Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine & Europe’s Trench Warfare

Most of us will have looked upon black and white images and watched grainy film footage from WWI. Seen the endless trenches, the glutinous mud and a once peaceful landscape turned into a crater filled morass. Well just over a hundred years on, and warfare hasn’t changed that much. Yes we now have killer drones hovering like eagles over their prey and all manor of electric warfare systems which can track the movement of people, pinpoint artillery and disrupt radio signals. But, no mater the amount of technology, you still need military boots on the ground, because you can’t hold ground without them.

With Russia’s advance into eastern Ukraine having stalled in 2015, the roughly 500km front line has been all but static ever since. Both sides are dug along it, with rivers, ridges, rail lines and fields separating them. In some parts, only a few hundred metres divide the two antagonists. Wanting to give you a flavour of the trench warfare in eastern Ukraine, we visit the Azov Sea south coast. Here like an energetic mole whose drunk several cans of Red Bull, Ukrainian troops have dug to almost within touching distance of Russia’s forces positions. Because of this remarkable feat, one can’t but pay fulsome tribute to the bravery of Ukrainian soldiers who keep digging ever eastward towards Russia and Russia’s forces in Ukraine.

A Ukrainian soldier makes his way along a mud filled trench. Header pic also shows Ukrainian soldiers.

Rather than lots of text, I’ll let the images do most of the talking.
Location spotlight is on the occupied village of Kominternove, sometimes referred to as Pikuzy.
Ukrainian Forces – UF. Russia’s Forces – RF.

Kominternove is just 10km outside the Ukraine held city of Mariupol. Ukraine holds the village of Vodyane. This is a very active part of the front line, with heavy levels of firing before the July 27th ceasefire and sporadic fire during it.
Ukrainian forces (UF) hold the yellow line and Russia’s forces (RF) the red. Yellow square marks a disused Soviet airfield.
Across a 700 metre field, in June 2018 UF held the yellow line and RF the red. This June 2019 satellite images show UF then dug a 600 metre trench (white line) towards Kominternove. Unable to stop its relentless advance and fearing UF could use the trench to capture their front line, RF began digging a blocking trench (blue line).
Looking from the other side of the road. A close-up of the Ukrainian trench (white line) and RF blocking trench (blue line). Remarkably, this June 16th, 2019 Google Earth image shows Ukrainian troops had dug to within 130 metres of the RF front line. This is extremely dangerous work, as grenade launchers and other weapons can be used to drop shells into the trench and an infantry attack could overwhelm the small number of Ukrainian soldiers in the trench.
From June 2019 this OSCE night UAV image shows the RF blocking trench (blue arrow) worming its way towards the main road. With Kominternove seen behind, red arrows mark RF trenches and main positions. Image taken from this OSCE video.
Background: By June 2018, UF had dug a connecting trench some 0.5Km to their main front line position along the tree line (long white line). Next, they started digging (small white line) towards the abandoned airfield seen on the right.
Looking towards the RF positions and village of Kominternove. I’ve marked the disused and overgrown airfield runway in red. The advancing Ukrainian trench is just out of shot on the right.
Blurry image taken from a Nov 2019 video. Can’t see the Ukrainian trench as it’s just out of shot along the tree line (white line).
Taken by a Ukrainian drone in 2016 over Kominternove, this image gives us a clearer view of the location. Red lines mark main RF position along the tree line and their connecting trench from Kominternove. Blue line marks the future location of the RF blocking trench dug in 2019. The white line (top left) roughly marks the location of the Ukrainian trench by June 2019.
Another 2016 image of Kominternove. Top left we can see the the connecting trench leading to the main RF position in the tree line (Red arrow). Down on the main high street, a meandering trench slices its way across the field (Black arrow).

Hope that has given you a feel for Europe’s trench warfare.

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