The fragile truce that came in February is almost openly used by the parties to the conflict to prepare for hostilities. On Monday, the following message appeared on Facebook’s press center on Facebook: “Workers from different regions of Ukraine are building up a system of fortifications along the line of demarcation. Defensive lines are equipped with bunkers, caponiers, dugouts. ” It does not seem that the political leadership of Ukraine sees the world as the near term for its people.
DILETENTS COLLECT LOSSES
9 April 2014, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov said that the situation in the regions where the ATO mode was introduced can be resolved within 48 hours. He noted that there are two options for the development of events in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions: political and power, the emphasis was placed on the word "power." As is known, the “situation” was not resolved in 48 hours.
With the outbreak of hostilities in the Donbass overwhelming advantage in manpower and equipment, air supremacy allowed the Ukrainian command to destroy the militia of the self-proclaimed DNR and LC, but this did not happen. Affected primarily by the lack of readiness for decisive actions and the sluggishness of the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as the poor controllability of the troops at the time at the disposal of the General Staff.
In the spring of 2014, the Ukrainian command had at its disposal, though not at its best, but still an army. The General Staff managed to concentrate sufficient forces in the south-east of the country for conducting successful hostilities: about 10-15 thousand bayonets, about 250 units of armored vehicles, artillery and Aviation. Donbass militia was armed only with rifle weapons, had no more than 2 thousand bayonets. Moreover, this insignificant force was scattered throughout the region, the largest group of fighters - around 800 bayonets - was in Slavyansk.
ATTENTION OF THE MATERIAL AND ADMINISTRATION OF CONFORMITY
Having missed the opportunity to suppress the armed uprising of the Pitmen and Lugansk citizens in the spring, Kiev made a serious attempt to smash the militia in July of 2014. The General Staff of Ukraine managed to significantly increase the number of troops, including at the expense of volunteer battalions, and create a significant advantage over the enemy in armored vehicles and artillery. By that time, the insurgent paramilitaries of Donbass also increased in number due to the influx of volunteers. In addition, the militia appeared armored vehicles, artillery and air defense. The last factor forced Kiev to abandon the use of aircraft in the fighting. The Ukrainian Armed Forces launched an offensive without regard to the possibility of enemy flank counterattacks and paid a heavy price for this. The order of Petro Poroshenko "to narrow the ring around the terrorists, to continue the operation to liberate the Donetsk and Lugansk regions" was not executed this time either. The summer offensive of the militia, successes near Ilovaisk, on the southern and south-western directions, threw the Ukrainian General Staff into shock. APU were a close touch from the loss of Mariupol.
Perhaps it was during this period that the Ukrainian command thought that the independence of numerous volunteer battalions as part of the ATO forces was a serious obstacle to the planning and organization of hostilities. In any case, having survived the August militia counterattack, the Illovaysky boiler, the loss of the Lugansk airport, and later, in the winter, the loss of Donetsk airport and Debaltsevsky bulge, the Interior Ministry, the General Staff of Ukraine finally decided to put an end to disarray in the forces involved in Donbass. Volunteer battalions that did not wish to go into submission to the Ministry of Defense or the Ministry of Internal Affairs are disarmed and disbanded, including in a strictly compulsory manner. The measure is necessary, the army must get rid of undisciplined "guerrillas", otherwise it will not be necessary to count on success in military operations. 11 of April of this year, Colonel-General Stepan Poltorak announced the complete reorganization of all volunteer formations and their subordination to the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the Security Service of Ukraine. It seems that he hurried with his statement.
