Awaiting for the end of year summaries from the Donetsk republic, here's a summary of the war this year, gathering my postings during the autumn. The war is being won and lost. The pendulum is swinging to the center.
Artillery ammunition will run out more or less within a year after major losses of stocks in depot explosions at Kharkov in spring and Vinnitsa in autumn. Some deliveries of small arms and cartridges from Eastern Europe only stretch out the supply, don't solve the problem
Mass draft dodging
There's mass draft dodging (70% on average, in some regions 90%) and the Ukrainian army is shrinking from a combination of casualties, desertion , and mass quitting of soldiers who have finished their term and are leaving the ranks, demoralized or upset for wages unpaid.
"Nothing like this was not in 2015, nor in the past years. Even two years ago, when the scale of the fighting in the southeast of Ukraine was much more fierce than today, when the Debaltsevo "kettle" boiled with blood and the "boiler" of Ilovaisky was still not forgotten, the young Ukrainians did not run so fast from the army. Hence, despite the long-standing lull at the front, interrupted only by occasional gunfire,
[that's the fiction officially reported by everybody concerned, both sides and their sponsors, actually just from listening everyday to the cannonade and gun fire coming from the front is obvious a real war is going on, every day]
there is clearly something going on the mood of the Ukrainian population . And this "something" is going to alarm Kiev for sure, if the regime reigning in it intends to survive politically."
This year there have been more than 5.000 deserters (or 5% of the hundred thousand army total), of wich only 2.000 are in search and capture. This comes from Ukrainian sources and is very relevant and significant as they are for the most part irrecoverable casualties. It's a very high percentage, in modern history, an army with a 10% desertion rate is on the verge of collapse. It's also even more striking considering the Ukrainian army is now mostly a volunteer force on contract, at least the half in the frontline, and conscripts in theory are not sent anymore to the first line of combat, though troop shortages have made commanderts to resort to use them to guard line of communications (road checkpoints) and construction of trenches.
Again it's a very high number because for 2014-2015 there were 10 thousand desertions, and the number was maxed out then as it is in the initial phase of a civil war when soldiers caught in the wrong zone switch sides or desert. Since then, the regime has ceased to try conscript Russian-speakers from Eastern Ukraine and keep them away from the frontlines, while the brunt of the recruiting falls on Western Ukraine.
I am of the opinion, shared by others, that as in 2014-2015 the junta is hiding partially its numbers of killed in action reporting them as deserters and missing. That could well explain the contradiction of the official figures of a total of 5,500 deserters and only arrest warrants issued for 2,000, wich in addition includes those deserters from previous years. Not bothering to do the paperwork for "deserters", wich they know they are actually dead.
So that would indicate a concealed figure of at least 3.500 killed in combat this year, wich given that the fighting has been comparable or more intense this year than in 2016, and the reports about arrival of wounded to rear hospitals, and graves being dug in advance of mass burials, makes it quite plausible means a total of between 5.000-7.000 killed this year.
There's also evidence that this 5.500 deserters figure may be accurate, on top of the combat losses. I heard from a source in the militia in Lugansk that in their sector of the frente they received many Ukrainian soldiers that came over to Novorussian lines to surrender. Could not have been more that a few dozens over months, I didn't make it much out of it, other than the confirmation that the junta army was so short of troops they had to send unwilling conscripts to the front, and these taking the opportunity to switch sides or simply surrendering to avoid misery, wounds and death, wich again, confirms the war is quite intense and the risk of being killed is high enough to make desertion or surrender and attractive choice.
In theory the frontline soldiers are volunteers, but it seems that many are "ordered to volunteer"
"However, nothing changes the fact that according to the law, conscript soldiers are forbidden to be sent to the front line in the Donbas. All interested parties know perfectly well that the commanders of the Ukrainian army have long learned to perfectly circumvent this ban. After served at least six months the recruit is advsied by its commanders to write a statement about the desire to become an immediate contractor. If the conscript refuses - the starting barracks pressure begins in the most severe form. The arsenal of pressure methofs for this is quite large, it is known to anyone who wore military uniform. As a result, many recent conscripts "volunteer" to go to trenches . And then often - home in zinc coffins or in a hospital for treatment."
That would explain why some came over to the Novorussian trenches to surrender, either are conscripts, or "forced volunteers", but there could also be contract volunteers having enough of it, wich confirms the low morale of the Ukrainian troops. I repeat these are thousands of desertions, not just abandoning positions or being absent without leave, that undiscipline is a common occurrence.
I think the reported desertion number is just a way to conceal the dead, and those only of the regular those of the paramilitary, police, and the nazi battallions are never accounted for. But given the mass draft dodging at the rear and some supporting evidence of demoralization at the front it's quite possible it's a true figure.
Now it's quite obvious in hidnsight and explains why there was no summer offensive this year, not even the usual aggravation as in previous summers, because the Ukrainian army was exhausted and lacking in manpower, reaching is lowest in June, with 40.000 bayonets, with coincided with some small tactical gains here and there by the Novorussians, either by coup de main, or occupation of abandoned positions.
Another call up of conscripts this autumn is failing to met quotas, and anyway, any replacements will be absorbed by the need to guard remaining ammunition warehouses against sabotage, wich would absorb a minimum of 10 thousand troops. No improvement at all has been seen in Ukrainian army, wich despite NATO instructors and advisers keeps stupidly killing its troops in senseless unsupported small attacks, and the artillery is not firing better.
"In such conditions, sources from the Ukrainian capital report, the command of the Armed Forces for raising the morale of the long-demoralized personnel makes the only possible thing - it regularly organizes the seemingly absolutely meaningless small sallies of subversive and reconnaissance groups and the "improvement of positions" by seizing certain heights and settlements in the "gray zone". It does not really affect anything and does not bring about a general victory. But the military creates the illusion of its own usefulness for the cause they serve. And at least it keeps the soldiers busy"
There's now approximate parity in number of forces in the frontline, with each side having 40 thousand bayonets, but Donbass has now a higher potential for mobilization of trained reserves. Behind the front, Kiev has only poorly armed occupation troops, and in theory has more manpower, but it's dubious they can reenlist the surviving conscripts from the years 2014-2015, wich likely have fled the country, or would go into hiding, and would be of very low morale if dragged to the front to fight again.
It's clear that the repressive machinery of the state has not the means nor manpower to catch but a fraction of draft dodgers when there's such a mass evasion.
That's the gist of it. For more and sources, use google translate to read my blog entry.