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Ukraine Op Trajectory: Intensification of Combat in Donbas

While addressing a news briefing on April 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the, “special military operation,” in Ukraine will continue till the, “noble,” aims that Russia had set are achieved reports the Reuters.

Mr Putin also indicated that peace talks with Ukraine have hit a dead end after what he called are fake claims of war crimes and Kyiv reclaiming security guarantees for whole of the country possibly including Crimea and the breakaway Donbas areas of so called – “Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republic”.

Symbolically Mr Putin addressed the press at the Vostochny Cosmodrome 3,450 miles (5,550 km) east of Moscow to underline Russia’s Space prowess.

Read more at Russian Campaign Objectives and Outcomes – March 22

Russian Preparation for Next Phase Offensive

Just as the President completed his speech Russian military released several photos and videos on social media channels as Telegram demonstrating operations by the Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters.

Russian forces also claimed to target Ukraine military facilities including armouries, arms depots, fighter aircraft and helicopters.

Reports of surrender of large number of Ukrainian marines including over 100 officers from Mariupol which has been under siege for long was also released. There was no official denial from the Ukrainian side.

Meanwhile Russia has created a Ukrainian command or front to lead the War appointing General Alexander Dvornikov. Interestingly operations were so far being separately controlled by Front commanders with coordination in Moscow.

The new arrangement is likely to streamline command and control of operations in Ukraine which are now being launched on restricted axis – North East, East and South.

Dvornikov has a fearful reputation of commanding Russian operations in Syria. He may be facing first test with intense scrutiny of use force against civilians which had been given a pass of sorts in the long drawn out Syrian Civil War.

Redeployment, regrouping and forward concentration of Russian forces for a, “final,” offensive in the Donbas region of Ukraine in this phase of a long war in Eastern Europe appears to have been completed.

The North Eastern axis of operations seem to be developing from Izylum to Sloviansk progressing southwards from Kharkiv

On the Eastern Axis, Russians are following t operations in Luhansk Oblast in three thrusts directed at Rubizhne, Sverodonetsk and Popasna.

The military objective appears to be to close pincers Northern and Eastern to destroy the Ukrainian forces .

Favorable Terrain

The Russian forces believe that terrain in the central and southern areas favours mobile operations where they can exploit their armour and mechanized forces supported by air, helicopter and artillery support effectively to neutralize Ukrainian defences.

In the Northern operations in Kyiv and Sumy the urban landscape had prevented effective use of armour particularly as Russian forces failed to employ basics of fire and maneouvre and support of mounted or dismounted infantry.

Ukrainian Defences

There is sparse information of Ukraine deployment in Donbas region and in the South.

This is not surprising given the necessity for ensuring security of information a principle that appears to have been strictly ensured while attempting to expose and pre-bunk Russian activities.

Read More on Power of Information War.

However, it is clear that Ukrainian armed forces and the Territorial Defence Forces have adopted a strong defensive posture on the Donbas front, which has slowed down Russian advance in the general line of Rubizhne and Popasna.

Open source information indicates that Ukraine has built a chain of strong points based on villages and network of obstacles including deep trenches to defeat the Russian armour attacks.

While having initially failed, whether a regrouped Russian offensive can achieve a breakthrough remains to be seen.

Southern Front

On the southern front Russian objectives appear to be to consolidate the corridor from Rostov to Crimea and cut off access to Ukraine to the Sea by investing Odessa. There are reports that access to the sea has been cut off which needs confirmation.

Attempts to connect with Russian backed Transnistria – a breakaway Moldavian state may also be made but presently there is lack of adequate combat power to achieve this military objective.

See Ukraine Crisis – India Long Term Reputational Risk

The Russian forces have not been able to clear Mariupol so far with stiff resistance within – the Azov forces deployed here are the ones that are identified as the Neo Nazis.

What’s the War Trajectory?

To conclude in the second phase of operations, the Russian forces are likely to attempt to achieve a breakthrough in Donbas applying forces on two fronts – the East and South to destroy Ukrainian resistance by bringing it to battle in favourable terrain and consolidate the gains.

There is much speculation Russian forces would attempt to achieve these objectives by May 09, celebrated as a victory day over Nazi Germany in 1945.

Domestically the President may be able to declare victory – though this will only be a temporary one as the Ukraine conflict if not war is expected to continue for years to come.

Disclaimer – The report is based on open source information including social media and authenticity of all inputs could not be verified. Analysis is based on application of these to common military knowledge.

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