Ukrainian forces holding the line in the port city of Mariupol are significantly slowing down the offensive of invading Russian forces in the Donbas, and the enemy’s attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces there, military expert Serhiy Grabsky has told Radio NV. The following are excerpts from the transcript of his interview with NV.
- How quickly can the invaders accumulate the necessary forces to storm (the Donbas) effectively? Because so far we only know about the huge amount of shelling. The head of Luhansk Regional Military Administration reported that all cities in Luhansk Oblast had been shelled, but this was done from a distance, i.e. by long-range artillery or by air strikes. As for a land offensive, how long will the Russians have or need to man up to carry out this offensive?
- It depends on what tasks they set for themselves and what they can gather. … Today, they already have enough strength to carry out an offensive. That column that was spotted near the village of Velykyi Burluk shows that the invaders aren’t abandoning their attempts (to attack).
But it should be noted that there are other concepts such as a deterrent. And the actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are deterrent factors, which make it impossible for the occupier to concentrate so easily and maneuver toward the town of Izyum with a subsequent offensive.
In addition, we must understand that the occupying forces suffered serious defeats both in the Kyiv and Chernihiv areas, as well as in Sumy. Due to this, despite their desire to attack Luhansk Oblast today, they need more time to concentrate, accumulate material resources and weapons to launch such an offensive.
But we must remain alert and we must be prepared to defeat the enemy in any way. As for the strikes they inflict, this is a typical scheme, as they say, a textbook scheme of preparation for the offensive. And this is due to the fact that they strike at the depths of our defenses to destroy communications, and they are attempting to sow panic (among civilians). We remember Kramatorsk and other cities. This is a typical war situation, I’m sorry to say it, that but that's the way it is today.
- Now about Mariupol. Over the past few days we have been talking about the situation there as terrible. The reports such as "we were left here" are already spreading from there, or not from there. How would you describe the situation?
- Indeed, the situation in Mariupol is extremely difficult. The city is surrounded by the enemy. By the way, the city is holding up as many as 10,000 enemy troops, which is another factor delaying the Russian offensive in Donetsk Oblast.
The units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Azov Regiment, a group of border guards, and the National Police are continuing their heroic struggle in Mariupol. Yes, the enemy managed to get to the city center. Instead, Azovstal (the iron and steel works) is holding on. Some districts are still holding on. And desperate attempts are being made to deliver resources to our fighters. We already know that there were attempts to break through by helicopters. Unfortunately, we have lost several helicopters. But our guys get help even in such a critical way. Therefore, we are all closely monitoring Mariupol, because the success or non-success of the Russian offensive in the Donbas depends on it.
- And as for the southern front. As far as I read, the situation around the city of Kherson is more or less stable as the Ukrainian defenders are trying to counterattack and oust an enemy from some small settlements. But, in fact, nothing is moving anywhere. Is that the right way to describe the situation?
- We can say so, because due to the fact that there is open steppe in Kherson Oblast, our troops have no advantage in the air, we are squeezing the enemy out of settlements with fire. We have already attacked near the village of Oleksandrivka, destroying a whole enemy squadron there.
We're holding areas, keeping the enemy within Kherson Oblast. Fighting is underway for the town of Snihurivka. This is an important point both for our defense and counterattack.
Last week the enemy was squeezed out of several settlements in the north of Kherson Oblast, i.e. the situation is also tense there. And we should understand that today Kherson Oblast is also one of the factors preventing the enemy's offensive. After all, if we advance to Kherson and control the routes to Armyansk and Perekop, it will be very difficult for the enemy to secure the group they plan to use for the offensive from south to north aiming to surround our troops in the Donbas again. That is, you see that all eastern Ukraine, southern Ukraine are in fact fighting according to a single strategic plan, namely to maintain the position in the Donbas, (and) to go on the counterattack.