As if in a pike to the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, a representative of the Right Sector banned on the territory of the Russian Federation Artem Skoropadsky informed the government, the public and the media of Nezalezhnaya that the militant wing of the Right Sector is ready to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but not “in the general rights”, but only a separate unit that will continue to obey its leader, Dmitry Yarosh. From which it can be concluded that the problem of complete subordination of the voluntary formations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has not been resolved. There remains one more problem: in the forces of the ATO there is no coherent system of subordination, which causes chaos in command and control. I will allow myself to refer to the opinion expressed by many Ukrainian bloggers and commanders of volunteer battalions. I will voice this opinion with the words of Semyon Semenchenko (commander of the Donbass battalion): “The Ukrainian army has enough strength and resources, but bad leadership interferes with the victory.” Unfortunately, I have to rely on the statements and opinions of non-professionals, what to do if the professionals in this regard are silent.
The operational command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, instead of working with the commanders and staffs of the formations, is forced to descend before setting tasks to a large number of patchwork units, bypassing the intermediate links. In addition to the inconvenience of a purely managerial nature, this method of command is also flawed by the fact that the tasks for the troops are set out from the “cabinet” without taking into account changes in the operational situation. Again, the absence of a well-structured military organization contributes to the issues of providing troops. And the main reason for the military failures of the Supreme Court of Ukraine are the "strange" decisions of the political leadership of Ukraine related to the ATO and military construction. The President of Ukraine too often attracts non-professionals to the management of power structures.
Donbass gets rid of machinis
In contrast to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the DPR and the LPR created their armed forces from scratch. Now the need to transform many partisan armed groups into a regular army for Donbass is acute. And here, the process of centralization of the control of the armed forces, as the militias call it - “gauging”, is actively going on. All paramilitary units that do not obey the command of the Donbass police are disarmed, sometimes with the use of force.
In the wake of the protest against the Kiev government, which came to power as a result of the coup, many armed groups of obviously criminal nature appeared in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Their elimination is one of the urgent tasks. Militia forces use truce to fight crime. One grip of this question cannot be solved, as practice shows, this struggle requires a lot of time and effort.
FORCES AND MEANS OF THE PARTIES
Since the APU uses the names of military units, units and formations that are not familiar to the ears of a Russian professional military, it is necessary in some cases to use conditional terminology. Think of it as the consequences of translation difficulties. Blogosphere publications were used as sources of information. Data on VSU were mainly obtained from sources of DNR and LC. Information about the troops of Donbass is taken from Ukrainian sources.
The structure of the ATO forces, whose command post (KP) is located in Kramatorsk, includes troops from two zones: the operational command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine - the "North" (headquarters in Zhytomyr) and the "South" (the headquarters in Dnipropetrovsk), whose headquarters are outside the theater. The group of troops of the ATO to 20 brigades, including six mechanized, three airmobile, one airborne, three artillery, etc. In addition, the National Guard, volunteer battalions and other structures subordinate to the Interior Ministry and the Security Service of Ukraine participate in the battles in the Donbass. Also attracted many so-called territorial battalions, staffed by volunteers. In fact, there is not a single full brigade at the front line, to be more precise, there are consolidated formations - battalion tactical groups (BTG) and company tactical groups (RTG), including subunits of various branches of the Ground Forces.
BTG, RTG and other units are grouped into sectors, each of them has its own area of responsibility or a front sector. The sector can be conditionally equated to a division of an incomplete staffed interspersed with subunits from different formations, structures and departments, and a different state of combat capability. In addition to the army forces, these sectors include units of the National Guard and other militarized organizations subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine, including volunteer formations such as Azov, Dnepr, Donbass, and others. It arose under the pressure of circumstances and in connection with the operational situation that developed at the first stage of the war, as well as due to the lack of a front line. Now military operations in the Donbass are moving to a qualitatively different state and taking on the features of a maneuverable positional war, where there is a front line, battle formations are layered in depth, operating lines and rocadas take on a different quality value, to solve the issues of support, replenishment, redeployment of troops and maneuver. In the new conditions, the advantage will be on the side of the regular army with the right structure, competent commanders and flawlessly working headquarters and rear.
