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Ukraine’s Nightmare: Can Putin Conquer Both Donbas and Mariupol?

Ukraine
T-90 tank from Russia. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

On day 56 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces are trying to cut off the Ukrainian troops in the Donbas, while the Ukrainian military is putting up fierce resistance.

The Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol are fighting a last stand against the Russian forces.

The Battle for Donbas 

In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense assessed that the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine is hampered by a combination of logistical issues and fierce Ukrainian resistance.

“Russian shelling and strikes on the Donbas line of control continue to increase, with the Ukrainians repelling numerous attempted advances by Russian forces. Russia’s ability to progress continues to be impacted by the environmental, logistical and technical challenges that have beset them so far, combined with the resilience of the highly-motivated Ukrainian armed forces. Russia’s inability to stamp out resistance in Mariupol and their indiscriminate attacks, which have harmed the resident civilian populace, are indicative of their continued failure to achieve their aims as quickly as they would like,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 20,900 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 171 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 150 helicopters, 815 tanks, 391 artillery pieces, 2,087 armored personnel carriers, 136 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), eight boats, 1,504 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 67 anti-aircraft batteries, 165 unmanned aerial systems, 27 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems.

Moreover, the Pentagon assesses that even after 55 days of the war, the Russian Aerospace Forces has failed to achieve air dominance over the skies of Ukraine. Although the Ukrainian Air Force only flies a few sorties every day, the Ukrainian air defense capability is still credible and potent enough to restrict or even prevent Russian aircraft from flying over certain areas of the country.

To bypass that constrain, the Russian military has been using increasingly more long-range fires, including ballistic and cruise missiles. Since the invasion began on February 24, the Russian military has launched almost 1,700 ballistic or cruise missiles against Ukrainian targets, for an approximate rate of 30 launches per day.

In addition, reports about an imminent nuclear strike in Ukraine are baseless as the Pentagon has no indications of such a move, a senior U.S. defense official said. Also, the U.S. doesn’t believe that the ballistic missile cruiser Moskva, the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet flagship that was sunk last week, was carrying nuclear weapons.

More Weapons and Faster 

On Tuesday, the Czech Ministry of Defense announced that Czech companies would repair and service Ukrainian tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, and other vehicles damaged in the war. This will allow the Ukrainian military to sustain more defensive, and even offensive, operations against the Russian forces. The Ukrainians have captured a lot of hardware from the Russians, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, and now they can put them into use faster with some Czech help.

Finland is also sending another round of security aid to Ukraine, according to the Finnish government. This would be the third round of military aid to Ukraine from Finland, which most likely will seek to join the NATO military alliance soon.

“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. hosted a videoconference today with Allies and partners to discuss international support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, including the ongoing provision of security, economic, and humanitarian assistance. The leaders affirmed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people and condemned the humanitarian suffering caused by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion. They also discussed their coordinated efforts to impose severe economic costs to hold Russia accountable. They committed to continued close consultation, including working with and through the G7, EU, and NATO,” the White House said in a press statement.

In response to the renewed Russian offensive, the U.S. Department of Defense is prioritizing the shipment of the 155mm howitzers to Kyiv and the training of the Ukrainian military on the weapon system. In the latest package of security aid, the U.S. is sending 18 155mm Howitzers and 40,000 155mm artillery rounds to Ukraine.

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155mm Howitzer. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

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Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, fire a M777 towed 155 mm Howitzer on Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, Aug. 10, 2019. The Soldiers conducted a fire mission to disrupt known enemy positions. As long as Daesh presents a threat, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve remains committed to enabling its defeat. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. DeAndre Pierce)

Kyiv

U.S. Army Spc. Colton Davis, an infantryman assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 198th Armor Regiment, 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, Mississippi Army National Guard, fires a Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile during a combined arms live fire exercise as part of Exercise Eastern Action 2019 at Al-Ghalail Range in Qatar, Nov. 14, 2018. The multiple exposure photo demonstrates the multiple stages the missile goes through after it is fired by Davis. This is a multiple-exposure photo. (U.S. Army National Guard photo illustration by Spc. Jovi Prevot)

The U.S. is expected to send another package of security aid to Ukraine in the next few days.

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 InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise 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.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Alex

    April 20, 2022 at 10:27 am

    The same articles every day. Fantasies of the authors, lies and propaganda of the Nazi regime in Kyiv. And the reality for Ukraine is simply catastrophic.

  2. Vladolph Putler

    April 20, 2022 at 11:46 am

    US DOD says light up of long range fires and probing actions across LOC are prelude. However, breakthrough of Ukrainian lines was achieved at Zarichne by 8-12 Russian MBT’s with IFV, infantry and air support after Ukrainian retreat under heavy bombardment. Nearby Russian forces poured through the gap.

