Ukraine’s summer offensive entered its third month by potentially taking its 10th “tactically significant” village – Urozhaine in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia regional border area in the country’s south. However, the fortifications of the so-called Surovikin Line of Russian defenses still lie ahead of Ukrainian troops.

While only partially confirmed by consistently taciturn Ukrainian military authorities, video images and pro-Russian milbloggers indicated that Urozhaine – which means “of the harvest” in Ukrainian – is largely under Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) control from yesterday.

On Monday morning, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar, said Kyiv’s forces had had “partial success” around Urozhaine and points south, but did not elaborate.

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Elsewhere, some Russian sources were confirming Moscow's troops had retreated from the village with "minimal losses," though videos show fleeing soldiers under extremely heavy fire.

Geolocated images released by Ukraine’s Ministry for Defense showed Russian forces fleeing on foot from the village while being shelled with deadly cluster ammunitions.

 

Other images indicated Ukrainian control of the town’s school.

The latest developments follow images of Ukrainian JDAM GPS-targeting bombs – launched from Ukrainian Air Force planes – taking out a reported Russian command center in the town earlier in the week.

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While pro-Russian milbloggers have said the town is either fully or part “surrendered,” the well-regarded Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in its daily report on the evening of Aug. 13 said it “has not observed confirmation that Russian forces have completely withdrawn from Urozhaine and Russian forces likely currently maintain positions in at least the southern part of the settlement.”

Once confirmed, Urozhaine will be the 10th town or village taken by the AFU since the counteroffensive’s commencement in early June. Other liberated villages in the district include Staromaiorske, Makarivka, and Blahodatne.

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Urozhaine would be the southernmost town taken thus far. It is approximately 10 kilometers into formerly Russian-occupied territory and some 70 kilometers northwest of the strategically and symbolically significant city of Mariupol on the coast of the Sea of Azov.

On this part of the 1,000 kilometer-long front, Ukrainian forces have been pressing the advance south from Velyka Novosilka along the Mokri Yaly River and farm road TO518 since the beginning of the offensive. Newly formed brigades and Western-supplied equipment are known to be involved.

Despite false expectations of a “blitzkrieg”-type assault on the part of some Western analysts and major media outlets, the Ukrainians have largely employed a tactic involving small probing assaults that reveal Russian artillery positions, troop concentrations and command posts. 

Once revealed, the AFU has used drones, howitzers, MLRS rocket systems, and missiles to target and “attrit” those Russian positions with intense counter-battery fire, as well as airstrikes using guided bombs. The push has also involved de-mining densely mined territory prior to proceeding with mechanized infantry.

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About Ukraine’s tactics, pro-Russian milblogger and propagandist War Gonzo said the following on his Telegram channel: “Urozhaine, Staromaiorske, Blahodatne – some buildings remained there, but it is impossible to conduct a full-fledged defense at these points – to do so is to substitute personnel for suicide.”

While the progress has been labelled “tactically significant” by major publications such as the New York Times, Urozhaine appears to be some 5 to 10 kilometers north of the concrete fortifications of the Surovikin Line, which the Russian military has been preparing for more than a year.

“Moscow has had many months to prepare the most formidable fortified defensive positions since World War II — a series of trenches, tank traps, vast minefields, machine-gun nests, attack helicopters and other air support,” the New York Times wrote yesterday.

Satellite imagery from well-regarded independent analyst, Brady Africk, appears to show the first major Russian concrete fortification points south of Staromlynivka (marked in red dots in above image).

Pro-Ukrainian milbloggers pointed out that Staromlynivka is an “important logistical hub for the Russians in this area” and that there would likely be substantial changes to the Ukrainians’ plan of battle if it were to also fall.

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Pro-Russian milbloggers agreed. Colonelcassad posted the following on his Telegram channel: “If ours are finally squeezed out of [Urozhaine], then the enemy will be able to establish stronger control over Staromaiorske and straighten the front, after which they will try to increase pressure in the area of Novodonetsk and Pryyutne, and also try to develop an offensive on Staromlynivka. The enemy still has resources for further attacks in this area, so this activity cannot be underestimated.”

According to ISW, “the Russian information space is seizing on Ukrainian gains in Urozhaine to highlight poor Russian morale and command challenges in the area.”

Russian milbloggers complained about the failure to deploy tank units, drunkenness and lack of morale among Russian troops, in-fighting among Russian units from different parts of the Russian Federation, and inappropriate changes of commanders.

As of its 6 p.m. report on August 13, the General Staff of the AFU remained tight-lipped about Urozhaine. In terms of the relevant section of the front, the report said: “The enemy made unsuccessful attempts to regain the lost position in the area west of Staromaiorske (Donetsk region). The adversary launched air strikes in the vicinities of Blahodatne and Staromaiorske.”

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Good work!

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