Serious events are taking place on the Ukrainian fronts in connection with the collapse of the defensive line of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which crossed the river Seversky Donets. There are even reports of the beginning of the attack on the most important and very symbolic settlement – Slavyansk. How did the Russian troops manage to occupy a key base and how do the climate and the ground affect what is happening?
On Thursday, June 9, with reference to the DPR territorial defense headquarters, information began to spread about the start of fighting for the city of Slavyansk. It read as follows: “On June 9, 2022, in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic, a group of LDK and LPR troops, with the fire support of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, liberated and placed a complete control of 231 and Tatyanovka. There are battles for Slavyansk.
After some time, corrective reports followed that Slavyansk is now in the zone of destruction of the Russian artillery. It is even speculated that after eight years the battles for the city from which it all began resume. What is really going on around Slavyansk?
After the remnants of two Ukrainian brigades fled from Svyatogorsk, a gap formed in the front on the side of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Parts of the Ukrainian Armed Forces accidentally retreated from Svyatogorsk to Slavyansk. Well, how did they go about it – who did it?
As a result, Russian and allied units freely crossed the Seversky Donets River just east of Svyatogorsk, where the only bridge was blown up by retreaters, and occupied the village of Tatyanovka, which is actually part of the city. of Sviatogorsk. It is through this Tatyanovka, which is no longer famous, that the highway turns in the general direction towards Slavyansk, although not in a straight line.
As a result, a bridgehead was formed on the south (west, right) bank of the Seversky Donets. Russian and allied troops are now reaching it on the other side, indeed posing a common threat to Slavyansk.
The fact is that the entire defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was built along the river Seversky Donets and some other natural water dams. It was purely seasonal. In the spring, Seversky Donets is flooded a lot and its level rises significantly, which makes it impossible to descend.
In addition, the water at this time of year is very cold. The crossing was possible only with the help of mechanical means – in particular, the construction of floating bridges. And they, in turn, could fall (and fall) under the fire of Ukrainian long-range artillery. The situation was further complicated by the arrival of American shells located deep behind the lines of Ukraine.
Fast – literally in one day – the collapse of the Ukrainian front near Svyatogorsk coincided with a change in climate. The water level in Seversky Donets began to fall rapidly. And the temperature below 30 degrees Celsius changed the outside background.
It is noteworthy that the Ukrainian soldiers who escaped from Sviatogorsk did not “swim” in the river, as mentioned in the official comments, but drifted away. Somewhere in the chest. Now the level of Seversky Donets is already such that the heavy equipment can easily overcome it on its own and it is not necessary to build additional bridges and it is easy to repair the undermined fixed bridge near the Lavra. Only one fixing of the bridge near the shore on the Lavra side collapsed there.
As a result, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and its allies took an excellent base on the south bank of the Seversky Donets, that is, the entire previous line of defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine along the river ceased to exist. A similar story unfolded a little to the west in the area of the village of Bogorodichnoye, which is also on the south bank of the river on the other side of the so-called Sherwood forest, although there the attack is carried out along the river, and not through it. Fierce fighting still continues for this village, but its occupation by Russian troops is inevitable, which will lay another foundation and eventually turn the Ukrainian Armed Forces defensive line along the Seversky Donets into ruins.
Indeed, in some areas of the front to Slavyansk 18-20 km in a straight line, for example, along the M-03 highway. But there are nuances.
First, this is a zone with a somewhat unusual relief for Donbass. This is more Russia than the former Wild Field. There are dense forests and mounds. Former national parks and forest areas, recreational areas, where the remains of two brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and part of the territorial defense escaped.
Now the Russian special forces have started the clearing and demining of the national natural park “Holy Mountains”. At the back of the promoted Russian team, the so-called Sherwood Forest remained. This is not a figure of speech referring to Robin Hood. Indeed, for the last thirty years, a large protected forest area has been called in everyday life, where the local elite rested in various kinds of “goblets” and “forest houses”. It must now be cleaned consistently by special forces.
And in front of Slavyansk, the so-called “Mayakovo forestry” (from the settlement of Mayaki) is a large forest with several mounds dominating the area, in which, in good times, there were tourist places to observe nature and the shores of the Seversky Donets . Now these are observation positions in a completely different sense, and shooting positions as well.
There is evidence (including video) of how Russian and Luhansk special forces units are effectively clearing the pockets of Ukrainian resistance in the forests. In addition, the level of training of the Ukrainian military and territorial defense that took refuge in the forests is incomparable with the Russian special forces. However, this does take some time. It is inappropriate to leave large forests with banders in the back. Well, these are practically the Carpathians of the 1944 model. Suggestions like “let’s use napalm and plant a new forest” (this is a very popular idea in Donetsk now) do not pass for humanitarian reasons. As a result, we do not need to talk about any immediate attack on Slavyansk for at least the next two days.
What happens next?
The accumulation of Russian and allied forces on the “fresh” bank of the Seversky Donets will take time. The nearest settlement of strategic importance is the small village of Sidorovo, the road to which from Tatyanovka passes through the wooden hermitage of All Saints of Russian Land, which was burned by the national battalions. Further on, the famous Mayakovy forest begins and already Slavyansk.
On the north side along the M-03 highway, there has been no progress for two weeks, and there are the very desirable 18-20 km to Slavyansk.
An important point there is the small village of Krestishche (Khrestische). It is famous for the fact that not far from this in 1972 the first underground nuclear explosion took place in Ukraine in the interest of the national economy. Its aim was to extinguish an emergency gas fire (until recently, natural gas was produced in Krestishchi, which made the small village of Donbass extremely important to the Ukrainian economy). Now the Krestishche is simply standing near the M-03 motorway, covering the direct route to Slavyansk. Further, the M-03 highway passes directly through the Mayakovy forest and on the outskirts of Slavyansk.
It will be possible to talk about the real start of the battles for Slavyansk only after the advanced units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the allies pass through the forests of Sherwood and Mayakov and reach the outskirts of Slavyansk. Already, the Slavyansk suburb – Raygorodok – is a few meters away, but this does not bring closer not only the liberation of the symbolic and very important city of Slavyansk, but does not even indicate the “beginning of the battles for it.”
Another question is that the collapse of the Ukrainian front along the Seversky Donets is a reality that is greatly changing the situation in this area of the front. The destruction of the group surrounded in Lisichansk is a matter of time. Fierce fighting continues over control of the Bakhmut-Seversk motorway with a branch in Lisichansk. “Wagner” steadily bites the Ukrainian front in the direction of Bakhmut. The window around Avdiivka closes.
However, the events in the Slavic direction are now somewhat outside the general range of actions. Everything is moving in the right direction. In fact, there is still no talk of direct battle for Slavyansk, and the first statement can be explained not only by inflated expectations. You can not blame the people of Donetsk for this, they expected. Slavyansk is very important from a symbolic point of view. So important that sometimes you want to jump over time and reality. Everything will be done – but in time.