Bakhmut Falls, Artemovsk Rises – What’s Next? SITREP 5/20/23

ER Editor: See this by RTKey Donbass city fully liberated – Moscow



SITREP 5/20/23: Bakhmut Falls, Artemovsk Rises. What’s Next?

Well, the chef has delivered his finest cuisine yet.

None of the tricks worked. All the endless distractions, diversions, deflections, and myriad attempts to pry our eyes from the inevitable, massive humiliation for NATO forces in Bakhmut—or is it Artemovsk now?—using every tool in their possession, from diversionary strikes on civilians on Russian border towns, to outright political assassination to steal headlines and steer public attention: none of it worked.

Bakhmut today has fallen on the exact one year anniversary of the fall of Mariupol on May 20th, 2022. And not surprisingly, the posture adopted by the UA supporters is the same exact energy as before: cringe, cope, excuse-making. “Bakhmut’s mission is accomplished,” they say, swallowing sobs.

As above, so below:

Here’s the vast, incalculable list of units which were broken over the Wagnerian rock:

Why is Bakhmut called a Meat Grinder?

Who was decimated in Bakhmut:
45th Brigade
43rd Brigade
26th Brigade
28th Brigade
62nd Brigade
63rd Brigade
53rd Brigade
60th Brigade
24th Brigade
57th Brigade
30th Brigade
Advance Rubizh Brigade
Advance Azov Brigade
Advance Uragan Brigade
Advance Spartan Brigade
109th Brigade
116th Brigade
119th Brigade
241st Brigade
93rd Brigade
77th Brigade
46th Brigade
4th Brigade
17th Brigade
61st Brigade of Jaegers
Special Forces and Spetsnaz Regiments:
5th Assault Regiment
8th Regiment of Special Forces
Kraken Battalions:
122nd Battalion
68th Battalion
214th OPFOR Battalion
49th Rifle Battalion
15th Mountain Assault Battalion
Border Guard Donetsk
8th Regiment of the UDAR UAVs:
WASP Legions:
Dudaev Battalion
Georgian Legion
Mansur Battalion
Shamil Battalion
Normandy Legion

Most of these battalions have suffered more than 70% casualties just against PMC Wagner.

The big question on everyone’s mind now is, what next? There are many potentialities for this, both in short and long term, so let’s try to break it down piece by piece. First, for the known factors.

Prigozhin has announced, that after some sweeps of the city, on May 25th, Wagner will be handing the keys of the city over to some presumable Russian motorized unit, and Wagner itself will withdraw for R&R. Or more like R&R&R&R: rest, recreation, refit, reconstitution. Of course, it’s difficult to take anything Prigozhin says at face value, and there’s a good chance that Wagner will instead continue assaults.

A while back I had predicted that the next general move would have to be to Seversk. However, there are some reports that the next vector will in fact be to take Krasnoye aka Ivanovske in order to flatten and secure the frontline as a shaping measure, and also Khromove. But there’s now word that Khromove has already fallen, though I haven’t seen full 100% confirmation yet:

Khromove in red above, Ivanovske/Krasnoye in blue. The big problem with Ivanovske is the huge forest belt on its flanks which has proved a major challenge for Wagner forces previously. In order to approach the suburb, you’re forced to take raking fire from well dug-in Ukrainian positions inside the forest. And they’re difficult to root out because under the forest cover, it’s hard to conduct accurate ISR to hit them as they are well concealed inside the forest. The only way is to root them out by hand by assaulting the forest itself, but to do so, you have to cross open fields from which you take massive fire from their positions. Forest seen below circled in white, with Ivanovske to its right/northeast.

And of course to take Ivanovske itself, would also mean to likely control the forest, as who controls the town can control the forest much more easily. And to control both means an extremely favorable envelopment of the Chasov Yar urban agglomerate (and various smaller suburbs around it).

Basically, it gives a way into Chasov Yar under convenient cover:

It’s interesting that one connected channel had this little hint:

Bakhmut’s downfall is no longer the main focus. Something bigger is coming soon⚡️⚡️⚡️

We can only muse at what that might be. But we’ll get a much truer indication of what new directions may develop after it’s confirmed which units, exactly, are going to remain, and whether Wagner is actually going to withdraw or whether it’s just more bluffing from Prigozhin.

The other consideration for the short term, is that following this humiliating loss for the AFU, there are new indications of late-stage preparations being made for the big southern offensive:

‼️🇺🇦🏴‍☠️The enemy has completed preparations for an offensive on the Zaporozhye front, – Khodakovsky (Vostok Commander)

“Today, May 20, the preparation of the enemy for an offensive in the Zaporozhye direction was to be completed. All the previous days he was concentrating forces, coordinating, strengthening air defense – in general, he was engaged in the military work required in such cases. At the same time, the epic with Bakhmut was coming to an end , at the end of which, according to Prigozhin, the enemy will inevitably go on the offensive. Two circumstances coincided, there are no visible reasons not to attack – we begin the countdown.

