By Nightvision for the Saker Blog

What can we expect next?

The most likely immediate repositionings will be as follows:

-The VDV forces in the Kiev east bank (western side) region and Guards Tank Army forces in Chernuhiv region will likely be redeployed to the Izyum axis, as some of them are already and have been doing for days. It’s most convenient to do this as they stay in the same general northern front region, and many of the units are from the same military groupings: for instance the Western Military District’s elite 1st Guards Tank Army, which as I understand it was the main force behind the thrusts in the east of Kiev, the Sumy – Okhtyrka – to Brovary line, will likely move to reinforce the Izyum offensive since the 6th CAA that’s reportedly operating there is also from the ‘Western Military District’ under the same command, so these units will likely consolidate by district.

Meanwhile in the south, the units operating on the western side of Mariupol all appear to be from the famed 58th army from Vladikavkaz of the Southern Military District and will likely join their brethren in the Zaporizhzhia direction where other elements of the 58th are advancing — once Mariupol is freed up. Since those Mariupol units are not under the same sub-command as the Kherson groupings, I can assume they won’t be redeployed in the Kherson direction after the fall of Mariupol but rather towards the push that’s currently happening around Velyka Novosilka that I reported on last time.

I’ve commented recently that the specific TOEs and OOBs were hard to follow since the demise of Dragon-First-1, the famed Russian cartographer who was reportedly asked by the Kremlin several weeks ago to stop making his maps as they were OVERLY detailed and showed Russian/Ukie troop dispositions a little too well for their comfort. But now other western OSINT experts have taken up the mantle. One such U.S. military expert has created a brand new interactive map that shows unit dispositions all over the country. Of course it demands the usual caveats, being from an anti-Russian source, BUT it can give us a few useful pieces of information.

The most significant of these is that, I have counted every single brigade and BTG listed on the map and have come out with a startling find that correlates exactly with what I’ve been saying for a while, and have written in detail about in the last report. Namely: there appears to be only about 50-60 total Russian BTGs in Ukraine. Considering that a Russian BTG is listed as having an estimated 600-800 men, this would amount to 50,000 – 60,000 troops in total deployment. The author himself has stated these are all the confirmed groups in the country. You can check for yourself, every unit is listed typically as either regiment or brigade. A regiment is supposed to have around 1,000 men. A Russian brigade is typically composed of 2 BTGs but on the map if you click each ‘brigade’ the exact disposition is given, and many of them say 1 BTG while others are 2 BTG. And yes, the ‘expert’ behind this new map has stated that he believes Russian total BTGs is much less than was advertised, and he is a fully pro-western ‘analyst’. He believes Russia originally started with maybe in the ~80 BTGs range, but of course conveniently he never managed to track any of those missing 30 or so, and in fact attributes them to having been destroyed, since the current operative ‘narrative’ amongst the completely lost western “OSINT armchair analyst” crowd is that Russia has lost 20-30 BTGs – an extrapolation of the laughably inflated “official figures” from Kiev that list Russian losses as 30,000 KIA, etc. Like I said, it’s quite convenient that those ‘destroyed’ phantom BTGs were in fact never tracked or witnessed in theater by the experts, and the ones that ARE being tracked just so perfectly happen to fall into the 50 BTG range.

What’s interesting is that, prior to the onset of a major propaganda campaign on the eve of the military operation, when the CIA had to go into full fear-mongering mode, even sources like CNN were reporting the following last year: “In April and September this year, Russia pulled than 50 battalion tactical groups to our borders. Currently, 41 battalion tactical groups are in combat readiness around Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied Crimea. Of these, 33 stay on a permanent basis and eight have been additionally transferred to Crimea.”

This sounds remarkably similar to the troop disposition the military experts tracking every single unit in the theater are seeing. It seems the much vaunted “180 BTGs” bogeyman was all hype and propaganda.

More and more experts are now starting to backtrack and also opine that Russia might be using way less forces than initially suspected. It seems western experts will be doing a lot of face-saving and backtracking in the coming days as they realize that Russia still has lots of reinforcements left to inject into the various fronts. And by all accounts it has been doing so for days, as plenty new videos show:

I’ve stated before that the U.S. has a major incentive in grossly inflating Russian BTG numbers so that the narrative of Russia expending all its forces and failing its objectives can be preserved.

