Ukrainian Army Launches Assault on Gorlovka, as Possible Prelude to UAF 'World Cup' Offensive

 Three Donetsk People's Republic POWs captured by the UAF after their attack on the LDNR defensive lines near Gorlovka, May 2018. The Ukrainians also managed to destroy a BMP armored fighting vehicle of the DPR near Dokuchajevsk and blew up a bridge to block a highway between Donetsk and Lugansk.

Three Donetsk People's Republic POWs captured by the UAF after their attack on the LDNR defensive lines near Gorlovka, May 2018. The Ukrainians also managed to destroy a BMP armored fighting vehicle of the DPR near Dokuchajevsk and blew up a bridge to block a highway between Donetsk and Lugansk.

Kiev's Latest Offensive Has Not Achieved Much, But the Goal is to Bait Russia into More Direct Intervention Rather Than to 'Win' Decisively on the Battlefield

All of the UAF’s attacks violate the Minsk 2 agreements the U.S./NATO propped up government in Kiev signed with the Russian backed breakaway republics following the heavy fighting of winter 2015. But the evidence that these attacks have received Washington’s blessing regularly appears in the skies over Ukraine, as Global Hawk high altitude drones with long range cameras and radars fly near the Donbass contact line, while also peering into Crimea and across the border into southern Russia. While Kiev denies it plans to use Javelin anti-tank missiles provided by the Americans at the front line, it’s likely no coincidence we are seeing more UAF attacks after these advanced weapons were provided to the UAF. To many observers in Russia, as well as in portions of the fledgling People’s Republics already under around the clock artillery fire for weeks, a UAF offensive timed around the Russian-hosted World Cup opener in June appears inevitable.

From the Slavyangrad blog, dated May 23, 2018, we note that the pro-Russian forces were able to knock out an American provided counter-mortar radar in the Ukrainians' possession:

It is interesting that when pointing out the UAF’s (Ukrainian Armed Forces) losses in manpower and technology, the DPR Ministry of Defence also noted the destruction of their first American counter-mortar radar. Cannon artillery, mortars, and heavy machine-guns have been active. Given the active work of military censorship on both sides, there is very little real information about what is happening, especially about losses.

In fact there is a probing of the entire front-line from Krasniy Partizan in the south to the direction of Uglegorsk on the Svetlodarsk arc, creating a serious strain along the entire perimeter of Gorlovka’s defences.

On the one hand, as reserves are moved up to Gorlovka, and with the concentration of the battle orders and active work on the enemy’s rear, the probability of a successful assault on the hills adjacent to Gorlovka has drastically decreased. However, on the other hand, if we assume that all this is a distraction with the aim of tying down the DPR reserves in fighting around Gorlovka, and that the main blow will be landed to the south of Donetsk [Col. Cassad wrote this before the reported UAF attack toward Petrovka a few days later -- JWS], then the continuing activity of the UAF takes on a definite purpose, in spite of the rather heavy cost in terms of losses of manpower and materiel. If all this is nothing more than another local escalation, though, the costs may not compare favourably with the results achieved.

Thus far, the UAF have been striving to demonstrate that they are preparing to move to more large-scale actions, timed to coincide with the World Cup in Russia. Materiel is actively being transferred to Volnovakha and Starebeshevo; there are even reports of Ukrainian aircraft allegedly being spotted south-west of Donetsk (possibly disinformation from the Ukrainian side). 

-- original source Col. Cassad (aka Boris Rozhin), a Crimea based pro-Russian military blogger, 22 May 2018 blog post

 A satellite map of the front lines near Gorlovka (source: Slavyangrad https://slavyangrad.org/2018/05/23/briefly-on-the-situation-in-the-donbass-22-05-2018/

A satellite map of the front lines near Gorlovka (source: Slavyangrad https://slavyangrad.org/2018/05/23/briefly-on-the-situation-in-the-donbass-22-05-2018/

So far, the UAF do not have much ground gained to show for the amount of blood they've spilled. Despite undeniable improvements in the experience levels of the Ukrainian Army since it nearly collapsed in the face of a Russian-backed counteroffensive in late summer 2014, the UAF is still unable to demonstrate combined arms warfare. With close air support ruled out by enemy MANPADs, the UAF attempts WW2 style assaults using infantry supported by machine guns, mortars and grenade launchers.

