by Taras Klochko
The activities of terrorists and Russian soldiers on the Sea of Azov Coast in Ukraine are evidence of Putin’s desire to create a corridor from the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) to Russia in order to rescue the terrorist republic.
On Ukraine’s Independence Day, Putin’s terrorists reported “significant progress” on the front. In particular, Putin’s mass media widely distributed reports on the capture of Sievierodonetsk in the Luhansk Oblast and the village of Telmanovo in the Donetsk Oblast, as well as the advance on Mariupol and Novoazovsk.
Subsequently, the ATO (anti-terrorist operation) press center denied this information. However, the terrorist’s attempt to become more active is real. Specifically, an attack on the village of Olenivka has been reported, which is on the H20 highway that connects Donetsk and Mariupol. At the same time, Russian troops from Russian territory fired on the border crossing point of Novoazovsk and Amvrosiyivka.
In fact, access to the Sea of Azov in the Novoazovsk and Mariupol area is vitally important for the DNR terrorists because it enables them to take advantage of yet another gap in the Ukrainian-Russian border — both on land (Novoazovsk checkpoint) and by sea. If the terrorists secure their hold on the Azov coast, Putin will be able to deliver DNR reinforcements directly by sea from occupied Crimea. Despite the fact that large sections of the border are not under Ukraine’s control and are being used to supply the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), the Donetsk terrorists are almost cut off from Russian supplies.
However, it is more likely that today’s announcement on progress in gaining access to the Sea of Azov are more wishful thinking than reality. Similar declarations are intended to spoil Independence Day celebrations for Ukrainians, to raise the morale of the terrorists, whose chances to hold on to conquered territory without direct Russian military intrusion are still rather bleak, and to demonstrate to average Russians, who believe only their own media, that the state of affairs in the “Novorossiya” project is not that bad. The last reason is particularly relevant in light of the Russian scandal regarding the destruction and disappearance of the Pskov paratrooper division in the Donbas. (Russia’s Pskov Airborne Assault Division was destroyed on August 21 by the 24th Mechanized Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Shtorm battalion from Odesa — Ed.)
It is also worth noting that there is no good evidence currently that Mariupol is under threat of terrorist occupation. The entire course of the war in the Donbas has progressed according to the same scenario. First a city, unable to defend itself due to a demoralized and disloyal police, would be seized with the help of Russian mercenaries and terrorists. Then terrorists would occupy the seized territory and fend off advancing ATO forces as much as possible while destroying local residents and infrastructure. The only thing that still enables the terrorists to hold on to their positions is the constant flow of Russian equipment and manpower and the shelling of Ukrainian forces from across the border.
However, the situation in the Donbas has changed somewhat over the past several months. The local population, which initially supported DNR and LNR, has understood exactly what the “Russian Spring” brings to the Donbas: murders, kidnappings, torture, robbery, hunger and poverty. Therefore, it is unlikely that the terrorists, who are being squeezed from practically all sides and who have been fighting back all this time while hiding behind civilians, would have the capabilities to fundamentally change their tactics and deploy a massive offensive to take control of new cities, where residents now definitely do not support them and would do everything possible to prevent their arrival.
On August 25, Ukrainian media, citing a Ukrainian border guard, reported on the intrusion of Russian military equipment near Novoazovsk. ATO spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskyi does not yet have confirmation for this information.
Meanwhile, the deputy commander of the Azov defense battalion Ihor Mosiychuk stated that fighting is taking place near Novoazovsk and that terrorists have received reinforcements from Russia. He believes the militants are mounting an offensive on Novoazovsk and Mariupol.
Later, the ATO press center confirmed that a column of Russian armored vehicles attempted to break through in the vicinity of the Shcherbak-Novoazivsk population centers, but that they were largely blocked. At the National Security and Defense Council it was announced that ATO forces are controlling the road between Novoazovsk and Mariupol.
According to the National Guard, ATO forces destroyed two terrorist tanks near Novoazovsk.[hr]
Translated by Anna Mostovych