad fire and struck the same spot, the evident coordination of
actions suggest evil intent of the perpetrator. This poses a very important
question because, as OSCE is claiming the rockets came from north-east, then
how did rockets coming from north-west or the west? I don’t believe in

A few provocators, attempting to discredit Zakharchenko’s
and DPR’s official position, promoted the version of events suggesting fire
came from Novoazovsk and Berdyanskoye, forgetting that, consistent with the DPR
explanation, fire indeed came from Berdyanskoye, which is located west of
Mariupol. The Novoazovsk version was launched by the junta, but then it somehow
was transformed into a claim that the shelling was conducted by Novorossia
forces located around Oktyabrskoye. The provocateurs evidently did not manage
to keep up with the organizers of this incident, just as we saw in the case of
the Volnovakha bus, where the junta defenders claiming it was Grad bombardment,
began to claim the mine exploded because it was hit by a Grad, but only after
it could not be denied it was a mine. Therefore the provocateurs are better
advised to study equipment or at least the map of the area.

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The rapidity with which the “OSCE investigation “ appeared,
both at Volnovakha (where it was known ahead of time it was Russia’s fault, as
always) and here likewise suggests this was a planned provocation in order to
forestall the assault on Mariupol and increase diplomatic pressure on Russia,
and continue the efforts to label DPR and LPR terrorist organizations, which
the junta has been unsuccessfully trying for a long time. Since this
provocation also misfired, we should expect new ones, and DPR intelligence have
been warning to expect them for days.

The video with the Mariupol mercenary already reached the
internet in the West. This story illustrates the participation of Western
mercenaries in Mariupol fighting. Witnesses say that firefights have been
occurring in the Mariupol suburbs since January 23. Vinogradnoye is still held
by the junta but, judging by Zakharchenko’s announcements today, the junta will
be pushed closer toward the city, though it’s not clear whether it will be from
the east or bypassing the city.

The front is stable around Dokuchaevsk, the junta continues
artillery fire but is not attacking. The situation on the front is favors an
attack toward Donetsk. Our attempts to eject the enemy from Maryinka so far
have not had success. The likelihood of junta attack to seize the Petrovskiy
region of Donetsk, which has been expected since the fall, is not very high
right now. The junta artillery grouping at Krasnogorovka continues to operate.
But the seizure of Krasnyy Partisan increased the cohesion of our positions
north of Donetsk, since our forces can use the Donetsk-Gorlovka road which runs
parallel  to the front which has moved
north-west. Gorlovka is still being shelled, but our forces are continuing
efforts to take Dzerzhinskoye and Mayrosk. In the first case they reached the
approaches to the town, in the second there is contradictory information. Some
sources claim they reached the edge of town, others that they are clearing the
town. We have to await reliable information.

We are continuing active offensive operations in the
Debaltsevo sector in order to transform the salient into a pocket. Contrary to
some reports, Svetlodarsk is not yet captured, the Debaltsevo-Svetlodarsk has
not been cut, although it is under our artillery fire. There were battles today
at Nikishino (military correspondent “Borisych” was wounded, and our forces
took serious losses), and at Troitskoye where were are forcing the junta back
and reached Krasnoy Pakhar which is now a site of continuing battles. There are
likewise battles on approaches to Uglegorsk which is still controlled by the
junta, but whose capture would seriously complicate its situation. Our forces
are simultaneously are attacking the flanks and the base of the salient, trying
to find the weakest spot. The junta is exhibiting growing panic and is
hurriedly sending operational reserves here in order to avert a catastrophe,
therefore our offensive is developing slowly and less victoriously than one
would wish. But the tendency is favorable here. Enemy’s stubbornness on the
defense shows it should not be underestimated.

Mozgovoy’s attack on Popasnaya has not resulted in decisive successes.
Judging by the absence of victorious reports, the front has stabilized in the
Bakhmutka road sector, where the enemy started shoring up the frontline with
reserves. No major changes on the Stanitsa Luganskaya-Schastye-Slavyanoserbsk
sector. The active introduction of enemy reserves to shore up the front was a
forced measure, otherwise it would roll westwart, therefore the reserves earmarked
for a planned attack on the airport which had totally failed anyway, are now
being scattered all over the critical sectors of the front. This may create
opportunities for Novorossia forces in the short term, because the introduction
of our reserves may create decisive superiority on a chosen sector of the front
(I am assuming that if such a strike will come, there will be one main strike
and several supporting ones) and attempt a breakthrough of junta’s front.

The intensity of battle is continuing to increase, as
Novorossia is attempting to score an operational-level success near Debaltsevo,
which already forced the junta to react and commit operational reserves. The
next move is ours.

On the political arena, even the relatively minor forward
movement of Novorossia forces, which so far scored only tactical successes, is
causing unease among junta leadership and a genuine panic among Euromaidan “true
believers” who are now sure that “Poroshenko had dumped them”, and they are
being betrayed yet again. Europe is hastening to assist the mentally ill, by
simultaneously asking and demanding to stop Novorossia’s offensive and
threatening Russia with new sanctions if junta’s beatings will continue. It is
a classical approach, the junta is the weakest member of the gang, is trying to
elicit a reaction, and once the reaction followed in the form of the loss of
the Donetsk Airport, the gangs real heavyweights come out to protect the weak
provocateur. There was one major flaw in their plan, namely the embarrassingly
low quality of operational planning, because the junta suffered a major defeat
and lost a large number of troops and equipment in spite of significant
numerical superiority. This scenario is not to the liking of the junta’s
bosses, so they will try to slow down or stop Novorossia’s offensive so that
the junta is able to lick its wounds, restore its own forces, and try again.
Moscow is looking at these proposals with skepticism, therefore Zakharchenko is
confidently burying the Minsk format and says that if negotiations are to
resume, it will be on different terms.

So, overall, events are developing, even though with

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