We have observed the increasing size of the militant forces in Luhansk. According to our insiders, most of the soldiers look like newly recruited conscripts. One could jump to the conclusion that the LNR leadership has started its mobilization. However, noting the arrival of more Russian detachments on the Ukrainian border, this build -up is more likely linked to the rotation of Russian forces.
On the 22nd April we observed in Luhansk the setting up of a mobile communication center consisting of seven units. Regarding recent events, leading to the transfer of Kazak groups to being under the leadership of LNR headed by I; Plotnitskyi, one can speculate that forces are being gathered either for a large scale maneuver or in preparation for a full-scale offensive. Deployment of part of militant forces from Luhansk towards the West, as well as transfer of the part of the second tier forces to the North, in our analysis supports the latter option. Further movements we detected included the movement of militant detachments up to a division-tactical group’s size from Krasnyi Luch towards Stakhanov on the 23rd.
DNR marking of their equipment in Horlivka with tactical insignia also suggests the preparation of the offense in northern direction. In the past few days we have observed a high level of activity among militant detachments, which practice drill combat coherency near the settlement. Unconfirmed information indicated that the commander of one of terrorist detachments obtained the task to scout the direction Horlivka-Dzerzhynsk. This can indicate the intention to break through Konstyantynivka, or, as we mentioned in a previous summary, the preparation to cut the zones of responsibility in sectors Horlivka-Dobropillya.
Regarding the marking of tactical insignia on the tops of trucks and armored vehicles we can speculate that militant forces might be planning on the use aircraft (perhaps light airplanes which were on the DOSAAF bases before the conflict) or for to assist with identification when using armed UAVs. The militants continue to test Ukrainian defenses near the settlement of Mayorsk, focussing their forces in the settlement Golmivskyi. This situation also reinforces the probability of an attack from Horlivka to Artemivsk.
Thus, the most problematic direction is the northern one, namely assaults in the directions of Horlivka-Artemivsk and Pervomaysk-Artemivsk. A breakthrough in these directions will potentially allow the militants to to create a “cauldron” near the settlements Myronivskyi, Svitlodarsk, and develop the attack towards Slavyansk in order to block the ATO headquarters in the settlement Kramatorsk from its transfer to the settlement of Izyum (which previously served as headquarters for the Ukrainian ATO forces).
According to information from Donetsk insiders, the equipment of militants continues to arrive in the city. On 23rd April insiders were able to witness the movement of a convoy consisting of 6 tanks T-72, up to 20 infantry combat vehicles (BMP) and multi-purpose light-armored towing vehicles (MTLB). Noting the `cordon and cleansing’ events in the morning, we can speculate that local militia groups are been replaced by the regular Russian army. According to our information, the most combat ready and experienced militant groups were sent to the settlement Shyrokyne, but without equipment. The equipment to this area was transported directly from Russia. But an attack on Shyrokyne-Mariupol remains questionable. We still believe it will be a diversionary move, and the main offence direction in this sphere will remain Olenivka-Andriivka and Styla-Dokuchajevsk – Volnovakha.
As to the direction Schastya and Stanycia Luhanska, here the probability of an attack from the border of the Russian Federation has been increased. This hypothesis is supported by growing activities of of special operation groups, which undermine the supply routes of the ATO forces. These special forces groups are operating from bases located in the RF (according to the communication of the governor of Luhansk oblast). By doing that, RF army is testing for weak spots in the defense of eastern border of Luhansk oblast.
Consolidation of the military equipment in the area of Pervomaisk-Stakhanov can indicate the preparing of the offensive on Lysychansk, which will allow the militants to cover the right flank of strike force assaulting in the northern direction. However, limited information does not allow for a complete analysis of the situation in that area. It is disturbing to note the beginning of pro-Russian / separatist broadcasting aim at the population within Ukraine controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions, utilizing powerful FM-radio stations. The enemy initiated a (dis)information campaign in the Pervomaisk area seemingly with the objective of whipping up hysteria; possibly to hide their own maneuvers in taking up positions at the line of contact with the Ukrainian army in this area.
We should admit the increasing activity of the enemy aimed at destabilizing the situation in large cities of Ukraine. Examples of this are the recent explosions in Kharkiv and two unauthorized meetings on 23.04 (people in hoodies blocking the city ring road). Possibly, a provocation will be organized in Kyiv before the offensive, the objective of which will be the physical blocking or elimination of one or more key Ukrainian leaders.
Analysis of the situation is prepared by Artem Vasylenko specially for InformNapalm
Translated by Andrii Gryganskyi.