By the beginning of April 2015, the Ukrainian side had 60–65 thousand people, taking into account the rear units and volunteer battalions. By June, an increase in ATO forces to 80–85 thousand, or even up to 100 thousand bayonets, is possible. As for military equipment, about 250-300 units from the existing reserve can be added to the number of armored vehicles that are already participating in the database. Basically, the Ukrainian army will have to be content with what it is, since there is simply nowhere to take more. Only the supply of military equipment from abroad can save the situation. As for towed artillery, the stocks of guns in warehouses are not yet exhausted. Today forces of anti-terrorist operation have about three hundred tanks, about 900 armored personnel carriers (about 300 more can be prepared during the year), the security forces have about 800 units of barrels and rocket artillery, of which about 300 units are self-propelled guns. In the ammunition, Ukrainian security officials are not experiencing a shortage.
Donbas police has increased significantly over the past three to four months. Replenishment of the Armed Forces of Novorossia (VSN) with personnel and equipment was essential. By the beginning of April, the number of militias was estimated at 35 – 40 thousand bayonets, by June it is projected to increase to 62 – 65 thousand bayonets. The assets of the militia around 500 tanks, approximately 700 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles (there is a noticeable lag from the APU). VSN has about 800 units of barrel and rocket artillery and has a great advantage over the enemy in the number of MLRS.
At the moment, we can say that the VSN consist of two army corps (AK). The merger is not fully completed due to some organizational tensions between the DNI and LPR elites. But be that as it may, errors related to the lack of interaction between the divisions of the troops of the two republics in the battles of Debaltseve were taken into account, and moreover, there is information about the presence of a general operational control. The Ukrainian side believes that such rapid positive changes in the military construction of the republics of Donbass occurred thanks to the “advisers”.
The 1-th AK (KP in Donetsk) consists of five motorized rifle brigades, one artillery brigade, a separate commandant regiment, three separate special-purpose units and three brigades are being formed at the present moment, to which individual BTGs, which are not yet part of not a single connection. The 2 th AK (KP in Lugansk) consists of three motorized rifle brigades, a separate commandant regiment. At the moment, three more motorized riflemen, one artillery and one tank brigade are completing their formation. It must be admitted that the BCH succeeded in matters of military construction and are ahead of their adversary in this matter - the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
NO SPECIAL ADVANTAGES NONE OF ONE OF THE PARTIES
Consider the entire front line from the flank, abutting against the border with Russia not far from the Bolotennoye n / a, Luhansk region and to the n / n Shyrokyne, where the other flank of the front rests on the Sea of Azov. We are talking about the troops located directly on the line of contact. The following information is taken from the web; sources were the publications of Ukrainian and Novoros bloggers.
Sector A of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has more than 3,1 thousand personnel, 20 tanks, up to 200 armored vehicles, about 100 mortars, the same number of towed artillery, 80 MLRS. This sector looms over Lugansk from the north: its zone of responsibility along the front is from Severodonetsk to the border with the Russian Federation, in depth to the cities of Happiness and Starobelsk. As part of sector B (Latin letters are used in the designation of ATO sectors) over 2,2 thousand bayonets, up to 30 tanks, around 120 BTR and BMP, around 100 mortars, about 80 artillery pieces and about 30 RSZO. This sector takes positions from Severodonetsk to the administrative border of Lugansk and Donetsk regions.
Barrel and rocket artillery - the main fire force of this war. Reuters Photos
On the part of the LC in this sector of the front, combat operations are conducted: the Second Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (OMBR), the Cossack regiments of Kozitsyn and Dremova, the Third OMBr "Ghost". In a group of about 7 thousand soldiers, up to 50 tanks, about 140 armored vehicles and more than 240 units of barrel and rocket artillery. The rest of the formations, units and separate units of the 2 AK (Second Army Corps VSN, which was formed on the basis of the people's militia of the LPR) were moved to the rear and are engaged in comprehensive preparation for a possible continuation of hostilities.
In this region of Donbass, there is an increased activity of sabotage groups of the opposing sides operating in the frontline zones.
