The situation is turning from bad to worse in Ukraine for that country's government. Its policy of flashy pincer movements to try and capture high profile objectives for media consumption has come to its natural conclusion - utter failure. As I wrote one month ago - The Mouse Trap - NAF forces were sucking the Ukraine army east to lure them into battle within the strategically convenient, and plausibly deniable, Russian guns. Since that time Ukraine has lost most of its operational air force to missiles, and has seen entire brigades of men wiped out along salients located near the Russian border.
Rather than recognize what should have been the obvious, the Ukraine government continued with the policy of "not giving one inch" and remained in place, trying all the time to crush the will to defend by massive artillery strikes on cities. However, just like Hitler did to his Generals, notably the 6th in Stalingrad, the Ukraine government refused to give ground to a more favorable position. The result of that somewhat reckless decision is now the same result Hitler found - encircled forces. At the time of this post there are 9 encircled formations of Ukraine troops with an estimated total strength of 20,000. For an army the size of Ukraine's, this number represents a decisive loss. What makes matters worse is the knowledge that the units now trapped, and the ones trapped prior to this and already eliminated, represent the entire core of Ukraine's professional army.
The situation in north and central Luhansk is essentially a standoff, with neither side making any bold moves at this point. It has become a static front. The same applies to the west of Donetsk city. Ukraine continues to try and make fruitless attempts to cut off Gorlovka, north of Donetsk, from the rear. The result has been mixed, and has resulted in high casualties with no tangible reward. It is to the south of both Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts (provinces), lined by the Russian border, where Ukraine has suffered the most dramatic and catastrophic losses - in men and position. It began with several Ukraine brigades being trapped in the "South Pocket" along the Russian border, and ended with approximately 1500 soldiers being released back to Ukraine with 10,000 missing. It also resulted in the capture of large amounts of Ukraine tanks, and more importantly artillery. With the essential destruction of the Ukraine air force, artillery on both sides has become the tool for battlefield dominance.
That brings us to today, and tomorrow. Having tied up a large percentage of Ukraine troops at the north and central fronts, and with Ukraine thus far refusing to withdraw to positions more defensible with fewer troops, the NAF has moved in the South. Essentially, the move came from near the Russian border two days ago, including an amphibious landing just east of Mariupol on Ukraine's south coast. Simultaneously, NAF units in Donetsk city counterattacked toward the South. The resulting squeeze caused a large Ukraine retreat, but not before two more large pockets of trapped troops were created. At the time of this post Mariupol is surrounded on two sides, with the western resupply/escape route being rapidly closed. NAF units are fanning along the north of Mariupol in an attempt to block Ukraine units from moving south to intercept advancing NAF forces. The goal appears to be the City of Melitopol. From there the NAF have quick access to the Crimean border (Russia) and the Dnieper River cities to the north.
I call this the "Left Hook". Basically a very large flanking maneuver. Having sustained all the blows the Ukraine army could throw at it, the NAF is now countering an exhausted foe - hence the title "Rope a Dope". With Ukraine's entire rear exposed, including all the way to the capital Kiev, it will have no choice but to rapidly withdraw West, and re-position forces to its southern rear. That opens the door for the NAF to easily move West, and that is where the next move comes - the "right uppercut" if you will. The NAF will then be in position to move on Kharkiv city, and the oblast in general - in the North. It will be free to advance in the centre and bypass (if still heavily defended) or capture Slavyansk and area moving directly to the City of Dnepropetrovsk on the Dnieper River - which is to become the new westerly border of a new Novorossyia (New Russia).
The last front to be explained is the Kherson/Odessa areas. Once the NAF capture and secure Melitopol, the Ukraine defences along the Crimea border are exposed from the rear. At that time the separatist region of Moldova, Transnistria, which houses Russian and "Transnistria Self-Defence Forces", is likely to strike southward toward Odessa.
All these moves combined mean a few things. Firstly, it appears that although there are peace or cease fire talks ongoing, they are likely for show at best. Secondly it means that Ukraine will cease to function as a country. Its already desperate financial position will be crippled by the loss of one half of the country - the most resource rich part. Thirdly it means that Ukraine will become landlocked and essentially a new "pocket - like" area. If NATO were to move into this area, they would be surrounded on three sides by Russia, Novorossyia, and Belarus. It would be indefensible. Therefore, Ukraine, or what's left of it, turns into an economically barren no mans land between East and West.
In any case, the "Mouse Trap" is done, the "Rope a Dope" is done, and now it's time for the "Left-Right" combination punches. I understand Putin is a judo champ, and he may have a judo analogy for this, but for now this is mine.
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