-Here’s a new map showing the progress in Izyum. As reinforcements arrive here, we will likely see a two pronged attack both in the direction of Barinkove to the SW and Slavyansk in the SE. Today Ukr officially reported the complete loss of the south bank of Izyum, but they continue to bring reinforcements to this key battle and it is said that this will soon be the single biggest battle of all the current fronts as major forces are accumulating on both sides.

-Also, a report today has stated that: “🇷🇺🇺🇦⚡⚡Intelligence of the United States and Britain transmitted data to the Office of the President of Ukraine that the second stage of the Russian military campaign will begin within a week. Pentagon military analysts are confident that the attack on Nikolaev will begin simultaneously with the encirclement of the eastern front.”

This seems likely because Mariupol may fall in that time, particularly because another report from the UKR side stated that Mariupol was now certain to fall in a matter of days

and that pretty much the remaining forces have now retreated into the industrial areas or are pushed completely to the sea. New videos appear to attest to this as numerous missile strikes were recorded on the various industrial areas where Azov remnants are holed up:

“Our source in the OP said that the Mariupol Defense Command informed the General Staff about the complete loss of control over the city, except for the industrial area, the Azovstal plant and the port.”

2 current maps:

And 2 more detailed/zoomed in:

Other reports state: “The General Staff is transferring 15,000 troops from near Kyiv to the Dnieper to reinforce the eastern front. The special forces of the AFU and SSU were sent to Donbas yesterday. So its ~50.000 in Donbass, 40.000 were moved to dnepr + another 15000.”

The question is of course how proficiently will Kiev be able to transport the 15,000 reinforcements who have almost no types of military transports or armor left. It will likely be done in trickle fashion in civilians vehicles, ambulances, and DHL delivery trucks. Also, these reinforcements will likely not be able to get to the actual contact line of the Donbass, as Saker has mentioned numerous times that no man’s land is under a lot of heavy fire control and Russian air oversight. But they will likely mount 2nd and 3rd echelon defensive positions and reserves around the Dnieper, i.e. around Pavlograd area, and will be used as reserves for forces defending against Russia’s upcoming thrust from Izyum south-ward towards Barinkove, which will be the main northern ‘pincer’ to enclose the cauldron.

Onto a few other important updates.

-One of the big stories today is the infamous ‘maternity ward girl’ has in fact come forward. Named Marianne, it turns out she’s from the Donbass and has completely refuted the Ukrop propaganda. She states in her interview that not only was the maternity not “bombed” by any planes like the fakenews contends (it was “shelled”), but she recounts how Ukrop military stormed the maternity ward, stole all the patients’ food even after she told them they were for the pregnant women, didn’t tell anyone of any attacks and after the “attack”, conveniently the Ukrop soldiers appeared only minutes later already towing western photojournalists and basically used her as a “prop” despite her crying and repeatedly telling them to stop taking photos. In short, it appeared to be a rehearsed psyop event where the photographers were already waiting in the wings for the aftermath, and the pregnant showpiece was perfectly utilized as an object of orchestrated propaganda.

Her subtitled interview can be seen here:

Quick summary from a telegram channel:

“Marianne says that there was no air raid:
“That is, our opinion was confirmed. They said it was a shell [of the Armed Forces].”
The woman says that after the start of the Russian special operation, she was unable to leave Mariupol – the authorities did not let people out.
According to the story of the blogger, the maternity hospital was occupied by the fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine:
“The military did not help in any way, they came one day and said: “Give me food.” They are told: “This is all for pregnant women.” And they took our food.”
Marianne confirmed that reporters showed up at the scene immediately after the explosion. When everyone was evacuated, she noticed that she was being filmed and asked to stop. The journalist left only after the men chased him away.”

Of course after shamelessly using her as a propaganda tool against her will, the Ukrainian twittersphere is now doing damage control, saying that she’s a ‘Russian POW’ and is being made to lie on camera.

