The Ukrainian unit’s mission was to take a single house, in a village that is only a speck on the map but served as a stronghold for Russian soldiers.
Andriya veteran Marine, had waited for three days with his small assault team—none of which had seen combat before—while other Ukrainian units pushed through minefields, assaulted trenches, and cleared a path to the farming village. of Urozhaine. Finally, one day last month, the order to mobilize came.
They quickly moved to a predetermined location in an armored personnel carrier and disembarked as explosions and gunshots resounded on the ground beneath their feet, they said. Andriy and members of your unit. After driving off or killing the remaining Russians, they secured the house at nightfall, posted guards, and reviewed the day’s tactics to see how they could improve.
In the morning, the new order came: to take another house.
The months-long campaign to breach the fortified Russian lines is taking place in many domains and in many forms of battle, with artillery duels and drone strikes along the front lines in southern Russia. Ukraine. But the engine that drives the effort are hundreds of small-scale raiding parties, often of just eight to 10 soldiers, each tasked with attacking a single trench, tree line or house.
In this tactical approach, small villages loom large. They line paved roads, making transportation easy, and the buildings, even those devastated by bombing, provide some protection. The Russians use them as strongholds; Urozhainefor example, was surrounded by two lines of trenches and a maze of tunnels that allowed Russian troops to fire at one location and then appear at another.
Daily success is measured in meters and not kilometers. But dozens of these types of attacks have been taking place daily for weeks and together they are adding up to advances that, according to Ukrainewill pose increasing problems for the overstretched Russian forces.
It’s a hard way to wage war—village by village, house by house—with no guarantee of success. However, once taken and secured, the surviving Russian fortifications provide a base for the Ukrainians to plan their next steps.
This has been the pattern that has followed Ukraine while trying to advance two routes from north to south towards the sea of Azovin search of a place to cross and cut the so-called land bridge between Russia and the crimea busy.
To the west, Ukrainian forces have been advancing down the road leading to Melitopol; having secured the key village of robotynefought fiercely this week in the village of verbove, the next step forward. On Friday, the Ukrainian army reported that it had advanced 5.6 kilometers beyond robotyneand John Kirbyspokesperson for White House National Security Councilsaid Ukraine it had made “remarkable progress” in the previous 72 hours.
Urozhaine is located on a more easterly route, along a small country road that leads to Mariupol on the south coast.
The battle for the village would last nine days. The Russians finally withdrew on August 19 under a hail of Ukrainian artillery fire. It was a small but necessary step. The same as robotyne, securing the village meant that the Ukrainian forces had broken through the first layer of Russian defense. What is equally important is that they have held the position for two weeks.
The Ukrainians still have about 96 kilometers of hard road ahead of them before they can reach the coast, and at least one other fortified Russian defense line in its path. The Russians are holding out fiercely, and are protected by entrenched positions, minefields, and air superiority. The Marines expect the fight to be bloody and slow.
“The Russians have more artillery, more tanks, more drones and more people.said a veteran Marine named denis. “And they also fortify themselves very well every time they arrive somewhere, be it a settlement, a forest area, or just a field.”.
The Ukrainians allowed a team of The New York Times visit the infants Marine who were fighting on the highway Mariupol on multiple occasions over two weeks in August, on the condition that journalists not reveal precise locations, full names and ranks of soldiers, or certain operational details.
In more than a dozen interviews in recent days, fighting soldiers have expressed great confidence that they can break through the Russian lines.
“After the first and second lines there will be a straight road to the sea, no more fortifications“, he claimed maksimanother veteran Marine who fought in Urozhaine. “We’ll move like rockets”.
The Marines are fighting along a line running south along the T0158a country road that meanders through the river valley mokri yaly, where the Ukrainians have retaken a number of villages since they launched their counteroffensive in June. The next major assault target is Staromlínivka, about 19 kilometers from where the campaign began.
The Russians are quickly calling in reinforcements to try to stop the advance, Ukrainian soldiers said.
His description of the battle in Urozhaine was backed up by raw Ukrainian drone footage seen by the Times. The key details also matched accounts posted on social media by Russian soldiers and bloggers.
The Russians are also adapting, according to the infantrymen of Marine. For example, they are employing new tactics to make already dangerous minefields even more deadly.
The tactic includes covering the mine-filled grass with a flammable agent. This so that once the Ukrainians start clearing a path, the Russians launch a grenade from a drone, causing a sea of fire and explosions.
Like other Ukrainian units, the Marines are made up of a mix of career combatants, volunteers, and mobilized conscripts. About 70 percent comes from the local area—including the occupied city of Mariupol—and the soldiers believe that this gives them a distinct advantage over an enemy who, in their view, is fighting for pay and only holding positions for fear of being punished for retreating.
Like experienced soldiers, Andriy and maksimboth 35, guided the new recruits.
“Of course we had some losses, not within our platoon, but within the brigade“, said maksim. “That’s how war is, you know?”
Even so, the infants of Marine they achieved their goal at Urozhaine and took a small step closer to the sea.
“It is also important for self-confidence and motivation“, he claimed maksim. “A lot of the guys were new, it was their first match. And now they know how it is”.
(C) The New York Times.-