Espreso. Global
Review

Russia aims to bypass of Chasiv Yar, defense of Ocheretyne, US aid. Weekly military summary

27 April, 2024 Saturday
14:07

This week, Ocheretyne became the most difficult section of the contact line, and the Russian army is trying to bypass Chasiv Yar to get closer to the administrative borders of Donetsk region

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Situation around the village of Ocheretyne

When talking about the situation on the frontline, it is clear that the most difficult area is around Ocheretyne. The dynamics of the fighting there is even greater in terms of the number of clashes than around Chasiv Yar. It seems that Chasiv Yar has receded into the background for now, but speaking of Ocheretyne, this is the area where the Russian troops managed to advance 4-6 km in a fairly short period of time. Advances toward Ocheretyne continue to have a major impact on the front line, because Ocheretyne is a hill that allows for a significant amount of area to be under both visual and fire control, and the adversary understands this.

The lion's share of the village is under Russia's control, and Ukrainian troops are also there, so the fighting is extremely active, but in addition to advancing to Ocheretyne, the Russian army is trying to expand this insertion. We know that there are two other settlements that are close to Ocheretyne - Novobakhmutivka and Novokalynove - these settlements are almost destroyed and Russia is also trying to gain a foothold there to expand the bridgehead and minimize the threat of Ukrainian counterattacks.

Why are the attacks on Ocheretyne extremely dangerous? There are two factors that influence the situation. First, it is the overhanging of Ukraine's defense line from Berdychiv, Semenivka, Orlivka and further south. Control over Ocheretyne allows Russia to create threats to bypass Ukraine's first line of defense, which was formed after the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Avdiivka. We remember that this line was formed quite spontaneously, Ukrainian troops bit into the defense, into the ground, built fortifications themselves, and a more prepared defense line is located deep in Ukrainian territory. Now there is a risk that through control of Ocheretyne the Russian army is trying to create a threat over the first line of defense, where Ukrainian units are now located, and moving further along the railroad from Ocheretyne to the village of Prohres creates risks of the Russian units approaching the second line of defense. This is something that looks quite theoretical, but so far Russia is using its superiority in manpower, equipment and aviation and is trying to realize these threats.

On the Ukrainian side, we know that there were situations related to the defense of Ocheretyne by the 115th Brigade, we know that this brigade has now been replaced by the 100th Brigade, and the 47th Brigade is also defending Berdychi, preventing the Russian enemy from advancing, but the situation remains extremely difficult.

I think that everything will largely depend on the balance of forces and means in this area, the main thing is the use of a sufficient number of reserves on the Ukrainian side, although Russia is now using the reserves that are accumulating in this area. In particular, the 15th peacekeeping brigade, which was withdrawn from Nagorno-Karabakh, is being redeployed to this area, and it has some equipment and is also now being partially used to reinforce Russian units.

Defense by Ukrainian army's 115th Mechanized Brigade near Ocheretyne

We understand that this area was held for a long time, but then something happened to the defense order of the 115th Brigade, and now I think the General Staff will be investigating how, what exactly influenced the actions of this brigade, that the Russian army, during the change of Ukraine's positions, managed to take advantage of this situation quickly enough, either by rotation or other mistaken decisions or false information to Ukrainian military leaders, and advance into Ocheretyne.

This story actually then forced other brigades that were defending other areas, including the 47th Brigade, which was defending Berdychi, to allocate certain units to defend this area, which was previously defended by the 115th Brigade, and then new units were sent to this area to hold it and prevent their enemy from advancing further.

In any case, we understand that there are many reasons for this, perhaps at the command level, perhaps the general exhaustion of the units, the lack of ammunition and equipment, I think, six months of blocking American aid affected this and other areas. They created a certain, let's say, illusion of opportunity for Russia. Although we partially understand that Russia does have an advantage in manpower, aircraft, and equipment. However, this does not mean that there were no miscalculations, because, once again, it happens that commanders provide false information and, probably, the leaders at the top cannot clearly assess the risks in a particular area. Similar cases occurred with the 167th Brigade, when there was a breakthrough in the Chasiv Yar area, and an investigation was conducted.

I think that all these measures should be more active, on the one hand, and on the other hand, we realize that Ukraine is at a stage where its units are quite exhausted and we need to think not only about replenishing personnel, but also about improving the efficiency and training, the quality of personnel, from sergeants to junior officers and brigade commanders. We sometimes forget that it is the sergeants and junior commanders who are largely responsible for what is happening in certain areas of the frontline, in the areas defended by the brigade.

