Fresh analysis from comrade Litvinov on the topic of August fighting in Donbass.
Fighting for initiative – August of 2014.
The military action that unfolded in the first decade of August 2014 in Donbass was determined mainly by the agony of the border "cauldron" of the armed congregations of Ukraine and by the deep raid of the two battalions from the constitution of the 30-th SMBr and the 95-th SABr of the AFU. The meaning of these events consisted in determining those frontiers from which the operations of the sides will be developed after the border "cauldrons" will inevitably and conclusively stop their existence. Fighting went on for advantageous frontiers and for further initiative.
The group of armed formations of Ukraine that was surrounded near the border originally included:
- a tank battalion of the 72-nd SMBr;
- three mechanized battalions (two from the constitution of the 72-nd SMBr and one from the constitution of the 24-th SMBr);
- two airborne battalions of the 79-th SABr;
- a battalion of special forces from the 3-rd separate regiment of special forces;
- tank, reconnaissance, and sniper detachments of the 51-st, 72-nd SMBr, 1-st STBr, 79-th SABr;
- 6 artillery divisions from the constitution of the 72-nd SMBr, 24-th SMBr, 51-st SMBr, and 79-th SABr.
The overall headcount of the group, taking the 500 service members of the border guard service of Ukraine reached 5 thousand people with 60-70 tanks, 200 armored vehicles, 130 cannons and rocket artillery vehicles. The fate of the group ended up being sad.
The first group to cease existing was the most Eastern group from the constitution of the 3-rd regiment of special forces, the tanks and artillery of the 72-nd SMBr and the special detachments of the 51-st SMBr, which was acting between Izvarino and Krasnopartizansk. It was completely routed already on July 15th and following that retreated in parts to the territory of the Russian Federation or to the locate of the main forces of the 2nd mechanized battalion of the 72-nd SMBr, South of Krasnopartizansk. Simultaneously the most western group was also defeated, which acted in the area South of Saur-Mogila near Stepanovka and Marinovka. This group included in its constitution the 1-st mechanized battalion of the 72-nd SMBr, which was reinforced with tanks and artillery of this brigade and with the special detachment of the regiment of the NGU "Gepard". The majority of this group wasn't encircled and retreated on July 15-17th to the West in the area of Grigorovka and Tarany. Only a part of it ended up in the "cauldron" in the area Dmitrovka – Dyakovo. As a result, the overall forces of the surrounded group amounted to about 4000 people. Among them about 1000 were evacuated according to the official data by wounded and dead during the fighting of June – July.
The fate of other surrounded forces differed. The mechanized and the tank battalions of the 72-nd SMBr with means of reinforcement were not only operationally but also tactically encircled in the area between Biryukovo and Krasnopartizansk. This happened because the careful command of the LPR militia (Bolotov's group) allocated sufficient forces for the blockade at the expense of other directions. As a result, the encircled group with a residual force of up to 500 people was forced to give up their weapons and to exit on the territory of the Russian Federation on August 4th. Such turn of events was exclusively beneficial for both the militia and the Russian Federation. If the Kiev regime will subject these soldiers to repression for what's happened, then they won't return to the front lines. If it won't subject them to repression, then the personnel of the punitive forces will get a clear confirmation of the fact that it is possible to abandon the positions if the situation is uncomfortable without punishment, if only this is not done en masse. Any development of this situation gives good grounds for anti-war propaganda on the territories controlled by the Kiev regime.
The group of punitive troops in the area of "Dolzhansky" checkpoint ended up in a similarly difficult situation. With an important difference that they couldn't retreat on the territory of the Russian Federation and it ended up being partially eliminated and partially captured on August 8th. The main forces of the encircled ones concentrated in the area of Dyakovo and performed an exist from the encirclement towards Dmitrovka – Marinovka – Chervonaya Zarya. This way about one and a half thousand people from the constitution of the 79-th SABr, 72-nd, and 24-th SMBr left the encirclement. Only the detachments of the 24-th SMBr managed to keep their heavy weapons, which joined fighting for Saur-Mogila together with the two battalions from the constitution of the 51-st SMBr and the 25-th VDBr, which were relocated into this area from the North. The actual retreat from the encirclement became possible because the militia command couldn't allocate sufficient forces for the tactical encirclement in this area. As a result, the AFU group turned into a classical "wandering" cauldron, the movement of which is very difficult to stop.
Thus, the losses of the border group of the AFU amounted to 1000 KIAs and wounded over the period of fighting between June and July and no less then 1000 MIAs. Those who retreated to the territory of Russia and the principal mass of those who left the encirclement on August 8th with a total headcount of 1500 people are of dubious benefit for further operations and may be counted among the irrevocable psychological losses, the use of which in military action is quite risky. No more than 500 people among the initial composition of 4000 surrounded ones remained combat capable.
As a result of sweeping of the detachments that were encircled near the border a large border area with a front edge on the line of Antratsit – Nizhny Nagolchik – Dyakovo – Dibrovka fell under militia control. However this front line is not very convenient for the defense and requires large forces for keeping it in perspective. The most advantageous defensive frontier of Novopetrovskoye – Grigorovka – Semenovskoye wasn't reached by the militia during its offensive operations. All of this makes the territorial successes of the militia in this area less robust in perspective.
Furthermore, a deep raid of two AFU battalions from the constitution of the 95-th SABr and the 30-th SMBR, which passed through Shakhtyorsk, Stepanovka, Latyshevo, Peredergiyevo, and further on Miusinsk, which was started on July 26-th from the area of Debaltsevo, not only led to the militia abandoning crucial points – Stepanovka, Marinovka, Dmitrovka, but also significantly changed the operative situation. There is no sense to view this raid as an operative conception – it is clear that the final result was achieved not due to well-designed conception, but due to the stubbornness and the attempts at preserving combat readiness of their detachments by the command of this group.
It must be said that the very advance of the punitive troops to the area of Krasnyi Luch is hard to call unexpected. That the punitive troops, having good starting positions in the area of Debaltsevo and Lutugino, will try to feel this area on the subject of capturing what is easy to capture was noted in the very beginning of August. The direction of the strike from the South also became quite obvious fairly early. On August 5th the punitive troops attacked Pobeda and Latyshevo South and South-East of Snezhnoye. On August 6th – also Latyshevo and Rassypnoye now East of Snezhnoye. On August 7th – Limanchuk North-East of Sneznoye and Snezhnoye itself in the area of "Chemmash". The strike group of the punitive troops was quite obviously wrapping Snezhnoye looking for a weak spot. The strike on Miusinsk on the evening of August 7th was predictable. Once the militia reserves pulled into fighting for Miusinsk, the similar expected spurt of the punitive troops from Debaltsevo to Krasnyi Luch followed, which was accomplished on August 8th. The punitive troops controlled its suburbs and outskirts, the road intersection North of the city and the suburb of Antratsit – Bokovo-Platovo. From the South the forces of the raid group also seek it. The militia forces are fighting in Miusinsk, on the approaches to Antratsit and in the situated between them suburb of Krasnyi Luch – Novopavlovka. Naturally, all of this doesn't mean that Krasnyi Luch is captured. The punitive forces are insufficient in order to securely control such a relatively big city and to provide for their own communications. But the situation again became critical out of nothing.
Why did this happen? Because neither Krasnyi Luch nor Miusinsk were occupied by forces that were sufficient for defense ahead of time, which didn't instrument the city for defense with respect to engineering. The story of Shakhtyorsk was repeated on a larger scale and with worse consequences. The militia, of course, had the forces in order to secure this area ahead of time with a sufficient group.
The DPR militia (Strelkov's group) couldn't do it. Their forces were already pulled into low-perspective fighting for preserving a continuous front line. The tension of forces in the area of Shakhtyorsk and Snezhnoye together with regular reaction to provocations on the subject of looming capture of Donetsk depleted their reserves. And led to not only abandoning Stepanovka, Marinovka, Dmitrovka, and Kozhevnya (which is not that bad) but also to the retreat of militia detachments from Saur-Mogila, which is quite lamentable from the point of view of this group itself and from the point of view of the overall militia situation. It must be noted that the perspective of abandoning Donetsk was absolutely unreal, no matter what would happen in the area of Mar'inka, Krasnogorovka, Avdeyevka, and Yasinovataya. It may become real only due to the development of the situation in the area of Miusinsk and Snezhnoye.
