As we have been reporting and preparing our readers for, NATO and Ukrainian proxies are set to engage in a major reopening of the front at the line of contact. The attack is really imminent. With this in ind, the following is a chronicle and compilation of front-line reports, analyses and links on the recent struggle in the month of April. We’ve highlight and commented on the most relevant, to give an idea of the general course of the war, and what can be expected in the coming month. It is reader friendly, and broken up in chronological order. It’s the perfect re-primer to share to others to get them up to speed on the situation. Conclusions are at the end.
by Julio Martinez for FRN
Chronicle and compilation of frontline reports, analyses and links on the recent struggle this month, I highlight and comment the most relevant, to give an idea of the general course of the war, and what can be expected in the coming months. The conclusions are at the end.
First hand sources: via Telegram chat reports, some in real time, from the following people in the front and their contacts and acquaintances
– From Lugansk: Lena Sorokino ( Elena Bogdanova), activist and married to an officer in Prizrak Brigade;
– From Donetsk: a well known foreign frontline fighter, and a Spanish volunteer (name withheld) who is a stretcher bearer, and their contacts and acquaintances
Most of the links are in Russian, or in Spanish, I recommend that you install an automatic translation complement in your browser to read them.
Background – The situation during March
After a peak of violence at the end of February, the situation stabilized but was still serious, with an average of 20 daily bombardments and fights , but the fight is more intense and harsher than what is officially reported by the Donetsk and Lugansk republics.
Ukraine orders a new mobilization of 15,000 recruits, given a minimum three months of training, they will not appear on the front until summer.
The month ended with an escalation, on the eve of the Easter truce as of March 30, and perhaps connected with the aggravation of the global situation (Syria), in Donbass there were hard attacks, an attempt by the Ukrainians to break the front
Zakharchenko himself announced the aggravation of the situation and proceeded to mobilize the army
“According to the Donetsk side, the Ukrainian command instructed all the units in the contact line to intensify the bombardment of our positions and take all available opportunities to improve their tactical positions in the first line
“… All these actions of the occupation troops, as well as the secondary signs, such as the deployment of four additional field hospitals near Mariupol, and training in the admission of the wounded in the civilian hospitals of this city, suggest that the occupants are preparing for an offensive in the south of our Republic.”
Author’s comment: Additional and very revealing indication that confirms that the analyses and estimates I make about the intensity of the struggle are well founded and close to reality. This means that the Ukrainians expect at least a thousand injured in a month in a single sector of the front. Wich fits the previous estimates of casualties (killed and wounded) between 10,000 and 15,000 per year during the 2016-2017 years.
The war during April
The Easter truce only lasted nine hours, the fighting continued.
“The enemy, taking advantage of the truce, increased the aerial reconnaissance with the use of unmanned airplanes in all the line of contact … with greater frequency in the directions of Gorlovka and Mariupol.”
US experts are “depressed” by the deplorable level of the Ukrainian army
Nothing that was not already known, but for some units of motivated and veteran combatants that show at least some degree of competence at the level of platoon tactics, the army lacks the most basic: capable officers and sergeants (NCOs), and competent middle level commanders
The combats and shellings fluctuate between 15-30 a day, within the “normality”, but more intense than the average of the previous month.
Same intensity, on the 10th there was a hard fight in the Donetsk airport sector
Ukraine obtains a reinforcement of 200 old BMP-1 armored vehicles from Poland, for the Russian experts this confirms the high losses and shortage of material, it does not significantly alter the relationship of forces, since it is just enough to equip three or four mechanized battalions and from this must be subtracted the loss of some dozens of armored vehicles during 2016-2017 due to failed attacks and Novorussian precise artillery fire.
On the supply of weapons by the former countries of the Communist block, see also:
The situation on the front, after a relative truce during Easter week, has worsened. The thunder of the cannonade and the firing in the front is perfectly audible well back to the rear. The ukros used 15cm heavy artillery after a long time.
