Ukrainian soldier on Russia’s plans to capture Ocheretyne – interview

Ocheretyne, April 2024
Ocheretyne, April 2024

Ocheretyne is a Ukrainian village northwest of the town of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast. The Institute for the Study of War has recently confirmed that Russian troops marginally advanced in the village’s eastern part, while Bild Russian Service reported the enemy had allegedly broken through the Ukrainian lines in the area.

Oleksandr Solonko, a Ukrainian soldier serving with the Territorial Defense forces, explained in an interview with NV Radio on April 22 how dangerous the situation around Ocheretyne really is.

NV: Tell us a little more about Ocheretyne, why does it seem to be a focus for Russian troops in the region?

Solonko: After the Russians occupied Avdiivka, the situation there is such that it’s not very profitable to defend at all. Once beying the city limits, the defense has simply shifted to fields and small settlements, where it’s very difficult to find any advantageous positions to hold.

Ocheretyne is quite an advantageous point to be controlled by both sides. If you look at the map, there is [the village of] Netaylove further south, which is located along the road to [the town of] Pokrovsk, there is Ocheretyne, which is located along the railway and another road that leads to Myrnohrad.

Pokrovsk is also a key point in the area, which the Russians are attacking towards.

Ocheretyne is quite a large settlement for this area, and the key thing is that (besides the fact that it’s a key point on the route towards Myrnohrad and Pokrovsk) it’s at an elevation that sits 40-50 meters above Pokrovsk in some places. Both sides need to control it to better keep the surrounding area under fire.

If the Russians enter Ocheretyne, they will have the ability to better control access routes for rotation, logistics, troop movement, etc.

The surrounding area is also a kind of steppe landscape, which in some places resembles what we saw in Zaporizhzhya Oblast. All this is funneled, and it will be very difficult to repel it later.

NV: It’s funneled, which means in military terms that the enemy is headed for, let’s say, a narrow bottleneck, right?

Solonko: Yes, you have a limited number of routes by which you carry out the movement of troops, logistics, the delivery of materiel necessary for holding the line. These routes are limited.

Ocheretyne is located on one of the key routes in this area. This isn’t a secret, and both sides know it. They’re making great efforts to capture it because they understand its importance, especially to secure conditions for assaulting Pokrovsk.

Read also: Intense combat in Ocheretyne signals possible Russian breakthrough

NV: How difficult is the situation in Ocheretyne for our troops? Do you think our media does not pay enough attention to it, compared to, say, Chasiv Yar?

Solonko: This is a subjective story. It’s clear that, for obvious reasons, Chasiv Yar [near Bakhmut] is now a key point, given that it will greatly worsen the situation not for one town, but for the entire agglomeration (Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, Kostyantynivka, Druzhkivka). Perhaps because there’s even more at stake there, on the scale, that’s why it gets more attention. It’s obvious that more attention is also paid by the enemy. Such media coverage is often quite subjective.

As for how to assess the situation in Ocheretyne—of course, it should be done by people who have the authority to speak about it. I’m just describing what’s on the tactical level.

I can say that, as in any other area, there’s a huge problem with the enemy having a massive advantage in ammunition, artillery, and aviation. It’s very difficult to hold the line in such conditions, no matter how well it is fortified.

We worked here in the summer and autumn [2023] during the offensive operation in the Tokmak area, where the 47th [Separate Mechanized] Brigade worked. Now they’re engaged in defense in one of the sections in this area and they’re doing it very well. This isn’t the first time we’ve had the opportunity to watch their work. It’s being conducted there every day both by this brigade and other units.

I hope we’ll be able to defend this point, especially if the situation with ammunition begins to improve quickly enough, if deliveries begin to take place, perhaps we’ll be able to halt the enemy there. Because in the future, if we lose it, it will be even more difficult to defend surrounding positions, and it will lead to new problems.

Read also: Russian attack obliterates Doctors Without Borders office in Pokrovsk, injuring five – photos

NV: How significant is the 40-meter elevation advantage Ocheretyne provides?

Solonko: Generally speaking, controlling high ground means an increase in range and firepower, and you can control a much larger area with the firepower at your disposal. This affects both our positions, logistics, troop movements, etc. It also facilitates the work of UAVs, allowing operators to maintain control over their drones at greater distances.

All this time, we haven’t received any [military] aid from the United States for quite a while, and it’s obvious that they [Russians] are in a big hurry, sparing no losses in personnel and equipment. There’s a kind of demonstration that they really want to maintain the momentum after capturing Avdiivka.

Pokrovsk is their “grand prize” they’ve set for themselves in this area. I still think it’s too early to talk about us losing it, especially if the situation with ammunition soon improves, as well as with the replenishment of the brigades’ personnel who will be able to hold the line here. Then I think that we’ll no longer, at least for some time, talk about a threat to Pokrovsk itself.

But so far there’s a very obvious attempt [by the Russians] to maintain the pace and still advance in that direction, improving their ability to capture the town.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine