To understand the true meaning of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk for terrorists, I should once again explain their strategic importance. On April 16, immediately after the capture of the city police department of Sloviansk by Russian special forces I wrote an article about the value of the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk communications hub and the need to immediately storm the department - "Time to Act"
During the Second World War, the area was the site of bloody battles in 1942-43. The fact is that control of Sloviansk-Kramatorsk is the key to the Donbas. And it was clear why the Russians started the invasion from this point - it was the first phase of the military operation planned by the Kremlin. Holding Sloviansk under control, the Russian command, in case of invasion, could easily and quickly occupy the whole of the Donbas.
Look at the map of capturing the Ukrainian cities - Snizhne-Amvrosiivka-Donetsk-Horlivka-Artemivsk-Konstiantynivka-Sloviansk-Kramatorsk. This area is essentially an operational corridor passing through which the Russian troops would cut the Donbas in half and immediately pose a threat to Pavlohrad, Izium and Barvinkove - critical communication hubs in the neighboring Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv regions. Such a threat would lead to a rapid and instantaneous cleansing of the whole Donbass by the Ukrainian forces because all the reserves would be immediately deployed to the threatened areas. Holding the Luhansk region would have been impossible because the maneuver of the Ukrainian troops would have been paralysed. Also, from an operational point of view, it would make the Mariupol direction highly vulnerable - and it is the transport corridor to Crimea. Such a breakthrough would lead to a total collapse of the entire system of control and virtually guaranteed fast sweep of the Donbas in accordance with the Crimean scenario.
That is why the terrorists kept the gates open for an invasion and provoked the Ukrainian troops to the improper use of force to gain a substantial excuse to introduce troops in the eyes of the international community.
Russia did not expect that in a record time the Ukrainian authorities with an unprecedented participation of the public would implement one of the most massive mobilizations in the armed forces in the post-war history of Europe. Sloviansk was paralysing the Ukrainian forces and it could not be any other way since the threat of military invasion transformed Sloviansk into connectivity point of all Ukrainian defense.
Therefore, from the military and strategic point of view the flight of lieutenant colonel Girkin and his subordinates means that the terrorists received a clear signal - the invasion of the regular Russian troops into the Donbas will not take place. Now Ukraine will start turning the Sloviansk key the other way.
Let us consider the tactical aspect. Girkin promised to "fight to the death" and turn Sloviansk into Stalingrad. Why did he run away at this particular moment?
The fact is that the Ukrainian Army finally launched an operation to completely surround Sloviansk. Taking control of Artemivsk and advancement of the Ukrainian forces to Kostiantynivka cut the major supply arteries of the Sloviansk and Kramatorsk militant groups. And without communications the liquidation of Girkin's main forces would have been only a matter of time.
I want to note: a crucial role in the liberation of Sloviansk was played not by the firepower and number of armored vehicles but by the maneuver and the correct action tactics. No fighting intelligence on the terrorist communications and abandoning of the passive strategy of checkpoints in favor of active search and attack strike operations on the roads - these used to be the main drawbacks of combat employment of the Ukrainian forces. Provided the lack of forces and modern infantry weapons, the Ukrainian troops should make greater use of the maneuver, relying not only on the armored vehicles but on tactical flexibility as well. At the stage of operational planning it is necessary to consider the capabilities of the troops in our group.
The ATO forces must draw useful lessons from the Sloviansk operation:
1. For lightly and insufficiently coordinated units, the best way to counteract the enemy is not a static defense but offensive action to ensure secrecy of conduct, the suddenness, the independent choice of time, place and object of the attack. It's time to stop the practice of establishing stationary and openly unmasked roadblocks! It is necessary to ensure secrecy and surprise of actions on the enemy communication lines.
2. Conducting sweeps and liquidation of open resistance hotspots are most effective only with covering the enemy and listening in to its communications in the task area. The enemy is extremely sensitive to the interception of communications.
Unpleasant lessons of Sloviansk:
1. The terrorists left by the road that was practically always under their control.
2. The retreat had not been discovered by the intelligence, although there were probably signs of such a mass of enemy forces preparing to leave which could not go unnoticed in the city.
3. Our forces almost never pursue the terrorists.
4. The Ukrainian troops near Sloviansk do not have mobile radio location and optic electronic stations for long-range detection of ground targets.
These errors must be corrected. And it's not only the generals that need to do the thinking but the officer corps and the common servicemen as well. Girkin's runaway has clearly demonstrated that there are no tasks that the Ukrainian army in the Donbas cannot solve.
Congratulations to all of us! Eternal memory to the fallen Ukrainian soldiers who gave their lives to disrupt the Russian blitzkrieg on a shoestring and with a total lack of everything - everything except patriotism, courage and self-sacrifice. Thanks to our soldiers who continue the mission of liberation of the Donbas from terrorists. Thanks to you, thanks to the invaluable support of the home front Ukraine will live. Glory to Ukraine!