Apr 28, 2022
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Kharkiv: There will be no assault on the city, it will be squeezed into a ring

    Kharkiv: There will be no assault on the city, it will be squeezed into a ring

Photo: Sergey Bobylev / TASS

After the completion of the defeat of the “Donetsk group” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the question will inevitably arise, what next? Some experts believe that Nikolaev and Odessa will be the next target for the allied forces. Some are like Kyiv. And still others call Kharkiv the next target.

Be that as it may, the issue of taking all these cities under control will still have to be resolved, regardless of the order in which they are staged.

But what about Kharkov? This is the second largest city in Ukraine, its largest military-industrial center. At the same time, it has always been considered the most pro-Russian, in 2014 they even tried to proclaim the Kharkiv People’s Republic, the city became one of the centers of the “Russian Spring”, along with Donetsk and Luhansk. However, Kyiv then threw all its forces precisely on Kharkov, fearing, having lost it, to lose control over the entire east of Ukraine.

When the Russian special operation began in February, many expected that Kharkiv would become one of the first targets of the RF Armed Forces. Kharkov really found itself in a semi-circle, but the gangs of nationalists and the Armed Forces of Ukraine that had settled in it did not want to give up. As a result, the Russian army, continuing to destroy enemy forces and depots in the city itself, used the tactics of flow around, reaching the southern borders of the Kharkov region in order to attack the “Donetsk group” from there.

After the defeat of the latter, it would be logical to start resolving the issue with Kharkov. But how? Storm like Mariupol? Or is it still to use another tactic, surrounding the enemy and forcing him to capitulate? But the question remains with the local residents, whom the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Nazis from the very beginning of the battles for Kharkov have been holding as a human shield, not allowing them to leave the city?

“No one will storm Kharkov,” I’m sure military expert, political scientist, development director of the Foundation for the Promotion of Technologies of the 21st Century Ivan Konovalov.

– His position now does not affect the course of the special operation and the situation around the “Donetsk” group, which has practically been encircled. As well as the situation as a whole, taking it or not taking it does not affect anything.

Comparison with Mariupol here, it seems to me, is not applicable. Mariupol is still a Donetsk city, it belongs to the Donbass, and many DPR fighters come from there, which is why there were such fierce battles for it, they gradually entered the city, freeing quarter after quarter.

Now, after the complete liberation of Mariupol, all forces have been transferred to the Donetsk direction, now it’s a bit far from Kharkov.

As for the further development of events, it seems to me that the Nikolaev direction remains much more priority. Nikolaev, let me remind you, opens the way to Odessa and Kyiv. Odessa is the same Russian city as Kharkov. And this is a corridor to Transnistria, where there is now a danger to our armed forces. Some Ukrainian figures are already threatening to occupy Transnistria “at the snap of their fingers”, but this is empty bragging. In any case, there may be a need for the presence of our troops.

And Kharkov will wait. There is no point in rushing with him, there is no point in arranging any fights there. You just need to surround him, and the enemy will surrender himself when food and ammunition run out.

“SP”: – Is there a lot of enemy personnel there? And how long can they stay there?

– The grouping there is definitely not numerous, no more than it was in Mariupol (and there were about 15 thousand at the beginning of the battles for the city). And do not forget that it is weakened by mass desertion, surrender, there are wounded and killed. In any case, there are no more than 10 thousand of them.

They can, of course, last a long time. There Azovstal is still holding out. It must be understood that they prepared in advance for the siege, made all the necessary supplies. And they learned to strengthen well. We are now seeing this in the same Avdiivka, from where Donetsk and Gorlovka continue to be shelled. It seems like a small town, but they have firmly entrenched themselves there, it is extremely difficult to knock them out of there.

“SP”: – And what is the military-strategic significance of Kharkov? How important is it for us to occupy it, and for Kyiv to keep it?

– Kharkiv, rather, has a symbolic meaning as the largest metropolis. Its military-strategic significance is not great. And its value in the context of the special operation was equal to that of other cities. Again, from a military-strategic point of view, Volnovakha, Mariupol or Lisichansk have much more weight …

However, there is another opinion.

“Kharkov should become the target of a special operation,” I’m sure Doctor of Philology, Professor, military-political expert Vladimir Sapunov.

– The military and political expediency of taking this city is not even discussed. Whether he will be taken within the framework of the second phase of the NMD or after Odessa and Nikolaev is, as the General Staff and the political leadership of Russia consider it necessary. But there can be no doubt that this goal must be achieved.

“SP”: – Why is Kharkov still not ours?

– It seems that at the beginning there was no goal to take Kharkov, there could only be hope for a “Crimean option”. Or, for example, the transition of a certain part of the Ukrainian elites to the side of Russia. Or take on a fright. But none of this happened. “Reconnaissance in force” also did not bring success, although some fighters were already in the city center, they had to leave it. The city has been preparing for defense for 8 years, it is well fortified, there are groups of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and National Battalions numbering 15-20 thousand people, who were trained by instructors from NATO countries for street fighting.

Reinforcements in manpower and weapons (including Western weapons) are constantly arriving in the city, and rotation is taking place, albeit with difficulty.

“SP”: – What will be the tactics now? How to minimize casualties? After all, the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the national battalions have been holding civilians hostage there from the very beginning. Did we get any experience in Mariupol?

– Much will depend on how successfully and quickly the process of defeating the “Donetsk” group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will proceed. Its defeat will undoubtedly become a demoralizing factor for the Ukrainian military. And the task of surrounding Kharkov, of course, will be simplified. Now it is in the Kharkov direction – south of Izyum, in the direction of Slavyansk and Barvenkov, that the offensive of the RF Armed Forces is developing most successfully, which inspires a certain optimism.

First of all, Kharkov must be completely surrounded, rotation and the supply of new weapons must be excluded. It is quite possible to solve this problem. The task may be complicated by the fact that part of the APU grouping in the Donbas will try to break into Kharkov. This is one of the options – along with a possible breakthrough to Donetsk. After the encirclement – everything according to the norms of military art, artillery and aviation shelling of the enemy, then street assault and cleaning.

Alas, there are many chances that Kharkiv will become the second Mariupol. There is no doubt that the Ukronazis will use human shield tactics. But we hope that the sad fate of the “defenders of Mariupol” and the defeat of the Donetsk group will play their role. The possibility that Kharkov will be able to be taken according to the “Aleppo option”, by releasing the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine located there, also exists, and it is far from the worst.

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