By Nightvision for the Saker Blog
Let’s start with the obvious, that all bells are sounding regarding the start of the much awaited ‘Phase 2’ of the SMO. However, I for one am not yet entirely convinced it has fully begun and take the side of caution in line with what the Pentagon and analysts like Colonel Cassad have stated:
“We have not yet observed offensive actions using large forces of infantry and tanks, only local centers of breakthroughs along the Izyum-Kremennaya and Popasnaya lines. In advance, to the east of Gulyai-Polye, where our forces have clearly become more active. Elsewhere, rocket and field artillery, aviation and high-precision missiles are intensified everywhere. But so far the lines of contact have not changed. It is worth noting, perhaps, the deterioration of the weather in the Donbass.”
“The Pentagon is being much more conservative in describing Russia’s military operations in Donbas than Zelensky. U.S. thinks this is a prelude to a bigger offensive, with still adding troops. is now up to 78 BTGs in Ukraine, up 13 from last week.”
I agree in the regard that we haven’t seen the full usage of built up troops yet, nor have all the new troops even fully completed deployment. With that said, certainly a new phase of activity appears to have begun BUT my distinction is simply that it now seems that Russia may ‘ramp’ it up increasingly, and that it won’t be a massive blitzkrieg from the onset as the action we’ve seen the past two days is still relatively limited. This may be a testing phase with some Recon-In-Force actions to probe enemy defenses before larger combined arms activity is observed.
With that said, some updates:
Firstly there was a large Kaliber missile strike on Lyvov and we are now seeing confirmations from several places of what was struck:
“A stockpile of American, German and British anti-tank missiles was destroyed at a military depot in Lvov. According to our source in the SBU, the attack on the logistics base in Lvov was a complete surprise. Several tens of tons of various anti-tank weapons were destroyed at the facility, including German PanzerFausts, British NLAWs and American Javelins. It was expected that these funds should be enough for a month of active hostilities against Russian troops. According to our source, the plant was carried out secretly on commercial and civilian vehicles. Therefore, an investigation is now underway as to why the Russians were able to figure out all three storage sites.”
Good views of some of the strikes: https://www.bitchute.com/video/44FoCSN5aYWV/
(note, some of my links have not been working recently for some reason. If that becomes the case, simply highlight the link, right click it, then “copy” and “paste” it manually into your browser for the video to work)
MSNBC analyst turned ‘military expert’ Malcolm Nance put on quite a performance while larping in Lvov during the ‘air raid’: https://www.bitchute.com/video/dQLaHNLJTlWQ/
While we’re on the topic of Western arms, here’s Scott Ritter confirming something we’ve written about many times, how ineffective the Javelin missile really is: https://www.bitchute.com/video/hEsyUPnRjZdt/
A lot of places were hit in Nikolayev and Kharkov as well, destroying storage facilities and AFU troop gathering points.
In Mariupol, the advances continue in various axes around Azovstal plant, but still only on the outskirts of it. Russian planes and artillery hammer Azovstal nonstop: https://www.bitchute.com/video/l2nFk74hqKVP/
If you notice on the eastern edge of the red outline on this map, there are still some blocks of suburb high-rises just outside the actual industrial grounds of Azovstal. There are still battles and clearings taking place in these northeast districts, but it is only a few blocks left.
A reported 20-30 new prisoners managed to surrender near Azovstal as well, in this video only a handful are pictured:
Reports are indicating that 80% of the remaining Azov battalion wants to surrender, but the 20% who don’t are basically holding them at gunpoint and refusing to allow them to surrender. More and more evidence comes to light as proof of this – for instance this video of an AFU soldier who was shot in the back by his comrades, and had leaflets with surrender directions in his hand (18+):
At the exact 1:13 mark of this video: https://www.bitchute.com/video/Bi9greL7CiHJ/
you can see what the leaflets look like that are being fired by artillery over Azovstal. They have specific instructions on how the prisoners are to surrender (for safety purposes, exactly how they should come out, what they should do, where their hands should be, which corridors they should use, etc). And you can see the same leaflet is under the body of the murdered AFU marine.