The situation around Chasiv Yar, Kupyansk and Robotyne

Russia has the ability to act on several fronts simultaneously. Firstly, we are seeing a significant intensity of hostilities, on April 26 the General Staff's report showed 114 combat clashes per day, which was the highest number we had only in the summer. That is a very high intensity of hostilities in terms of the number of combat clashes, and the lion's share of these clashes are primarily on the Donetsk front, in Avdiivka and Marinka, where Russia's forces and aspirations are concentrated. We see that all available reserves are being sent there to push Ukraine's defense line further and try to develop the offensive. However, despite the high intensity of the forces and means that can ensure a significant breakthrough, there are no Russian forces along the entire frontline. Russia is using the forces it takes from different parts of the frontline, even from Nagorno-Karabakh, which means that it is quite limited in its ability to attack in several directions at the same time.

Amid this, Chasiv Yar has now receded into the background a bit, because when Russia tried to move from Bohdanivka and capture Ivanivske, it suffered significant losses and is now regrouping. I think that within 2 to 4 days, Russia will accumulate forces near Chasiv Yar in the west and then attempt further attacks on Chasiv Yar in several directions. We know that the Russian army has two opportunities to attack from Bohdanivka and Ivanivske. Relatively speaking, in these directions, when moving west, there are areas where the Siverskyi Donets-Donbas Canal goes underground and it is easier to move close to Chasiv Yar. There is still a central, frontal offensive to attack the canal area located in front of the Siverskyi Donets-Donbas Canal.

The question is to have a sufficient number of artillery in this area, first of all, because we now realize that using artillery and partially FPV drones, we can restrain Russia's advance and disrupt its offensive intentions. Now the question is how quickly we will receive American assistance. On April 26, Rammstein summit took place, and there were a number of statements about the supply of this or that equipment to Ukraine, and they mentioned these Czech ammunition again, because it was said that it would arrive in June. But there was a billion-dollar package of American aid, and in fact, it also announced cluster and artillery munitions. I hope that these arsenals related to the support of Ukraine's artillery will arrive much faster.

It seems to me that the expectation of Russia's May offensive is already being realized, because we see a situation where, first, the intensity of hostilities has increased. Now Russia's main efforts are directed to the west of Avdiivka and Marinka. This is just an old political aspiration to reach the borders of Donetsk region, so this is where Russia's main efforts will continue.

In parallel, this week, there has been activation in the Kupyansk-Lyman area. We understand that there is a separate grouping of troops there that has resumed its activity - these are attempts to advance in the Kupyansk area, and activation in the Lyman area. And in the south, fighting in the Robotyne area is another area of Russia's responsibility. This is Russia's desire to undermine Ukraine's defense and force Ukraine to move its reserves to different areas. And here, the issues will depend on the General Staff's understanding of what is happening, the use of maximum intelligence information and the capabilities Ukraine has.

Ukrainian Defense Forces use of Western missiles

Here we mention that Ukraine has started to use HIMARS more actively, stopped saving these missiles and finally added long-range ATACMS. We know that Ukraine has received more than 100 ATACMS with a range of 300 km and a significant number of shorter ranges of 160 km with cluster warheads. I think that this addition, which is already in the arsenal of the Ukrainian army, will help to stabilize the front line, because Ukraine's main task now is to hold its positions and inflict maximum losses on the Russian enemy. The issue of offensive actions is for later.

When speaking about HIMARS and the American MLRS multiple launch rocket system, we know that these launchers are used with various types of precision munitions that are already actively eliminating Russian air defense systems, command posts, and airfields by the Russian enemy (in Dzhankoi and Berdiansk). The question is the quantity: we know about a package of 100 ATACMS at 300 km and more ATACMS at 160 km. In any case, we hope that these announced packages from the UK and France with Storm Shadow and SCALP will add the ability to destroy the Russian forces at greater depths and thus minimize Russia's offensive and strike potential.

Russian manpower reserves

Russia's reserves are an important issue that concerns all military experts and the Ukrainian General Staff. According to more or less official information, Russia now has reserves along the entire contact line of 60,000 personnel and a certain number are being trained deep in Russian territory, but we have no data there. I understand that Russia cannot provide any operational and strategic breakthroughs with the reserves it has, but replenishment of personnel in the range of 30,000-40,000 per month allows Ukraine to maintain the intensity of hostilities that is currently on the front. The question then is to ensure that Ukraine's capability to destroy the Russian army exceeds the 30,000 per month figure.

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