Ukraine’s eastern invasion is still just getting started, but seems to be stalling just two cities in, as troops withdrew from Slovyansk before nightfall, and many surrendered outright to locals.
The Tuesday offensives against Kramatorsk also saw the fighting end before nightfall, but today’s had a decidedly more defeated tone, with no real gains in Slovyansk and some very high profile losses.
The biggest defeat was the 25th Dnipropetrovsk, a supposedly “elite” brigade which ended up surrendering to jeering locals, and handing several armored personnel carriers to militias supporting the cause of the protesters.
Ukraine apparently deployed the troops with no plan for crowd control, evidently reflecting the assumption that the locals didn’t really support the protests. When the military arrived, they were berated by residents, any many refused orders to conquer the city, choosing surrender instead. Militia members driving captured vehicles and flying Russian flags in them was the result.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry initially tried to paint the whole situation as a myth, and Svoboda Party leaders claimed the military had put the Russian flags on the vehicles themselves as an “ingenious” plan to get around the crowds. Later they were forced to admit that the first six APCs surrendered, and the other 15 never bothered to arrive in Slovyansk, staying on the outskirts of nearby Kramatorsk rather than facing the crowds.