To help understand the information given in this summary below, we would like to give some words about the terrain first. In the map, you can see the delimitation line (it was taken from open sources). Let us carefully examine the areas it passes through. There is the Kalmius River near Mariupol. It is possible to cross the river over the bridges near Mariupol, Sartana, Pavlopil, to the west of Hryhorivka (the river here is wide enough to use heavy mechanized bridges), and Hranytne. Given that it is rather easy to control the crossings, we can say that the probability of an attack in the southern direction is low. Information from our insiders from Novoazovsk, who say that it is calm in the city, indirectly confirms this.
The transfer of military equipment (which took place several days ago) towards Dokuchajevsk and the accumulation of enemy forces near Starobesheve also confirm this. In our previous article, “Chronicles of the ‘Truce’: Russian Armed Forces Shell Ukrainian Positions from the Residential Neighborhood in Styla”, we confirmed the arrival of the enemy to this city.
Basing on the above, we could assume that the terrorists are planning to attack towards the Dokuchajevsk-Volnovakha direction, especially if we consider the activity of the terrorists over the past few days in that area (“Terrorists Destroyed Civilian Commuter Bus from BM-21 ‘Grad’ near Volnovakha”.
However, according to our insiders, the illegal armed groups have also begun to fortify their emplacements in the exit from Starobesheve towards Rozdolne and Styla. Perhaps this does not seem logical: on the one hand, they announce their offensive upon Volnovakha, on the other, they are preparing for defense. However the logic will become apparent by the end of the assessment.
Now, let us go up northwards. The terrain between Olenivka and Donetsk is conducive for an offensive towards Vuhledar, but this offensive can easily turn into a trap because the flanks will be open. As for the Petrovskyi district of Donetsk, an attack towards the Donetsk-Marinka direction will fail because of the network of the reservoirs near Kurakhove. That is, even if the terrorists take Marinka, they will be unable to develop the offensive further.
The same is true with the regard to an attack towards the Donetsk-Krasnohorivka direction. Information from our insiders indirectly confirms this. Namely, in the morning of January 14, 2015, a large number of military equipment along with the manpower left their bases in the western outskirts of the Petrovskyi district and began to move eastwards.
Now let us move northwards up to the Donetsk airport. The situation in that area is extremely difficult. The airport is in operational encirclement. The only hope is the artillery of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which stops the enemy from succeeding in its offensive upon the emplacements of the units defending the airport. According to open source information, three units of 220mm TOS-1 “Buratino” heavy flamethrower systems arrived to the airport; there are rumors on the possibility of using of tactical operational missile complex “Tochka-U” (SS-21 Scarab B). According to the insiders, a tank unit, up to a battalion in size, is concentrated in the direction of the airport.
What will the enemy gain if they capture the airport and Pisky settlement? It may sound silly, but they will gain absolutely nothing. The only thing that the terrorists will achieve is pushing the ATO forces away towards the Karlovske Reservoir and then – “Stop the machine!” This is why we can say that the panic around the Donetsk airport is stirred up artificially. Knowing the mentality of the Ukrainian people, which do not leave anybody down there to perish, the militants perform informational and psychological operations along with the military one. The aim of those operations is to divert attention from other, more dangerous directions: the same way as it happened to Ilovaisk. However the presence of a tank battalion in the northern outskirts of Donetsk cannot be ignored, because under the guise of an attack upon the airport, the enemy could deliver a blow towards the Donetsk-Avdiivka direction and continue to advance upon Dzerzhynsk along the H20 highway outflanking Verkhnotoretske and Novobakhmutivka, thus aligning the front line. At the same time the activity of the militants in the western outskirts of Horlivka has increased, which could indicate a converging attacks from both directions.
Now let us consider the eastern part of the ATO zone. We have already mentioned that the development of the offensive upon Shchastya is greatly complicated because of the water obstacles. Although, judging by the large number of artillery units, it is possible that the terrorists would choose to attack Stanytsia Luhanska with the aim to gain control over the Staytsuia Luhanska – Yelan railway route: this will allow the terrorists to transfer military equipment from the Russian Federation by the shortest route. In this scenario the enemy will try to suppress the command centers and combat emplacements of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the area of Shchastya. The bottleneck here is the crossing over the Severskiy Donets River: if the Ukrainian forces are able to keep it, then the breakout will be doomed to fail; otherwise, the enemy gets a chance to approach Shchastya from the northern and eastern direction, and that would cause great concern.
Now let us get back to the central part of the front. For two days our insiders have been observing movement of troops out of Torez northwards; there are very few military left in the city. In the morning of January 14, terrorists shelled Nikishyne and Kamyanka. This could indicate the intention to attack Debaltseve from the southern direction. However, let us look closely at the map: we will see that the terrain there is heavily crossed and this complicates movement of heavy armored vehicles. Therefore, it is only possible to attack along the M03 highway from Kirovske upon Olkhovatka with the aim to cut off the ATO forces in Nikishyne and Kamyanka. It is very unlikely that the enemy will develop the offensive towards Debaltseve: by that moment that ATO forces will draw up towards the southern side of the Debaltseve pocket, and attacks will follow from Horlivka and Pervomaisk upon Artemivsk. Why? Because it is of great importance for the terrorists to align the front line. It does no make sense to align it on the Myronovske Reservoir because it will not be possible to attack northwards. This is why they will have to align it on Horlivka – Artemivsk – Pervomaisk settlements. It is very likely that right after that an attack upon Pervomaisk – Zolote – Lysychansk will follow; the fact that the attack forces in Artemivsk will cover the left flank, also contributes to this. The goal of the attack will be to gain control over the crossings over the Severskiy Donets with subsequent access to Shchastya from the northern direction.
Regarding the question whether the terrorists have enough forces to implement these maneuvers, we have materials confirming the presence of a large number of multiple launch rocket systems in the area of Bryanka; besides, our insiders report that there is additional military equipment in the mines in Stakhanov. We also see the attempts to discredit the brigade commander of the militants Aleksey Mozgovoy, who withdrew from LPR’s control; this campaign will allow the military and political leaders of the Russian Federation and Luhansk People’s Repiublic to avoid blame in case Mozgovoy gets defeated. According to the insiders, the militants become more active in the northeast outskirts of Horlivka, and analysis of information from open sources indicates constant shelling by the militants of both the ATO emplacements and civilian population in that direction.
It is necessary to realize that there will be no full-scale simultaneous attacks in all directions: the terrorists do not have enough forces for undertaking a maneuver of such scale. This is the reason why the militants simulate preparation of an attack towards Dokuchajevsk-Volnovakha and at the same time fortify their defense in Starobesheve, They will have to use the part of their reserve from the rear (Shakhtarsk, Torez, Krasnyi Luch). Thus, fearing an attack from the Ukrainian forces, they fortify their flanks.
Information from Slovyansk separatists also fits the logic: the separatists claim that the militants are going to return to the city soon. This is only possible if the terrorists regain control over Artemivsk. Although this could be bluff in order to spread panic.