At this point the continued agony of the Debalcevo cauldron has two dimensions: the military dimension and the political dimension.
The military dimension.
By February 19 it became absolutely clear that the Svetlodarsk group of the AFU – even after pulling the reserves from the side of Artyomovsk and holding the bottleneck in the area of Svetlodarsk – cannot solve the problems posed by its command and unblock the M-103 road and also capture the adjacent settlements and numerically labeled high points. Despite all of the suffered losses, it ended up being impossible for the junta to establish full-fledged supplying of the encircled forces, so on the background of the attempts to unblock the encircled group getting stuck, the obvious processes of degradation of organized defense began inside the pocket itself. The lack of ammunition for heavy weapons, the lack of fuel and lubricants, the decrease of the morale of the defending forces — all of this led to the fact that the NAF finally managed to finish sweeping Chernukhino and captured the majority of Debalcevo, where yesterday they already put up the flag of Novorossia (I point your attention to this: Novorossia and not the DPR or the LPR – this is so to say a symbol of what can potentially come out of the federation or confederation of the people's republics). The work on sweeping the remaining hubs of resistance and disparate enemy groups continues.
The preconditions for capturing Debalcevo were created even before this, especially after the capture of the Debalcevo-Sortirovochnaya railroad station (n.b. in the eastern part of the city), which allowed the NAF's access by assault and sabotage groups free access to the urbanized area from south and south-east. At the same time the decrease of the junta military capability for resistance led to the enemy abandoning its positions to the south and to the south-west of Debalcevo (e.g., in the Olkhovatka stronghold) and to the withdrawal of its units towards Debalcevo, where they are closer to the way out. The junta's problem is that it cannot organize a full-fledged evacuation of the encircled forces, even the attempts to break through the country roads are fraught with significant losses, so despite cheerful communiques that some goners managed to make it, the principal mass of the encircled forces (up to 2.5-3 thousand people in combat ranks) is still stuck inside the cauldron. The organizational permutations already followed from the junta: the commander of the ATO forces Popko was removed and replaced with the previously purged Vorobyov, who, besides his screw-ups in Ilovaysk, was notable for his recent media attempts to turn himself into a replacement for the chief of the General Staff Muzhenko. However, while the former is being covered by Poroshenko, Vorobyov is forced to clean up messes that were piled up by his predecessors. Because overall the fighting of January-February uncovered the extremely low quality of the work done by the highest command structures of the AFU, it is unlikely to get any worse for the junta. As for whether there will be any positive changes with respect to commanding its military for the junta, we'll find out during the probable spring campaign. Alas, Vorobyov might not make it to the start of this campaign because he has more than plenty enemies among the military and the political leadership of the junta.
The last drop that led to the collapse were catastrophic miscalculations by the General Staff and the sector command, which didn't provide Logvinovo with proper defense, the necessity for which could be easily seen right after the junta missed a sudden strike on Uglegorsk. Furthermore, the defense of Logvinovo and the adjacent high points could have been organized using either the forces that are currently inside the pocket or by a timely redeployment of the reinforcements from Svetlodarsk or Artyomovsk to the area under threat. Due to this catastrophic miscalculation, in 1-2 days after the loss of Logvinovo and the interception of the communications of the Debalcevo group, the junta had to deploy a much bigger force in an attempt to recapture the unfortunate village than the force that would be needed to secure the defense of the village, if it were organized in its proper time. Already after the loss of Uglegorsk and entering Kalinovka the next step was obvious even for the military hobbyists. Yet, the leadership of the AFU General Staff and the ATO command were criminally inactive (or criminally negligent), which led to the encirclement and significant materiel and personnel losses.
At this stage the military question of Debalcevo has been effectively solved, the question only remains of how long will the agony last and how large the personnel losses to be suffered by the junta will be (KIAs, WIAs, and POWs), and also the magnitude of the materiel losses. It is no longer possible for the junta to avoid the losses, because one way or another the January NAF offensive actually reached its goal, albeit with a major effort. The concrete result was achieved: the Debalcevo group of the junta is being defeated right now. Regardless of how much of the enemy force will be able to break out of the encirclement, the NAF captured a major transport hub of the Novorossia (which will greatly simplify the NAF logistics) and defeated a large military group of the enemy, which allows us to state that a major operational success was achieved.
The political dimension.
