Espreso. Global

Ukraine at first stage of offensive operation in South. Serhiy Zgurets’ column

19 June, 2023 Monday

In the South, Ukraine’s Defense Forces have started an offensive operation that will continue for at least two months. It is a preparatory phase for the main offensive.

Ukraine's offensive in the South

Currently, we are both defending and attacking on the front line. Our side has taken the initiative in the south and east. The General Staff has announced the offensive of the Armed Forces in four directions: Bakhmut, Zaporizhzhia, and the western part of Donetsk region. The offensive covers a distance of approximately 200 km along the front line.

In the southern region, it seems like we're starting an attack. It's similar to what happened in the Kherson operation, where we learned some lessons. Before, we tried to directly attack the brigades, but that caused problems. So, now we're focusing on gradually wearing down the Russian defense. In the Kherson operation, it took about two months to weaken the enemy. I believe this initial phase of the southern operation will also last around two months, as we prepare for the main offensive.

We learned from the Kherson operation and now we're moving forward carefully. Where we see dangers, we use artillery. We're getting ready to weaken the Russian defense along the entire defense line. We act in smaller groups without involving our main forces or base brigades, although they are prepared for an attack in specific areas depending on the situation on the front line. If we focus on our right side, there are changes from Lobkove to Pyatykhatky. 

The fighting has intensified along the Kopane-Robotyne line. Changes are occurring on the front line. In Robotyne, where the 47th unit was active before, the fighting continues and there are Russian prisoners captured.

Next, there's Velyka Novosilka in the direction of Berdyansk. There, some settlements have been liberated as well. The entire defense line includes Novodarivka, Rivnopil, Staromayorsk, and Novodonetske, and they're being targeted to move towards Staromlynivka, which is crucial for us. 

Also, this sector's commander, General Tarnavskyi, said that there was an advance from Vuhledar. We don't know the exact direction, but we understand its significance because it helps us secure movement towards Volnovakha, an important stronghold for the Russian Federation in terms of logistics and our future actions. 

The entire southern front is becoming active. The enemy can't determine our main attack direction, so they keep bringing in reserves that our artillery destroys. This process of misleading and destroying the enemy will continue for weeks based on the experience from the Kherson operation. After that, the main phase of the offensive will begin, utilizing the full capabilities of the brigades that were preparing to liberate our territory. So, let's remain calm in this situation. It's all part of a well-planned, long-term operation to defeat the enemy and create favorable conditions for our advance with minimal casualties. This is a crucial aspect of the strategies employed by the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.

Advancement in the direction of Bakhmut

There is an increase in activity in the Bakhmut direction. General Syrskyi mentioned a few days ago that the Russian Federation is mobilizing reserves to protect their flanks.

My friends also say that the enemy has significantly increased in numbers compared to a week or two ago. The Russian Federation is trying to secure their flanks, making it harder for our Armed Forces to defeat them and surround their group in Bakhmut. While we're not there yet, the conditions for it are being created. 

Lieutenant Yevhenii Oropai from the Ukrainian National Guard noted that along the entire front line, where our Armed Forces are standing up against the invaders, artillery is continuously active. The enemy is withdrawing reserves to hinder our attempts to reclaim Ukrainian territory. It's a very challenging situation. The enemy's aircraft, artillery, and tanks are almost constantly in operation. Regular troops are now the main force of the Russian Federation. They face problems with motivation and soldiers who refuse to carry out combat tasks because they lack support. Infantry units advance while tanks trail behind. They abandon positions and refuse to fulfill their duties. 

It's very tough for the defenders on the front line. We pay a high price for every meter of Ukrainian land we reclaim. Currently, our Freedom battalion and Defense Forces defenders are “delivering” Western weapons to the occupiers. This creates an opportunity for advancement near Yahidne, Klishchiivka, Ozoryanivka, Kurdyumivka, and Bakhmut. There are exciting and complicated events going on there that we can't talk about yet.

Previously, the Wagner group used cannon fodder, but now the Russian Federation understands the limitations of their army and the need for training. At the same time, the Russians have a larger manpower advantage, more artillery, and their Soviet ammunition sometimes misses, but still causes significant damage. They use electronic warfare almost constantly, and there are more drones, supplied by the PRC. Previously, the ratio of forces was 80:20 in our favor, but now the Russians have learned to attack our positions from air. Their tanks, even though they are Soviet-made, are operational and pose a significant threat. Unfortunately, dealing with them is extremely difficult. 

Russia’s line of defense

The Russian Federation has established a main line of defense that is approximately 8-10 km away from the current positions of Ukrainian units. This defensive line was prepared by Russia for a minimum of six months and includes various fortifications such as pyramids, concrete structures, and minefields.

These obstacles significantly slow down our progress and pose a challenge. Andrii Kulchytskyi, a state expert from the Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise, stated that Russia's actions are guided by management plans for engineering barriers, which outline specific details.

One notable aspect is the excessive use of minefields, with many being installed haphazardly and with an unnecessary abundance of mines. The density of minefields is increasing, and their exact boundaries are unclear. The placement of mines is strategically designed to target our sappers and cause explosions. During our offensive operations, our troops encounter minefields of unknown size and direction. In preparation for the offensive, our sappers practice overcoming obstacles located in front of our forward positions and along the path of our troops' advancement. Depending on various factors such as terrain and characteristics of the minefields, demining can be done using explosive, manual, mechanical, or combined methods.

When our troops prepare for an offensive, they create passages in front of their own front lines to avoid detection by the enemy. Once the offensive begins, our military advances deep into the enemy's defenses. During this phase, specific tasks are carried out, including the clearance of blocked areas, particularly through demining operations. Mine blocks are either bypassed, cleared using the created passages, or troops maneuver through the minefields. The Ukrainian Armed Forces possess demining equipment like the UR-77 and UR-83P, which are used to create explosive passages. These installations launch a demining charge, detonate it, and then verify the safety of the passage for equipment and personnel to proceed.

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