September 26, 2023

At the same time as he commanded troops in a bitter week-long battle for one Russian place, Colonel Victor Sikoza obtained disturbing information: the Russians had been utilizing this time to construct one other fortification behind it.

“They’re nonetheless constructing defenses,” Colonel Sikosa mentioned. “They preserve doing it,” regardless of Ukraine transferring ahead, albeit slowly, in a high-stakes counteroffensive within the south of the nation.

The troops of Colonel Sikoza, commander of the thirty sixth Marine Brigade, had been on the forefront of Ukraine’s strike and superior about 5 miles in the direction of Russian positions in southern Ukraine.

Colonel Sikoza is only one commander, however his testimony matches Ukrainian studies of closely fortified Russian positions. Final week, Colonel Sikosa led an assault on a forest partly surrounded by swampy lowland. Russian troops dug in and mined the one floor round that was onerous sufficient to help armored autos. The assault, he mentioned, was to happen on foot.

In response to him, the infantry infiltrated into the forest and fought at shut vary. “We’re Marines – we’re aggressive,” he mentioned. In response to him, an organization of Russian troopers, about 80 folks, dug trenches within the bushes. Colonel Sikoza described how the decisive flip got here when his troops captured two bunkers and a line of trenches on the fringe of the woods, partially stopping the Russians from resupplying the group and forcing them to retreat.

His troopers are very thinking about capturing positions, and with them Russian prisoners: within the first month of the warfare, the thirty sixth Marine Brigade was surrounded within the metropolis of Mariupol and greater than 1,000 marines had been captured by the Russians. “We need to change them for our guys,” Colonel Sikoza mentioned of the Russian captives.

Colonel Sikosa’s southward march can also be a private odyssey. He fled the Crimean peninsula when Russia occupied it in 2014. If the counter-offensive proves profitable, Ukrainian artillery might endanger the isthmus of the peninsula, chopping off Russian provide traces.

But it surely was painfully gradual. President Volodymyr Zelensky has acknowledged that the counteroffensive just isn’t going as quick as some allies had hoped, and U.S. officers have mentioned Ukraine is shedding Western-provided armor in minefields.

“For greater than a 12 months, the enemy has been entrenched right here,” Colonel Sikoza mentioned in an interview at a picnic desk underneath the shade of a walnut tree within the courtyard of his command publish close to the entrance. Each minute or so there have been photographs of outgoing and incoming artillery.

Relating to Ukraine’s efforts to advance, he acknowledged: “They won’t go on the tempo that we anticipated.”

In response to Colonel Sikoza, in entrance of the Ukrainian salient at this level, the Russians accomplished the third line of protection. They put in extra concrete tank limitations, which the Ukrainians name dragon’s tooth. And so they moved extra troops.

There’s little he can do about it, he says. “Sadly, we wouldn’t have sufficient precision weapons to hit targets at lengthy vary” behind the Russian entrance line. In response to him, extra technique of safety will additional decelerate Ukraine.

Nonetheless, the troops of Colonel Sikoza achieved some success.

One soldier, who requested to be recognized solely by his rank and identify for safety causes, Lieutenant Yevgeny, mentioned he shot down a Russian assault helicopter with a Javelin anti-tank guided missile, a uncommon feat with a weapon designed primarily to hit a goal on the bottom. .

And though the brigade makes use of principally Soviet artillery techniques, in keeping with Ukrainian officers, it managed to hit a Russian barracks far behind the entrance line. A bunch of Russian troopers posted a video on social media complaining about poor dwelling situations and what they referred to as unreasonable orders from commanders.

Lieutenant Denis Ryabinko, commander of the Grad rocket artillery unit, was within the criticism not a lot because the attribute brick constructing within the background. In response to him, the Ukrainians had been in a position to determine him in a village behind Russian traces and fired rockets at him.

Yuri Shivala made a report.

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