After the capture of militia abandoned Slavyansk-Kramatorsk area the Ukraine Army could perform a regrouping that freed some capabilities and allowed them to advance directly to the Donetsk agglomeration. The Army launched a large scale offensive with extensive resources. This operation had the following goals:
- gain control over the border with the Russian Federation;
- disrupt transport link between Donetsk and Lugansk;
- deeply wedge Kiev forces into the middle of the agglomeration;
- lift the blockade of airfields in Lugansk and Donetsk.
The operation was characterized by massive air and artillery strikes (including heavy artillery and MLRS) directly on civil housing estates, the first steps were marked by large masses of tanks (up to 90 units per a direction of attack in the district of Lugansk) and armored vehicles. Failing decisive victory on July 9-11, Kiev was forced to throw all available reserves into the skirmish. Despite the extremely fierce fighting, Donetsk and Lugansk militia managed to inflict serious losses on the enemy, fully maintain control over the key strategic points, and even implement successful counterattacks in some areas.
Successful attacks of militia ensured the capture of most of Lugansk Airport. The Ukrainian Army group that tried to advance along the southern border with the Russian Federation was stopped in the area of Saur-Mogila, came under artillery attacks competently organized by militia, and after suffering serious losses almost completely lost the combat capability.
Using all the available reserves and not achieving success in any of the areas of importance, Kiev suffered its first major military defeat in this civil war. An inevitable consequence of this defeat will be an increased activity of the militia and gradual transition to offensive action along with increasing raids on enemy communications and supply lines.
Since Ukrainian Army has no real opportunity of success in continuing the offensive, some analysts expect Kiev to offer a ceasefire and negotiations, justifying the move in the eyes of pro-Ukrainian segment of the population by claims of “humanitarian reasons” and “international pressure.”