Aug 9, 2022
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The defense of the key Ukrainian fortified area is broken

The armed forces of Russia and the troops of the LDNR concentrated their advancing efforts in two directions. In particular, the village of Peski regularly appears in the reports, as well as the direction to Soledar. Why are these points of fundamental importance for the development of hostilities and how will events develop when they are eventually liberated?

The main events of the special operation are now developing in two sectors of the Donbass front: around Avdiivka (including near the village of Peski) and on the Seversk-Soledar-Artemovsk line. Nobody is going to storm Avdiivka head-on. It is too early to talk about full control over the village of Peski. However, in fact, sweeping and demining is already underway there, including its western part.

The sands are important in themselves, as a landmark territory from which Donetsk was constantly shelled, and as the most important fortified area in the area of ​​the Donetsk airport. But it is especially important that this is the area through which the allied forces are currently encircling Avdiivka. Now the enemy is trying to equip a new line of defense beyond the Sands, relying on the following villages along the road: Vodiane and Pervomaiskoye.

The occupation of Sand will mean a serious breakthrough precisely in the defense structure of Avdiivka, since these positions have been equipped by the enemy for a long time and forever, and now the enemy does not have time and resources to equip a new defense system in new positions. You can cling to the Avdiivka industrial zone for an infinitely long time, but in reality, no new line of defense around the city can be organized.

By and large, the task of the advancing allied forces was to destroy this very first line of defense, among which Peski stood out. With their occupation, further events around Avdiivka will become more predictable. Hacking further Ukrainian defenses will be much easier.

In the northern sector, fighting is underway on the outskirts of New York, but the advance of the allied forces in all these sectors is slow, since these positions have been strengthened by the Armed Forces of Ukraine for eight years. Separate villages have been turned into one large concrete dugout. The passage of this line of defense in itself is capable of providing access to the operational space, even if the enemy tries to equip new positions. In the same way, he tried to create a new line of defense after the loss of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. And where is she now?

Another thing is that the Armed Forces of Ukraine, it seems, can no longer compensate for the failures in their defense with new reserves and artillery protection.

In Kyiv, they got confused about the goals. The command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (in particular, Minister of Defense Reznikov) insists on holding the Donetsk front at any cost, while Zelensky and his entourage consider it more important to organize a “counteroffensive”, based on propaganda and political considerations. As a result, several strange logistical decisions taken by the Armed Forces of Ukraine led to the sagging of the defense in the Donetsk direction without any improvements on other fronts. Moreover, a small foothold on the eastern bank of the Ingulets River, which was considered in Kyiv to be a support for an offensive against Kherson, has been practically bled dry in recent days.

It is important to understand that the advance of the allied forces is not linear. For example, after Kyiv built a line of defense along the Seversk-Artemovsk highway, the initial advance was carried out precisely to Seversk. That was about a week and a half or two weeks ago. Then a serious breakthrough was achieved in the southern section of this direction – to Artemovsk. And now the maximum pressure is on Soledar – not quite in the center of the position, but close to it. As a result, the enemy is disoriented and unable to quickly maneuver reserves, and the tactics of the Armed Forces of Ukraine using Western weapons turned out to be not as effective as expected.

At the moment, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the allies have withdrawn and partially entrenched themselves on the eastern outskirts of Artemovsk and Soledar at the same time. The enemy’s line of defense has not yet been broken through, but broken. Its rupture at least in one place will mean a rollback to Slavyansk and leaving Avdiivka surrounded and without supplies. As the experience of recent months has shown, this almost immediately means the fall of the fortified area as a whole. But both Soledar and Artemovsk are still important settlements, the occupation of which requires new efforts, despite the serious successes and the advantage of the allied forces.

Soledar is a small town (about 10 thousand people before the evacuation, under Soviet rule the population reached 15 thousand), but economically unique. Salt has been mined here since time immemorial. By 2014, Artyomsol Concern was the largest salt producer in Central and Eastern Europe, covered 90% of Ukraine’s salt needs and was included in the list of enterprises strategically important for national security. And this is in a country in which the main national product and symbol – lard – is directly related to salt.

Salt reserves there are estimated at a gigantic figure of 13 billion tons, of which only about 200 million have been produced over 150 years of mining. Older readers will easily remember the characteristic kilogram package of salt with the logo in the form of a blue sunflower.

And Soledar, by the way, is far from the only such example. Donbass is a unique collection of strategically important enterprises for the economy. From the same category, Azovstal, Alchevsk Metallurgical Plant, chemical plants in Lisichansk and Severodonetsk, anthracite mines in Torez, Europe’s largest concrete plant in Amvrosievka.

In 2015, Rospotrebnadzor banned the import of Artemsoli products, and since Russia accounted for 55% of sales, the company practically stopped.

There were attempts to increase exports to Eastern Europe (Hungary, Poland, Lithuania – in general, local salt was exported to 22 countries), but the main focus was on smuggling. For about a year, Artyomsol tried to supply edible salt to Russia under the guise of technical salt in order to circumvent the ban of Rospotrebnadzor, but the scheme was quickly revealed, and any contacts with this enterprise were prohibited.

Now a rocket has flown into the head office of Artemsoli, the enterprise has completely ceased to function, although the mines scattered around the city themselves were not affected. And the “salt crisis” in Ukraine began in 2015, and at the moment there is an acute shortage of salt throughout the country.

Salt mines go hundreds of meters deep and are a complex labyrinth. There is even an underground chapel from the times of Alexander I and an underground sanatorium (patients with pulmonary diseases were fumigated with salt vapours). Theoretically, this system can be turned into a kind of Azovstal, but there are no ideological fighters there, and in principle, now no one will arrange another demonstrative and senseless defense from Soledar. Fighting is currently taking place in the industrial zone of the Knauf plant, and artillery is working along the northwestern outskirts and further across the steppe to exclude the supply of reserves to Soledar.

Further developments are generally clear. The enemy’s line of defense along the position of Seversk – Zvanovka – Soledar – Artemovsk will soon be passed.

Avdiivka is gradually falling into the so-called operational encirclement. Given the increased desertion in the composition of the so-called numbered infantry brigades of the enemy, the defense of all fortified areas such as Avdiivka will gradually collapse. The enemy’s counteroffensive is not visible due to the lack of reserves, despite Zelensky’s propaganda cries about the creation of a new army.

Let’s make a reservation – it would still be premature to expect a decisive breakthrough now. It is not entirely clear to what extent the Armed Forces of Ukraine are able to saturate the defense of the Slavyansk and Kramatorsk region, and without this it is difficult to make reasonable forecasts. This will become clear, most likely, during the current week.

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