In the sector C of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the number of personnel is more than 4 thousand bayonets. After the departure from Debaltsev, the sector is understaffed, there is no information about the presence of armored vehicles and artillery. Sector units occupy a front area at the turn: Popasna-Svetlodarsk-Dzerzhinsk. To its right is sector D, whose forces are estimated at more than 4 thousand bayonets, 50 tanks, 250 – 300 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, around 100 mortars, around 200 artillery pieces of different caliber, over 100 RSZO. The leading edge of this sector runs along the line: Dzerzhinsk – Enakievo – Avdiivka – Krasnogorovka.
Sectors of the Armed Forces of Ukraine C and D are confronted with the first echelons of the following connections and subdivisions of the VSN: seven Kalmius OMBRs, three Berkut OMBRs, Vostok OMBRs, one Slavyanskaya OMBr, and two BTG Guard DPR. The number of the entire group - more than 14 thousand people. It has about 120 tanks, up to 100 armored vehicles, about 200 barrel and rocket artillery units.
Sector E of the Armed Forces of Ukraine occupies a section of the front from the Krasnogorovka station to the Glorious station. The strength of this compound is estimated at 3, thousand people, up to 20 tanks, no more than 100 armored vehicles, about 150 barrel and rocket artillery units. The sector’s flanks cover the M4 and H15 highways, which the Ukrainian Armed Forces use as operating lines.
Sector F of the Armed Forces of Ukraine occupies the area between Volnovakha and Novotroitsky. The main forces of the sector are drawn to the rear, this arrangement of troops makes it easy to maneuver them. Apparently, in this sector of the front, the Ukrainian General Staff is concentrating troops to repeat the attempt to reach Donetsk from the south. The size of the sector 4 thousand bayonets and more. About 50 tanks are concentrated here, around 150 armored vehicles, around 300 units of receiver and rocket artillery.
From the side of the DPR, the front against sectors E and F holds the Oplot 5. The rebels in this area up to 3 thousand fighters, 25 – 30 tanks, up to 100 armored vehicles, 110 – 120 barrel and rocket artillery units. Combat orders of the brigade are somewhat stretched, but this deficiency compensates for the reserve of the BCH, which is concentrated in the Amvrosiivka area.
Sector G of the ATO forces has positions in the Mariupol area, at its disposal over 4 thousand soldiers, about 30 tanks, 120 – 150 armored vehicles, over 300 barreled and rocket artillery units. According to the intelligence of the militia, units of the 93 mechanized, 17 tank, 95 airmobile, 40 artillery brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the National Guard, the Azov regiment, the Donbass and Dnepr battalions are stationed in Mariupol and its environs. , "Holy Mary", police battalions from Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Vinnitsa, fighters of the Volunteer Ukrainian Corps of the "Right Sector" (DUK PS). Movement was observed in Mariupol itself: Msta S self-propelled guns; displacement in towable and towed form of mortar "Cornflower", D30 howitzers, movement of small columns of armored vehicles: Т64, BTR-4Е, BTR-70. One of the points of ammunition found in the village of Agrobasa, which is located along the road to Mangush, just outside the city. The leading edge of the sector’s defense runs along the line: Shirokino (exclusively), Kominternovo, October (exclusively), Pavlopol, Chermalik, Nikolaevka (exclusively), Granite.
The left flank of sector G does not just cover the Granit n / a, a shock group is formed here that creates a threat of a breakthrough to Telmanovo and further east. If successful, such an action by the Ukrainian troops could cut off the militia rocade (Т0508 highway, Novoazovsk – Donetsk).
No such detailed information could be found about the VSN forces in the area. According to the Ukrainian side, the militia concentrated here up to 2,5 thousand troops, around 30 tanks, up to 90 armored vehicles and roughly 140 units of receiver and rocket artillery.
The above was given so that the reader could imagine the whole picture. I admit that there are some inaccuracies in the information provided, I have to rely on available sources and take into account that the operational situation is constantly changing.