And then there’s this:
“According to the content of the radio intercepts, the commanders of the armed formations remaining at Azovstal, realizing the hopelessness of their situation, are ready to lay down their arms, but only on the appropriate order (command) from Kyiv. Without receiving such an order, the commanders of the Ukrainian armed formations cannot make a decision on their own, since a military tribunal with a sentence, up to and including execution, awaits them for these actions in Ukraine.”
There have been written orders from Kiev posted that appear to show a direct no-surrender order from high up. For obvious reasons the elites in Kiev don’t want these guys to surrender, the same ones they were sending upwards of 10 helicopters and boats to try and rescue. Clearly these guys know too much valuable information that they can’t risk to give up to the Russians and so Kiev prefers they are killed and their deeds lost to history.
Serhiy Volyna, commander of the entire 36th Marines Brigade that’s left in Azovstal (and one of the 2 last high ranking people there along with Prokopenko the leader of Azov Regiment) has issued this final desperate plea where he now says there may only be ‘days or hours’ left for them:
I’d say there’s still another good week or two left unless they happen to surrender because clearing this giant factory complex will be difficult. Photos have emerged showing how the subterranean system beneath the complex works, and it’s no easy job. The plant was evidently designed to withstand nuclear attack so one can imagine how deep and fortified some of the underground systems are. There’s still no indication of how they truly plan to clear it.
Here you can see some units on the outskirts in that block or two before the factory, one soldier carrying a jury-rigged breaching stick filled with explosives https://twitter.com/200_zoka/status/1516810203953516547
The above map shows some of the incursion areas where troops are entering the industrial grounds at the northeast corner.
In other regions, the largest gains by far of the 2nd phase have been along the Izyum and LPR axis. Russian forces are pushing in from the north downward towards the Donets river.
Rubizhnoe was announced to be totally captured with redirected Chechen SOBR and LPR forces raising the flags at the entrance: https://www.bitchute.com/video/R6d7IWV2mn5P/
However we’re waiting on full confirmation as some sources say there still may be a piece of the city to the south not liberated.
Meanwhile heavy battles continue in Popasna, a key strategic city, and LPR/Chechen troops are said to have advanced past the midway mark of the city, and it is likely to fall in the near future. Reports that as much as 70-80 prisoners were taken here, though a video has only showed a dozen or so thus far:
Artillery hammers Popasna: https://www.bitchute.com/video/HmXMdTKK9ew1/
Next to Rubizhnoe, the town of Kreminna was also fully taken. This creates a dangerous risk for a cauldron-within-a-cauldron for AFU forces because once Popasna falls, troops can link up with the ones in the north by Rubizhnoe/Kreminna, thus trapping the AFU forces in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in the following manner:
So because of this threat, there is now increasing reports that AFU plans a ‘mass retreat’ along the Rubizhnoe-Lysychansk-Severodonetsk ‘triangle’, as it’s being called, in order to prevent this cauldron from being formed. One must remember there is a very large AFU grouping in this ‘triangle’ as it is the 2nd largest after the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk-Druzhkivka grouping. However other reports were quick to caution that there will not be any mass retreats, at least not yet, and that AFU continues to hang on. With that said, some captured prisoners in the area stated that higher command officers have already pulled back and fled, but there’s no 100% confirmation of this.
From the frontline:
Map of Popasna city control. Popasna in center. Red is LPR forces, blue is AFU. This is a key city that controls the gateway both west and north to the region.
Northwest of there, Russian forces have made major advances in the Izyum region since the start of Phase 2.
The town of Torske was captured, pictured on this map circled in Red:
As well as several settlements around Lozove such as Yatskivka and Rubtsi were said to be captured by RF forces – slowly working towards Lyman. The forces south of Izyum continued to work towards Slavyansk as well with uncertain results as there is a heavily forested area there that is reportedly difficult to work through, with Ukrainian units deeply embedded all over it.
In short, there is heavy pressure bearing down now from the north onto the cauldron grouping, and we could eventually see the Severodonetsk “triangle” become a cauldron cut off from the rest then sieged.