The Gorlovka militia (Bezler group) is in a no less difficult situation, its forces are bound in Gorlovka itself and in Yenakiyevo, on the approaches to Debaltsevo, and in the zone of the crash site of the "Boeing". This group even had nothing to parry the raid on Panteleymonovka on August 7th with. Even more difficult is the situation of the Stakhanov militia (Dremov group). That it manage to hold the occupied area with its own forces is already an exceptional result.
Certainly, the garrison of Krasnyi Luch and Miusinsk had to be reinforced with militia from Alchevsk (Mozgovoi group) and Antratsit (Kozitsyn group). However, immediately for the Kozitsyn group the value of Krasnyi Luch compared to opening traffic through Dolzhansky checkpoint isn't high. So the main and the best forces were deployed to the South against the "cauldron", which is absolutely natural. As for the group of Mozgovoi, then its commander also had absolutely urgent and much more important for him affairs, which were absolutely public. And as for the fact that not only Donetsk, Gorlovka, Stakhanov, but also Alchevsk militia group ended up in operational encirclement can only reinforce the opinion that the events in the area of Krasnyi Luch and Miusinsk is an insignificant business for the Alchevsk group.
The Luhansk militia group could also help (Bolotov's group), but here it needs to be noted, that his authority in the crucial area has exclusively and demonstratively formal nature. Therefore, it is quite problematic for him to command and evaluate the situate in the area. And redeploying the garrison from Luhansk into Krasnyi Luch and Miusinsk bypassing Antratsit is effectively impossible.
As a result of everything enumerated above, the militia, having the forces for the early occupation and fortification of a crucial point, having clear indications of the enemy intentions couldn't do this due to effectively objective reasons. But this is from the first view. In reality, the main reason for such a situation it deeply subjective – the continuing, ongoing, uncompromising, and, what's the most important, absolutely unpromising struggle for joint command that unfolds around militia commanders. This struggle is not just unpromising, but achieving success in it is possible in only one case, if all militia groups except one will be routed by the enemy. The reason for such situation is that around militia commanders there is absolute consensus on the question of what exactly is joint command. Namely, the joint command is "everything obeys the ONE, and the ONE obeys no-one, but, certainly, listens to those whose opinion HE considers reasonable". A small problem of such a consensus is that it is impossible to negotiate who is this ONE in such plane, absolutely impossible. Using force will inevitably lead to conducting military action within the militia.
In reality the joint command under the conditions of volunteer formations is possible only if the commander is directly accountable to a collegial organ of leading armed forces. And he has to motivate and be responsible for the results of his actions before such an organ, even if he thinks that everybody there is a profane and a pest. It is crucial that the commander cannot be the head of this collegial organ. And it is unnecessary to say that an appointment to the commander positions implies obligatory and immediate refusal from direct command of any separate grip.
The reasons for this, it seems, are absolutely obvious, and the problem is not in overload but such a refusal is a necessary compromise for the agreement between the others to subordinate and the unambiguous demonstration of equidistance from the interests of specific groups. It is lamentable that such obvious considerations evade the view of the militia command and the political leadership of the people's republics for more than a month.
As a general conclusion it must be noted that in the struggle for the most beneficial positions for further military action that unfolded during the first decade of August, after liquidating border cauldrons, the militia failed to achieve success. It failed to not only organize the offensive action on one of the perspective directions, although conditions for that existed, but also didn't keep a number of crucial positions for a possible offensive. The main reason for this – the unsolved organizational questions and excessive infatuation with rapid liquidation of border "cauldrons" and collecting trophies in them. The situation in the area Miusinsk – Krasnyi Luch – Antratsit does not have the nature of
a catastrophe, and given the sufficiently energetic and coordinated actions it is quite possible to resolve the crisis to the benefit of the militia. However, the militia lost the initiative. Whether the punitive troops managed to return it after their July offensive ran out of steam will be determined by the result of fighting during August 9-11.
Author: M.V. Litvinov
PS1. In the evening of August 10 fighting continued in the area of Krasnyi Luch, the junta is continuing the attempts to capture the city, but the redeployed reserves make the chances of that happening fleeting. Nevertheless, the continued fighting complicates the use of roads that pass through Krasnyi Luch, which is objectively unprofitable for the militia.
Work of the artillery of the LPR militia.
Original article: http://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/1723446.html (in Russian)