By Roman Burko
ATO Slowly Consolidates Around Donetsk and Horlivka
Having passed through Olkhovatka and Bulavynske, the ATO forces reached the eastern outskirts of Yenakijeve. It is important to realize that Horlivka is in fact two interlinked towns comprising Horlivka (north of the M04) and Yenakijeve (south of M04) where groups of terrorists have built a network of fortified localities. The area also contains water barriers that complicate the armed forces advance. Most likely that is the reason why the ATO forces lunged south towards Zhdanivka (south of Yenakijevo). There is no confirmed information in regards to the liberation of this urban area as the information is contradictory. However considering how actively the militants are abandoning Horlivka, as was noticed closer to the Sunday evening, they have lost control of the situation in Zhdanivka.
Thus the slip knot around the neck of Bezler’s group (call sign “Bes” (daemon)) is beginning to tighten. However, it must be remembered that some earth roads are still open, and these can be used by militants to retreat towards Dontesk or Svitlodarsk.
Considering the successful work of Ukrainian artillery and air forces, the danger of terrorists’ counter attacks in the direction of Debaltseve and Artemivsk has receded. The militants’ forces are evidently exhausted in this zone. Also the concern of an attack in the area of Panteleimonivka in order to unblock another way to Donetsk has also diminished, considering that the ATO forces advance towards Yasynuvata, thus covering one of the possible directions of such a strike.
As for Donetsk, the positions of the ATO and terrorist forces have changed a little over the weekend. The Ukrainian forces continued their attempts to advance from south-east via Mospyne, and even though they have not been very successful they forced the enemy to deploy new forces from the direction of Torez and Snizhne, thus depriving its striking power towards Savur-Mohyla. Besides, reconnaissance and diversionary groups of Ukrainian forces began to work in the city.
As we repeatedly stated before, the terrorists should not be thrown in an arc of strangulation and locked within densely populated towns. A rat pushed into the corner is capable of more aggressive and inadequate actions. It is surely necessary to leave controlled corridors used for pushing the militants out of urban areas to throw them into the fields. It remains a mystery why such a tactics is still not employed while the race for besieging and entrapping continues.
Over the weekend we had a chance to communicate with several fighters of volunteer battalions who directly participated in the recent engagements near Ilovaisk and other areas of the “D sector” of ATO. The guys state the fact that in the border line areas they are confronted not only by the groups of mercenary terrorists but also by the regular Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the General Staff of the Russian Federation. They say this is obvious according to the nature of teamwork of the enemy in conducting the battle, their battle uniforms and equipment, and their level of training. Over and above this, Ukrainian soldiers now and then capture regular troops of the Special Forces of the GRU. Also fire support is provided both from the territory of the Russian Federation and by shelling with MLRS BM-21 “Grad” previously deployed to the Ukrainian territory.
The Luhansk Oblast
Pervomaisk remains under control of terrorists; however the ATO forces have achieved progress from the northern direction, approaching closer and closer to this urban area. This is forcing the militants to pull back to Stakhanov settlement and further back to Alchevsk-Perevalsk, though they do it very unwillingly, still trying to counterstrike in the direction of Popasna.
A number of reports regarding redisposition of the terrorist forces, as well as movement of their armored vehicles towards Izvaryne suggest that they are playing a game of trying to obscure the location of their forces. It is clear they are employing their “white Trojan horses” located at this border checkpoint as a distraction, while they intentionally disguised the change of positions of their tanks and armored vehicles. Considering this fact we can suggest, that after successful inspections by the Red Cross representatives on the border, the half empty trucks will proceed into the territories controlled by terrorists. Right then the trucks will be loaded with the Russian armored vehicles, weapons and ammunition supplies which have been previously deployed via back country roads, for the secret transportation to Donetsk and other places where they are having trouble re-supplying.
Growing Problems with Attacks in the Rear of ATO forces
Over the last weekend we observed the beginning of aggressive activity from terrorist raiding units in the rear of Ukrainian military forces. For instance from Friday night to Saturday, a battle took place nearby the village of Mayaky (in Sloviansk district of the Donetsk Oblast). A similar situation can be observed in the Debaltseve district. A group of Ukrainian Special Forces that has being advancing upon Krasnyi Luch from the north-westward direction, while others were pushing east towards Alchevsk-Perevalsk. These forces unexpectedly discovered terrorists behind their lines in the area of Chornukhyne (close to Debaltseve). Such circumstances impelled transferring a part of the ATO forces to resolve the problem, thus reducing the effectiveness of the advancing forces.
Provocations and sabotage continue on the territory of the Amvrosiivskyi district in the rear of the ATO forces; dynamic actions were also observed in the area of Novoazovsk; fortunately the terrorists have been unsuccessful so far.
With this situation in mind it is important to pay attention to the possibility of unpleasant surprises from the direction of the settlement of Andriivka towards the high point (elevation) of Karachun; as well as the settlements of Shurove and Svyatohirsk which have not been completely secured.
Downing of the MiG-29 of the Ukrainian Air Force
The circumstance of the loss of the MiG-29 on 17 August leaves a lot of questions unanswered. The issue is what kind of weapon could be used to bring down the plane. There are suggestions that since it’s very difficult to shoot down a MiG with “Buk” or MANPADS, this could be done with the help of Russian specialists operating an S-300 system. But this is just an assumption; we are completely open to the discussion on this issue and the evaluation of new facts if provided by witnesses.
Dangers of Further Russian Provocation and Full Scale War
We should not forget about the possible dangers outside the ATO zone. Both in the private channels of terrorists (Zello, insider information) and in the public domain, there have been references to the date of August 19th, when a possible provocation from the Russian side could occur. The range of possible options is very wide, from large-scale sabotage and terrorist attacks to pre-emptive missile strikes. we believe that any of the options would be feasible and, moreover, the possibility of its implementation depends only on direct command from the Kremlin. We should not forget that a critical mass of Russian sabotage groups has been prepared, and they’re biding their time in the deep rear of the ATO. In such circumstances, the jingoistic tendencies and calls to throw all the forces to the East look naive. In the case of the Russian Army’s surgical strike in the direction of Kharkiv with the simultaneous advance from the southern direction, the ATO forces with the best trained units and soldiers, hardened by fighting, could end up encircled exactly there. A parallel advance by the Russian Army on Sumy and Chernihiv oblasts and their march on Kyiv won’t be far behind. This version is indirectly confirmed by the conversations of terrorists via Zello, in which they state that their main task is to wear down the Ukrainian forces as much as possible, to pave the way for the Russian Army actions.
Those who naively believe that a full-scale war with Russia will not happen are profoundly mistaken. We believe we won’t be able to avoid the war. We can only try and postpone it through diplomatic efforts and continuous defensive deployments at the locations of potential strikes, but it can’t be avoided altogether. Of course, we can hope for Western military aid, but we shouldn’t get carried away; no one will do our work for us. We can only draw from the experience of guerrilla wars and immediately create groups that could oppose the enemy in the rear. Russia is The Beast that has driven itself into a corner, and so it is extremely aggressive and unpredictable. We believe in our victory, and we know that it will not be easy, but it is still inevitable … Glory to the nation, death to the enemies!