The Eastern Offensive Begins
The Russian offensive began with a massive artillery barrage across the frontline. The Russian army poured hundreds of howitzer and mortar shells and rockets on the Ukrainian positions, while the Russian Aerospace Force conducted bombing sorties against the same positions.
Long-expected, the Russian offensive will seek to capture the Donbas region and with it most of Ukraine’s industrial capacity. The Russian attack stretches from Kharkiv in the north to Mariupol in the south.
However, the Russian attack began before the Russian forces captured Mariupol. This course of action suggests two things: First, the Russian military believes that the Ukrainian port city will fall in the next few days, and thus it won’t have to divert too many forces to capture it. And second, the Russian military is on a timetable because it is militarily unwise to start a new offensive when you have a pocket of enemy resistance on your rear. If the Russian military is indeed on a timetable, then it means that the sanctions imposed on Moscow are starting to hurt the Russian economy and military.
“It can now be stated that Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time. A very large part of the entire Russian army is now focused on this offensive. No matter how many Russian soldiers are driven there, we will fight. We will defend ourselves. We will do it daily. We will not give up anything Ukrainian, and we do not need what’s not ours,” Zelensky said in his daily statement to the Ukrainian people.
“And I am grateful to all our fighters, to all our heroic cities in Donbas, to Mariupol, and also to the cities of the Kharkiv region which are holding on, defending the fate of the whole state, repelling the forces of invaders. Rubizhne, Popasna, Zolote, Lysychansk, Severodonetsk, Kramatorsk and all others that have been with Ukraine all these years and forever,” the Ukrainian president added.
An Influx of Forces into Donbas
In the days preceding the Russian offensive, the U.S. Department of Defense tracked an influx of enablers, including artillery, rotary aviation, helicopter support, and command and control element, in the region that would support any Russian renewed attack. Moreover, the Pentagon assessed that the Russian military has reinforced its battalion tactical groups in the east and south of Ukraine.
The Battalion Tactical Group (BTG) is the main fighting unit of the modern Russian military. They are based on divisions and brigades and are mostly comprised of combined-arm elements, including mechanized infantry, air defense, tanks, artillery, rotary aviation, combat engineers, and logistical support. In essence, the Russian Battalion Tactical Group is a combined-arms task force with approximately between 1,000 and 1,500 troops.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.