By Petr i Mazepa
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
The air smells of spring, the mud is slowly drying, the “greenery” is on the way – soon the amount of work will significantly increase. Regardless of whether there will be an insurgent offensive after Easter or not, the local war in the East will continue.
First you fight for abstract ideas, then “for yourself and for that guy there,” then to avenge your friend Jenya, and after a month you already cannot wait for the end of rotation so that you can go to the front again. In these circumstances, no Minsk agreements or OSCE can stop the sides from pulling the automatic grenade launchers out forward a bit in the evening and firing a few “slugs” at the enemy position; or planting a landmine – or organizing an ambush. It means that after a week there will be more such episodes, and after another month the command will have to drag the fighters apart by their ears in the biggest hotspots. This is in ideal conditions, when the ceasefire is really necessary for both sides. Because what is a ceasefire, by its nature? The inability of both sides to solve the tasks they set for themselves. No more than that. If you cannot kill everyone – you have to negotiate. But when the participants of a conflict continue to carry out a complex of goals, while covering it up with politics, the result is as now – an imitation of the withdrawal of heavy weapons, daily losses, and an accumulation of force, against the backdrop of empty rhetoric.
The only thing that our people need to know on the information side – if it goes down again – every fact needs to be checked and re-checked. Your brains will become a target for hundreds of propagandists from both sides and for simple vampires who believe that they (oh so devious) are waging information warfare. They will tell you about encirclements, about kessels, about Ilovaisk, about how everyone here has been betrayed, and how tomorrow tanks will roll on Kyiv.
Here it is all quite simple, even if you do not have military education. “The stallion who will re-draw the world,” whose regular army isn’t here, has created a structure which in 8 months of delivery of hundreds of tanks, tonnes of ammunition, logistics, the direct intervention of troops and solid work of instructors from the side of RF, has walked the road of 23 kilometres from Novoazovsk to positions under Mariupol. Our checkpoints near Stanitsya still retain the configuration of the summer offensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. From Metalist and the suburbs of Luhansk the militants have walked 16 kilometres and have hit a river and a line of defensive fortifications.
The awful and terrible Debaltseve, the place where Motorola personally surrounded the whole Ukrainian army and has inflicted an epic defeat which the social networks are shaking from – the distance from the checkpoints in Chornukhyne to the line in the settlement of Mironivskyi. 21 kilometres. So that you understand this number correctly – 30 minutes of driving by car, the rate of the advance in the region of 3–4 days during a combined arms battle.
The distance from the ruins of Donetsk Airport, the hotel “Polet” and the destroyed air defense unit to the village of Pisky – you can judge for yourself, even without a map. It is a distance of visual contact. In the end, apart from empty words, hundreds of stolen barrels of oil to pay for the information warfare and gigabytes of lies on the net from people who write their surname incorrectly, what do we have left?
What objectives have the separatists solved together with the Russian regular army? They took Debaltseve, easing the logistics. Made it impossible to destroy the new entities in the foreseeable future. Well, the delivery of tanks, ammunition, fuel, consumables by the billions, plus a constant stream of “volunteers” makes it possible to advance on a narrow front and to hold the perimeter around Donetsk. That’s it. Full stop. A large-scale confrontation sucks money out of the Russian economy like a vacuum cleaner. They cannot wait under sanctions and are not yet ready to jump. Were they to begin an offensive on Mariupol tomorrow, instead of 230 “Humvees,” 75 “Saxons,” around a hundred armoured vehicles for the border guards and National Guard, including the latest delivery of “Fords,” completely different help will arrive here. By the way, quietly, with jokes, rhymes and concern, we are guaranteed to receive 400 units of transport, and that is exactly the straw that broke the back of the heavily armed Libya in the “Toyota War.” How quickly can we equip them with ATGMs [antitank guided missiles] in the case of an escalation? Faster than Gubarev can say “genocide of the people of Donbas.” From our own production, from storage, from the stores of Eastern Europe or deliveries through third countries. Why wouldn’t Pakistan sell us a “TOW”? Ukraine is not under sanctions, is not in the “axis of evil,” collaborates with the PACs in the tank sphere, it is an ideal country for the sale of weapons. They don’t even need to deliver anything here for free – 1000 ATGMs is 30-40 million. Dollars from the, for example, 1.8 billion of the last European credit.
That’s how it is, gentlemen. The great commander Zakharchenko together with car washers and Buryats, who promised to walk straight to Warsaw via Borispil, in the real world have taken a territory 15-20 kilometres inside the country. And, like eight months ago, the hybrid units are incapable of pushing Ukrainian Army positions away from Luhansk and Donetsk. The regular army is getting stronger, receiving foreign military aid and building up internal production – it is not yet enough for a large-scale rearmament, but the process is going ahead. In the country, despite the war and problems with finances, a government energy-saving programme continues, beginning with meters, ending with insulation for houses. People who were threatening us with gas cut-offs and with freezing apartments, are offering discounts for hydrocarbons.
What am I saying? Don’t listen to the panickers.
We won’t fall, we won’t collapse, we won’t march on Kyiv, we won’t freeze and we won’t jump, like on Maidan. We won’t do any of what the trolls from RF predicted for us. They need to stay in their own pen – in a world where they throw flares at footballers in the once-friendly Montenegro, where in Moscow the parade gets attended by tribes from Africa, and the OSCE delegation denies the right to vote. And you, instead of communicating with the rabid television, had better go play with your child, spend some time with your close and loved ones, help the army to get stronger and to rehabilitate the wounded. Because this whole situation in the East is for the long term, prepare for a long marathon, despite all of the positive tendencies.