The head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko has signed the Order №71-1 on March 14, 2018 “On the implementation of military training training of citizens in reserve” in order to create a troop reserve in this period of growing military threat
Reports of heavy bombardment and shootings along the entire front, the ukros are testing the defenses with a “recon by fire”
The Ukrainian command is preparing for an advance towards Donetsk and Lugansk
Among the Ukrainian military stationed in the Donbass, there are rumors about the next offensive of the Armed Forces.
It is observed that in recent days the situation in the line of confrontation has intensified drastically.
“Additional units of the police and the National Guard were taken to Kramatorsk. In addition, additional parts of the army were taken to the front line: the trucks and the equipment were heading towards the front at night and even in the morning, “- said an inhabitant of Kramatorsk.
The Ukrainian General Staff recognized the intensification of the struggle, according to one staff officer:
“By May, it is planned to strengthen the position of the army on the front line … the second and third line of defense will also be reinforced by the units of the Ministry of the Interior. But there is no talk of an active offensive, although such operations were played out in the exercises … the aggravation of the front is due precisely to the strengthening of our forces … The separatists fear that we are preparing a large-scale offensive. “
“But even if there is no offensive after all, everyone at the headquarters understands perfectly that if we attack Donetsk, a full-scale war can begin. And in other directions. We are not ready for such a war. “
Author’s comment: I am very skeptical about the existence of such back up defensive lines if there is scarcely enough troop strength to cover the first line, there are simply no material resources or money for it, although there is evidence from photos that some work has been carried out at some places: revetted trenches and log dugouts and some concrete bunkers because they have tried to shield them against hollow charge projectiles by adding grid or cage armor (steel rods in a frame) on the outside to cause detonation. Also later reports say that engineers of the American army participated in the works. Most probably because the construction work was amateurish and ill-placed, with trenches running along a hill crest instead of being placed in the reverse slope.
The interesting thing about these statements is that under the pretext of reinforcing the front, the rearguard positions are occupied by troops from the parallel army of the Ministry of the Interior (the National Guard), which allows the release of army troops for an offensive.
It is also remarkable that they prepare for a failure of their attack by anticipating that they will need more extensive and deeper fortifications to take refuge in and to stop the Novorussians’ counter-offensive.
Analysis: the Ukrainian army is simply inferior
Extensive article that I will not replicate except the last sentence
“The situation of stagnation that has developed in the front with an enormous probability will remain unchanged until some factors external to the war break the existing equilibrium.”
Author’s comment: I agree with everything stated in the article and that the Ukrainian army does not have any real offensive capacity and much less after the attrition of three years of trench warfare in which the expected offensive never happens. An attack would be its doom, but we must not rule out that the US wants to “fight to the last Ukrainian” or that Poroshenko sacrifices his army to drag Russia to the war so as to obtain the American intervention to save him from total defeat.
Poroshenko announced that the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” of Kiev in the Donbass will end on April 30 and will become an army operation, in other words the regime of Ukraine will launch the offensive from May onwards.
The positional fight intensifies, during the day there were 45 combats, 50% more than in the previous week. In addition an attempt of rupture took place in Lugansk, in Zhelobok, where they already attacked in force last summer. See previous entry for details:
Reports of militiamen from the front:
“Today, April 13 at 11:50 am under the cover of 120 mm and 82 mm caliber mortar fire and light weapons, the Ukrainian armed forces tried to break the positions of the Lugansk Armed Forces near the town of Zhelobok .
“The Nazis of the “Aidar” battallion were defeated in an attempt to break the front line, launched two attacks during the day and suffered many losses.
In LNR in the area of Kalinovo, light weapons, 82 and 120 mm mortars, armored vehicles. Strong battle, attack attempts. Arrivals of mortar bombs were recorded along the entire front line from Lomovatka to Pervomaysk.
Major fights in Debaltsevo.
Analysis: The collapse of Ukraine begins
On March 22, the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, said Ukraine was “expecting big changes in the political plane,” including the possible establishment of the Kharkov People’s Republic.
Until recently, such a statement could be perceived with some skepticism, but after the rapid development of events in Syria … the events in Ukraine can go on a completely different scenario.
