cassad_eng (cassad_eng) wrote,

The South Front Catastrophe

Currently, we are witnessing epic and even historic events. Government army and punitive battalions are suffering a catastrophic defeat to the south of Donetsk. Even a short time ago the republics were in dire straits: the DPR was actually hanging by a thin supply thread - which the government attempted to cut near Shahtersk and Krasnyi Luch; the summit of Saur-Mogila was abandoned, and Bolotov's counteroffensive didn't bring decisive successes. Many thought that the self-defense militia forces were on the ropes and about to break, which would lead to the collapse of Novorossiya and military victory for the fascist junta. However, the militia managed to withstand the most severe blows, the ones junta dealt with all forces available to it, over the first half of August.
The junta made no secret of their goals, and openly spoke about preparing the assaults on Shahtersk and Lugansk. The number of triumphant reports with each new new breakthrough of mechanized battlegroups was off the charts.

The first critical moment came when the soldiers of the AFU(Armed Forces of Ukraine) 25th airborne brigade and Nationalist Guard units broke into Shakhtersk. The DPR in those days was literally hanging by a thread, junta got extremely close to a strategic victory. But the few militiamen that were fighting for the city held their ground until the reinforcements arrived, which saved Novorossia from being split into 2 parts. In subsequent battles the junta breakthrough in this location was stopped, and, after suffering heavy casualties in people and vehicles, the junta suffered a defeat there.

The second critical moment came when an attack was performed from Debalcevo through Faschevka, to meet the 24th Mechanized Brigade which was breaking out of the southern encirclement. It was an ambitious plan, the enemy tried to bisect Novorossiya by using the seemingly written off units as a strike group. This joint strike on Miusinsk and Krasnyi Luch triggered a severe crisis in Novorossiya - there were very few troops in this area. Miusinsk, which the mechanized convoys of the junta slipped through, was hardly defended at all, and some of the militia cossacks abandoned their positions in Krasnyi Luch. A real threat emerged of Novorossiya being split in two, and of the destruction of the militia forces in the area of Torez-Snezhnoye-Saur-Mogila. But again, the courage of ordinary soldiers who clung to the towns allowed to hold out until the reserves came, which cleared  the enemy out of Miusinsk and held Krasnyi Luch. After overcoming the crisis, the militia was able to win the decisive battles here, which had far-reaching consequences.

Because the offensive on Yasinovataya failed, a breakthrough to Verkhnyaya Krynka and Zhdanovka with the goal of cutting Gorlovka off was stopped, and the junta failed to make any progress at all towards Yenakievo - in the second half of August the junta offensive started to run out of steam and the militia gradually began to gain offensive momentum.

Objectively, the situation demanded that the junta stop the offensive, regroup, pull up reserves, create stores of fuel and ammunition, and then continue the offensive by assembling new strike groups. Nevertheless, political considerations required a continuation of the offensive by the same depleted battlegroups. Because the front in the LPR has stabilized as a whole, the south encirclement was routed, and the offensive to the north of Donetsk has been stopped, the junta tried to gain further PR victories by continuing its offensive in the south, trying to take Ilovaysk and Mospino head-on despite the serious operational risk. And as junta got more and more embroiled in these urban battles, the front of the offensive got narrower and narrower - it began in early August on a broad front, but already by August 20th it effectively boiled down to a single point.

The high water marks of this offensive were the southern slopes of the Saur-Mogila, the semi-encircled Mospino and the southern suburbs of Ilovaysk. In the last few days of the offensive, it was reduced to a simply shoving troops into Ilovaysk. Meanwhile, a threat was looming on the southern flank, one ignoring which later proved fatal. After finishing off the southern encirclement and after repelling the offensive on Miusinsk and Krasnyi Luch, the militia recaptured Marinovka (which switched sides 2 times in July-August) and started to seep along the border to the border checkpoint "Uspenka", starting to encircle the Amvrosievka group in the process.

[note from the translator: The above looks to be an abandoned self-propelled MSTA howitzer of the government forces, with the inscription "MINED" (probably just means it needs to be inspected for booby traps)]

It's hard to say why the junta didn't respond to this threat - perhaps they decided that it’s only reconnaissance/sabotage groups in this area, which would be unpleasant, but of no operational significance. Perhaps they thought that they will manage to take Ilovaysk sufficiently soon, and then fend off the threat from the south. As a result, the militia was able to accumulate a sufficient force to the south-east of Amvrosievka, and this force carried out a cleaving strike on the supply lines of the main forces of the junta that were embroiled in fighting near Ilovaysk, Mospino, and Saur-Mogila. At the same time, there was an attack by a militia mechanized battlegroup to the west of Mospino, towards the militia units that were advancing from the south - this turned out to be completely unexpected for the junta, because until recently they were the ones trying to encircle Mospino from both sides.

