The situation in the Donbas region is becoming increasingly dire for the Russian military.
Over the past hours, Ukrainian forces have breached Russian defenses around the village of Urozhaine.
In their retreat, the Russian units in the area suffered hefty casualties.
Panicked Retreat in Ukraine
The Russian forces defending the village of Urozhaine suffered a bloody defeat.
Someone in the Russian chain of command evidently believed that the position in Urozhaine was about to be overrun by the advancing Ukrainians and gave the order to evacuate — on foot and in broad daylight, in an area under the cover of Ukrainian artillery.
Once the Russian commanders gave the order to retreat, there was panic.Exposed and lacking any protection whatsoever, Russian forces ran back toward deeper lines of defense.
But Ukrainian forces were ready. Using tactical unmanned aerial systems for reconnaissance, the Ukrainians had a good picture of what was going on in Urozhaine. Once they saw columns of Russian soldiers fleeing on foot, the Ukrainians called in artillery. Carnage ensued.
In a couple of videos published by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, one can see the columns of dismounted Russian troops running away and getting obliterated by artillery fire. Besides conventional rounds, the Ukrainians fired cluster munitions that are designed for exactly these situations — they have a devastating effect on concentrations of troops.
The battle shows the lackluster Russian command and control system. Russian forces would probably have enjoyed a better fate if they had stayed put in the village and fought instead of running.
The situation doesn’t look promising for the Russian forces in the Donbas and in Southern Ukraine.
“The air is saturated with drones, shells, smoke from explosions: a short break at night — and all over again,” a Russian soldier with the Vostok Akmat Battalion wrote on the popular social app Telegram.
The Vostok Akmat Battalion falls under the 42nd Motor Rifle Division of the Southern Military District and has been active in the area around Orikhiv, in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, which is about 200 miles from Urozhaine.
The Ukrainian Counteroffensive
Since early June, the Ukrainian military has been trying to breach extensive Russian defenses in Southern Ukraine and the Donbas and achieve an operational breakthrough.
Kyiv’s goal is to reach the Sea of Azov and split the Russian forces in Ukraine into two pockets. The northern pocket would include the areas of the Donbas and Eastern Ukraine, and the southern pocket would include Kherson and the Crimean Peninsula.
If Ukrainian forces manage to achieve an operational breakthrough, Russian forces might collapse and retreat even farther back than the Ukrainians estimate — much like Moscow’s forces did last fall when, in just a few days’ time, they evacuated hundreds of squares of miles of territory in Eastern Ukraine in a panicked retreated.
To be sure, the Ukrainian military’s progress has been much slower than many analysts in the West anticipated. But slowly and steadily, the Ukrainians are advancing.
Author Expertise and Byline
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.
From the Vault