As is often the case after a peak of violence and attempts to attack, there’s a relative calm while relieving worn units in previous attacks. During this day the combats and shellings fell to the level of 20 daily average during March. The situation seems worse than in 2016-2017, undoubtedly influenced by the fact that there are no Russian observers with the OSCE anymore and that orders from the USA have been given to reactivate the Ukrainian front.
front reports 21-22: 00 hours
19-22: 00 hours. Dokuchaevsk a particularly heavy bombardment of three hours, armored vehicles cannon fire, rocket launchers and artillery, mortars. Impacts of projectiles at 20:40 in a neighborhood. People take refuge in the basements.
Drone shot down over the Kuibyshevsky district of Donetsk at 0710
0810 before the bombing began, another Ukrainian drone was seen over the northern suburb of the settlement of Gorlovka – Zaitsevo.
In Yasinovataya heavy artillery.
Despite the censorship that reduces the number of reports of attacks and attacks to a fraction of what is really happening, the Novorussian command reports that there was heavy fighting and that some outposts and front positions were attacked harshly.
“Alarming aggravation in the whole line of the front …, the capital of the republic under the fire of tanks and artillery of the enemy”.
in the Gorlovka sector, the settlements were subjected to 152 mm long-range artillery shells.
In addition, the Ukrainian tanks entered combat . Along the line of contact between the troops of the DNR and Ukraine, Kiev siloviki used 120 mm and 82 mm mortars, gunfire from BMP armored vehicles
The situation in the People’s Republic of Lugansk has deteriorated considerably. In the capital of the LNR Lugansk, the enemy artillery had not been heard for a long time, and on Monday from the position of the Ukrainian army in the village of Makarovo, projectiles of 152 mm were fired.
Heavy fighting in the area of Svetlodarsk arc and the district of Popasnaya
As a sample of what is happening:
Lena Sorokino, who is in contact with a nurse in the Lugansk sector, reported dozens of casualties, at least at one position a medical aid post ran out of all the emergency injections that are administered to the wounded, antibiotics, painkillers .. etc., and other medical supplies, they even ran out of intravenous (IV) needles and bags for plasma transfusion.
Taking into account the official figures on shell impacts, the Ukrop casualties on Monday were probably at least 50 dead and maybe twice or triple wounded.
Given the complete lack of triumphant reports from the Ukrainian side, the information blackout and the installation of the field hospitals near the front in the previous weeks, so that no wounded arrive to the rear cities, at least for the time being, the Ukrainian casualties must have been even higher, by the dozens. Interestingly, the Novorussian report mentions 35 clashes, but it is also mentioned that they fired back at the enemy 50 times.
During the day the fighting continued, the ukros tried to get their positions closer and were repulsed. Heavy fighting in the Svetlodarsk arc to the north and in Dokuchayevsk ( 10 km south of Donetsk, key position to encircle the city ). The fight is general. Despite the orders to comply with the ceasefire, the Novorussians are fed up and respond harshly, even with 152mm heavy artillery.
Half a million people without water due to the bombing of the Donetsk filttration plant, five workers injured.
The militiamen report that all units are on alert. They prepare for the worst.
Small decrease of combats, with ups and downs, between 20 and 30 combats and shellings per day
Even the American government officially admits that Ukraine is a dictatorship
“The Department of State published its annual report on human rights practices. The document mentions violations of human rights by the security forces of the Ukrainian government (SBU) . That list includes torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances, among other crimes, all of which appear to have become routine in Ukraine.“
From 09:00 hours hard fighting in Zaitsevo north of Gorlovka, the situation seems very serious, although in the end the enemy was repulsed. Also in Dokuchayevsk they hit hard.
Very hard day, according to the official part of the DNR, which reports less than what actually happens, and says nothing about Lugansk:
There were 959 explosions, from various types of artillery and weapons, the previous day 285
The situation on the front in Donbass was aggravated in the afternoon. The military reports fierce battles at the main approaches to Donetsk , and also under Stakhanov and Pervomaisk in Lugansk.
Constant trickle of dead and wounded in the Novorussians ranks , and that is just what is known by social networks.
During an uninterrupted night bombardment, one of the residents of the village of Zaitsevo went into labour. The people called an ambulance. However, the fire was so intense that the doctors did not dare to go. Then the woman was helped by relatives and even by the town administration. No one had a medical education, but it was about the life of two people at once: mother and child. But people managed and a healthy child was born. The ambulance arrived only 40 minutes after birth. The woman and the baby were taken to a medical center. The residents spent the night in basements.
