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Frontline report: Ukraine conducts intense storming operation in Serebryanskyi forest

A Ukrainian assault brigade conducted an intense but successful storming operation in the Serebryansky forest, aimed at capturing a Russian stronghold designated ‘Dragonfly’.
A Ukrainian soldier from the assault brigade. Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video.
A Ukrainian soldier from the assault brigade. Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video.
Frontline report: Ukraine conducts intense storming operation in Serebryanskyi forest

Today, there are a lot of new developments in the Lyman direction. The biggest news comes from the Serebryansky forest area, where a Ukrainian assault brigade released intense first-person combat footage of their recent storming operation of a large and important Russian stronghold.  

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

The Serebryansky Forest is the underbelly of the large battle up north, where Russians are attempting to eliminate the Ukrainian bridgehead on the Zherebets River and advance up to Lyman. Control over a large part of the forest allows Ukrainians to conduct flanking attacks and launch drone strikes on any Russian attack toward the river. Therefore, Ukrainian positions in the forest have heavily contributed to the successful Ukrainian defense on the eastern bank of the river.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

To eliminate this threat, Russians often conduct large infantry assaults with extensive artillery support on Ukrainian positions in the forest. Ukrainians, in turn, maintain an active defense in the forest, performing frequent raids during the day and at night to prevent Russians from freely accumulating forces for further attacks and undermining their areas of control.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

To maintain their area of control in the forest, Russians have created numerous strongholds in the form of extensive trench networks surrounded by smaller trenches, foxholes, or dugouts. The thick tree belts don’t allow for large-scale mechanized maneuvers, causing the frontline here to be much more static.

However, Ukrainian commanders concluded that they needed to shift the frontline to a more favorable position to hold the defense line in the forest more efficiently. They identified a specific Russian stronghold in the center of the forest, designated ‘Dragonfly,’ which, if captured, would significantly boost Ukrainian defensive potential. To accomplish this mission, they charged the Ukrainian 12th Special Purpose Assault Brigade to capture this position.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

The 12th brigade accepted their task and started by identifying and fully mapping out the Russian trench network, as they formed a platoon-sized assault group of around 36 soldiers to storm the stronghold itself. Morale under the Ukrainian soldiers was high, as they noted that all soldiers in the battalion wanted to storm, and people quickly volunteered.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

During the night, the soldiers moved into position while Ukrainian mortar teams set up and zeroed in on their expected targets. The assault began in the early morning with an artillery barrage as the infantry prepared to move out with a tank as armored support. Ukrainian sappers had also cleared the way for the tank to ensure it did not drive over any Russian antitank mines.

The tank moved up, firing directly onto the smaller Russian positions surrounding the stronghold to open a direct path into the stronghold for the assault group. The tank continued to advance with the infantry, and over the radio, Russians were heard frantically calling to retreat and requesting artillery support. A Ukrainian soldier stated that they had surprised the Russians with this assault and that their artillery was likely still sleeping or otherwise unready to provide fire support for the Russian defenders.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

At that point, the Ukrainian tank was hit by a Russian anti-tank weapon, putting it out of action and leaving the Ukrainians without armored support. Ukrainian soldiers note that this operation was well-planned and all scenarios considered, so they were able to maintain cohesion and continue their assault. The tank crew survived, and as they pulled back to safety, the Ukrainian soldiers all immediately opened fire to maintain fire superiority and keep the Russians in the trenches suppressed. Ukrainians continued their attack, moving into the trench network from all sides while throwing grenades.

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

During the assault, the extensive planning of Ukrainians became more evident, as all trenches were mapped and designated beforehand, which led to efficient and direct communication with their commander. The commander coordinated the entire operation through a live drone feed and called out the precise trenches the Russians were in and where Russian reinforcements were coming from.  

After fierce Russian resistance and close-quarters fighting in the trenches, Ukrainian soldiers communicated that they had fully secured the position and were setting up a defense. However, the battle was not yet over, as the Ukrainians’ commander communicated that they had spotted a Russian counterattack moving in on their flanks, which Ukrainians swiftly repulsed.  

Screenshot from Reporting from Ukraine video

In the post-assault interview, the platoon commander who led the assault stated that after the Russians realized that they had lost the stronghold, they immediately started shelling it intensely with artillery. He notes that Russians continue to maintain a significant advantage in artillery ammunition and can shell Ukrainians extensively but that in direct engagements, Ukrainians have the upper hand. He attributes this to the fact that all his soldiers train extensively in and out of combat, and they plan their operations for the worst-case scenario. He even notes that the commanding officer on the ground has the trust and authority of his superiors to call off a mission and withdraw if the situation takes a turn for the worst.  

Overall, the mission to capture the Russian stronghold was a success. Tactically, Ukrainians surprised the enemy early in the morning, maximizing their firepower and continuing to maintain fire superiority once their tank support was knocked out. In the strategic sense, Ukrainians were able to fight off the Russian counterattacks and expand their own zone of control, providing some much-needed relief for Ukrainian positions on the outermost flanks of the forest.

In our regular 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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