Espreso. Global

Russia fails to gain foothold in Tabaivka, Kupyansk direction. Column by Serhiy Zgurets

30 January, 2024 Tuesday

Tabaivka is located in a lowland between two ridges, a river flows through the village, and the area around it is swampy. It's not easy to advance and hold positions there, and Russian forces have not been able to gain a foothold in this area

The front line

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported that 76 combat clashes took place on the frontline over January 28. In fact, this is a lot. This suggests that Russian forces are attempting to exert pressure on Ukraine's defense line across multiple areas of the front. The General Staff specifically highlights two areas, Avdiivka and Marinka, where nearly two-thirds of the enemy's attacks were successfully repelled.

Kupyansk direction

I'll start with the Kupyansk-Svatove section. For a couple of days, the situation around Tabaivka has been accelerating. This area is located not far from Krokhmalne, which Russia captured earlier and is now trying to advance further.

Tabaivka is located in the middle between Svatove and Kupyansk. The distance to Svatove is about 20 kilometers, and to Kupyansk about 30 kilometers. Tabaivka is a small settlement, where the population before the war was about 30 people, and now there are 3-4 houses. If you look at satellite images, all of these houses have been destroyed. Tabaivka is located in a lowland between two ridges. A river flows through the village, and the area around it is swampy, so it is not easy to move or gain a foothold there.

There are a number of statements and interpretations about Tabaivka, and there have been conflicting reports. And on January 29, the Russian Ministry of Defense, announced that Tabaivka had been captured. For the Russian consumer, it is unclear what kind of settlement this is, but in any case, Russia is now inflating the victory.

On our side, there were statements and explanations from the head of the public relations service of the Land Forces Command, Lieutenant Colonel Volodymyr Fitio, who said that in Tabaivka, which is in the Kupyansk district of Kharkiv region, the Russian army does not stop storming, and the fighting continues. Ten attacks have been repelled in this area, but the Russian side's statements about the capture of the settlement are not true. Fitio says that the Russians have not taken Tabaivka, the fighting continues there, and that Russia’s statements cannot be believed. He also says that Tabaivka is located in a disadvantageous place, in a lowland, and anyone who goes down to this lowland immediately becomes a target like in a shooting range.

At the moment, we can conclude that Russian forces have not managed to establish a firm presence in this area. They are likely situated on the eastern part of Tabaivka, facing the river. Following Russia’s strategic pattern, they may attempt to progress westward. This move is crucial for the occupiers as they aim to advance from Tabaivka to the Oskil River, aiming to divide Ukraine’s group of troops currently positioned on the left bank of this river into two parts. The unfolding scenario is evident on the map, but its successful execution by Russian forces might prove challenging.

Currently, there are multiple areas where Russia is attempting to exert pressure. One of these areas involves attacks on Kupyansk through Synkivka, where the enemy has faced continuous failures. Despite this, the Russians are broadening the scope of their attacks on Synkivka, aiming to breach through to Kupyansk—an essential transportation hub that holds strategic importance for the invaders. However, the assaults on Synkivka have persisted for several months without achieving any success.

Additionally, there are persistent attacks in the Terny-Yampolivka-Torske region, where Russian forces attempt to leverage their equipment. In the Tabaivka area, attacks are more frequent with infantry, featuring fewer armored vehicles but a higher utilization of drones and aircraft. Russia will continue to try to put pressure on our defense in these areas.

According to Ukraine’s Land Forces Command, there are about 200,000 Russian army personnel on this line, including the Bakhmut direction. All these areas are extremely difficult to hold, but it is unlikely that the Russians will succeed there. However, the situation is extremely difficult, just as it is near Avdiivka.

Avdiivka direction

Avdiivka is the second area which is witnessing a significantly higher number of attacks compared to the Kupyansk-Svatove sector. Notably, Russian forces are attempting offensive actions along the entire arc that encompasses Avdiivka from the north and south. Although there is no success in their advance, the southern part poses the most challenging situation.

Map of fighting in Avdiivka

On the map we can see three orange areas where Russian troops are trying to put pressure on our defense - the industrial area, Tsarska Okhota complex, in the middle and on the left we can see their attempts to move from Opytne towards Avdiivka. Combat is currently underway in all these areas. The most difficult situation is behind Tsarska Okhota. Fighting continues on the suburban streets, where Russian troops are trying to hold on after they crawled through the sewer canal under Tsarska Okhota. At the moment, combat is taking place in suburban areas near Avdiivka. Ukraine's 116th and 110th brigades are currently pushing the enemy out of the area, but they have not yet succeeded in completely driving out the invaders. However, it is imperative to eliminate the occupiers from this region as Avdiivka holds greater strategic significance than Bakhmut did in the past. The Russian forces will persist in their attempts to launch offensive actions, and the Ukrainian Armed Forces are well aware of the enemy's logic.

The issue is that we need to have enough reserves, forces and means to prevent the enemy from advancing in this direction.

Training of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reserves

When discussing reserves, it is crucial to emphasize that it goes beyond just weapons and ammunition; the primary focus is on personnel who require training and preparation. Major General Viktor Neklyuk, the commander of the training forces of Ukraine’s Land Forces Command, recently mentioned in an interview that the training capacity can train 500,000, 200,000, or 100,000 soldiers, depending on the demand. However, it's essential to acknowledge that our foreign partners also contribute to our training efforts. Now, we'll hear from Andriy Zadereyko, a psychologist officer and lieutenant of the 23rd separate battalion of the Special Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, whose soldiers are currently stationed in the Bakhmut direction.

The lieutenant noted that the situation is extremely difficult, but the battalion is successfully performing combat missions. The battalion now needs various specialties: accountants, financiers, drivers, logistics workers. In addition, there are combat positions that are listed on and Lobby X, where you can find them. The battalion is happy to accept volunteers and uses new methods of training, which takes place both in Ukraine and abroad. After receiving basic training, the battalion's combat instructors provide further training, meaning that training and education are ongoing.

The officer said that every soldier in the battalion can approach the commander and express his position and opinions, which will be taken into account and heard. After each combat mission, debriefings are held, where everyone can say what can be improved, where to apply new methods, where to outwit the enemy. This is a constant work on development and constant communication between the commander and the subordinate, which breaks the stereotypes that people have about the army.

Zadereyko added that the battalion's fighters are mostly trained in the UK, and have also been to Spain and Italy. It is more about sharing experience rather than training for our military who have combat experience. There are soldiers who receive basic training, but there are also those who improve their skills. There are also recruits who are trained according to NATO standards. There were soldiers from the battalion who took first place in the course, i.e., excellent students. They were the best graduates twice during the exercises in the UK. And then there is specification and additional training on the spot, because this is a special forces battalion, and therefore has specific tasks.

The military psychologist noted that due to the prolonged physical and psychological stress, the soldiers are given leave to see their families, and there is also an opportunity to go abroad if they have family there. However, the best antidepressant is training and exercises at the range with their comrades, when they return to the same atmosphere from which they have had a little rest mentally and psychologically. And after rest, confidence, strength and readiness to perform combat missions return. There are various psychological techniques that are used, but with an individual approach it is better to determine what is suitable for a soldier's reload, so we work with each one separately.

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