ERR in Donetsk: Entrenched positions reason for lack of offensive progress

Ukrainian mortar operators in Donetsk.
Ukrainian mortar operators in Donetsk. Source: ERR

Reasons why the long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive may not be progressing as swiftly as anticipated was a question posed by ERR correspondent Anton Aleksejev, in a report filed earlier this week from Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region.

Aleksejev and ERR cameraman Kristijan Svirgsden have been delivering regular reportages from the front since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine began, over 16 months ago.

Since the invasion was preceded by nearly eight years' conflict in eastern Ukraine, positions are thoroughly entrenched, which is part of the reason why launching an offensive is challenging.

One Ukrainian soldier, "Umbar", told Aleksejev that: "Whereas earlier they had tried to attack more and to nullify our positions, now we know that they have dug in deep and they have set up defensive structures."

"This is one of the reasons why we cannot advance so quickly initially," he went on.

As to whether he felt that a counter-offensive had nonetheless begun, "Umbar" said: "In my opinion, this is currently underway, though not much is being said about it officially. It is not my role to talk about it; that is a matter for the General Staff and the relevant individuals. We do know that the process is ongoing. We also sense, on our front line, that we are slowly making progress."

"Umbar" was mobilized last September, as was a subordinate of his, "Vnuk" ("Grandson").

The latter told ERR that: "The Russians invaded my country. I myself am from Bucha, and I lived under occupation for a month. I see no reason why I should not have come here. I did not rush to go to war, I did not voluntarily turn to at to the military commissariat, but when I was called up there, I of course presented."

"Vnuk" added that he had been careful to avoid the occupiers in a district where a notorious massacre is widely reported to have taken place, early on in the invasion.

"Since I had previously served in the Ukrainian army, I had a uniform in my closet at home, but I am a young man of professional age, so I tried to keep a very low profile during the occupation – to avoid going out and encountering them. A couple of times I met them face to face, but generally I tried to avoid them," he went on.

"Vnuk" also exhibited a remarkable degree of benevolence towards the invaders, given the track record of atrocities in Bucha, near Kyiv, in the Donbas, and elsewhere.

"To be honest, not all of them were bandits," "Vnuk" said.

"At first, many of them really believed that they had come to protect and liberate us. They told ordinary people that from now on, everything will be alright. That said, of course, there are different characters," he went on.

Both "Vnuk" and "Umbar" are longing for the war's end.

"Umbar" said: "It's not like we would just head home after the victory. After the conclusion of active military operations, when the enemy has been pushed out from our lands, we then have to roll up our sleeves and start to rebuild the country, so that it flourishes as it had been doing before all this."

The original "Aktuaalne kaamera" slot, in Estonian, Ukrainian and Russian, is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'

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