Round the clock reports of shelling of towns by the Kiev troops on the last day.
The LNR intelligence confirms that Kiev intends to “liberate” the Donbass by force. In the direction of the Stanichno-Lugansk region, at the location of the 80th Brigade movement of an impressive column of military equipment: 12 MSTA-B 152 mm howitzers, 20 trucks. Arrival at the train station “Bakhmut” several days ago of a train of platform wagons with 20 tanks T-64.
The intensity of the fight decreases somewhat but it is very high, 25 combats and shellingss.
There were 700 explosions reported.
This morning terrible bombardment, lasting two hours, officially counted more than a thousand explosions, from mortars and cannons.
Donetsk under fire:
Today, starting at 6.20, a powerful bombardment began on the outskirts of Donetsk and the surrounding villages. Citizens who live in the suburbs areas report that in the morning it seemed that 2014 has returned.
Also Yasinovatoya, Spartak, Gorlovka, and Zaitsevo were hit,
Repeat, it is a terrorist bombardment of residential areas, not directed at artillery emplacements or fighting positions, but entire towns and neighborhoods
The situation worsened in recent weeks. previously the average was 200 hits of large caliber rounds. It rose to 500 after the Easter truce. 700 yesterday 24 April. 1,000 and counting today.
There are no longer sporadic fights, nor the usual routine. Instead, serious, although apparently local attacks. The ukros have brought their positions closer occupying no man’s land, and being a kilometer away, at some points are less than 200 meters awat. The Piatnachka battalion reports that there is not the case anymore of sporadic attacks but full-fledged fights, from 03:00 to 07:00 they are bombarded with all types of artillery.
The reports say litherally that “except for the use of rocket launchers and nuclear weapons, the ukros shoot with everything they have”
NATO officers from the Nordic countries participated in the bombings on April 25, operating an AN / TPQ counter-battery radar.
-Zolotoe (Mikhailovka) – there are very strong bombardments.
Zhelobok, Frunze, Kalinovi, Pervomaisk under artillery fire
The enemy took part of the town of Zolotoe, in the neutral zone. The ukros occupy positions in the neutral zone, and have taken a couple of outposts, but the only thing achieved so far is to bring their positions closer to the main resistance line of the Novorussians.
Donetsk Front – Gorlovka Sector
An attack on our positions in Zhabunki. Situation is very serious, just like in Zaitsevo, attempted assault. Ours responded well, we have no losses in Zhabunky … situation in Zaitsevo … brutal attack, destroyed houses … many ambulances.
Situation in Zaitsevo … under control although there is a very strong pressure, the Novorussian forces … communications breakdown for a few hours due to the bombing
The Ukrainian media speak of “progressive offensive” in Gorlovka, in a language reminiscent of similar reports from the Western Front in the First World War. They have been attacking all this week in this sector, so far with no progress as the front doesn’t move an inch.
South Front – Dokuchayevsk
Although little is reported about what is happening there, the attacks and bombings are very hard both in Dokuchayevsk, (10 km south of Donetsk) with tanks and artillery of caliber 152 mm, and in the sector of Mariupol.
The intensity of the fight drops somewhat, although it is still well above the March average, with 35 fights.
For a summary of this week fighting, as from official Novorussian reports, see here.
The data and commentary from “Mage” are very valuable, such as his confirmation in repeated occasions that the official daily briefings seriously underestimate and confuse on purpose the actual intensity of the fighting and shellings, probably on orders or pressure from Moscow who wished the war to remain frozen for the time being, and out of sight and out of mind of the Russian public. Only problem I have with hand is that they come out a week late, as the author is a combatant and has time constraints to write reports.
Abrupt descent of the combats and bombings, with 12 and 16 combats, the artillery is silent and enemy shoots mainly with mortars and machine guns, and some BMP gunfire. However, the intensity of the fight remains high, with 354 and 433 explosions.