So—several things here. Firstly, we know that Zelensky appeared to be using Bakhmut as a stopgap to delay Russia from perhaps launching anything of their own, until he can finally gather his forces for his main last hurrah offensive. Now that Bakhmut has fallen, we can expect that he may have to launch something

Secondly, in the Pentagon leaks, on the pages that showed all the new Western-trained brigades, for those who’ve seen it, they had given timelines for the readiness of each brigade in the various categories like when training would be completed, when the equipment deliveries would be completed, etc. Everything was said to have been completed by end of April at the latest, though we know recently Zelensky has complained that he still doesn’t have enough arms. But this likely has more to do with the fact that Russia has been destroying all of these arms in their warehouses in major strikes for the past month. But late May was also the time given by various sources as the final ending of mud season and the point at which there could no longer be meteorological excuses for the AFU.

It is now a critical crossroads for Zelensky’s regime. Bakhmut has fallen and he stands to now either allow Russian forces to push further, requiring him to deplete his precious new reserves by shoring up the defenses of Ivanovske, Chasov Yar, etc., or he can launch the offensive to try to conversely take Russian resources away from every other frontline and pull them toward the southern direction.

More info from Rybar about AFU’s seemingly finalized preparations:

Among the members of the Ukrainian formations, they talk about the imminent intensification of hostilities-from a couple of days to a week. In the 108th theroborona brigade, identification signs (“white cross” on the roof of vehicles) are being removed. At least 16 tactical aircraft, some of which are carriers of Storm Shadow cruise missiles, and six Mi-8 helicopters are based at the airfields in Dnepropetrovsk and Dolgintsevo.

In the south of the Dnipropetrovsk region, excluding TRO, forces of 116, 117, 118 ombr 10 AK, as well as 1 otbr, 71 ebr of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and 82 odshbr DSHV are concentrated in Oboyanovsky, Sinelnikovo, Vasilkovka, Chaplino, Pavlograd and Pokrovskoye.

Units of the 33rd and 47th mechanized brigades of the 9th Army Corps of Engineers arrived in Volnyansk in the Zaporizhia region. Formations of 128 ogshbr and 15 obr NSU, 65 ombr, 46 oaembr and three TRO brigades took up positions on the front line.

In addition, forces of the 44th separate mechanized brigade from Nizhyn were observed in the direction, and the transfer of 14 obr of the National Guard from Vinnytsia and 81 separate control battalions of the 9th army Corps from Kirovohrad region began.

Also, members of the Ukrainian formations report on the possible transfer of paratroopers of the 10 ogshbr from the Soledar direction to the area of the Vremyevsky salient.

And the 309th separate battalion of the 48th Engineering Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has also been moved to the Gulyai-Pole site, which can be armed with mobile bridge-laying machines of American and German production. (Rybar)

The region that Rybar describes, where all these units are being moved forward into is shown in red:

Interestingly, they’re about 80km from Russia’s contact line, putting them outside of reach of Russia’s artillery, glide bombs, kamikaze drones, etc.

Another prominent Russian analyst has the following:

Voencor Kitten Z. What we have in the moment:
1. The enemy has concentrated a strike group of about 65 thousand troops in the Zaporozhye direction, which was chosen as one of the main ones during the planned offensive operations.
The forces of approximately two army corps and amphibious assault troops have been assembled.
2. The main units and formations of the group are located 80-100 km from the line of contact.
Combat readiness group. The enemy is waiting for an order.
3. Before attempting a breakthrough, a massive rocket and artillery strike is planned on positions, locations, KP, ppu, headquarters, warehouses, bases of the Russian Armed Forces and civilian objects both in the Zaporozhye, Kherson regions, LDNR, in the Crimea and Sevastopol, and on the “old” territories of the Russian Federation.
4. There may be an attempt to launch a diversionary strike in the direction of the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation.
5. In the Kherson direction, engineering works were noted for preparing the offensive with the crossing of the Dnieper — in a number of areas, mine clearance of approaches to the water barrier is being carried out.

However, it should be noted that a recent report said Russia too has accumulated massive amounts of troops on this line now. I’ve heard numbers as high as 150-200k just in this southern region alone. If that’s true, it’s difficult to imagine an AFU breakthrough of any kind. In fact, Zaporozhye governor believes the AFU already missed their chance at an offensive in the region when Russian presence was thinner:

ACTING Head of Zaporizhia region Balitsky: Ukrainian troops missed the chance for a counteroffensive in Zaporizhia region, they have no chance of success. There is no need to evacuate residents of Energodar and employees of Zaporizhia NPP.

The problem is, it appears Ukraine is being heavily pressured into this offensive, when internally they all know that the results will be catastrophic. Ukrainian ambassador to UK intimated as such yesterday:

🇺🇦⚔️🇷🇺Ukraine ambassador in London expects the onset of a “terrible summer” in Ukraine.

Vadim Prystaiko also said that in the West there are inflated expectations from the Ukrainian counteroffensive, and this puts pressure on the AFU.

Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko said that the upcoming counteroffensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces could lead to heavy losses among Ukrainian servicemen.

“I know it could be a very terrible summer and the price [that Ukraine will pay] is terrible,” the diplomat said in an interview with ITV on Thursday. Prystaiko also said that in the West there are inflated expectations from the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which “puts pressure” on the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

At the same time, Prystaiko refused to disclose information about the losses of the Ukrainian army. “At the internal level, we understand how many of our people have already died or gone missing,” he said. – We understand that more than 8 million people are outside the country, so we understand the losses. We understand that it will be extremely difficult to fight with a country that is 16 times bigger than us.

So only now, Ukraine is finally acknowledging the size disparity?

This is the main reason that I’ve espoused the idea that there are two potential strategies for the ‘upcoming offensive’.



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