-In other news: The West continues to pump out nonstop fake psyops about dead/fired/sacked/missing Russian generals, heart attacks, Putin enraged at being “misled” and all sorts of inventive cartoonish bottom of the barrel stuff. However, interestingly enough, it seems they are merely projecting what is in fact happening in their own tumultuous countries. Not only has Zelensky announced the firing of two traitor generals:

As this analyst said: @Tom_Fowdy 1h

Why should Zelensky fire two generals if Ukraine are winning? If this happened in Moscow the mainstream media would be parading it from a megaphone and saying it was evidence of an imminent collapse of Putin’s government.

But signs of disunity and cracks in the so-called ‘solid’ western ‘unity’ continue to appear:

FVD denounces the invitation of President Zelensky to address the Dutch House of Representatives.

FVD denounces the invitation of President Zelensky to address the Dutch House of Representatives and will be absent during his speech and from the ensuing parliamentary debate”

“Zelensky’s planned speech to the Dutch House of Representatives represents a radical break with a democratic tradition that has existed for over 170 years. Never before in the history of Dutch democracy has a foreign head of state spoken in the House of Representatives.

There is a good reason for this: democratic decision-making in the Dutch parliament should be entirely independent, shielded from foreign influence and unhindered by foreign interests.”

And a new poll in Turkey asks who is to blame for the Ukraine crisis?

33.7% of Turks said Russians

48.3% said NATO

7.5% said Ukraine

So 55% believe Ukraine/NATO are to blame with only 33% blaming Russia.

-On a related note, after getting decimated by Russian strikes in western Ukraine earlier in the month, the ‘Foreign Legion’ of Ukraine is no longer operating.

Of course, keep in mind Russia’s official figures are that at least 180 foreign mercenaries were killed in that one strike near Lyvov alone, and 600+ foreign mercenaries total have been eliminated in the operation so far.

America itself continues to experience recruiting problems – it seems no one wants to join the army anymore and the U.S. has been forced to admit that they’re no longer able to hit recruitment goals.

Meanwhile U.S. training standards continue to plummet as high profile crash after crash occur on a regular basis. Yesterday an important Navy intelligence E-2D plane crashed off the coast of Virginia with at least one confirmed fatality. And I’ve recently highlighted how an F-22 just crashed in Eglin base in Florida last week, while only two weeks prior the F-35 that crashed in the South China Sea was finally dredged up, a U.S. Marine Osprey crashed during NATO exercises this month, killing 4-5, while a Navy F-18 also crashed two weeks ago in North Carolina.

-Some bad news I have to report. A Ukrainian reporter who visited the UKR base near Kharkov where the torture of Russian POWs occurred was said to find the remains of several charred bodies. This likely means that not only did the Ukrops torture and kill the one confirmed POW who was stabbed on video, but they likely disposed of the rest of them by burning them to death.

“On Monday, a well-known Ukrainian journalist, Yuri Butusov, published graphic video showing the charred remains of three men he identified as Russian soldiers, as Ukrainian forces recaptured the town of Malaya Rohan, outside Kharkiv, over the weekend.”

Here is the interesting response from this Ukrainian “journalist” at the bottom of the article:

Update: April 1, 2022
Yuri Butusov, the editor of the Ukrainian news site, has not yet responded to questions from The Intercept about the video he recorded in Malaya Rohan this week. On Friday, however, Butusov published an opinion article on his website in which he argued that “The Geneva Convention does not apply to detained Russian servicemen in Ukraine.”

Ukraine is not obliged to take care of them and provide Red Cross access to them, since Putin did not declare war on Ukraine,” Butusov argued. The journalist, who created a stir in Ukraine a week before the Russian invasion by assaulting a pro-Russia politician during a live television debate, added that, in his view, “the Russians are not legally prisoners of war, but are terrorists.”

Secondly, I reported in an earlier article that Vladimir Shamanov, head of a Duma defense committee (and ex-general of great renown from the Chechen wars), had stated that the perpetrators of Russian POW tortures were “captured” by Spetsnaz. But in fact only a day later, two of the men he named, one nicknamed ‘Chile’, made a video from inside Kharkov mocking the politician and showing that they are quite alive and not captured.