Donbass' Coming Perspective Is Not Clear
Karl von Clausewitz once remarked that war is the continuation of politics by other (violent) means. The statement that the military must obey politicians also belongs to him. It is not the military that unleashes wars, but politicians, and responsibility for the consequences also lies on them. The political leadership of Ukraine, in fact, having no realistic plan for the future for the development of the country and state-building, is forced to make a choice in favor of continuing the war. The situation is aggravated by the fact that political decisions for Square are not made in Kiev, but in Washington. President Poroshenko cannot stop military actions by his decision for many reasons. One of the reasons has already been named, the second is the strongest economic crisis that hit Ukraine. The country's leadership is not able to cope with it and simply closes the holes with the help of loans and the money that one way or another is at the disposal of the government, including acting as taxes. The level of corruption in the power structures of Ukraine is unusually high, the standard of living of the country's population is rapidly falling, and the war makes it possible to maintain patriotic sentiments among the people, thanks to it the image of the enemy has been created and the masses' hatred is aimed at this image. The economic crisis, the increase in utility tariffs, the reduction of social programs, and in general all mistakes and intentional negative actions of the country's political leadership are written off to war. If the war stops tomorrow, Kiev will immediately face many unsolvable problems that can lead to the rise of a wave of popular discontent and the emergence of new confrontations. His allies, the Ukrainian nationalists, can speak up against the Ukrainian government in arms.
As for the political leadership of the LC and the DPR, then they have no realistic plans for state-building. So it turns out that the war for Kiev and the Donbass at the moment is the only realistic political plan for the near future, by the way, allowing to receive significant outside help. The third truce is used by both parties to actively prepare for the continuation of hostilities. In forces and means, the warring parties have practically reached equilibrium. Across the confrontation line, despite reaching a cease-fire agreement, there are shelling in varying degrees of intensity, both barreled and rocket artillery are involved in the case. Both sides declare the activation of the enemy's DRG in the front-line zone. But at the same time large-scale hostilities do not start, everyone is waiting for a flick from overseas.
WAR GOES TO VICTORY
I don’t know whether Petro Poroshenko read Clausewitz or not, but this German’s famous postulate “war is fought to victory, and the point” to the Ukrainian president seems to be familiar. In the public speeches of the commander-in-chief of the “zbroynyh forces” no-no and his intention to fight to the last Ukrainians is slipping. Politicians and both sides are talking about a possible resumption of hostilities in the south-east of Ukraine since the first day of the truce.
The military plans of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and VSN are interrelated in many respects; here, as in a chess game, the troops are positioned so that they can instantly react to any opponent’s move. The Ukrainian side has noticeably strengthened the shelling of the front edge and the frontline zone of the Donbass police in the Lugansk and Donetsk directions, as well as in the Shirokin area. In some places, attacks were carried out with small forces, which could have been mistaken for reconnaissance in force, but most likely these were distracting actions to hide the maneuver of troops on another sector of the front.
It is difficult to imagine that the Ukrainian General Staff will decide to storm Donetsk, Lugansk or Gorlovka. Firstly, the APU does not have the experience to take large, partially prepared for defense cities with strong garrisons. In the event of an assault, huge losses cannot be avoided. Secondly, the Ukrainian side does not possess sufficient forces and means for these purposes. More realistic for ATO forces may be a repetition of attempts to block Donetsk. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine concentrates troops in the area of Artyomovsk and Volnovakhi. It can be assumed that attacks are being prepared on Debaltseve, then bypassing Gorlovka and on Dokuchaevsk, then on Starobeshevo. The task of such movements is simple: to create a bridgehead for the operation to cut off Donetsk from the rest of the rebellious territory. As Clausewitz wrote, “if you want to win, beat at the very heart of the enemy”. The old plan, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has already tried to implement it. The Ukrainian side is unlikely to take a breakthrough to a great depth. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine may try to perform this task in several stages, if, of course, it is solved. As a distracting action, in order to prevent the BCH from transferring troops along rocade to dangerous areas of the front, ATO forces may be attacked in Lugansk, Telmanovo, the north-western outskirts of Donetsk (including the airport) and Novoazovsk. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has concentrated sufficient forces for such tasks in Lysychansk, north-west of Donetsk, as well as in Granite and Mariupol.
