Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 02.06.2018
The Joint Forces Operation (JFO) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been underway for a month, and it has been inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy, Russia. The defence of Ukraine from the foreign invaders is more determined since the JFO started on May 1. Russian invasion-occupation troops have been testing the JFO, attacking all along the battlefront in Donbas. Each time it has done so, Russia has been beaten back.
Casualties among the Russian forces were heavy in May. Russian regular and irregular soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps (so-called “DPR” and “LPR”) suffered 115 troops killed in action and 149 troops wounded in action. All of these casualties were inflicted on the Russian by Ukrainian forces acting in self-defence: JFO soldiers retaliated to Russia’s attacks when their positions were directly threatened or when civilians were being attacked.
Ukraine’s losses in May were 11 soldiers killed in action and 81 soldiers wounded in action.
Russia dramatically increased the intensity of its bombardments in May. The Russians were targeting Ukrainian defensive positions, and even in some cases mounting assaults to try to dislodge the JFO troops. No positions or territory was lost to the enemy by Ukraine. In fact, Ukraine dislodged Russian troops from a few of their forward positions, most notably from Pivdenny (Chyhyri), west of occupied Horlivka.
Shelling by the Russians was directed more at civilians in May than it has in months previous. A father and son were killed in Troitske, in Luhansk region, and a girl was killed in Zalizne, in Donetsk region. The Russians are using heavy artillery which is proscribed by the Minsk Agreement (greater in calibre than 100 millimetres) and in a couple of cases used Grad multiple-launch rocket systems.
Russia is escalating the war to test the JFO and out of concern that the tide of battle is going against it. Russia has made no gain of ground by combat in Donbas since the Battle of Debaltseve at the beginning of 2015.
The Russians have tested it, and the Joint Forces Operation has proven to be a more formidable obstacle to Putin’s war of conquest and annihilation against Ukraine than was the Anti-Terrorist Operation which preceded it. Putin sent the 77th military resupply convoy to his Donbas invasion-occupation army in the month of May. The 1st and 2nd Army Corps have unlimited ammunition and they use it. But the result is that aggressor Russia has 115 troops KIA and 149 WIA, and no positive military result to show for it. Defender Ukraine has proven its mettle, especially with the new format of the JFO. Small gains of territory by the JFO are victories for Ukraine on the field of battle and are good for morale on the home front.
Ukrainians will never stop defending their homeland from the Russian invaders. Russia will slowly lose Putin’s War if it sticks with the tactics it used against the JFO in May. Heavy casualties by Russian invasion-occupation troops are a sign that the defence of Ukraine is in good hands.