If true, this is obviously a big embarrassment for Shamanov and the Russian political elite. Analysts on Telegram have debated whether he was fed wrong info or he himself decided to make the outrageous claim, we may never know, but it is very disappointing and shows that there is still some grave incompetence and corruption that at times hampers the Russian operation. Of course most of us doubted his announcement without video/photo proof of the captured perpetrators anyway.

-One last word for now on upcoming events. Many ‘analysts’ are predicting a long, very difficult road ahead in the Phase 2 clash for the Donbass Cauldron. Everyone knows that UKR forces are heavily entrenched along the contact line from Kramatorsk down to Donetsk and so far the advances have been slow on this account – and as such, many people assume they will continue to be slow. I believe they will be much faster than most people think, but only if the amount of reinforcements arrive that I hope will be the case. Kiev too is sending reinforcements but they will not be of the ‘entrenched’ variety and most of them will likely serve as reserves in the rearguard, and for the battles at Izyum etc.

As I said elsewhere, advances have been slow against the main entrenched line because that line has not yet been flanked or encircled, it is only being attacked head-on by DPR forces west and north of Donetsk city, in the areas of Kamyanka, Verkhnotoretske, etc. But keep in mind, Russian forces have advanced to within a very close proximity of that main entrenched line. They are just south of the N15 highway where they stand to assault the Marinka – Kurakhove line from the south. Once that line is broken with reinforcements, then the main trench system and first echelon defense of the Ukrops will be flanked and under fire control from flanks and rears. This will lead to a multiplication factor of force which will cause their rapid collapse in a snowballing fashion, because for the first time in the conflict they will be hit from multiple sides, supply and retreat lines cut, etc. Remember, if that new interactive unit map I included at the top is accurate, the Russian force disposition in Zaporizhzhia around the southern contact line of the cauldron is extremely low. There appears to be only 3 motorized rifle regiments of about 5 BTGs total (as low as ~3200 troops) and a tank regiment of only 2 BTGs. This would be in the area of ~5000 total troops, which seems extremely low but even if you double that, as a precaution, that’s still extremely low for that entire huge front. That would basically be half a division to one very small division holding and advancing on an area that’s something like 15,000km2. So imagine what will happen once Mariupol frees up and (hopefully) other reinforcements are injected to the tune of at least another 15-30k. This would absolutely break the spine of Ukrainian defenses on this southern front of the cauldron. If 10k troops were gaining steadily around Velyka Novosilka and north of Volnovakha, then double or triple that amount should smash everything in their path.

And the other thing is, Russia might have had trouble in heavily urbanized regions like Kiev and its outskirts (which are heavily suburbanized) because not only does it create very narrow killzones where mechanized squads are sitting ducks, but Russia seemed to greatly limit its airpower for fear of hitting all the un-evacuated homes everywhere. This made it extremely difficult to fight. But in the Donbass region, where it’s comparatively de-urbanized, mostly huge expanses of flat fields, farmland, small villages, it will play to all of Russia’s strengths – whereas the Kiev regions played completely to Ukraine’s strength, not only the heavily suburbanized areas but most of the region is heavily forested as well, which allowed the ‘partisan’ and guerilla tactics of the Ukrops to be much more successful than in the lower Donbass region of flat farmlands.

So I will stick my neck out and predict that the cauldron collapse will be more rapid than people expect now that Russia has made the decision to focus everything onto it. The troops are really chomping at the bit, attacks on their homeland (Belgorod), and the torture of POWs has boiled their blood. Reports from the frontlines of a soldier in Izyum continue to indicate they are ready and excited for a massive battle to crush the Ukrop cauldron (and the spirits/morale is high as well). And you’ve already seen the Chechens and their unprecedented morale and spirits – what will happen after Mariupol falls and those Chechens are loosed onto the southern front of the cauldron? I pity the Ukrops for what is coming.

I leave you with some Mariupol combat footage:

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