Is the War in Donbass Back On? 3 Possible Scenarios

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February 1, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

Colonel Cassad – translated by J. Arnoldski –

Briefly on the situation in Avdeevka on February 1st:

1. Despite the statements of the UN, OSCE, US, and Russia on the need for a ceasefire, shelling and clashes continued over the night and into the morning of February 1st. As before, all available types of weapons are being used, including rocket volley systems. Everything points to the fact that the second anniversary of Minsk-2 will be met by both sides with active artillery fire.

2. Over the course of bombardments, dozens of homes in the Donetsk People’s Republic have been damaged. There are dead and wounded among civilians. Water shortages have started in Donetsk. In Avdeevka, the civilian population’s evacuation has been partially suspended as some residents have refused to leave the village. Full supplies to the village have still not been restored. The Avdeevka Coke Plant is still under threat of closure. According to several reports, an attempt at seizing Akhmetov’s assets and fighting over supremacy in the Opposition Bloc, in which Akhmetov is partially involved, are ongoing under the guise of war.

3. Avdeevka itself, as before, is under the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ control. Battles are raging to the east and southeast of the village. Yesterday, the stupidity of domestic media trumpeting a supposed “seizure of Avdeevka” generated a fair amount of garbage reports. Ukrainian media similarly did not fail to disappoint with fairy tales of an occupation of Kominternovo.

4. The junta has stated that their losses over the past day amount to 1 killed and 9 wounded. But the US State Department revealed in its statement on the situation that the UAF’s losses number in the dozens, which is closer to the figures suggested by the Ministry of Defense of the DPR. The DPR’s losses also appear to be very serious. The main damage, as before, is wreaked by artillery.

5. The active movement of Ukrainian reserves in the direction of Mariupol, the Volnovakha area, the Donetsk front, and the Popasnesk direction has been observed. Not only tanks and armored infantry vehicles, but also various engineering equipment are being pushed up to the front. It is worth recalling that some of these maneuvers are routine, while some are attempts to throw off DPR and LPR intelligence as to the areas of a potential strike.

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6. From our side, preparations are also underway. Vehicles are being fueled and awaiting signals. Men were brought back from leave a few days ago. Exercises are being interrupted, and in a number of areas additional activities to strengthen positions are being taken. There is the possibility of a further escalation which would lead to an “opening of packages.” 

The situation could essentially develop in one of the following ways: 

1. Following international pressure and several days of escalation, the situation will gradually subside and everything will return to the normal routine of a positional front war with low intensity combat operations and continuous “fights for the neutral zones” in the habitual format.

2. International pressure will not have any significant impact and the positional war will continue in a high-intensity phase with no transition by either side towards active operations of an offensive nature involving the deployment of second tier forces and operative reserves. In such a scenario, battles could drag on from weeks to months with subsequent attenuation due to losses in men and equipment, the overspending of ammunition, and the loss of informational and political reasons to continue this kind of intense operation.

3. The high-intensity phase of positional war could give way to offensive attempts by the UAF and the activation of operative reserves. Potential sectors for a UAF offensive include the Novoazovsk direction via Sakhanka and Kominternovo, the Volnovakha front with a strike through Elenovka and Dokuchaevsk (to Mospino or the border), a strike between Donetsk and Gorlovka (with the aim of physically cutting off the Donetsk-Gorlovka road plus a possible attempt at closing the clamp in the area of Yenakievo), a strike in the Pervomaysk and Stakhanov direction (with the deployment of operational reserves concentrated in the Artemovsk district), and an attempt to surround and take Slavyanoserbsk. 

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The aim of such an operation or multiple such operations on different sectors of the front would be seizing one of the major cities of the DPR or LPR (the most likely candidates are Dokuchaevsk, Pervomaysk, and Slavyanoserbsk) followed by stabilizing positions and returning to the “Minsk truce.” This would allow the Kiev junta to declare a military victory and establish the preconditions for a further continuation of the war. In such a case, the armed forces of Novorossiya would lead an active defense with the preparation of a counterattack against the advancing UAF. This would mean sending in the mechanized reserves concentrated on the threatened directions in the second tier…

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