There are other possible options. One thing I can say definitely: no matter what the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine undertakes, the offensive outburst of the Ukrainian troops is not so great and the morale of the regular troops is not so high that you can rely on these qualities. The forces of the Ukrainian army are not enough to ensure numerical, technical and fire superiority over the enemy along the entire front line. The Ukrainian command is not able to concentrate the troops in order to achieve multiple superiority in the forces in the breakthrough sector imperceptibly for the enemy. Here it is necessary to agree with the statement of Vladimir Putin that the result of the new attempt by the Ukrainian Armed Forces will be the same as in the summer of 2014 and in the winter of 2015.
WHAT CAN THE VSN ANSWER TO THE OPINION OF THE OPPONENT
The current truce allows the Ukrainian Armed Forces to prepare troops, regroup, replenish troops, supply troops with everything necessary for conducting military operations, prepare for defense where appropriate, including in engineering terms. Command BCH certainly takes into account this fact.
On the part of the BCH, counter-attacks are possible on the flanks of the Artyomovsk grouping of the enemy and the creation of a new boiler in the Svetlodarsk region in the event of an offensive action of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on this sector. Serious battles can start in the area of Dokuchaevsk, if the Ukrainian Armed Forces make an attempt to reach Donetsk from the south. It is possible that the VSN command is planning to destroy the Ukrainian troops concentrated in the Avdeevka – Marinka – Selidovo triangle. Such an action would have allowed the enemy to be dropped a long distance from Donetsk, thereby securing the city. But in the operational situation that has developed at the moment, taking into account all the forces and means available to the militia, such an offensive is unlikely, it cannot do without help.
VSN is preparing for fights on its left flank. In the event of a resumption of hostilities, the Ukrainian side will certainly abandon its irregular forces here (Azov and other partisans who are already rushing to fight) as a distracting blow, which was discussed above.
LEFT BANK, RIGHT BANK
We can say that in a sense, Ukraine returned to the XVII century, during the times of the Hetman and the Ruins. The modern confrontation of Donbass and Kiev is similar to the events of that era: the armed uprising of the left-bank Cossacks, to Russia, against the right-bank one, which was inclined towards citizenship of the Polish king, or the Turkish sultan.
The hardest times in those early years came during the reign of Hetman Peter Doroshenko. Ironically, the current Ukrainian crisis is associated with a name consistent with that historical character. It seems that someone was joking evil. Is it really история repeated, and this time in the form of a cruel farce?
FOR THE YEAR OF MILITARY ACTIONS IN THE DONBASS TERRITORY
The total death toll, according to German intelligence, exceeded 50 thousand people. These figures look realistic, about the same statistics (50 thousand dead per year) has the Syrian civil war.
According to the President Poroshenko himself, Donbass lost up to 40% of industrial facilities, only about 600 enterprises. The leader of the DPR, Alexander Zakharchenko, gives a more pessimistic estimate of losses. According to his information, 90% of industrial enterprises have been stopped, and 70% have been completely or partially destroyed.
The exact number of homes destroyed remains to be calculated. According to preliminary estimates, during the fighting destroyed about 12% of the total housing stock. Damaged 1514 railway infrastructure, more than 1,5 thousand km of roads and 33 bridge. The number of refugees is approaching 2 million.
How many soldiers died in battle, remains to be seen. Each side seeks to understate their losses and inflate the losses of the enemy. The information provided by both parties is not credible. However, an approximate assessment of the loss of military equipment and artillery of the Armed Forces of Ukraine can be done thanks to the revelations of President Poroshenko. Only for the summer company 2014, it was 65% of the total park at the disposal of the Supreme Court of Ukraine. Even without accurate data, the overall picture of this information can be imagined. The loss of military equipment VSN difficult to determine.