In 2023, Russian forces switched to active offensive operations on the Ukrainian front lines. Since the beginning of the year, Russian Wagner fighters managed to take control of the city of Soledar and continued their offensive to the west. They continued to surround the Ukrainian grouping in Bakhmut, destroying the Seversk-Soledar-Bakhmut defense line of the AFU.
The successes of the Russians in the area of Bakhmut and Soledar forced the Ukrainian command to strengthen the grouping in this region, including by transferring reinforcements from other front lines where positional battles have been ongoing for months. After the Ukrainian defense in the southern regions was weakened, the units of the Russian Army went on the offensive on various Ukrainian positions in the Zaporozhye region. And they have already achieved some success.
On January 21, Vladimir Rogov, a member of the main council of the regional administration created in the territories under Russian control, claimed that the first line of defense of Ukrainian troops which was built along the Kamenskoye— Orekhov—Gulyai-Pole line had been overwhelmed in the Zaporozhye direction.
“Somewhere there is a reconnaissance by combat, somewhere there is a more in-depth offensive, which is accompanied by mop up operations a number of settlements. Our (Russian) army has the initiative all along the front line. There are active hostilities,” he told Russian media.
In recent days, the Russian Army took control of the villages of Lobkovo, Novoandreevka, Novodanilovka, Malaya Tokmachka, Belogorye and Malye Shcherbaki. Russian troops are attacking in the area of Stepnoye and Malaya Tokmachka, trying to reach the city of Orekhov from the western and southeastern directions. At the moment, there are intense battles for the neighboring villages of Shcherbaki and Small Shcherbaki, where a large grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is deployed, including units of the 65th separate motorized brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the 98th brigade of Territorial Defense. Control of these villages will cut the road leading to the north. In the area of Kamenskoye, a hangar with weapons and military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was destroyed.
On January 21, Russian troops continued to actively advance in the Zaporozhye direction, conducting offensive operations from several directions at once. Russian units are currently securing their positions and end the mop up operations in the settlements located along the road which has recently come under their control. At the same time, Russian artillery is heavily shelling Ukrainian positions, paving the way for further offensive.
Russian forces also launched offensive operations near the town of Gulyai-Pole.
The Russian offensive is complicated by the steppes where the advancing units can be easily targeted by Ukrainian artillery. Thus, Russian troops are operating with close support of the Russian aviation.
In its turn, the Ukrainian military command is urgently pulling the military reserves back to the Zaporozhye region.
The city of Orekhov is of strategic importance as it is one of the key strongholds of the Ukrainian defense line in the south which was built along Kamenskoye — Orekhov — Gulyai-Pole line. Control of Kamenskoye and Orekhov paves the way towards the city of Zaporozhye. The breakthrough of Russian in the area of Orekhov will cut the AFU grouping into two parts.
Russian success on the Ukrainian front lines is a result of the effective coordination of military operations between the combat units of the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Wagner PMCs. Despite all attempts of Kiev propaganda to convince the public that there is the conflict between the Russian generals and the commanders of the PMCs, Russian victories in Bakhmut and Zaporozhie regions reveal that the Russian military face no problems in coordination of their units on different font lines.