Since the beginning of the truce on February 15, 2015, the insurgents have regrouped their forces. Under the guise of the removal of heavy artillery, they relocated and concealed it on various industrial properties. Claiming the need to provide reliable defense of its positions against a possible advance by the ATO forces, the enemy has started to deploy mechanized units closer to the contact line. As the result, the terrorist forces have managed to concentrate into assault groups in the immediate vicinity of the contact line with the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
According to the insiders, the insurgents have moved their mechanized units from Horlivka to Mykytivka and dispersed them in residential areas, greatly complicating the possibility of accurate determination of the types and quantities of the enemy troops. The movement of the insurgent’s units towards Dzerzhynsk was also observed. The large numbers of abandoned industrial facilities in the northeastern part of the city of Horlivka provide the insurgents with the opportunity for the covert deployment of a strike force while minimizing information leaks to the locals. An approximate number of the enemy materiel in this area is up to 30 tanks and 50 BMPs and BTRs. Also worth mentioning are the strikes against the checkpoints in the directions of Artemivsk (Mayorsk) and Dzerzhynsk over the past three days. This may suggest that preparations for attacks in these directions are underway.
The situation is similar in the settlements of Pervomaisk, Stakhanov, Bryanka, Alchevsk and Kirov. Every day, InformNapalm insiders observe arrivals of convoys of heavy weapons and ammunitions. This may indicate the preparation for attacks in Pervomaisk — Artemivsk and Pervomaisk — Lysychansk directions.
The enemy continues to accumulate its strike forces in Shchastya and Stanytsia Luhanska directions.
However, we note that an attack of the village Shchastya from the south is impossible due to the natural water barrier (Seversky Donets River). This has allowed the Ukrainian Army to create a heavily fortified position there. For a successful assault on Shchastya, terrorist forces could strike from the north, in order to cut the supply lines of Shchastya. Access to Shchastya from the north is only possible with attacks from Millerovo, Russia or Severodonetsk. The former is unacceptable to Russia in the current political situation, unless control over river crossings in the vicinity of Severodonetsk is gained first. Then the deployment of large amounts of weapons from Millerovo can be presented as originating from the occupied territory. This is the reason why the insurgents have been so vocal about their intent to advance on Severodonetsk. The amount of effort and resources necessary in this case is irrelevant for them. The main goal is to create the impression of a massive weapons deployment across Seversky Donets. Besides, the strike on Severodonetsk will help protect the right flank of the terrorist forces’ main advance. We will talk in more detail about it later.
The control of the Luhansk – Stanytsia Luhanska – Patronovka railway could reduce the time required to deliver weapons from Russia to Luhansk. Therefore, special attention must be paid to this direction by the Sector S command. Additionally, the control of this railway allows for a strike on Shchastya from the east, deploying troops from the territory of Russia.
As for Mariupol, the presence of the natural barrier in the form of Kalmius River makes it impossible to launch an offensive in the Novoazovsk-Mariupol direction, although we have information of the insurgents accumulating strike forces in this direction.
Moreover, we have received the information about the preparations for an amphibious assault near the town of Samsonove. We hope that ATO command has foreseen this possibility and has mined the waters of Azov Sea near Mariupol. But in our opinion, the most likely place for the landing of insurgent troops (in reality, the marines of the Russian Black Sea Fleet) is near the villages of Yalta and Urzuf as this would block Mariupol from the M14 route.
Also, taking into account the information that the Black Sea Fleet was placed on operational readiness on March 12, we should not exclude the possibility of a blockade or an attack on the port of Odessa, which is the main navy base of Ukraine. On Thursday, missile ships of the Black Sea Fleet Task Force held an exercise with missile attacks against a group of ships of ‘an imaginary enemy’. The BSF Bora hovercraft took part in the exercise.
The accumulation of the terrorist forces in the north-western and western outskirts of Donetsk serves as an evidence of the impending attack in the direction of Kurakhove and Avdiivka. In our opinion, these attacks will be no more than distractions.
Considering all of the above, the most likely near-future scenario is the strikes in the directions of Horlivka — Artemivsk and Pervomaisk — Artemivsk. This would allow the insurgents to block the ATO forces from their supply base in Artemivsk and complete the encirclement of the ATO forces near Svetlodarsk. Dzerzhynsk and Lysychansk will be attacked simultaneously, providing flank coverage of the main strike force. If successful, insurgents will need no more than a couple of hours to block Slavyansk from the M03 route. This, in turn, will prevent the timely evacuation of the ATO HQ in Kramatorsk and block its operations. The loss of control by the ATO forces will allow the insurgents to complete all their operations mentioned above. Also, it gives the enemy new bargaining chips for the next peace talks with the Ukrainian leadership (let’s call them ‘Minsk-3’) if some of the attacks do not succeed.
Most likely, during the strikes on Artemivsk, the ATO HQ will be shelled with Smerch MLRS, and then, after Artemivsk has fallen, with Uragan MLRS, in order to prevent its successful evacuation. Regarding the possibility of strikes towards Horlivka — Dzerzhynsk — Kostyantynivka — Druzhkivka — Kramatorsk, we do hope that the ATO command has learned from the experience of Vuhlehirsk and has prepared surprises for the insurgents in this chain of towns that stretches for the distance of about 40 km.
Prior to the news about the Russian President Vladimir Putin being ‘missing’ and ‘ill’, we even had a good estimate of the start date of the above mentioned operations. According to our own sources in the occupied territories, the dates of March 14-16 have been repeatedly mentioned in the conversations of the Russian mercenaries, with the final sweep of Artemivsk targeted for March 16. Moreover, the local population of the cities and towns listed as the potential targets received multiple text messages from their relatives fighting on the insurgents’ side, warning them to leave their residences during that specific period. Our conclusion is that the operation would begin on the morning of March 14, most likely, at 5 am Moscow time (4 am in Kyiv — a classic choice).
Everything described here is only one possible scenario based on the assessment of the tactical situation and the data on the initial enemy positions. Obviously, the plan can only move forward after a specific political decision; perhaps the fuss of Putin’s disappearance from public view was raised on purpose, perhaps by the Russian side itself. On the eve of a fateful decision, the emperor could invent an ‘alibi’ for himself in order to leave the room for maneuver.
Information for this publication was prepared by Artem Vasilenko and Roman Burko specifically for InformNapalm.
Original article by InformNapalm, translated by Private.