Home News How a crack in the defenses opened a path for the Russians

How a crack in the defenses opened a path for the Russians


Thunderous explosions rock the ground as Ukrainian crew prepares to maneuver their US-made aircraft Bradley Fighting Vehicle Break away from the disguise and throw yourself into the fire again.

The team’s commander, a sergeant whose call sign was “Lawyer,” glanced nervously at the sky. “If we are discovered, triple-A bombers will come,” he said, referring to the one-ton bombs Russia has been using to target Ukraine’s most valuable armor and defenses.

What started as a small-scale attack by the Russian army on the small town of Ocheretin gradually developed into a major breakthrough that threatened to collapse the Ukrainian defense line in large areas of the eastern front. The crew’s mission was to help contain the breach: protect the outmanned and outgunned infantry, evacuate the wounded, and use the Bradley’s powerful 25mm cannon against as many Russians as possible.

But the 28-tonne vehicle was quickly discovered. The commander said mortars and rockets exploded all around him, seriously injuring the gunner. Under military protocol, the commander can only be identified by his call sign.

The combat mission turned into a mission to rescue comrades. Days later, attorneys said the shooter survived and was recovering. But the Russians gained territory and continued to push forward.

Ukraine has more vulnerable Ukrainian soldiers and commanders of several brigades interviewed in recent weeks said this was the most painful period since the first weeks of the 2022 invasion. Russia is trying to take advantage of this opportunity to intensify its attacks in the east and is now threatening to attack Ukrainian positions on the northern border outside the city of Kharkiv to open a new front.

months U.S. aid delaysthe spiraling quantity casualties The severe shortage of ammunition caused serious casualties, which can be seen from the tired expressions and tired voices of the soldiers fighting daily.

“Frankly, I have fear,” said Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Voloshyn, 57, the senior tank battalion commander of the 59th Motorized Brigade. “Because if I don’t have the artillery, if I don’t have the personnel, if I don’t have the equipment with which my personnel can fight…” he said, trailing off. “That’s it.”

Russian troops suddenly advance ochreteinLocated nine miles north of Afdiv in late April, the site demonstrated how even a small crack in the line could have a knock-on effect, as an already stretched platoon faced the risk of being flanked and outflanked, while others Troops scrambled to plug the gap.

“It’s like your car’s engine knocks but you keep driving,” said Lieutenant Oleksandr Shyrshyn, 29, deputy battalion commander of the 47th Mechanized Brigade. “The car works, but at some point, it stops. Then you end up spending more resources restoring it.”

“Again, there are some errors here that don’t appear to be serious,” he said. “But they lead to the need now to stabilize the situation. And it’s not yet certain where that stabilization will happen.”

“Every event you don’t anticipate can turn your situation upside down,” Lt. Hilsin said. “That’s what happened in Ocheretyne.”

after Fall of Avdievka In February this year, for the Russian army, the small town of Ochetin was a military stronghold along the Ukrainian highway. Most of the 3,000 residents have fled. Abandoned high-rise apartment buildings and other urban infrastructure provided good defensive positions, and the situation remained relatively stable for two months.

But then something went wrong.

When Russians suddenly appeared on the shabby streets surrounding Ivan Vivsyenko’s home in late April, he mistook them for Ukrainian soldiers at first glance. When they asked for his passport, the 88-year-old knew Ocheretain’s defenses had collapsed.

“I thought our soldiers were going to come and knock them down,” he said in an interview after his painful escape across the front lines. “But that didn’t happen.”

Three weeks later, Russia’s small advance has grown into Approximately 15 square miles of bulge This complicates the defense of the Donetsk region.

Extending the salient to the north could give Russia the opportunity to bypass some of the strongest defenses it has held in eastern Ukraine for years. Russia can now also pursue new attack routes targeting Konstiantynivka, a town that is a logistical lynchpin for Ukrainian forces.

Hours of combat footage shared by Ukrainian brigades on the front line documented the Kremlin’s efforts to advance from one destroyed village to another.

Russian infantrymen hiked across mine-strewn fields and used off-road vehicles and dune buggies to try to defeat exploding Ukrainian drones. They attack in armored columns of varying sizes, with large attacks often led by tanks covered in huge metal sheds and equipped with advanced electronic warfare equipment to defend against drones. Western observers dubbed them “turtle tanks.” Ukrainians call them “wundervaflia,” which combines the German word for miracle and the Ukrainian word for waffles.

“We brought their infantry closer to us, which created closer contact and direct firefight,” Lieutenant Hirsin said. “As a result, our losses are increasing. ”

The Russians also paid a staggering price for every step of progress. Some 899 Russian soldiers were killed or injured every day in April british military intelligence agency Recently reported.

Despite committing so many soldiers to the battle, the Russians captured only about 30 square miles in April, According to military analysts. Seizing Ukraine’s last bastion cities in the Donbas – urban centers such as Kramatorsk and Pokrovsk – will almost certainly involve a long and bloody battle.

Nonetheless, Russian advances in the east and northeast in recent weeks are beginning to change the geometry of the front in dangerous ways.

“Look at the map, where we are, where Ocheretain is,” said Colonel Volozhin, commander of the tank battalion. He studied the terrain as he prepared to set off on a mission, targeting a house where 20 Russians were believed to be hiding. “I can now assume that they can simply go around us from the left and go around us from the right. They have achieved tactical success, they have the equipment, the men, the artillery. So we can expect everything.”

For more than a year, the lack of dramatic change ahead belies the Exhausting positional warfare This precarious balance needs to be maintained. In a war where fighting over a single treeline could last weeks, Russia’s sudden thrust into the area around Ocheritne is the most dangerous problem – fast, deep and unexpected.

There was fierce debate over who was to blame for the failure to hold the line.

Deep State Telegram channel with close ties to the Ukrainian military, Blame the 115th Mechanized Brigade Leaving key positions without orders allowed the Russians to infiltrate and attack settlements.

The brigade vehemently denied it, saying its soldiers were outnumbered 15 to one and held out for as long as possible under heavy bombardment.

“We would like to emphasize that regular troops of the 115th Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not leave or flee their positions,” the brigade said. A special military commission has been established to find out what exactly happened.

Soldiers familiar with the fighting are reluctant to publicly criticize a neighboring brigade and say a range of problems – from poor communication to woefully out-of-date weaponry – may have played a role.

Lieutenant Schilsin of the 47th Division, located next to the 115th Division, would not speculate on what exactly went wrong, but said the consequences were immediate: it soon became clear that the 47th Division would have to retreat or face being surrounded and risk of catastrophic losses.

“The Russians realized the weakness in this direction and they used gaps to get in behind Ukrainian soldiers,” he said. “Then we lost Ocheretyne, then Novobakhmutivka, then Soloviove.”

The Ukrainian high command does not like handing over any territory, the lieutenant said, adding that “it is very complicated to argue with them and explain why it is not good to maintain this position.”

Lieutenant Shirsin hopes the situation will improve with the arrival of Western weapons, but until then, he says, “we will continue to die, we will continue to lose territory”

“The question is whether it will be slow and defensive,” he said. “Or it’s so fast it’s pointless.”

Lyubov Shorudko Reporting from eastern Ukraine also contributed. Anastasia Kuznetsova and Natalia Novosolova Contributed research.

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