Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 18.05.2018
Ukraine has liberated the village of Pivdenne and the hamlet of Chyhyri from Russian invaders. Ukrainian citizens who languished in No-Man’s-Land under the guns of Putin’s army now live under the protection of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. With this action, the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine shows it means business. Underway for only half a month, the JFO has shown that it will indeed carry out its mission to free Ukraine, its land and its people, of invasion and occupation by Russia.
Pivdenne and Chyhyri are immediately to the north-west of the city of Horlivka, which is under Russian administrative control as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014. They lie directly on the battlefront – the current farthest line of advance of the Russian armed forces into Ukraine. The inhabitants of Pivdenne and Chyhyri were in a precarious position, trapped with no safe way to pass to free Ukraine or to Russian-occupied Ukraine.
On May 8, the JFO began an operation to secure Pivdenne and Chyhyri from the threat by Russian armed forces. The JFO describes the engagement with the enemy as “an improvement in the tactical position of the defence of our troops in the Horlivka direction.” It was carried out by troops of the 24th Mechanized Brigade named for King Danylo of Halych. According to a statement from the JFO press service, the hope is that gaining ground in this sector of the battlefront will “provide security to the inhabitants of the settlement of Pivdenne (Chyhyri) and disrupt the enemy's insidious intentions.”
The threat from Russian terrorists to Ukrainian citizens in the village of Pivdenne and the hamlet of Chyhyri became intolerable starting in early April. Motorized rifle platoons of an illegal formation that is loyal to the Russian Federation arrived in Pivdenne twice a week to interrogate the loyalty of the villagers. Pivdenne is in the ‘grey zone’ and was wholly controlled neither by Ukrainian defenders nor by Russian invaders.
Reports from Ukrainian army reconnaissance units led to a plan for securing Pivdenne and Chyhyri. The uncontrolled village of Pivdenne was taken under complete control by the Ukrainian army, with no losses to Ukraine and two casualties to Russian forces: one killed in action and one wounded in action.
Beginning on May 8, Russian forces counter-attacked. Entrenched and fortified Ukrainian troops suffered only one casualty in the period of Russian shelling from May 8 to May 17: one soldier was slightly wounded. The JFO reports that over the past ten days “the enemy is carrying out constant attempts of local assault to displace our units from the specified settlement [Pivdenne].” In response, the 24th Mechanized Brigade inflicted significant losses on the Russians, with at least 15 of the enemy killed and wounded.
On May 12 Russia’s terrorist group, the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic,” released a video of one of its illegal armed formations climbing a slag heap of the Haharina coal mine that is to the north of Chyhyri and to the east of Pivdenne. The video showed that Chyhyri had been taken under the protection of the Ukrainian army, and that Russian armed formations were taking no action to contest Ukraine’s control.
Ukrainian liberators now control two heights of ground that had been used by the Russians to harass Ukrainian citizens: a slag heap of “Mine 41” to the north of Chyhyri and a slag heap of the “Shevelivka” mine that lies to the south-west of Chyhyri.
Ukraine has advanced to the city limits of occupied Horlivka. In this sector of the battlefront, Putin’s army has been pushed back by one and a half kilometres. The Russian invaders have not made a serious counter-attack and have ceded ground. The Joint Forces Operation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine now describes its activities in this sector of the battlefront as “consolidation.” Pivdenne and Chyhyri have been liberated.