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Russia admits retreat as Ukraine takes village of Urozhaine and makes gains in Kherson

Russian forces have surrendered the village of Urozhaine as Ukraine continues to advance on the critical southern front, Russian military correspondents confirmed.

“Our forces are withdrawing from Urozhaine,” reported military blogger Romanov on Monday morning. “Marines from the Pacific Fleet are covering the withdrawal… casualties are reported to be minimal.”

“Our guys withdrew overnight from the southern outskirts,” reported Ukraine-born Russian correspondent Yuri Podolyaka. “Himars are working powerfully [causing] major damage along the trench line.

“The enemy occupied Urozhaine from the north the day before, today they will mop up.”

Alexander Khokakovsky, head of Russia’s Vostok Battalion that was charged with holding the village, acknowledged “we have suffered losses” but promised to make this “small victory for the enemy a pyrrhic victory”.

Open source assessment of southeastern frontline on Monday morning after Russian withdrawal from Urozhaine (Photo: Deepstatemap)

The commander lamented a lack of “promised reinforcements” and praised his fighters. “Not a single house was surrendered without a fight,” he said.

Intense fighting continues to the south of the village with drones, tanks, and artillery, reported the Telegram channel of the Vostok Battalion, as Ukrainian troops press south in a bid to sever the so-called land bridge of occupied territory running from Russia to Crimea.

Open source (Osint) investigators tracking battlefield developments via satellites and geolocation assessed that Ukrainian forces have moved into Urozhaine, having taken the neighbouring village of Staromaiorske last month.

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar reported “some success” in Urozhaine on Monday morning without sharing specific details.

Ukrainian correspondents reported that Ukrainian forces had entered the village and shared footage of what appeared to be retreating Russian troops coming under fire from cluster munitions. Others warned to await official confirmation and the raising of the Ukrainian flag over the village.

The capture of Urozhaine offers a much-needed morale boost for Ukrainian forces who have struggled to penetrate entrenched Russian defences since launching a counteroffensive at the start of June. Western officials have warned that chances of a significant breakthrough are low in the near future.

Progress on the southern front brings Ukraine closer to the first of Russia’s main lines of defence, consisting of dense minefields, trench networks, and anti-tank fortifications, under the cover of drones, artillery, and fighter jets.

Ukraine is aiming to wear down Russian defences before attempting a major breakthrough, says Mykola Bielieskov of the National Institute for Strategic Studies think tank, which advises Ukraine’s military leadership.

Capturing villages “is only one element of the plan”, he told i. Ukrainian forces also intend “to pin down and exhaust Russian ground formations with parallel destruction of Russian artillery, electronic warfare capabilities, and air defences”.

“The thing everyone expects – a major sweep of manoeuvre formations – is something we are still laying the conditions for,” Mr Bielieskov said, adding that when it happens “it won’t be confused with anything else.”

Russian minefields have presented a deadly challenge for Kyiv’s forces, with defence minister Oleksii Reznikov claiming there are up to five mines per square metre along the southern front.

The task has been complicated by engineers coming under fire as they attempt to clear a path through the minefields, a problem to which Ukrainian forces are adapting.

“If we can credibly suppress Russian artillery then there is no problem of demining Russian positions,” said Mr Bielieskov. “We are trying to undermine Russian systems of defence from the opposite side – destroying artillery for safe demining instead of demining first to move on.”

But this is a time-consuming process, he acknowledges, and the window of opportunity is closing with around two months until the return of more challenging winter conditions.

The line of advance through Urozhaine, in the direction of Mariupol on the southern coast, is one of several lines of attack.

Fierce fighting is also ongoing around Robotnye to the West, where Ukraine hope to press south to Melitopol.

Ukrainian forces have also gained a foothold on the east bank of the Dnipro river around Kherson, Russian military correspondents acknowledged, having captured Kherson city in November.

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