On January 17, the leader of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, reported the significant victories of the Russian army in the fighting for the city of Maryinka and the termination of the supply route between Seversk and Artemovsk used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the wake of the complete liberation of Soledar.
“There are certain successes, and quite significant ones, in the village of Marinka. All skyscrapers have already been cleared and are controlled by our units. Here we see the work of our military personnel day and night, meter by meter; they are clearing the territory and liberating the village,” he said on the air of the TV channel “Russia 24”.
The same day, Russia Today reported that the Russian Armed Forces had seized control of a crucial transportation junction, highway 0-0530. Over the previous two months, the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which controlled this bifurcation, had halted the advance of the Russian army into the city’s northwest neighbourhoods. The Ukrainian army can no longer supply the city garrison with ammunition and new personnel, according to the report.
A day later, on January 18, Denis Pushilin. said the shelling of Donetsk would cease after the liberation of Marinka and Avdiivka, where Ukrainian forces are still trying to hold on.
“For Donetsk, first of all, this will mean a sharp and very important decrease in even the ability to shell the city,” Pushilin said on Channel One, answering a question about the significance of the liberation of Maryinka and Avdiivka.
According to him, after these settlements have been freed, the enemy will “physically be unable to reach” Donetsk. “At least from the weapons that it is now massively using to shell our settlements,” the republic’s acting head added.
Marinka neighbourhood is located just one kilometre from the Petrovsky neighbourhood of the DPR’s capital city, Donetsk. It is one of the locations from which Donetsk is frequently shelled with artillery because it is home to significant Ukrainian fortifications stationed there. From Donetsk to Avdiivka, it is 21 kilometres.
Why are Avdiivka and Maryinka so important?
After the capture of Soledar, the initiative clearly shifted to the Russian Armed Forces, allowing them to continue executing the primary objectives of the special military operation.
Maryinka is included in the defensive arc of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, along with Soledar, Artemovsk, Seversk, and other places.
This is a highly fortified Ukrainian defence region. It is extremely well-equipped in terms of engineering, with reinforced concrete trench walls, tunnels, and other features. In addition, there are salt mines in Soledar and Artemovsk that can be used to store ammunition, fuel and lubricants, military equipment, tanks, hospital supplies, and so on. And if the Russian Armed Forces can penetrate this arc, it will be easier to take over the Slavic-Kramatorsk agglomeration. Also not simple, but easier. Ukrainian defence is likewise adequately equipped there, although not as powerful as on the arc.
In May 2022, the Russians stated that Ukraine’s military forces had established a cohesive fortified zone with a territory greater than 170 square kilometres in the Kramatorsk-Sloviansk agglomeration, where they had stocked up on essential supplies. According to the Russians, in heavily populated places, just like Mariupol in the past, the Ukrainians have deployed heavy weapons and equipment and established firing positions in residential buildings.
The Russian and Ukrainian forces have fought pitched battles in the region.
On August 13, 2022, Ukrainian President Zelensky said the situation in the Donetsk region remains difficult, and the hottest spots there remain unchanged: Avdiivka, Maryinka, Peski, and Bakhmut. “Fierce battles continue in the Donbas. The hottest points of the front in this direction remain unchanged: Avdiivka, Marinka, Peski, Bakhmut and all the corresponding directions. Russia sent there simply a colossal amount of its military resources: artillery, equipment, and people. All our defenders and defenders they are just heroes there,” Zelensky said.
“Nevertheless, every 50-100 meters that our units advance on a daily basis are important for us, so very soon we will see Marinka completely liberated with access to the next direction – this is Krasnogorovka; these are other important settlements for us now, who are scheduled to be released next,” said Pushilin on December 22, 2022. Pushilin noted that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are deploying new reserves regardless of casualties.
It is expected that Russia will continue to increase the area of its military operations in Ukraine in order to secure Donetsk and Luhansk regions from Ukrainian shelling. In order to do so, Russia will have to capture more than 250 to 350 km to avoid Ukrainian shelling with longer-range weapons like Tochka-U ballistic missiles. Logically, Russians may be expecting the US and NATO to provide weapons up to a range of 299 km within the limits of various treaties like the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).