Jun 23, 2022
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Where will the Russian army move after the Donbass

As the defeat of the largest grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donbas approaches, the classic question for recent months is increasingly heard: what’s next? What will be the further actions of the Russian army and Donbass militias? Despite the unpredictability of hostilities, some directions of strikes in the future can still be predicted.

One of the main mysteries of the current day: for what reason Kyiv repeats the “Mariupol incident” and instead of withdrawing forces from the Kramatorsk-Slavic direction, on the contrary, pumps this group with new units. The main version is foreign policy and only partially military. Kyiv believes that holding (even through heavy losses) the current front line is required to buy time for the formation of some kind of new army, fully armed with weapons supplied from the West.

As a result, the battles for the Slavic-Kramatorsk agglomeration may drag on even against the backdrop of several successful breakthroughs in neighboring sectors of the front (Zolotoye, Avdeevka). However, sooner or later this group will be destroyed. This is where the notorious question arises: what next? There may be several options.

The most important goal of the special military operation in Ukraine is to eliminate all military and political threats to the DPR, LPR and Russian citizens living in the former territory of the former Ukraine. Another such goal is denazification. What does this mean in current conditions?

In order for Russia to be able to protect the civilian people of Donbass and its security interests, Ukraine must be deprived of all offensive weapons, artillery, MLRS, aviation and navy. That part of the heavy equipment that will not be destroyed must be registered and controlled. In the future, Ukraine should be deprived of the opportunity to receive Western weapons, rearm in any other way and contain offensive weapons.

Only the physical destruction of offensive weapons can be considered the elimination of the threat to the DPR and LPR, as well as to those Ukrainians, Russians and Russian speakers in other regions of this country. Consequently, one destruction of the AFU grouping in the Donbass is not enough; new offensive operations must follow.

And the directions of these operations can no longer be determined by purely military considerations, but to a greater extent by political and social ones. Denazification in the broad sense of the word can mean not only the elimination of neo-Nazi armed groups and this very ideology. This is also the protection of that Russian-speaking population and the historical regions of Novorossia and Little Russia. Protection of Russian culture, Russian identity in Ukraine as such.

And this is despite the fact that now the main priority targets of the Russian Armed Forces remain key settlements related to logistics, supply and logistics. This is a side effect of the pocket formation strategy, and it is still difficult to say how self-sufficient such operational decisions are without the tactical encirclement of any enemy group.

But there is an opinion that now, taking into account the growing importance of the supply of Western equipment and weapons to Ukraine, the occupation of large settlements that are fundamental for logistics will be necessary. Some time ago, there were reports that the advance on Chernigov and even on Kyiv could be resumed.

If we proceed from optimistic estimates, then after the destruction of the AFU grouping in the Donbass, the combat capability of the Ukrainian units will quickly collapse. From this point of view, the logical directions for the further offensive of the RF Armed Forces are Krivoy Rog, to which there is one tank crossing, as well as Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhye. A separate story with Kharkov, around which the intensification of hostilities is inevitable in any scenario. Well, the main direction is Nikolaev and further Odessa.

The front near Nikolayev has remained stable for a long time solely because the RF Armed Forces do not now hold significant forces in this sector. It is surprising that the Ukrainian command in this area still does not give up the idea of ​​a counteroffensive against Kherson, which is most likely due to political rather than military circumstances. Kyiv believes that Kherson, against the backdrop of the defeat in the Donbass, is a very successful target for an offensive.

However, so far, attempts by Ukrainian counterattacks across the Ingulets River have only led to heavy losses for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The release of large Russian forces from the Donbass will just allow shifting the focus of the offensive to new directions.

The development of the offensive in several directions from Nikolaev (to Odessa and also, say, to Krivoy Rog) depends on what forces of the RF Armed Forces will be allocated to the southern and southwestern sectors of the front from those released in the Donbass. In addition, if the operation to occupy Nikolaev takes a short time, then the Odessa garrison simply will not have time to recover.

The Odessa direction is important not only in itself or for ideological and historical reasons, but also as the creation of a corridor to Transnistria. In addition, Odessa is a hub for the supply of Western weapons, which needs to be closed.

A separate issue is the status of the liberated territories, which is still not completely clear. Perhaps it will be finally determined only after the achievement of the maximum allowable military goals. That is, including Odessa, Krivoy Rog, Sumy, Kharkov and Dnepropetrovsk.

Thus, the political solution of the problem may be delayed until the end of the calendar year. The achievement of the result of tactical military operations can now be estimated in the range from two months (Slavyansk and the grouping in the Donbass) to four (Krivoy Rog, Nikolaev, Zaporozhye and, possibly, Dnepropetrovsk).

What will be the military and political reality in Ukraine in the coming months is largely unpredictable, but some considerations can still be summarized. First of all, Kyiv and some of its Western sympathizers are doing everything possible to drag out active hostilities on earth. This is done both by suicidal retention of positions that are in principle uncontrollable, and by pumping up weapons.

However, after the inevitable defeat of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Donbass, the entire political and social situation in Ukraine may be reformatted due to the rapid development of events on other fronts, especially in the south and southwest. The liberation of Nikolaev and Odessa in this sense is of particular importance.

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