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Separatist push/Ukraine shove back


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you've been down this road before. I know folks want an update from Steve about the patch but in all likelihood comments like yours will draw his attention sooner.  He has a low tolerance for Russian

Russia definitely has ulterior motives in Ukraine. The Donbass has been so extensive that rebuilding/integrating it into Russia would be a huge economic drain on Russia. If they really wanted to "prot

16th March SMM OSCE UAV spotted Russian EW systems R-330Zh ("Zhytel") and newest "Tirada-2", which only in this year will go into service, but already succsessfully taken from "coal mine" on Donbas.

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17 hours ago, kinophile said:

Are they pushing far enough that a militant Mech Inf attack is feasible? I.e., are the UKR troops pushing out of the forest/uneven ground?

All terrain in that area is a small hills. Main defense lines and strongpoints of separatists are closer to villages in southern direction. Of course, we gave a risk of enemy conter attack, but our artillery on alert. Exactly our gunners by barrage fire didn't allow enemy to conduct coordinated attack on our forest positions.

By some separatict info, yesterday push of UKR forces have took place near Troitske on north-eastern flank of Svitlodarsk bulge. During the battle 18-23th Dec for the forest Troitske was secondary direction and mostly just shelled by enemy artillery, thoug our troops seized height 164 there. Possibly we have advanced eastward to Kalynove and Pivdenna Lomuvatka villages. But this is unconfirmed.

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Im curious at the lack of an effective militant response...or Russian for that matter.

Do you have any ideas?

My suspicion is that Putin is holding everything in check until Trump slithers his way into the oval office, where upon Putin drops a spring offensive to see how Trump jumps.

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12 hours ago, kinophile said:

Im curious at the lack of an effective militant response...or Russian for that matter.

Do you have any ideas?

My suspicion is that Putin is holding everything in check until Trump slithers his way into the oval office, where upon Putin drops a spring offensive to see how Trump jumps.

Because loyalists didn't advance?

What is the purpose of that minor attacks? To probe defence, to estimate reaction time, reserves. How soon heavy artillery arrives? Mech units? Tanks?

To respond = to give valuable intel data. Ukraine army must try better to provoke response.

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3 hours ago, kinophile said:

But they seem to have been steadily advancing, bite by bite. 

We have seized several heights on wasteland and the forest with light poor fortified forward positions. And have made control over Novoluhanske real,  not nominal. But we still enough far to main enemy defense lines. This was local operation for better positions. Not breakthrough. So, there is no reason for enemy to counter attack again under our artillery fire. Though now actions on north-eastern flank of Svitlodarsk bulge can cause more serious clashes, but meanwhile both sides only shelling each other with mortars and artillery without advance. 

And of course, Putin is estimating behavior of Trump. Also there are rumors about one "kremlin tower", which support Plotnitskyi, leader LNR, lost own influence and a decision have assumed to resign Plotnitskiy and to put on his place as leader of LNR other man - Bolotov. In Ukraine Plotnitskyi as joke calls "SBU agent", because he have killed, jailed or expelled all own pro-Russian political and military competitors. But Bolotov, which already was leader of LNR in early phase of conflict in 2014, have agressive rhethoric about Ukraine like DNR leader Zakharchenko. Also second version, that after resignation of Plotnitskyi, DNR and LNR will be united in one "state". So, till some "global" changes I, think, no any seriuos actions will be conduct.   

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2 hours ago, kinophile said:

But they seem to have been steadily advancing, bite by bite. 

I don't think so, It is good for internal propaganda, "we are liberating our Ukrainian land from Russians meter by meter". But the progress is tiny, observation post here, squad trench there. There is no military sence in that. True purpose is to probe Russian reserves, I guess.

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Trump "trusts" Putin, willing to lift sanctions on Russia - no mention of Ukraine:

"Donald Trump says Merkel made 'big mistake' on migrants"

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38632485

"Asked about a possible deal with Russia, he said nuclear weapons should be part of it and "reduced very substantially", in return for lifting US sanctions.

...

He also stressed that he would "start off trusting both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mrs Merkel" on taking office, but would "see how long that lasts"."

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Looks like enemy is activating near Novoluhanske. Yesterday they have conducted next probe in southern outskirt of settlement near pig farm. I havn't yet confirmation about losses from enemy side, but source of 46th special battalion "Donbas-Ukraina" of 10th mountain-assault brigade reports about 12 total losses among enemy (KIA and WIA)

47 minutes ago, cool breeze said:

This thing has been going on so long with such little front line movement its almost like a mini WW1 at this point.  Yes no?

Yes, position war. Many political things are keeping both sides from active war. Unlike WW1 there is no continuous trench lines. Just system of strongpoints. Ideal place for small groups warfare and small local pushes if need. 

