The upcoming Battle of the Donbas: where we might be when looking at both the most predictable but also one of the strangest battles in modern war. As everyone seems to guess, after losing the Battle of Kyiv, this battle is now Russia's great priority.

Its predictable in that ever since Putin lost his 'big' war, the total conquest and subjugation of Ukraine, he has been left trying to secure more limited objectives in the south and east. Basically take as much of the area of this map as possible.
Russian build up seems mostly to be in the area between Izium and Kharkiv, to launch as assault to link up with forces in the south. Putin seems to be telegraphing the importance of this battle--see interview with Austrian chancellor who just met him.
So there is little surprise, as we are awaiting this battle beginning. Problem is, that the Russian build up seems to be a real logistical problems complicating their build-up.

Its worth noting that the Ukrainian government, which claimed in a report yesterday that the Russians might have concentrated 22 BTGs in the area near Izium, didnt repeat that number in its most recent communique.
If the Russians do have 22 BTGs there, the rest of the fronts will be pretty lightly held. There are also signs that instead of having a large build up for a major assault, the Russians are drip feeding units into action as they become available. This is what they did at Kyiv
Now the weirdness---there is no surprise at all! Think about that. Its like preparing for a major, crucial engagement that might decide the war, and everyone knows exactly where it will happen, indeed Russian units are being tracked closely as they get into position.
The Ukrainians in their most recent update are basically describing Russian attempts to prepare for the Battle of the Donbas. Ukrainian forces are being prepared to meet an attack that they know practically the exact location.
In fact it does seem the Ukrainians are being very methodical now, limiting their offensive action and trying to retain forces and keep casualties down til a major Russian assault occurs.
In this way, the battle will be no surprise. All the matters now is what kinds of build up the Russians can actually make, and what kinds of counter preparations the Ukrainians make. There will be no substantive negotiations before the battle, but after the war could wind down.
That is why getting everything possible to Ukraine now is so important. Its clear where the attack will take place and its clear it could affect any peace negotiations. Take advantage of the pause and the historic weirdness of the lack of any surprise.
Have seen a few people point out that fighting has been going on here for weeks. True. I’m thinking about the battle that would ensue after the Russians complete their build up and have real strength in the area. If what we are seeing is all they can do…
Look, we also don’t need clever western analysts to guess what Ukraine needs for the battle of the Donbas. The Ukrainians are being explicit, and they know what they are talking about.

They’ve asked for 1) air and anti air to contest the airspace over the battle area. 2) ranged weapons (artillery and UAVs) to attack Russian forces at depth. 3) APCs body armour and tanks to protect their own forces.
What they need is obvious and they are saying it openly. Only question is whether they get it.
Btw, if the Ukrainian claims of Russian losses in the Donbas are close to accurate, the Russians lost basically an entire BTG yesterday in a series of piecemeal attacks. They keep doing that and they won’t be able to build up enough for a major offensive

Today Ukrainian armed forces are claiming about two thirds of a BTG destroyed in the Donbas. If they are right they mjgnt be destroying Russian forces only a little less quickly than it takes them to arrive. These are two days of heavy losses.

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