Monday, April 14, 2014

Donetsk Pocket

One of the problems Ukraine has in defending the east is that Russia's mechanized and airmobile forces could envelope them from north and south and simply take them out of the fight by isolating them within a Putin Triangle.

This geography is a problem for Ukraine's army if they deploy to the far east (in orange) to defend this region from invasion:

Put Ukrainian conventional forces forward at the border and the Russians (in red) can drive into Ukraine around the defenders. The Ukrainians simply don't have the numbers to defend the region.

This was terrain for sweeping mobile operations in World War II. It still is, I imagine.

I'll have to update my Ukraine military option post, given the ability of Russia to march into this eastern region.

UPDATE: News today is that a small Ukrainian mechanized force has moved near Slovyansk:

The 20 tanks and armoured personnel carriers were the most forceful response yet by the Western-backed government in Kiev to the pro-Kremlin militants' occupation of state buildings in nearly 10 cities across Ukraine's rust belt.

Ukrainian forces set up a cement road barrier and began checking traffic leading to Slavyansk while fighters and attack helicopters circled overhead.

That's likely elements of a mechanized infantry battalion--if not an entire weak battalion. I'm not sure what the Ukrainian maintenance and manning levels are.

And at Kramatorsk, Ukrainians took control of an airport:

Soldiers disembarked from two helicopters at an airfield at Kramatorsk, where reporters earlier heard gunfire that seemed to prevent an air force plane from landing. The troops withdrew into barracks after local civilians manning a barricade gave them a hostile reception when they tried to leave the compound.

n Kiev, acting president Oleksander Turchinov declared a much-needed victory over pro-Russian rebels by saying the air base had been "liberated". But there was no sign of militants.

Both are small operations between Kharkov and Donetsk. And not too close to the Russian border.

The Ukrainians are apparently beginning a low key and fairly low level effort to counter the Spetsnaz-led building captures throughout the region.

UPDATE: Remember that talking about a civil war in eastern Ukraine over-states the support by local residents for Russian occupation of the region. Talk of a civil war assumes Putin's version of events is true. That version is not true.

Recent polling shows few Ukrainians in the east want to be part of Russia. And much of the violence is organized by Russian special forces and paid locals or Russians imported to Ukraine to simulate Ukrainians.

I wouldn't go to war over Ukraine--they have not wanted to be part of NATO and NATO help should not be easy for outside nations to gain--membership should be the goal of others and not a free ride.

But we should help Ukraine resist the Russians, with arms, supplies, intelligence, and operational advice--even if Russia occupies even more of Ukraine.

UPDATE: This article says the Slovyansk operation is by 500 troops backed by 20 armored vehicles. That sounds like a smallish battalion. So there should be trucks moving some of the infantry, I imagine.