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On 1/15/2017 at 2:04 PM, DMS said:

I don't think so, It is good for internal propaganda, "we are liberating our Ukrainian land from Russians meter by meter". But the progress is tiny, observation post here, squad trench there. There is no military sence in that. True purpose is to probe Russian reserves, I guess.

This is funny.  When Ukraine took positions you denied it, quite forcefully.  You called the Ukrainian information "propaganda" and supported the "news" coming from Russia and separatist sources.  Now that it's confirmed that things happened pretty much as described by the Ukrainians at the time, and they have in fact taken positions and still have them, suddenly you don't think it's important that the ground was lost and now the Ukrainian "propaganda" is factually correct but not meaning anything.  I don't have to wonder how much "meaning" you would find in these battles if the Ukrainians had been the ones to lose ground.  I very much doubt you'd be calling a separatist takeover of a few outposts and trenches to be meaningless.  I think you would hold the opposite point of view.

That said, you are correct that these battles do not have strategic meaning.  They are tiny and at present do not appear to have much direct military value.  However, they do show that if Ukraine wants to take back land it can.  It also is further evidence that the separatists can not hold land unless backed by major Russian military forces.

One published Ukrainian source puts the number of dead Russian citizens in the recent battles in this area at 15.  It includes a platoon leader who was killed by his own men.  It could be all Ukrainian propaganda, for sure, but the same source has been found to be generally reliable.  Certainly more reliable than anything on the Russian side of the war.

Steve

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Is there a realistic possibility for Ukraine to make serious territory gains with no support from the West? And is the divided and strategically confused West with Putin's buddies leading now in US and UK and soon in France, willing to assist Ukraine in any way? Not in the next ten years imo. Whatever is happening right now is of very little significance compared to the bigger picture. 

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45 minutes ago, Nefron said:

I guess they just don't want to retake the rest of their country. 

No, it's far more complicated than that.  If Ukraine goes on the offensive it risks losing the backing of weak Western leaders who don't want to be involved in a wider conflict with Russia.  But more importantly, if Ukraine were to go on the offensive there's a serious (and realistic) risk that would put them into a direct war with Russia.  Because Putin's regime is in a delicate position as it has in no small way propped itself up by projecting its power externally.  It is, in fact, one of the reasons Russia invaded Ukraine in the first place. 

A large scale war between Ukraine and Russia is not in Ukraine's interests any more than it is Russia's.  Therefore, both have an incentive to keep the war "frozen" for now.  Each one is waiting for an opportunity to change the equation without significant risk of downside. Russia already got burned badly for Crimea and Donbas, because Ukraine didn't get weaker but instead got stronger.  Worse (for Russia), the West finally (mostly) woke up to Putin's true nature.  It is reluctant to try to put Ukraine "in its place" militarily unless it absolutely has to.  This is, for now, a good thing for Ukraine because it is buying time to make its armed forces better and better.

If the Ukrainians launched a large scale counter offensive Putin would be forced to respond to try and save the fake republics just like he did in 2014.  Only this time he would have to commit 10s of thousands of forces more than he did the first time.  That size force could not be assembled covertly and therefore the war would have to be official for the first time.  And that has a lot of problems for Putin at home because Putin can't afford to lose.  Russia would likely be "all in".  That isn't something the Russian people (or oligarchs) are likely to support and for sure the West would do something (even if reluctantly) more to punish Russia for its naked aggression.

Either way, a full war in Ukraine would be bloody for both sides.  Russia, having no real moral reason to wage the war, would suffer morale problems at home and the front compared to Ukrainians fighting for their land against a blatant aggressor.  It is unlikely that the war would end favorably for Russia even if it largely succeeds on the battlefield (which I do not think it would).  This would start the dominoes falling towards the Kremlin and eventually Putin would face a coup (very likely) or a civil war (less likely).

So... more complicated than you seem to appreciate :D

21 minutes ago, panzermartin said:

Is there a realistic possibility for Ukraine to make serious territory gains with no support from the West? And is the divided and strategically confused West with Putin's buddies leading now in US and UK and soon in France, willing to assist Ukraine in any way? Not in the next ten years imo. Whatever is happening right now is of very little significance compared to the bigger picture. 

That's been true while the West has been ruled by leadership that leans towards containing Russian aggression.  With Trump and the possibility of Le Penn, more "exit" movements, etc. it is possible that Ukraine will make the decision that there really isn't much support in the West to count on.  It could change the Ukrainian calculation significantly, or not.  Time will tell.

Steve

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1 hour ago, Battlefront.com said:

It also is further evidence that the separatists can not hold land unless backed by major Russian military forces.

I was being sarcastic a bit, because that part of your comment seemed really silly. Nobody thinks Ukraine isn't able to win a few skirmishes here and there.