In the south, Russian forces have made some moves towards Velyka Novosilka and captured a few settlements like Makarivka, Storozhevoe, Rovnopol, and Novoselka, but it’s nothing too big to speak on yet so we’ll wait till next time to update on this front. Either way, this front is still likely waiting for the fall of Mariupol to free up all the reinforcements before it can get into full swing.
In other news: “U.S. has BEGUN training about 50 Ukrainian military advisors on using American provided howitzer artillery systems at an undisclosed location in Europe: senior U.S. defense official Ukrainians should be able to learn to use systems within days, officials believe.”
And the UK is considering sending a “handful” of advanced Stormer armored vehicles with Starstreak missile launchers on them.
Personally I think this is good news because it will give Russian forces a rare opportunity to ‘practice’ and scrimmage in real time against the top NATO equipment, to learn its secrets and vulnerabilities. So even though it’s a threat, I believe it will only work towards chiseling Russian troops into more capable forces in preparation for future conflict vs. NATO.
And in light of all the vehicle repair shops, workshops, factories, etc, that Russia has been hitting, it appears Ukraine is running out of ways to repair its own vehicles.
“The actions of the Russian missile forces, which over the past few months have been regularly attacking the military industry facilities of the Kiev regime, have borne fruit. Now the repair of damaged equipment of the Kiev regime will be handled by Czech defense enterprises. Since Kyiv is no longer able to repair armored vehicles on its own.
Note that the transportation of damaged equipment to the Czech Republic, its repair and transportation back will take much more time and cost the enemy many times more. In fact, it’s easier to just buy a new one.”
And on that note, there’s reports like this one:
“❗️Poland is secretly preparing a “liberation campaign” against Ukraine. For this purpose, a set of measures is being carried out – the supply of weapons, equipment and mercenaries across the Polish-Ukrainian border. Several formations of the Polish Army – the 18th motorized rifle division and the 6th airborne brigade – are preparing for a “peacekeeping mission”
The Polish Army stepped up measures to the maximum extent possible to complete the units to wartime states. The recruitment of “volunteers” is carried out through the websites of the Ministry of Defense of Poland.”
Unconfirmed of course, and dubious but it’s something to think about, and something many of us have already expected for a long time.
On the topic of funding, it’s been announced total aid is nearing $3 billion from the U.S. alone.
“U.S. has sent $2.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, with DoD weapons reaching the battlefield within 48 to 72 hours: senior U.S. defense official”
What’s interesting about that is, the U.S. spent 3 billion on funding the Taliban in the 80’s, over the course of an entire decade.
From wiki: “The thrust of U.S. policy for the duration of the war was determined by Carter in early 1980: Carter initiated a program to arm the mujahideen through Pakistan’s ISI and secured a pledge from Saudi Arabia to match U.S. funding for this purpose. U.S. support for the mujahideen accelerated under Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, at a final cost to U.S. taxpayers of some $3 billion.”
“Operation Cyclone was one of the longest and most expensive covert CIA operations ever undertaken. Funding officially began with $695,000 in mid-1979, was increased dramatically to $20–$30 million per year in 1980, and rose to $630 million per year in 1987, described as the “biggest bequest to any Third World insurgency”.”
So this was the “longest and most expensive” CIA operation in history, and ended up at $3 billion in 10 years. But the Ukraine has already gotten $3 billion in a single month. Imagine how much they’re going to pump into it by the end of this year? This goes to show what I’ve said before that this is likely now the single costliest program of this sort in history. And that’s only counting the U.S. aid, NATO/EU are pouring in billions more.
Lastly, like I said in the beginning, I don’t believe we’re seeing the full onset of Phase 2 yet. It appears to still be the opening probing stage as the full available forces have yet to be committed. But we’ll see if this week confirms this view or not.
I’ll leave a few videos from the past day or so:
Tribute to the legendary Red Backpack Man you might’ve all seen leading some units in Mariupol:
He’s a commander for a unit of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Naval Infantry (Marines) operating in Mariupol.
Illych Plant Cleared (18+) https://www.bitchute.com/video/rS5DTkzHkA9V/
Chechens entering and clearing first parts of Azovstal complex (18+):
RF air defense shoots down AFU Su-25 over Izyum: