With Urozhaine officially liberated, Ukraine is accelerating its advances in this axis of the front. Within the next few weeks we’ll know which side has the greater reserves, with Ukraine either able to exploit this opening, or Russia stopping it cold.
First, let’s look at the big picture overview of this part of the front:
That leftmost direction, toward Melitopol, appears dead in the water for now. Ukraine has breached the first line of defenses north of Robotyne in the middle advance. And we now have real movement on the rightmost one, toward Mariupol where Ukraine officially liberated the town of Urozhaine this week. Now, the good guys are wasting no time consolidating their gains. This map is from Suriyak, a pro-Russian source that has proven consistently accurate:
Ukraine has methodically flattened the front line on every single one of its advances, and this one is no different. This is generally important to avoid any salients that could threaten the flanks of any advancing spearhead. And here, Ukraine is clearly interested in flattening that line all the way to Vuhledar, to the east. And to do this, Ukraine is attacking in the direction of Kermenchyk:
This makes a ton of sense. Once Ukraine reaches Kermenchyk, it cuts off Russian forces in both Novodonetske to its north, and Novomaiorske to its northeast. They either retreat now, or risk being killed or captured down the road. And as Suriyak’s map above shows, Ukraine is off to a good start on its way to Kermenchyk.
Meanwhile, there’s also action west of Urozhaine. Check out the topography of that area:
Red is high ground, with hills rising to the west of the Mokri Yali river valley overlooking the road down which Ukraine has been advancing. If Ukraine occupies that high ground, there’s no need to directly assault Zavitne Bazhannya to advance further south. And same thing with Staromlynivka further down. Occupy that high ground on both sides of that river valley, and you have fire control over those settlements. It would become untenable for Russia to maintain any presence.
Let’s take a look at Russia’s defenses in that advance:
The main Russian defensive line is still a ways down, but do not assume that there are no Russian defenses up in those hills. They might not be the complex lines Ukraine will see further south, but they will feature much of what we’ve seen already: Ukrainian infantry assaults on Russian trenches dug into tree lines between open fields. It might not be fast, efficient work. But it should methodically give Ukraine the high-ground coverage it needs for continued gains to the south.
And remember, that major line south of Staromlynivka is the only major defensive line in this approach, hence my favorite graphic right now, which you already saw up above:
Break through in this direction, and Ukraine can either push hard toward
Melitopol Mariupol, its armor freed from endless minefields, or loop around to the west and cut off all those Russian defensive lines from behind. Neither would be easy to execute or support logistically, but this is what Ukraine is working toward.
Everyone is so excited about this:
Guys, that’s not a good thing. There’s zero reason Ukraine should waste a single $120,000 GMLRS rocket on a shed and a dozen mobiks at a sad firing range. Those rockets are in incredibly short supply, and they’d be better used taking out enemy artillery, supply depots, or command and control centers. And if there aren’t enough of those targets to hit, then use that rocket on a 100-meter stretch of trenchline. Ukrainians are dying taking those trenches one by one. Give them a hand with one of those rockets and save a few of their lives.
Or, hoard those rockets for when Ukraine reaches Russia’s main defensive lines. These would do a number on those lines.
This? This is pathetic and if I was in the Pentagon, I’d wonder if Ukraine has already gotten enough GMLRS rockets to meet their needs.