Yesterday I wrote “hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and settle for anything in the middle”. Today, and while it is way too early to make any kind of definitive judgments, I feel that I can say with some confidence that the worst has not happened and that, in fact, there are signs that the Ukrainian offensive has, so far, yielded no useful results.
I have not heard from Juan or Gleb, but I have been carefully parsing the news coming out of Novorussia in the Russian media and, more importantly, in the Russian social media. They all concur on the following:
- The Ukrainian attacks have used massive but non-discriminate firepower. Either this is a deliberate junta policy to terrorize the civilian population and thereby culturally cleanse the Donbass, or the Ukie forces are extremely poorly trained. Whatever may be the case, there are plenty of civilians casualties, but the effect of this firepower on the resistance forces has not been as bad as one could have feared.
- Both sides have had comparatively losses, though the attackers suffered much more due to several successful ambushes by the resistance which drew the attacking forces into “fire sacks” and, basically, wiped them out.
- The Ukies seems to have tested the resistance by doing what is called in Russian “reconnaissance by fire” where you engage a force primarily to gage its response and find its weaker spots. Apparently no such spots were found (yet).
- The airspace over Novorussia seems to be very well defended and only in one day the Ukies lost at least one SU-25 close air support and one SU-24 bomber aircraft. Other sources speak of several more aircraft hit, including one Mi-24 attack helicopter shot down and one twin engine aircraft hit, but which managed to fly away.
- The main Ukrainian effort seems to be concentrated in re-taking control of the border between Novorussia and Russia, but their only success so far has been the re-taking of an abandoned border post which the resistance did not even bother defending.
- No other significant gain or change in positions has been reported.
Still, the humanitarian situation is extremely bad, especially in Slaviansk which has been viciously shelled and bombed and which has lost all electrical power as a result of these strikes.
There are persistent rumors that the junta is about to begin using the OTR-21 Tochka operational tactical rocket against the resistance. Maybe. They sure have them, but the problem will be targeting. The Ukies have no satellites and their aircraft-base reconnaissance capabilities appear to be minimal. While it is possible that Uncle Sam will provide them with targeting data, the resistance forces just do not provide the kind of high-value targets which would justify the use of such advanced missiles. My prediction is that if the Ukies engage their OTR-21s it will be for a pure terror attack aimed at flattening some well-known and therefore mostly empty building.
I have also noticed somewhat of a change in tone in the western corporate media. If the EU zombies are, again, threatening Russia with more (probably totally symbolic) sanctions, the western media seems to become aware of the plight of the civilian population of the Donbass.
In conclusion I will repeat that while the initial reports seem to indicate that the Ukie offensive is going absolutely nowhere, it is way too early to rejoice, especially since we have now way of assessing how close either side is to its breaking point.