 

13 minutes ago, Battlefront.com said:

Russia, having no real moral reason to wage the war, would suffer morale problems at home and the front compared to Ukrainians fighting for their land against a blatant aggressor

Really? I don't see the Ukrainians as being that courageous in actually fighting Russia. The last time they actually faced a prospect of an open war with Russia they surrendered without a shot fired. 

I'd say that they only reason Ukraine was able to fight back at least to some degree is because Russia was using it's forces in a piecemeal fashion. It makes little military sense, but it it suits them politically. 

I don't know, you seem like a knowledgeable guy in general, but your predictions on this always strike me as complete fantasy, Russian civil war and everything. Is this personal for you in some way, if you don't mind me asking?

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8 minutes ago, Nefron said:

I was being sarcastic a bit, because that part of your comment seemed really silly. Nobody thinks Ukraine isn't able to win a few skirmishes here and there.

Oh, I wouldn't say "nobody" thinks that!  But aside from the fanatics my point is valid when kept in context.  Over the past two years Ukraine has routinely won skirmishes, the separatists have routinely lost ground and been unable to regain it even when they've tried.  More importantly, separatists have wound up losing ground when they were the ones to initiate the skirmish.  Since Ukraine hasn't poured overwhelming forces into these skirmishes it's pretty clear, to me anyway, that the separatist forces are adequate for guarding roadblocks and not much more than that.

8 minutes ago, Nefron said:

Really? I don't see the Ukrainians as being that courageous in actually fighting Russia. The last time they actually faced a prospect of an open war with Russia they surrendered without a shot fired. 

Then you haven't been paying attention.  They have been fighting Russian Federation Armed Forces since early summer of 2014.  There are documented battles where the Russians suffered tactical defeats.  The evolution of the Russian Federation's counter offensive of late summer 2015 was a direct result of the then poor-mediocre Ukrainian forces not being pushed back by Russian forces.

And if you understood what happened in Crimea, Ukraine not firing a shot was the smartest thing that they could have done.  It totally derailed Russia's plans and made it obvious that Russia was a blatant aggressor.  As the temporary government said at the time... they weren't going to be as stupid as Georgia.  Plus, Yanukovych had made sure the Ukrainian armed forces were inept and of divided loyalties.  The Ukrainian will to resist Russian aggression has been one of the strongest and most surprising factors in this whole war.

8 minutes ago, Nefron said:

I'd say that they only reason Ukraine was able to fight back at least to some degree is because Russia was using it's forces in a piecemeal fashion. It makes little military sense, but it it suits them politically. 

Earlier in the war, absolutely.  As I just stated, the Ukrainian forces were deliberately (in part at Moscow's behest) kept in a state incapable of resisting Russia's forces.  Even then Russia found that Ukrainian forces were able to do a lot more and a lot quicker than supposed.  Now things are very different.

8 minutes ago, Nefron said:

I don't know, you seem like a knowledgeable guy in general, but your predictions on this always strike me as complete fantasy, Russian civil war and everything.

I've been studying this part of the world in detail for almost 30 years.  As the developer of highly realistic wargames I also have a professional interest in this subject matter.  I have been following this conflict in detail on a daily basis starting with the assault on Maidan.  I have easily spent a few thousand hours studying this conflict from multiple angles and multiple sources of input, including a friend who is an OSCE observer in Ukraine.

As for my "fantasy" predictions, perhaps you don't know understand that I (along with others) accurately predicted Putin's war on Ukraine years before it happened, including the use of Green Men and the focus on Crimea while destabilizing southern and eastern Ukraine through the creation of a false narrative of oppression.  The real war diverged from our backstory only when Putin blinked and failed to send in "peace keepers" into the Donbas despite having them all ready to go (complete with vehicle markings).  If you consider this "fantasy", then I disagree with how you define "fantasy".

I'm not sure what else you think I've said about Russia that you can legitimately point to as "fantasy" (using the common definition of the term).  Do I think a coup against Putin is plausible if things start to go to crap?  Yup.  Is that fantasy?  Nope.  There's plenty of evidence to suggest that Putin has had to tamp down significant challenges to his authority in the past few years, including the week he mysteriously disappeared.  Like all autocratic regimes in decline, someone always thinks they can do better.  Coups are the result of that sort of thinking.  How likely is it absent a major catalyst like a failed war with Ukraine?  Low for the next few years at least.

