June 3, 2015
By Aleksandr Zhuchkovskiy
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Judging by the situation that has unfolded over the last 24 hours, “it’s on!” The number of hot-spots has increased, as did the level of firepower used. There were rumors earlier today that we were ordered to stand pat or even withdraw from captured positions (because the “ceasefire” must be observed, you know…). It’s not so. As far as I know, the Center gave the go ahead to continue advancing, especially in the vicinity of Donetsk (Maryinka, Krasnogorovka, Avdeyevka).
The situation is now moderately favorable. Moderately, because the UAF used the ceasefire to fortify their positions and brought up large amount of armored equipment, therefore a breakthrough won’t be easy. Favorable, because we also haven’t sat on our hands, and because the Center is active (we have noted the activization of Voyentorg both on the border and on the territory).
Enemy raiding groups have become more active. Two pick-up trucks drove up to Debaltsevo yesterday, carrying 2 mortars and 5 crew. They fired 20 shells at the city (a few civilians wounded). The raiders were killed by the militia upon departing the city, though the vehicles managed to get away. Raiding group activity is an indicator that large-scale operations may soon resume.
Fighting in Maryinka is continuing, our positions are under 122mm and 203mm howitzer fire, tanks, other equipment. People on the spot are telling us that UAF has suffered massive losses, especially in equipment that was located in the first line. It’s too early to discuss exact numbers, they are not coping with evacuating the dead from the battlefield (official UAF data always underestimates own casualties). They are bringing up heavy reinforcements from the entire front line, there are columns of equipment several kilometers long. They are being brought up to Donetsk, Gorlovka, and Yasinovata. The second line of UAF defense was put on full alert.
An important clarification: when we say that “Voyentorg is working”, it doesn’t mean that “troops are marching.” It means that we are getting a little help and back-up. The militia is doing most of the fighting. If the Northern Wind were to start blowing on a serious scale, as it did at Ilovaysk, for example, there wouldn’t be a wet spot left after the UAF around Donetsk.
J.Hawk’s Comment: The headline is mine and it reflects the situation after one day of fighting around Maryinka, except now it’s UAF that has to worry about either recovering a town it has lost to a surprise attack, or at the very least prevent further westward progress of NAF forces, in the process weakening other sectors of the front…
It is entirely plausible that the UAF indeed suffered heavy losses, especially in heavy equipment and armored vehicles which sat motionless in permanent defensive positions long enough to be detected by NAF reconnaissance and targeted by artillery fire. The only question is how the situation is going to evolve. There are several possibilities.
–Lengthy positional battle of attrition with heavy artillery support on both sides. Neither side really wants that as the armies in question are too small to consider attrition an effective tactic. Which means that there’s danger it would become a general battle along the entire front line.
–NAF withdraws from Maryinka. There’s opposition to that, including from the soldiers themselves who after all captured at least half of the town. However, it’s ultimately “the Center” that’s going to have the last word, and the Center does not wish the situation to escalate to the level of the first scenario discussed above.
–UAF withdraws from Maryinka. That would be an embarrassment, but at the same time Poroshenko has what he needs already, namely another example of Russian aggression which is always handy to have at a time when Ukraine is teetering on the brink of default and the EU is considering lifting or extending sanctions on Russia. Moreover, it’s not as if Ukraine can afford another round of large-scale fighting.