Reader comments are sometimes quite amusing. At other times they are quite on target. Of course, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

For example on February 3, reader Yuri Sergeev asked “WHAT HAPPENED TO THE “ENCIRCLED” Illovaisk Ukrainian troops? Did I tell you that Colonel Cassad is a simple pro-Kremlin troll who is full or crap? I did? Well, here you are.

Are bold caps meant to impress, or do they mean something else?

Meanwhile reader Fedwatcher commented “It is important to know when you have lost and need to step away from the table. Because neocons run our government (yes Obama is also a neocon), we keep digging the hole deeper and weaken our position. We can afford to lose this battle while Putin cannot.

Let’s examine those questions and comments starting with Yuri Sergeev’s question on encirclement.

Map of Major Military Operations February 4, 2015

click on chart for sharper image

I ask reader Yuri “What the hell is it about that map that you dispute?

Personally, I do not give a damn what Colonel Cassad stands for or what side he is on. All I care about is the accuracy of what he says. And unlike most of Western news media, Cassad is not all one sided.

When the separatists take a hit, Cassad says so. That immediately raises Cassad’s stature (in regards to accuracy of reporting) in my eyes.

That map is a few days old, taken roughly at the time Yuri made his comment. From a Kiev perspective, I am sure a chart looks worse today.

Rebels Advance

On Friday, Reuters reported Advancing Ukraine Rebels Appear to Capture Frontline Town.

Pro-Russian rebels appeared to be in full control on Wednesday of one of the towns that has been a principal target of their advance, as they attempt to surround a nearby garrison of Ukrainian forces.

The apparent fall of the town of Vuhlehirsk would be a setback for Kiev, which has been trying to defend it and the larger neighboring town of Debaltseve, an important rail hub, from encirclement by advancing rebels.

A military spokesman in the capital said Vuhlehirsk was still contested. But Reuters journalists on the ground were freely able to enter about 60 percent of it and saw no sign of areas controlled by Ukrainian troops. Rebels patrolled casually and were in a boisterous mood, using positions in the town to fire artillery on Debaltseve.

Point in Dispute

Kiev reports Vuhlehirsk is “contested”. Reuters says “Rebels patrolled casually and were in a boisterous mood, using positions in the town to fire artillery on Debaltseve.

If you are a fool or a mindless Kiev troll, then no doubt you side with Yuri Sergeev. Otherwise, the map (and in this rare case – Reuters) speaks for itself.

Huge Trap

I am not a military expert. But please study the above map carefully. Note the expansion at the top of the map increasing the distance Ukrainian support lines have to go.

It appears as if the separatists have purposely left the main road open to entice more Ukrainian military forces to their doom.

Finally, please note the contraction in the middle, increasing the need for Ukraine to send supplies to the nearly-encircled Ukrainian forces to the southeast.

Undoubtedly, such thoughts make me a Kremlin Troll as well.

Military experts, please feel free to weigh in.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock