By Nightvision for the Saker Blog
Let’s start with the obvious, that all bells are sounding regarding the start of the much awaited ‘Phase 2’ of the SMO. However, I for one am not yet entirely convinced it has fully begun and take the side of caution in line with what the Pentagon and analysts like Colonel Cassad have stated:
“We have not yet observed offensive actions using large forces of infantry and tanks, only local centers of breakthroughs along the Izyum-Kremennaya and Popasnaya lines. In advance, to the east of Gulyai-Polye, where our forces have clearly become more active. Elsewhere, rocket and field artillery, aviation and high-precision missiles are intensified everywhere. But so far the lines of contact have not changed. It is worth noting, perhaps, the deterioration of the weather in the Donbass.”
“The Pentagon is being much more conservative in describing Russia’s military operations in Donbas than Zelensky. U.S. thinks this is a prelude to a bigger offensive, with still adding troops. is now up to 78 BTGs in Ukraine, up 13 from last week.”
I agree in the regard that we haven’t seen the full usage of built up troops yet, nor have all the new troops even fully completed deployment. With that said, certainly a new phase of activity appears to have begun BUT my distinction is simply that it now seems that Russia may ‘ramp’ it up increasingly, and that it won’t be a massive blitzkrieg from the onset as the action we’ve seen the past two days is still relatively limited. This may be a testing phase with some Recon-In-Force actions to probe enemy defenses before larger combined arms activity is observed.
With that said, some updates:
Firstly there was a large Kaliber missile strike on Lyvov and we are now seeing confirmations from several places of what was struck:
“A stockpile of American, German and British anti-tank missiles was destroyed at a military depot in Lvov. According to our source in the SBU, the attack on the logistics base in Lvov was a complete surprise. Several tens of tons of various anti-tank weapons were destroyed at the facility, including German PanzerFausts, British NLAWs and American Javelins. It was expected that these funds should be enough for a month of active hostilities against Russian troops. According to our source, the plant was carried out secretly on commercial and civilian vehicles. Therefore, an investigation is now underway as to why the Russians were able to figure out all three storage sites.”
Good views of some of the strikes: https://www.bitchute.com/video/44FoCSN5aYWV/
(note, some of my links have not been working recently for some reason. If that becomes the case, simply highlight the link, right click it, then “copy” and “paste” it manually into your browser for the video to work)
MSNBC analyst turned ‘military expert’ Malcolm Nance put on quite a performance while larping in Lvov during the ‘air raid’: https://www.bitchute.com/video/dQLaHNLJTlWQ/
While we’re on the topic of Western arms, here’s Scott Ritter confirming something we’ve written about many times, how ineffective the Javelin missile really is: https://www.bitchute.com/video/hEsyUPnRjZdt/
A lot of places were hit in Nikolayev and Kharkov as well, destroying storage facilities and AFU troop gathering points.
In Mariupol, the advances continue in various axes around Azovstal plant, but still only on the outskirts of it. Russian planes and artillery hammer Azovstal nonstop: https://www.bitchute.com/video/l2nFk74hqKVP/
If you notice on the eastern edge of the red outline on this map, there are still some blocks of suburb high-rises just outside the actual industrial grounds of Azovstal. There are still battles and clearings taking place in these northeast districts, but it is only a few blocks left.
A reported 20-30 new prisoners managed to surrender near Azovstal as well, in this video only a handful are pictured:
Reports are indicating that 80% of the remaining Azov battalion wants to surrender, but the 20% who don’t are basically holding them at gunpoint and refusing to allow them to surrender. More and more evidence comes to light as proof of this – for instance this video of an AFU soldier who was shot in the back by his comrades, and had leaflets with surrender directions in his hand (18+):
At the exact 1:13 mark of this video: https://www.bitchute.com/video/Bi9greL7CiHJ/
you can see what the leaflets look like that are being fired by artillery over Azovstal. They have specific instructions on how the prisoners are to surrender (for safety purposes, exactly how they should come out, what they should do, where their hands should be, which corridors they should use, etc). And you can see the same leaflet is under the body of the murdered AFU marine.
And then there’s this:
“According to the content of the radio intercepts, the commanders of the armed formations remaining at Azovstal, realizing the hopelessness of their situation, are ready to lay down their arms, but only on the appropriate order (command) from Kyiv. Without receiving such an order, the commanders of the Ukrainian armed formations cannot make a decision on their own, since a military tribunal with a sentence, up to and including execution, awaits them for these actions in Ukraine.”
There have been written orders from Kiev posted that appear to show a direct no-surrender order from high up. For obvious reasons the elites in Kiev don’t want these guys to surrender, the same ones they were sending upwards of 10 helicopters and boats to try and rescue. Clearly these guys know too much valuable information that they can’t risk to give up to the Russians and so Kiev prefers they are killed and their deeds lost to history.
Serhiy Volyna, commander of the entire 36th Marines Brigade that’s left in Azovstal (and one of the 2 last high ranking people there along with Prokopenko the leader of Azov Regiment) has issued this final desperate plea where he now says there may only be ‘days or hours’ left for them:
I’d say there’s still another good week or two left unless they happen to surrender because clearing this giant factory complex will be difficult. Photos have emerged showing how the subterranean system beneath the complex works, and it’s no easy job. The plant was evidently designed to withstand nuclear attack so one can imagine how deep and fortified some of the underground systems are. There’s still no indication of how they truly plan to clear it.
The above map shows some of the incursion areas where troops are entering the industrial grounds at the northeast corner.
In other regions, the largest gains by far of the 2nd phase have been along the Izyum and LPR axis. Russian forces are pushing in from the north downward towards the Donets river.
Rubizhnoe was announced to be totally captured with redirected Chechen SOBR and LPR forces raising the flags at the entrance: https://www.bitchute.com/video/R6d7IWV2mn5P/
However we’re waiting on full confirmation as some sources say there still may be a piece of the city to the south not liberated.
Meanwhile heavy battles continue in Popasna, a key strategic city, and LPR/Chechen troops are said to have advanced past the midway mark of the city, and it is likely to fall in the near future. Reports that as much as 70-80 prisoners were taken here, though a video has only showed a dozen or so thus far:
Artillery hammers Popasna: https://www.bitchute.com/video/HmXMdTKK9ew1/
Next to Rubizhnoe, the town of Kreminna was also fully taken. This creates a dangerous risk for a cauldron-within-a-cauldron for AFU forces because once Popasna falls, troops can link up with the ones in the north by Rubizhnoe/Kreminna, thus trapping the AFU forces in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in the following manner:
Lots more maps/photos etc.