The attack on Slavyansk is one of the most important goals of “Operation Z” for several reasons at once. One of the main reasons is that it is around this city, as well as neighboring Kramatorsk, that the largest grouping of the Ukrainian army is concentrated. According to DPR Deputy Information Minister Artyom Olkhin, a total of up to 60,000-70,000 Ukrainian troops may be stationed around Slovyansk.
These forces have not yet lost their ability to conduct combat operations – despite the systematic destruction of ammunition depots and fuel infrastructure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the stocks of the Slavyansk garrison are much higher than those of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, driven into the cauldron in Mariupol and destroyed at the Azovstal plant.
However, this does not mean that the units of the operational command “North” and “East” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that have settled in the fortified area will be resisting for a long time. Sources in the NMD zone in the Slavic direction note that the Russian army has changed tactics and is gradually increasing the number of high-precision weapons in this direction. This may mean that the Aerospace Forces and artillery are gradually beginning to prepare for the “inevitable extrusion” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from positions on the territory of the Slavyansk fortified area.
Losses of Ukraine after the start of a special military operation
Despite the fact that the size of the UAF garrison in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk is much larger than in Mariupol or Izyum, the liberation of the two largest cities within the administrative borders of the DPR and LPR can be much faster. Sources in the war zone note that more and more Ukrainian military is going over to the side of the DPR/LPR in the Slavic direction.
Officers of the DPR army attribute this to the fact that there are fewer and fewer regular military personnel who have undergone special training at the forefront. To stop or at least slow down the Russian offensive, the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is increasingly throwing mobilized reservists to the front line. This is due to the fact that the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine officially calls “the depletion of personnel, suitable in terms of their qualities for military service.” Simply put, Ukrainian losses are too high and the shortage of trained and armed people has led the Armed Forces of Ukraine to a situation where those who are only suitable for their age are sent to the front.
According to information from the NMD zone in this direction, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are gradually starting to move into the stage of accepting the inevitable. The first step towards this was the awareness of their own losses, which, however, are still underestimated by an average of 10-20 times. On April 15, in an interview with CNN, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky estimated the number of dead Ukrainian soldiers at 2,500-3,000 people, and about 10,000 wounded. According to the DPR officers in the NVO zone in the southern and eastern directions, the irretrievable losses of Ukraine from February 24 to the beginning of June amount to at least 45-50 thousand people, and since the beginning of May, the Ukrainian military has been losing an average of one battalion (about 900 people) per day .
Both the competent actions of Russian artillerymen and the shortage of equipment, missiles, shells, cartridges and first aid equipment, which are no longer supplied to Ukraine in the same volumes, lead to heavy losses. According to the data that the counterintelligence of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the forces of the DPR receives from prisoners, decadent moods reign in the combat formations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk: the operational supply (cartridges, water, food) of the group in this direction is practically not carried out. The prisoners note that Kyiv is taking longer to respond to reports and requests – the average time to receive responses to attempts to contact is from two to nine hours. Approximately the same picture was observed in Mariupol: until there was complete clarity about the fate of the garrison, Kyiv actively tried to lead the fighting, but as soon as the encirclement and defeat became inevitable, in the capital of Ukraine they stopped receiving calls from Azovstal and “written off” the garrison as losses.
Almost all combat-ready formations can fall into the same situation in Slavyansk – the 93rd separate mechanized brigade “Cold Yar”, the 20th separate EW battalion, as well as the 72nd separate mechanized brigade, to which territorial defense fighters involved in the military are assigned. crimes in Ukraine. In Kramatorsk, officers and equipment of the 19th missile brigade could fall into the hands of the Russian military — this formation used 9M79 Tochka missiles in Donetsk and is responsible for the attack on the Kramatorsk railway station at the time of the evacuation of civilians.
Why Ukraine is bombing the DNR and LNR
The direction of the main attacks of the Russian army has not yet been disclosed, however, experts suggest that after the resistance of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk is broken (and the Russian army has considerable experience in such operations after Mariupol), shelling will stop in other sectors of the front. The last shelling happened on Friday, June 10th. On this day, the Armed Forces of Ukraine fired at the Voroshilovsky and Kirovsky districts of Donetsk with 155 mm NATO caliber shells. The shelling, according to some reports, could be carried out by American M777 howitzers from the Avdiivka area. Early in the morning of June 11, Gorlovka was attacked with the same weapon. According to reports from local residents, the Nikitovsky district of the city came under fire.
However, the Ukrainian army will no longer be able to hold the front in this sector after the Russian Armed Forces break through the defenses of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. There are several reasons for this. First and most important, the moral and psychological state of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is getting worse. Regular artillerymen more and more often refuse to obey orders or go over to the side of the DPR and LPR, and the nationalist battalions and the so-called territorial defense detachments, formally part of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, are mainly engaged in shelling.
The second reason is the hunting of Russian aviation and artillery for American M777 howitzers in the front line. According to some reports, less than half of the hundreds of guns supplied by the US and NATO countries are effectively used. Ukrainian artillerymen cannot deal with digital guidance systems and laser rangefinders and often call commanders through open communication channels, thereby violating the main law of military operations.
When will the special operation in Ukraine end?
It is still premature to speculate about the timing of the completion of “Operation Z”. The primary task of the second stage of the NMD is to defeat (there is another option with the surrender of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which would suit the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation much more) of the Ukrainian groups “North” and “East” and the complete liberation of the territory of Donbass. In order for this to happen, the Russian troops and the forces of the DPR / LPR need to break into the defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from Avdiivka (if you look at the map) up to Konstantinovka and Druzhkovka with access to Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. But it is possible that another scenario will play out – the “northern” offensive from Slavyansk and Kramatorsk will go down to Avdiivka with the complete release of Donetsk and the cleansing of the APU grouping in this direction.
The result of the offensive of the Russian army in this direction could be the complete defeat of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Donbass. The General Staff of Ukraine cannot strengthen the operational command “North” and “East” in the Slovyansk region with reservists: not only the lack of equipment, fuel and trained soldiers affects, but also the internal struggle between Minister of Defense Zaluzhny and President Zelensky for the level of influence on the conflict. And this means only one thing – the 60,000-strong group of the Ukrainian army risks being left face to face with the RF Armed Forces, having neither the strength nor the will for a general battle, on which, in addition to the peaceful life of people in the Donbass, the statehood of Ukraine itself depends.