Civil war in Russia isn't likely absent a big catalyst either.  The most likely scenario is another Chechen War.  There's been two of them already and an unending insurgency being fought there.  Kadyrov, in fact, just did a huge security sweep this week and even executed one of his body guards on suspicion the guy was plotting an assassination.  There's big tension between Grozny and Moscow to the extent that either one will use a realistic excuse to secure more power.  As I said, I don't think this is likely any time soon, but who predicted the Russian Revolution or the Hungarian Uprising or the collapse of the Warsaw Pact even months ahead of time?  Few.  And the few that did were not guessing, they were simply paying better attention.  I knew the US was in a housing bubble that was going to burst catastrophically years before it happened simply because I paid attention to fundamental economics at play.  History rarely repeats itself, but it does have a habit of following patterns.

So, I hope that answers your question :D

8 minutes ago, Nefron said:

Is this personal for you in some way, if you don't mind me asking?

Personal?  Not in the sense that I have Ukrainian heritage or special relations with Ukraine separate from other nations.  I simply have a strong belief in the right of nations to determine their own fate and to not be under the boot of an oppressive regime.  The Russian government under Putin is diametrically opposed to this philosophy, therefore I wish to see Ukraine succeed.

Steve

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5 hours ago, panzermartin said:

Is there a realistic possibility for Ukraine to make serious territory gains with no support from the West?

Support from the West has been extremely minimal because of indecisiveness and general lack of interest from Western countries. A vast majority of westerners are clueless to the situation in Ukraine. Ukrainian army is fighting in many places with Maxim Machine guns and PTRDs, not Leopard 2A7 and F-35. Ukraine has been almost alone since 2014. After Dutch referendum they cannot join EU or receive large-scale military aid from EU and Ukraine is severely restricted in purchasing US equipment because Obama is a genius. To answer your question, all the land Ukraine has retaken so far was with, at best, negligible support from foreign countries.

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The best support from the West has come in the form of cross training and moral support.  A US National Guard unit just started a round of training this week (a favorite unit of mine... 45th IBCT).  Then there's also been the financial support and a united front on rebuffing various punitive actions that Russia would take if it could.

If the West wasn't doing that much, yesh.

However, as was said earlier the change in politics is going to be interesting to see.  If the West ceases to keep sanctions in place, as well as other signs of pressure on Russia, then Ukraine is going to have a lot less international reasons to wait it out.  Obviously it still has to weigh the consequences of overt large scale (and very much illegal) intervention by Russia. It won't be pretty in terms of loss of life and economic costs, perhaps to the point of destabilizing Ukraine's internal political situation.  But it's not as if the current war with Russia is doing any favors for Ukraine long term either.

Steve

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JUAN DEAG,

Eighteen countries have given Ukraine non-lethal military gear or assistance. Through OPERATION UNIFER, Canada has provided training in no fewer than five important areas, the first of which is for small units. It is also assisting the UA with logistics modernization. Additionally, until it got bogged down for a variety of reasons in Ottawa, Canada was sharing data from its previously unknown to me RADARSAT-2 satellite. The satellite can operate as a ESA radar or as a SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) in a bewildering variety of modes with all manner of military applications. Indeed, one of the problems was a concern the Ukrainians would potentially use it for targeting, which would, of course, be lethal. The modes are in Figure 1-3 of this grog fest of a document. RADARSAT-2 Product Description here. It was released March 21st, 2016. Poland was likely going to supply direct military aid, including things to help Ukraine take back the Donbas to but evidently stepped in it so badly a top military advisor and former head of the Land Force completely withdrew his support. Perhaps one of our Polish members can tell us what happened later? As of December 19, 2016, the UK has trained 5000 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, 1000 more than the target, and will continue its training programs until early 2018. That number of troops is , I believe, a brigade equivalent and change under US TO&E. Understand, though, this isn't training a brigade as a brigade, but teaching those who will in turn train their fellows, much like, I suspect, the US Master Gunner program. 

While I have no intention of wading through every nation of the 18 listed, I noted,  with interest, Romania wasn't on it. Odd, considering Romania has pledged 250,00 Euros as of 2016. That is military gear, not money. But that was nowhere nearly as interesting as two very long Steve grade Euromaidan Press posts Where and How Romania Will Fight Russia Part-I and Part II. Have micro skimmed them. Deep, deep stuff. If you're not up for serious reading, people, best wait until you are!  Bulgaria isn't on the list, either, yet it is in talks with Poroshenko about setting up a joint Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Romanian brigade.

There is much more which could be presented, but I spent hours on end writing something else earlier  and am brain tired. Would ask you to consider, though, the sorts of materiel likely to be moved to Ukraine covertly. The US isn't the only nation, after all, to do so. Who has a vested interest in that neck of the woods? Who has good historical reason to fear, perhaps hate Russia? Who is likely on Putin's menu as a future meal? Do you really believe Ukraine's neighbors with so much at stake, and interested other parties who wish to see Putin tied down and distracted, are doing nothing but their announced non-lethal activities? I sure don't! I close with NATO's fact sheet on what it specifically is doing for Ukraine

Regards,

John Kettler

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