The defenders, usually better dug-in than the attackers and with good intelligence from a network of informants behind Ukrainian lines as well as their drones, are usually able to anticipate and inflict heavy losses on the UAF assaults. However, despite the stupendous amount of armor and artillery the UAF lost in the 2014-15 fighting, Kiev has more men to throw away than the defenders can muster to reinforce their stretched lines. An example of this is seen in the UAF's quick advance to seize the village of Petrovka south of Donetsk city, which is likely to prove costly.

It is quantity exerting a quality all its own that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko apparently is counting on, to achieve some sort of breakthrough in the Donbass War, now entering its fourth summer with more intense fighting. Poroshenko's approval ratings are barely above zero. Politically he is a spent force and he knows it. If new elections were called in Ukraine, Poroshenko could easily be replaced by another Anglo-American puppet politician, perhaps his old rival former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, whose own approval ratings and reputation for corruption are dismal. The fact that 'sources in Kiev' likely in the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) were cited in a recent BBC story alleging pay for play to set up a presidential photo op between Poroshenko's entourage and Donald Trump's attorney Michael Cohen suggests that the present U.S. Commander in Chief is far less important in terms of propping up Poroshenko than the Anglo-American 'deep state'. 

MH17 Presentation Timed for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) and the Expected 'World Cup' Offensive Petro Poroshenko is Launching on U.S./UK Deep State Orders

The other factor motivating the Ukrainians to make their big push now, besides spoiling Russia's hosting of the World Cup and Poroshenko's 'use it or lose it' understanding of his own country's remaining military power, is European governments. Specifically, the election in Italy of a populist left-right coalition between the 5Star Movement and the Lega Nord. Both parties have expressed skepticism if not disdain for the sanctions Brussels imposed on Russia after Crimea voted overwhelmingly to return to Moscow's rule, and after Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was shot down in July 2014.

As London Paul suggested in a phone call this week, it's no accident the Dutch Joint Investigative Team (JIT), citing the British open source group Bellingcat (funded by NATO's think tank the Atlantic Council), chose to present their 'new' evidence against Moscow right around the opening of Vladimir Putin's hometown showcase, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

Maximum pressure including hints at Italian bank runs if the new government defies Brussels on Russia sanctions or the eurozone's fiscal austerity scheme will be applied in the coming weeks. Various links between Lega Nord politicians and Moscow will be predictably highlighted in the Anglo-American press, with various 'how dare the Italians forget the bloody Russians shot down MH17 with their BUK missile' op-eds and social media trolling campaigns unleashed on the new Italian government.

Bloody Business -- Why a Major Ukrainian Summer Offensive is Likely to Fail

Despite its counter-establishment credentials, the new Italian coalition will likely give in to the pressure this summer, and extract what concessions they may from Brussels in return for maintaining the facade of EU unanimity in re-upping the sanctions the Anglo-Americans demand. But just to make sure, there needs to be bloody fighting in the Donbass, with the UAF pushing as hard as they can to draw Russian regular armed forces into the conflict.Nonetheless, even if the UAF have made substantial quantitative and certain qualitative improvements in their combat capabilities since 2014, so have the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics.

Both of the breakaway republics, aided by Russia's satellites and the drone eyes in the sky, can cede ground in select areas. They can 'rope a dope' and allow the UAF soldiers to advance, get tired, and then receive tornados of artillery and rocket fire before they can dig in. The UAF's 'leapfrogging' tactics of seizing villages and trying to find houses or basements to hide in after a quick advance of a few hundred meters in places usually fail.

With the exception of a few 'vacationing' artillery or electronic warfare (including drone jamming) specialists, the Russian Army is exceedingly unlikely to intervene with the phantom T90 or Armata tanks on the battlefield pro-Kiev media have reported in the past. But there is no doubt the Anglo-American deep state, including Mr. Trump's worst appointments in UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and National Security Adviser John Bolton, are eager to test Moscow and its proxies resolve. What we do know is that the U.S. and NATO are holding exercises in the Baltic states around the time the World Cup starts, and Kremlin is well aware of the Anglo-American deep state's recent history of testing Russia or its proxies around the time of major global sporting events. This trend dates back to the Bush Administration backed Georgians attacking the pro-Russian enclave of South Ossetia on August 8, 2008 and continuing through the Maidan snipers false flag executed to topple President Viktor Yanukovych during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.