    Force deployment in perspective, Russia massed appx 190k in 120 BTGs for the initial invasion. Unofficial estimates put Russian military capabilities at 75% (national total) as of now due to lost or expended resources. Two more Russian BTGs have arrived for an estimated total of 78 BTGs x600ish=47k though more official estimates put the forces closer to 70k.

    One could assume that this current BTG footprint is disproportionately low compared to losses, but more likely the Russians are learning (how did they not know???) that logistics is more important than swagger. If so, the reduced BTG footprint reflects this, and supply lines are being taken more seriously.

    Meanwhile, that Spearhead that broke through the lines and took Zarichne? Completely destroyed. Along with several aircraft, and all supporting equipment and personnel.

    Overall Russian military capabilities are being drawn down at a remarkable rate, while Ukrainian forces are growing in all areas except manned ground attack aircraft, jet fighters and long range air defenses- though mobile SHORAD is absolutely BRISTLING. And the Ukrainian drone ground attack fleet is growing in both numbers and diversity. With US naval surface drones, and small British ASMs being delivered, Ukraine may in the coming months, start turn Russia’s little ponds into Ukraine’s little ponds.

    Time is the friend of Ukraine. It is not the friend of Russia. But apparently no one (even Russians) is the friend of Russia these days.

  3. Andrew M Winter

    April 20, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    Beware the MUD! MUD MUD and MORE MUD! That Rasputitsa doesn’t wind down til JUNE folks!
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rasputitsa

    Russia is attacking the Donbas. That name is short for the Don River BASIN. A Basin is a bowl. That bowl is still filled with melting underground ice. The melt water does not drain much at ALL. The Don River Basin is a Bowl of SOUP twice a year, Spring and Summer.

    No mechanized offensive can do anything but follow roads and even then, this stuff they call MUD can, will and does swallow entire tanks.
    https://qr.ae/pvs6Yn That is a link to a Quora Question I posed to myself so I could us that information on places like this.

  4. Alex

    April 21, 2022 at 12:23 am

    Author, teach history and geography: Mariupol is Donbass. And not “both Mariupol and Donbass.”
    And now some truth:
    The Russian army hit more than a thousand military facilities in Ukraine in a day.
    “The missile forces and artillery of Russia carried out strikes on 1,053 objects of the Ukrainian military infrastructure. Among them, 31 command posts, six warehouses of fuel and lubricants, 910 strongholds and enemy manpower concentration areas, as well as 106 artillery firing positions were destroyed.

    In turn, the operational-tactical and army aviation of the Aerospace Forces hit 73 military facilities during the night, including four command posts, 57 places of accumulation of manpower and Ukrainian military equipment, seven strongholds and four ammunition depots. Six tanks, nine armored vehicles and a battery of 152mm Msta-B howitzers were also destroyed.

    In addition, Russian air defense systems shot down two Tochka-U tactical missiles and six drones.
    In total, since the beginning of the special military operation, the following have been destroyed: 140 aircraft, 496 unmanned aerial vehicles, 253 anti-aircraft missile systems, 2388 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 256 multiple rocket launchers, 1029 field artillery guns and mortars, as well as 2232 special military units automotive technology.

    These numbers are encouraging. The agony of the Bandera Nazis is getting brighter.

  5. CK

    April 29, 2022 at 2:20 pm

    Ah, I see your tactic. You add a little shitty first paragraph so it doesn’t detect your duplicate post. Is this what it has come to now, you just posting the same exact post 2, 3, 4, 5 times per article?

    Wow, did they run out of paper in Russia, Alex? You guys can’t print new material? Literally using the same lines, over and over again, and now in duplicate in every post!

    Are you so defeated you can’t even come up with anything new? How sad. Now the idiot is talking about lend-lease at the end of his post, because he literally just copy + pasted it from another thread, with zero relevance to this one.

    Here’s a reminder:

    If someone wanted to know the truth about anything in Ukraine Alex, the last person they would go to is you.

    Paragraphs and paragraphs of bollocks, dubious claims about “independent journalists”, random documentarians, conspiracy theorists, deluded claims that of course, have no backup, lie after lie after lie.

    Classical Kremlin troll approach. Just flood the internet, the comments, the media, with tosh, doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure you write some old nonsense. Make sure to say the claim is supported by some dude in Germany, France, the states. If it’s a “documentary” (usually from youtube) then the better.

    Anything that victimises Russia, always the victim, always the bullied, never the problem. It’s always the Nazis. It’s always some pseudo-historical point.

    Anyone that has had the misfortune to study your “tactics” sees the forest for the trees, the pattern of lies, disinformation, blanketing of random claims, deflection, obfuscation, and other words beyond your vocabulary.

    It’s hopeless Alex. Your lies are as short as your intellect. What a pathetic job, to sit in your government shed, spreading your pathetic, government lies.

    A pathetic job for a truly pathetic man. A better match could not be made in heaven.

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