A video uploaded to social networks showed a column of armor, rocket launchers and trucks passing through Kramatorsk, it took ten minutes to pass through.
It seems that the ukros have emptied the warehouses where they had to keep the heavy weapons (under Minsk agreement provisions), they move a lot of material to the front
A militiaman: “This is no longer provocations, but military actions on a large scale. We are waiting for them in five days time from now. “
Intense cannonade of tanks in Dokuchayevsk (S. of Donetsk), either a tank duel, or the ukros took out several tanks to be used as artillery. There were eighty (80!) cannon shots. Until now the ukros barely used tanks, and only to make a few shots each time.
At midnight there was a strange calm in the front.
“Silence … absolute silence .. not even birds are heard. Silence everywhere, in Lugansk and they also report same in Donetsk.
It seems is the calm before hurricane … this silence is not normal, not even small arms are heard. “
From sources of resistance in Ukraine, reported that:
At the Dnipropetrovsk hospital they received 60 wounded this week.
That means that not only are the field hospitals full, which are four with a capacity of 200 beds each, but also those of Mariupol
That means more than 1,000 injured, only in the southern sector of the front. Taking into account that the monthly average casualties are around a thousand, and since the intensity of the fight has doubled this month of April, the Ukrainians must have suffered about two thousand casualties, around 500 dead and double or triple wounded.
“Mage” frontline reports in Chervonec blog quoted above also confirm losses of “several dozen people” in each of these attacks at company and battallion level. I also agree on his view on the Ukrainian army lack of capabilities for any large scale offensive, just like other knowledgeable analysts.
Sightings in Avdeyevka of rocket launchers Grad of 122mm and heavy Uragan of 220mm
These rockets have barely been used in the three years of war of positions, due to the shortage of ammunition (most of if was fired during 2014-15 battles) and that the majority of the rockets of heavy caliber were lost in the explosions of the ammo dumps last year, that these weapons are seen in the front are seen is a sign that they prepare a major attack.
The presence in the first line of the OSCE mission has stopped dissuading the Ukrainian army from opening fire during the day.
“The Ukrainian army is moving from the method of night bombing of cities to attack tactics in the morning and in the afternoon”
The Novorussian command has warned the population of the neutral zone that they are going to be bombed and that they must be evacuated. Report without confirmation that the remaning inhabitants of the Spartak district in the north of Donetsk, which is next to the airport, are being evacuated
The command of the People’s Democratic Republic made a forecast for the development of the situation in the Donbas after the Kiev operation of the United Forces (OOS), which will replace the “ATO” in the region.
In the first stage, the OOS leaders will take full control of the nationalist battalions.
“As full participants in the conflict, armed groups of nationalists like the Right Sector etc., will cover the exposed sections of the front, and will also be used to carry out various sabotages and “pacification” actionsagainst the population on both sides of the front,” – said Basurin.
He added that the first stage will last up to two months and that it will be accompanied by a regular bombardment of the DNR territory. One of the goals is to force the population to leave the frontline zones.
The second stage, …, will begin with the taking of settlements and the occupation of the dominant heights and the convenient bridgeheads in the “gray zone” . This will open for the command of the OOS the possibility of organizing new offensive operations against the territory of the People’s Democratic Republic.
Remember that today, according to the Ukrainian law on the reintegration of Donbass, the format of the energy operation is changing in the region: “ATO” is replaced by the operation of the combined forces. As Poroshenko said, the reformatting aims to change the management organization, giving the command of the Armed Forces additional powers and control over the units of the National Guard (which previously controlled the nationalist battalions), the Security Service of Ukraine and the police.
It is clear that we are entering a new phase of the war. The combats have been very intense some days, with the use of heavy artillery and tanks, which have rarely been used in these two years of war of positions, due to a shortage of ammunition and mechanical wear. The casualties must go from a thousand, compared with a few hundred during March, an empirical formula to estimate the casualties of all these bombings and battles that has been proven to be consistently right and reasonably accurate over all these years is to divide the number of explosions by ten (less than 10% of the shells and bullets hit somebody)
What differentiates this escalation from the previous three years is that the Ukrainian regime has already taken legal steps to renounce the Minsk agreements and any negotiated solution to the conflict. The usurper Poroshenko has instituted a custom made martial law with the purpose of giving the army free rein to destroy Donbass, and also to take control over the parallel army of Interior Minister Avakov. This single command, over all the armed formations of Ukraine allows the army to be reinforced with additional troops, at the cost of leaving the rearguard unprotected and not having reserves for a defense in depth, but as I explained before, the shortage of troops leaves no other option than resort to the paramilitaries and occupation troops.