This is what the front line looked like on the eve of the attack on Amvrosievka.

The junta intelligence apparently missed this offensive, and as a result of this oversight a comparatively small militia force intercepted the main supply routes of the largest junta battlegroup to the south of Donetsk. That group is where most combat-capable units were gathered, including the 3 punitive battalions "Azov", "Shahtersk" and "Donbass-1", all the units that stormed Mospino, Saur-Mogila, and Ilovaysk, plus various reinforcement units and different independent companies. More than 5000 soldiers and about 180 various military vehicles ended up being surrounded, as well as up to 90 artillery pieces, mortars, and MLRS.

Comparing the two operations is ridiculous in terms of scale, but the militia actually carried out a mini- “encirclement operation” that was similar to Stalingrad Encirclement - a classic pincer strike in converging directions. Of course the junta battlegroup had no Romanians and no Italians on its flanks, but on one side there was just a hole, and on the other side there were screens that weren't supposed to withstand an attack by mechanized units. As a result, in addition to the remnants of the encirclement by Dyakovo, an "Amvrosiyevka encirclement" was created, around which the militia began to expand a widening controlled zone, expanding the offensive to the south and to the south-west, occupying settlements deep in the rear of the southern battlegroups of the junta. At the same time, the disorganization of junta command and control was growing rapidly. "Azov" battalion actually went AWOL and most of them ran to Mariupol, "Donbass-1" and "Shahtersk" battalions got stuck in urban combat for Ilovaysk and instead of breaking out of the cauldron, started to demand tanks and artillery from the military in order to continue the assault on the city, which by that time was pretty much a lost cause.

Because only rearguard detachments without heavy weapons remained on the outside of the encirclement, the militia immediately began to develop the offensive to the southwest of Amvrosievka, towards Starobeshevo, which was taken by the evening of August 26th. Meanwhile, militia fighters were already moving towards Volnovaha on the 25th. Effectively, once those strategic areas are taken, the junta won't even have positions from which it can try to break through to the surrounded forces. The encircled troops, in essence, ended up deep in the rear, far away from the new front line and with a limited supply of fuel and ammunition.
Ahead of this new frontline there is a gaping hole for the junta, and nothing to plug it with. The remnants of the junta forces, including "Azov" battalion, hastily retreated into Mariupol, abandoning several settlements virtually without a shot. Due to this, the militia rolled directly into the suburbs of Novoazovsk and onto the approaches to Mariupol. There's virtually no front on the junta side from the south of Starobeshevo and up until Novoazovsk. Lack of available militia forces is the only thing slowing the catastrophe down.

At the same time, the militia also developed their offensive to the west of Mospino, towards Ugledar, Yelenovka, and Nikolskoye. Here junta forces are few, so the militia offensive develops quite successfully, albeit not too rapidly. By Yelenovka, yet another "mini-encirclement" has formed, and the connectivity of the junta groups that held Donetsk in a semi-encirclement has been irreparably broken.

The junta has no reserves with which to relieve the encircled group and to cover the massive hole in the front - now they are hastily withdrawing troops from Perekop (Crimean border) and bringing territorial battalions of questionable combat readiness to the front. They also announced the 4th wave of mobilization and are trying to quickly drag the ancient vehicles from long-term storage towards the frontlines, in order to compensate for the huge losses in men and vehicles.

Overall, it is not quite clear how the junta will be able to avoid a complete defeat here. It will clearly not be able to restore the previous frontline, the only question is whether the surrounded ones will be able to break out (and as they will have to do so on their own, it's likely that they will have to make that decision ASAP) and where will the militia offensive stop - they still have fairly limited forces and they are now routing a larger force with a smaller force.

In the meantime, the once solid front which stretched from Marinovka to Yelenovka now broke up into separate pockets of resistance with intercepted supply lines. After this disaster it became absolutely clear that the junta has no military capability of destroying Novorossiya. By squandering the most combat-capable brigades in systematic offensive operations, the junta forces bled themselves white and suffered a crushing, purely military defeat. The southern front collapsed. Novorossia shall be! - the front line on August 26 (the map in high resolution)

Plus a lengthy, but a fairly accurate video review of the situation on the fronts

Original article: (in Russian)

This updated translation for the article was graciously contributed by tatzhit.

(from the translator: check out my channel - I may put English subs to a few of colonelcassad's shortly ).

The blogger contributed to this translation and has most other colonelcassad posts

translated into English

English-language maps to match the briefings are available at, one in this post taken from there

An updated, but untranslated map, the pincers around Starobeshevo are clearly shown by now.

Tags: donetsk people's republic, dpr, luhansk people's republic, russia, ukraine, war in ukraine

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