The war continues to rage across the board. In sector “A” there are skirmishes with groups of militants who are trying to feel positions for the fording of the river in the region. On April 4 there was a series of clashes near Krymske. The separatists in the region do not use artillery, but they have more than enough heavy infantry weapons – they worked the Ukrainian Army positions with automatic grenade launchers and RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades].
On the 5th Sokolniki came under fire – the enemy there has a convenient dislocation for developing an attack, and here there have already been 120 mm mortars at full height for the past three weeks. The mine war in the sector does not end, the supply columns of the Ukrainian Army into Stanitsya are suffering – this is a rough triangle advanced deep into the enemy positions, its supply is not a simple task.
On the 5th a recon-sabotage group of the enemy near Shchastya struck with an ATGM, as a result there was a detonation of a mine barrier at a fortified position. Four fighters died on the spot and in the hospital, including a deputy of the National General Staff of the brigade. Sniper shoot-outs do not abate for even a day, using the silence of heavy systems, the sides continue to get nearer each other. Shchastya, Trokhizbenka and Stanitsya are three places where the militants could potentially deploy heavy equipment through the river defile, and everywhere is now restless.
Moving on: a chain of checkpoints in an arc to the direction of Artemivsk. Here it is traditionally quiet, there are days when there’s not even any shooting. Although the DNR/LNR are rearming their forces, bringing them into the format of combined arms brigades, they have the same problem as the Ukrainians – the length of the front. Many positions from both sides have gaps in the line up to five kilometres and during the ceasefire small platoon-size groups based there prefer not to shoot.
The next point of tension is Luhanske, that which is near the “throat” in the reservoir. There is a battle there for positions around a populated area. The militants are trying to dig in and fortify closer to the city, the Ukrainian Army is conducting raids aiming to bring down the frontal enemy units and not to let them organize fortifications. Shelling from mortars, which was interrupted last week, resumed. In the sector there is contact with separatist infantry almost every day. There were three episodes recorded of the use of 120 mm mortars, which contradicts Minsk – these moments are now getting recorded more often by the suddenly clear-sighted OSCE.
In the region of Horlivka there is an already traditional confrontation in Mayorsk. The town is practically deserted, it has become a front-line fortification of the Ukrainian army in the sector, only a kilometre away are the forces of the DNR and the “hybrid army.” Here it is surprisingly quiet – in terms of heavy weaponry – the artillery and reactive systems are silent, sometimes mortars are at work, supporting their infantry groups. But fire from 300-400 metres from small arms is not uncommon. Separatists are groping for approaches for an easy massive attack in case of a failure of the agreements.
The main hell is in the region of Donetsk – in the past week more than 40-50% of all cases of attacks on the front were here. Avdiivka, on April 4-5, was under the fire of 122 mm artillery, direct fire from tanks; all week there were recorded attacks from ATGM, grenade launchers and mortars. In the scattering of towns and suburban settlements around the city – Opytne, Pisky, Vodyane – the monotonous combat work of the infantry and subversive groups continues.
Gradually, the intensity of the confrontation moves from north to south; if in the winter, the so-called “upper” sectors sometimes showed up in the reports, now the “champion” has become the sector “M.” Right now, just like all of last week, there are battles in Shirokyne.
We will not describe the disposition around the settlement in the midst of the confrontation – even fragmentary scraps about detachments and accurate data about checkpoints are not necessary now. There is fighting for high grounds, shelling has become more frequent in Hranitne, subversives have worked a Ukrainian Army checkpoint with small arms in Berdyanske, there were two tank duels, a detonation of a supply vehicle. This section of the front continues to be strengthened by all participants – both in terms of personnel and in terms of engineering barriers.
The losses for the week to all security services of Ukraine are up to ten people killed (about that, because there are conflicting reports regarding volunteers), in the region of fifteen people have received wounds requiring hospitalisation.
What I want to say in conclusion regarding losses. If we look at the situation strategically, Ukraine has lost in the course of almost a year of conflict, irrevocably, around a brigade’s worth of personnel. By that I mean dead, missing in action, invalids, those unfit for service. Also some people remain in captivity, it is unknown whether they will serve or not. I am not a cynic, I do not think that “the women will push more out” and I hurt from every drop of blood spilled by my comrades in arms.
But we are talking about strategy. In 2015, Ukraine plans to build up the Army to 250 thousand men. There are also around 40 thousand border guards. The National Guard – 50 thousand men. There are combined detachments of the MOI [Ministry of Interior] – as much as people joke about the police in the social networks, it was specifically former “Berkut” who stood to the death in Vuhlehirsk.
Plus new units are being formed. We won’t even talk about the DUK PS, the Emergencies Ministry services which can be given grenade launchers and sent to problematic checkpoints, we won’t talk about the perspectives of mobilization. There are still not enough people for such a front, but the trends are encouraging. If something serious goes down, these tens of thousands of soldiers will not run, like they didn’t run in the airports of the East, in Debaltseve and in Mariupol – they would have to kill us. In response the RF will start receiving batches of coffins and a stream of invalids, and will gain only ruins and hatred. If the Putin regime wants to continue while raising the stakes, everyone will swallow plenty of blood. But the fighters are mentally ready for this and have long ago crossed that line.
We want to come home and see streets with pretty girls in miniskirts and children with balloons, and not ruins, beggars and Motorola. The army will do everything for this. We have held the front, we have survived the hardest winter in the history of the country and we have lived to the spring. Eternal memory to the fallen. Glory to Ukraine.