After the junta leadership realized that no military way of fixing the situation near Debalcevo exists, the convulsive attempts to save whatever still can be saved began. Those who got out of the encirclement were immediately turned into "heroes", even though just recently they were a part of a different propaganda myth about holding the "Debalcevo bridgehead", but this myth collapsed shamefully, just like the one of "cyborgs". The "Ukrainian Stalingrad" turned into the next cauldron, which once again dealt a powerful blow to the military and the political leadership of the junta. Despite all of its alarmist rhetoric, it is not able to augment its military rhetoric with its military successes. The defeat in the battle for the airport and in the battle for Debalcevo effectively wiped out all of the successes that the junta achieved in the defense of the Peski-Avdeyevka bulge and in the area of the Bakhmutka road, where the NAF offensive had choked. So it is quite natural that the junta turned on the "urge for peace" in this background and started to push the RF and the EU towards signing a temporary truce. Currently the junta needs a temporary respite in order to put the sad story of Debalcevo behind it and stabilize the front in the area of Svetlodarsk, after which the Minsk truce has every chance to be enacted and the military action will be paused at least until April. It is remarkable that the junta could have negotiated the withdrawal of its forces out of Debalcevo during the Minsk negotiations and subsequently present a military retreat as a sacrifice to the political compromise (arguing that Europe demanded it) and avoid the military disgrace. However, Kiev, being pushed in the back by Washington and by the supporters of escalating the hybrid war in Ukraine, was suicidally stubborn in the Debalcevo question, due to which the Debalcevo question remained outside of the scope of any of the Minsk agreements. This allowed the NAF to bring the situation to its logical conclusion, delivering a quite tangible defeat to the AFU in the process.
Currently, Poroshenko is ready to seriously discuss the questions of deploying peacekeepers inside the buffer zone (which includes the obviously unacceptable for the RF form of deploying them on the border of the RF with the DPR and the LPR), which is supposed to secure a more effective separation of the two fighting sides. But here the problem is that given the lack of common ground for a durable political compromise, the peacekeepers are more likely to simply reinforce the existing front line as a future state border. This is not at all in the interests of Kiev and the USA, and even less in the interests of the DPR and the LPR, but the logic of the European attempt of freezing the conflict (which gets certain understanding in the RF, which is itself interested in reducing the intensity of this conflict) doesn't rule out such a radical form of freezing the situation. From the point of view of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, the appearance of peacekeepers will imply that Kiev has recognized that it is no longer able to resolve the situation on its own and that its claims to Donbass are effectively supported only by the help of international organizations and by previous guarantees from the USA and the EU.
After the question of Debalcevo has been put off the table, Poroshenko will try to use the truce to rearm the army, so despite the public rhetoric about the "peace process", the systemic work on pushing the weapons from the USA and its satellites into Ukraine continues in parallel. The new head of Pentagon, unlike the previous one, is an open supporter of providing the military aid to the junta and he has perfect relations with the Republican hawks, which includes the head of the Senate defense committee McCain.
Because the USA don't believe that the truce will last sufficiently long and that a political compromise will be found, they continue to work on extending the scope of the hybrid war against the RF. The primary task of the junta is to legalize the foreign military aid and to include more modern weapons into it, including weapons of American origin. Meanwhile the junta will have to solve the tasks of preventing its economy from crashing (the collapse of the social sphere is inevitable, but it is not worth expecting the economic collapse — the economy will be supported by implementing cannibalistic demands of the IMF), because given subsequent worsening of the economic situation the social tensions will increase (the problem of empty wallets and huge communal bills will start clearing the brains much faster than the flow of coffins from Donbass). The junta will attempt to reach the end of the truce with a rearmed army with replenished personnel, which they will try to bring up to 100-120 thousands (in Donbass). Another problem will be to compensate the current losses of armored vehicles, which will be especially difficult to do given those few relatively modern samples that were lost in the winter campaign — they will be replaced by the restored vehicles from long-term storage warehouses and also by various junk from Eastern Europe. All of this will require new purchases of weapons and materiel from the junta leadership, as well as further deployment of military industry and rear support services so that it will attain relatively long-term capabilities for conducting a hybrid war.
The junta has pretty much no chance of a military victory — those who didn't believe this after Ilovaysk have been finally convinced of this during the winter of 2015, when offensive and counter-offensive efforts by the junta ended up being impotent even despite its overall numerical superiority. So in the nearest perspective the junta will focus on strategic defense, counting that military and political, economic, or other pressure from the USA and its satellites on the RF will force the Kremlin to give up its positions in Ukraine. Within the confines of this logic, Kiev will inevitably violate the cease-fire and the military action will resume so that the war, which is so convenient for the USA, can be continued.
Original article: http://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/2053400.html (in Russian)