The only way for Poroshenko to remain in power is dictatorship through war, but this course it has so many risks of a defeat that causes the collapse of his regime, so he will only go to war if it has no choice or they push him to it.
The international situation is favorable to a resumption of hostilities. The Americans have been thwarted in Syria and facing defeat in that scenario it is natural that they wish to revive the war in Donbass to put pressure on Russia. We must also take into account the American discontent because Russia does not agree to capitulate and surrender Donbass, and the Americans are not stupid, if they perceive that the Russians only want to buy time, then to them it makes no sense to negotiate.
Even if the Americans do not pressure Poroshenko to attack, the junta must be aware that they will never have such a favorable opportunity as now, with the worldwide attention focused on the Middle East, and with the fierce hostile campaign against Russia orchestrated by Britain and the USA (Skripal affair). It is also possible that given the shortages of money, men and ammunition that if there’s any attack it will be this year, because the alternative is to be defeated by exhaustion in a couple of years.
I think that even having decided for war, Poroshenko will try to delay it as much as possible. According to rumors that seem credible, he has sent emissaries to Donetsk to try to get some agreement, because he knows that his rival Yulia Tymoshenko will negotiate with Donbass after Poroshenko and his clique bear the brunt of defeat.
Undoubtedly there will be an escalation in the coming days, taking advantage of the fact that Putin is busy forming a government. It seems that the intentions of the Ukrainian leadership are to move to a more active war of position, occupying the territory of the “neutral zone” and trying to occupy convenient starting positions for a future offensive, carrying out attacks of limited objectives in order to practice major operations. An offensive would not take place until the summer, the ideal moment would be during the World Cup in Russia, at the latest in August.
And finally, some disturbing statements
Victor Muzhenko, Ukraine’s chief of staff:
“In the next three years, we must be ready for a full-scale war with Russia, with or without our Western allies.“ We must be ready at this moment, and tomorrow, and in a week, and in a year, and anytime in the next three years.Why do I keep saying “three years” all the time? That is the time, in the opinion of our experts, that it is required for the Russian army to rearm completely. While the rearmament is not finished, we can adequately resist the Russian military machine. Later it will be very difficult. Then my prediction: the war is destined to begin, and in the near future. The sooner we begin, the sooner we will win.”
In addition, the Ukrainians think that if in 2014 Russia did not dare to invade the Ukraine, and the support it gives to Donbass is minimal, now that it is engaged in the Syrian campaign it would be the most favorable occasion for the war, because Russia could not fight on two fronts.
Muzhenko is serious, all Russian experts agree that in 2014 Russia was not ready for war, and all agree that the rearmament will not be completed until 2020, at least, and Americans also know this, then the logical conclusion is to attack.Considering that the American government is controlled by the war party, they can very well misinterpret Russian moderation as lack of resolve. And if the alternative plan was to drag Russia into a war of attrition in Ukraine, the freezing of the conflict since Minsk does not suit them.
But it is also quite possible that given the weakness of the Ukrainian army and the hesitation of Poroshenko, the stalemate persists, an endless war of positions with peaks of violence until next year’s elections, with a change of puppets in Kiev leading to peace or the war to the bitter end.
Julio Martinez is a Spaniard married to a Russian from Crimea, at the time of the Maidan seeing the fake news of the MSM media, like other non-professional journalists, started posting about the situation in Spain’s second largest forum, burbuja.info, in order to get the truth known. As the Crimean spring turned into the war in Donbass, he used his extensive knowledge of military history and technology to report, analyze and comment on the war. Having met a good reception by thousands of readers, the posts were compiled in a blog, and now translates for Fort Russ. He uses an assumed name as he has came under threats by Ukrainian nazis living in Spain.