Countdown to the Cauldron

Institute for the Study of War

Several developments suggest it’s but a few days before the 1st Guards Tank Army drives down M-03 towards Sloviansk:

  • Buildup of air transport for the 76th Guards Air Assault Division — likely to be deployed in a blocking position behind Ukrainian forces ahead of the armored attack
  • Continued concentration of forces among the 35th and 41st Combined Arms Armies in Belgorod and Voronezh Oblasts.
  • Increased probes south of Siverskyi Donets

Meanwhile, Ukrainian casualties continued to mount as Russian rocket attacks hit Ukrainian supply and reinforcement staging areas in Dnipro and Nikolayev killing over 1000.

Meanwhile in Mariupol, an escape breakout involving some 50 civilian vehicles, marked with a Russian “Z”, failed.

Here is @Wargonzo – a pro-Russian source.

On a breakthrough from Mariupol. There are many rumors and discrepancies. Here’s what the @wargonzo project knows, I’m breaking it down into numbers and numbers.

At the time of the breakthrough, there were about 1,500 neo-Nazis (Azov militants and AFU fighters) at the Ilyich plant.

Of these, about 800 were going to go for a breakthrough in the first column, the rest had to go out along the corridor cut by them.

The column consisted of about 120 pieces of equipment, including automobiles. At the head was a tank, 2 Gvozdika self-propelled guns and up to 10 infantry fighting vehicles, as well as MTLBs, armored cars and trucks.

More than 100 Ukrainian marines surrendered. Including the political officer of the 36th Marine Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

More than half of those who were going to break through retreated back to the plant. Several dozen were destroyed by artillery strikes of the NM DPR. Up to 10 groups of 3-4 people were scattered and tried to seep through the environment. The search and elimination operation continues.

Hence the data on the second smaller breakthrough. We are talking about these wandering groups, which the special forces and fighters at posts enter into battle with if they are detected. Hence, a more thorough check of the car on the Volnovakha-Mariupol highway.

So no panic.”

Pardon the soundtrack on this first one. We try to avoid presenting highly sensitive images but the first one might fall in that category. Viewer discretion advised.

Otherwise, we can see prisoner round-ups thereafter and pressed attacks inside the factory.

This is a radio jamming platoon (or what’s left of a radio jamming company, it’s not clear) that had been part of or attached to the 36th Separate Marine Infantry Brigade.

One of Russia’s leading war correspondents, who asks them about their situation before the breakout, how the breakout went, what treatment the wounded received from Russian or Donetsk medics, etc. 

The bearded man at around 0:52 claims to be a zampolit a.k.a. a commissar or political officer, although he claims not to have been trained as such—i.e. he was only “acting” in that role.

The Russian journalist (who mentions he did receive such training, way back) is surprised to discover that such a function still exists.

Here is a Patrick Lancaster video near the seaport, speaking with civilians caught in the middle:

Drone footage of Russian tanks clearing sniper positions

On the ground

Finally, Russian/DPR special operators clearing Azov factory tunnels

Reportedly, NATO instructors and contractors (perhaps including a couple of retired senior American officers) are trapped in Mariupol and Azov Steel Factory.

According to the @wargonzo project from sources on the Donbas frontline, based on an analysis of radio intercepts of enemy communications, there are at least two high-ranking retired American officers in the air raid shelters at Azov-Stal.

According to our sources, they entered Mariupol together with PMC “Academy” and most likely are not active employees of the Pentagon. However, at the same time they are extremely important persons for Washington.

“These officers are aware of many covert US operations in third countries and are the bearer of information that is extremely sensitive to Washington,” a source familiar with the analysis of radio intercepts told the @wargonzo project.

It is also noted that in order to conceal this “sensitive information”, the American intelligence services are ready to order the Azov militants to eliminate these two officers. Whether they are alive at the moment is not yet known for sure.”

So they say.

“PMC Academy” is actually “Academi” formerly known as Blackwater. If you don’t recognize that word from the Iraq War, check them out.

Some links:

Here is Wikipedia:

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