Soledar Falls – Second Ukrainian Defence Line in Donbas in imminent risk of Collapse

By Romegas

After weeks of bitter fighting, in which (according to several Ukrainian sources) up to 14 battalions (approximately 10,000 troops) have been sacrificed in its defence, assault troops of the Russian Orchestra Wagner Private Military Company have evicted the last Ukrainian troops from the town of Soledar, a pivotal point in Ukraine’s second and most potent defence line in the Donbas. This line runs from Siversk to New York (yes that’s what it’s called – see map below) in a North Eastern line. The first line of defence that included Severdonetsk and Lisichansk had already fallen to Russian forces in the early summer.

Soledar is no ordinary town – it sits in the middle of Europe’s largest salt mine – indeed the salt mine itself can only be described as a monster underground fortress with at least 125 miles of tunnels.

To all intents and purposes, it is actually a network of underground cities connected by rail and road. In which at a depth of 80-100 meters, not only people but also tanks and infantry fighting vehicles can move freely. And stockpiles of weapons have been stored there since the First World War.

Just as importantly, Soledar sits just to the northeast of Bakhmut, another logistics hub and pivotal point in this defence line and which is currently practically already encircled by Russian forces who have already also entered its suburbs. From Soledar, one also controls the main arteries required by the Ukrainian forces to supply its forces both in Bakhmut and Siversk further north. Its fall to Russian armed forces will enable the latter to break out and envelope the entire defence line – and unless the Ukrainian forces sitting in the remnants of the defence line retreat rapidly to a third defence line running from Sloviansk in the north through Kramatorsk, Druzhkivka, to Kostantinovka further south they seriously risk being cut off. The problem with this third defence line is that it sits on lower ground than the one in Soledar and Bakhmut and thus makes it even more prone to Russian artillery fire.

The West likes to explain the length of time that it took to breach this defensive line as a sign of weakness – but it is in fact an impressive effort if one keeps a number of things in mind. The most obvious thing is that Ukraine spent 8 whole years building a system of impressively strong fortifications in this area and second, one has always to keep in mind that the population here, is not only ethnically Russian but indeed since the September referendums, they are de facto Russian citizens and thus the Russian Armed forces have been constrained in using their overwhelming superiority in firepower very discreetly to minimise civilian casualties, more so when the Ukrainian forces had no qualms in fortifying the residential areas and embedding themselves in them.

And yet all of this has been done with an inferior force disposition and without Russia yet committing its mobilised reserves of some 400,000 men into the fray, while destroying its opponent at an estimated 7:1 kill ratio.  

Indeed this is a catastrophe for Ukraine, which is burning through its manpower in a manner that can no longer be hidden and is now literally resorting to forcefully mobilising anyone who can carry a weapon, in ever greater desperation to plug the gaps.

The desperation is not only limited to the Ukraine, but now it is spreading across NATO states. It is this desperation which is forcing NATO countries not only to send their obsolete stockpiled weaponry, but increasingly weapons from their active stocks. One needs to be reminded that at the beginning of February 2022, Ukraine had the largest force in Europe, second only to Russia itself. Ukraine had over 2,000 main battle tanks, 1600 Infantry Fighting Vehicles and several hundred tubed and rocket artillery as well as hundreds of Surface to Air Systems including over 350 S-300s launchers (give or take – having the same capability of the fabled Patriot system). By summer all this was practically gone – and NATO embarked on supplying Ukraine not only with hundreds of ex-Soviet and former Warsaw Pact weaponry but also with increasing volumes of weapons from their own stocks. It seems that these are disappearing too – and on this website you can read all about their fate. Now we are at the third and final iteration – with NATO countries sending weapons such as the Leopard II and Bradley IFV to Ukraine – but no doubt they will meet the same fate as everything sent before them. In a war of this kind, there are no ‘wonder weapons’’ that can change the tide – in an industrialised war of attrition it is other factors (ISAR, combined arms warfare, logistics, Industrial replenishment rates etc) that play a much greater role in deciding the fate of the final outcome (look up Lanchester’s Laws).

Leopards blown up at will with old soviet weaponry.

Indeed just like Germany in late 1942, Ukraine and by extension NATO has already lost the war. It is now,  only a matter of not if but how long it will take before surrender.

Russian Thermobaric artillery at work -it’s no joke

There is no doubt that Russia, will still offer opportunities for de-escalation and saving face, which if our leaders were wise we could still exploit to settle the conflict diplomatically. But our leaders are not wise, they have no concept of our limitations and why we will lose this war, if we chose to continue in escalating the conflict at the Ukrainian population’s cost just as they had no idea about how resilient the Russian economy would actually prove to be in the face of unprecedented sanctions which have hurt us much more than it has hurt them. Indeed, one of Russia’s major challenges in this war is not about winning it – but how to do so without provoking an unpredictable NATO knee-jerk reaction. In essence, they have to boil the frog slowly rather than squash it. For Russia’s objective is ultimately to fry far bigger fish other than Ukraine. Ukraine is simply a theatre in which a more tectonic struggle is taking place.

It has been my point all along that we are led by arrogant fools, and that we will pay the price for it. Nothing that I’ve seen so far changes this conviction. If anything, it gets reinforced with the passage of time and actual results on the ground. A direct culprit of this catastrophe is the monolithic nature of our media, where critical voices, such as mine are simply cancelled, and reporting is left to idiots like those in the Times of Malta who have no understanding of war, and simply copy and paste articles fed to them from abroad without any attempt of analyses or understanding.

But a body politic that has no room for opposing voices and opinions, has no room for self-correction – is naked – blinded as it is by groupthink and ideology its only inevitable destiny is the pit.

That’s the ultimate price for going Woke.

And as further proof of this blindness, one can only cite the latest reshuffle at the top of the Russian general staff and the reporting of it in Western media. Incapable of understanding what’s really going on, ignorant of Russian and Soviet military history, we construe it as another point of weakness – when in reality for those who have no such prejudices and far greater historical and cultural insight – it signals nothing other than a new phase of the Special Military Operation, one where we are likely to see the full might of Russian power brought down to bear, most probably, conclusively in a full-blown combined arms operation that will seal Ukraine’s fate.

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