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Ukraine War: Debaltsevo Forces Cutt Off but Pocket Still Not Closed

The rebels have the only resupply route into Debaltsevo protrusion under effective artillery fire, but do not yet physically occupy it

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The Saker is our regular contributor. This article also appeared at The Vineyard of the Saker


Here is, according to Colonel Cassad (by far the best source of info right now) the map of the situation this evening (local time):



 

The junta forces are definitely in a bad operational situation. They are surrounded all all sides except the north, but the highway leading north which the junta needs resupply its forces in and around Debaltsevo and which it could use to withdraw these forces is under constant Novorussian fire.  

They crucial city of Uglegorsk  (УГЛЕГОРСК on the map, bottom left) is mostly in Novorussian hands, but the outskirts are still held by the junta. In Chernukhino  (ЧЕРНУХИНО on the map, bottom right) the Novorussian attack was successfully repelled by the junta forces. 

Yesterday evening I listened with interest at the combat report of Basketok, the military commentator of the Anti-Maidan website who looked at the bigger picture and who commented in some details about the situation around Mariupol. So, as they say, there is good news and there is bad news.

The good news: the junta appears to be completely unable to mount any effective offensive. Except for one successful counter-attack north of Peski, even the junta can't even claim a single tactical success. 

The bad news: the Novorussians are clearly stronger, and they are generally prevailing, but nowhere near the kind of superiority to achieve an operational breakthrough. 

At this point in time, and unless something qualitatively changes, my very tenuous prognosis is that the Novorussians will close the Debaltsevo cauldron and most of the junta forces will either die or be taken prisoner with only a minority extracted on time. I hope that Novorussians will be able to take Avdeevka, Pervomaiskoe, Nevelskoe, Krasnogorovka and Mar'inka and relieve the pressure on Donetsk, but I don't see the Novorussians retaking Mariupol (I hope that I am wrong, of course). 

If I am correct, and that is a very big "if", then the new frontlines will give the Novorussians a more or less viable line of contact. The one agreed upon in Minsk left most of Donetsk within striking range of junta artillery, unless, of course, the junta complied with a 40 or 50 kilometer withdrawal, which it clearly did not. This is why the Novorussians have indicated that a return to the original Minsk line of contact was unacceptable, and this is the correct decision, of course. 

The last very good and important news item is that the junta's mobilization is a disaster which now forces the junta to even use road cops to hunt down draft dodgers. I know that I have said that many times in the past, and caught hell for doing so, but time is definitely not on the junta's side, not politically, not economically and not militarily. 

UPDATE: Debaltsevo cauldron - still *not* closed:

According to Cassad, the cauldron is still not closed and I trust him.  This being said, the Novorussians are holding the only highway out of the cauldron under their fire and they selectively allow some units to leave (medical, support & staff, for propaganda purposes) while destroying others (combat units).  So even if the cauldron ain't quite closed, the junta forces are de-factosurrounded.  See map (from Cassad):

 


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