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Frontline report: Russia push towards Ukraine’s east near Petropavka to begin Kupiansk offensive

A Russian mechanized assault on the settlement of Synkivka went wrong last week, resulting in the loss of 5 armored vehicles and 40 soldiers, according to Reporting from Ukraine video.
Screenshot from a Reporting from Ukraine video.
Frontline report: Russia push towards Ukraine’s east near Petropavka to begin Kupiansk offensive

Day 673.

On 28 December, there are a lot of updates from the Kupiansk direction.

Here, Russian forces continue trying to penetrate Ukrainian defenses to Petropavka to collapse the eastern flank and officially start the battle for Kupianks. The toughest clashes, therefore, are taking place around Synkivka.

On 28 December, Russian forces launched a powerful attack on the northern part of Synkivka. As you remember, last time, I told you that Ukrainians conducted a successful counterattack and eliminated the Russian foothold in the northern part of the settlement. Hence, the Russians needed to start all over again.

Before conducting a mechanized assault, Russian forces launched an extensive artillery preparation with multiple-launch rocket systems. By the end, Russians also started deploying smokescreens in front of select Ukrainian positions to obstruct the view and prevent crossfire. This is when Ukrainian reconnaissance drone operators understood that it was time to go and search for the Russian assault units. Russian forces use pretty much the same road every time, so there is a lot of destroyed equipment along the way.

Finally, the movement was detected near Lyman Pershyi, which the Russian military used as a jump pad to assault Synkivka.

In the meantime, Ukrainian artillery crews started gradually preparing to face Russian forces by shelling the expected line of advancement and correcting the fire. This ensures that by the time the Russians reach the fire pocket, the Ukrainian artillery systems have already corrected their aim and pointed their guns precisely on the road. And you will soon see this approach paid off.

The assault unit consisted of two tanks, three armored fighting vehicles, and around 50 troops. The first tank in line had mine-clearing equipment to ensure the assault unit settled. That is why it became the target of the highest priority. As the Russian assault unit got close, Ukrainian assault drone operators attempted to hit the tank. Even though the first drone reached the target, the tank did not sustain any critical damage and continued to move forward. The mine-clearing tank was neutralized by a mine. The tank was not destroyed, but it was successfully immobilized before the Russians managed to reach Ukrainian positions.

The rest of the vehicles got closer, and it seemed like they did not know what to do because they just moved back and forth for some time until the Ukrainian ATGM crew on purpose hit the last vehicle in the column. So, the destroyed tank at the front blocked the way forward, while the destroyed armored fighting vehicle in the back blocked the way back, effectively trapping the remnants of the assault unit.

The infantry realized that the vehicles became an easy target an ran towards the trenches in the tree lines to hide from artillery fire. Shortly, the second armored fighting vehicle was damaged by a Ukrainian artillery shell. The tank crew understood they were next and decided to take a risk and move around the destroyed vehicle through the minefield. Russian military immediately exploded on a mine. The damaged armored fighting vehicle by the artillery was somehow still moving, tried to move around as well, and faced the same consequences.

Finally, the unexplainable happens. The fifth armored fighting vehicle that we saw at the beginning emerged from the forest. The reason why they got so delayed or lost in the forest is unknown, as initially, they were all moving together. But what is even crazier is that the driver of the armored fighting vehicle decided to proceed with the assault alone, moved around the damaged mine-clearing tank, and, unsurprisingly, immediately exploded on a mine.

The infantry that was sitting on top of the vehicle promptly ran towards the trenches to hide from artillery fire. Ukrainians deployed grenade-dropping drones to finish the personnel that survived. The graphic footage released by the Ukrainian fighters from the 14th brigade showed trenches full of corpses. Overall, the Russian assault went terribly wrong.

Due to the density of mines, deploying only one tank with mine-clearing equipment was a mistake. The smokescreens also proved to be ineffective as Ukrainians managed to destroy the last vehicle in the column and trap the whole assault unit in the middle of the minefield.

In total, Russian forces lost five tanks and armored fighting vehicles, and 40 soldiers were killed and wounded.

In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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