The map of Ukraine is full of small towns that led an unremarkable, mainly agricultural life until the war broke out in them. I’ve written before about Dovhen’ke, which delayed the push of Russian forces from Izyum for two months before finally handing over its remaining wreckage to Russia. on June 4. However, in the nearly two months since then, Russia has been unable to advance past the city, a pattern we see time and time again: Russia dies capturing some insignificant point on the map, and then the tank runs low. for further benefits.
Bohorodychne, with a pre-war population of 794, is one of these towns, located near Dotanka.
The part of the map above has not changed in the two months since Dovhen’ke fell. (If you don’t believe me, search for yourself.) All this time, Bohorodychne was attacked almost every day, resisting what was supposed to be the largest concentration of Russian forces in all of Ukraine. How did it work out?
Here is a satellite image of the village:
The city has two features that have helped in its defense. In the north, the Siversky Donets River creates a natural barrier to an attack from this direction. Now, if you look carefully, you will notice the second defensive feature, the mountains. There are highlands both to the northwest of the city, and to the east and southeast of it. By all accounts, Russia held these northern heights, Ukraine held the eastern side. For two months the poor unfortunate Russian soldiers are sent to the flat lands between these two heights, where they are picked off by the defenders.
Repeated Russian efforts to capture the village have proved costly, and we are seeing how costly it is ourselves. It is known that Russia first reached Bohorodychne on June 11. Here we see Ukrainian defenders rushing to its defense.
Be careful with the dates on these tweets – the date of the event and the date the video was uploaded to Telegram are not always the same. I think it just gives us a general time frame considering other cues like the condition of the foliage.
Anyway, here’s Ukrainian M777 howitzer artillery, probably hammering Russian positions at the base of the hill northwest of the village a few days later:
Note that in any army, airborne or airborne troops are considered elite. This suggests that Ukraine took the defense of the city seriously, sending some of its best soldiers to capture it.
You might remember this video geolocating Bohorodychne:
The start of the video is shocking, with four tanks lying incapacitated by landmines. There is a gap between the two, so the fifth tank decides Why not? Well, that’s the opening also mined. The best part is that only one of the tanks appears to be completely destroyed, the others had their tracks blown off and were hopefully captured by the Ukraine to be rebuilt and used later. (More videos and pictures here.)
Perhaps a week later, in the exact same place, a notorious Russian source claimed that their tanks had attacked a Ukrainian armored personnel carrier:
By all accounts, this was Russia’s main event in the battle for Bohorodychne.
We know from the video that Russia was trying to move infantry through the forest at the foot of the hills occupied by Ukraine. This very graphic video is here, so it warns you if you click. Given their identity documents, they traveled a long way to die, from the Kuril Islands in the Pacific Ocean. These are the same islands claimed by Japan. Apparently, they could just waltz today if they wanted to.
By mid-July, however, Russia held the city, although perhaps “held” should be put in scare quotes:
This footage shows a Russian armored vehicle inside a civilian building that is now a ghost town. It is then detonated. At the same time, we know that Ukraine is still holding positions in those mountains east of the village, because we have video of Russian TOS-1 thermobaric missile barrages on those positions:
Video about this dam, from a Russian source, gives a great view of the terrain. The TOS-1 has a range of only four kilometers, so it makes sense that Russia would need to hold that southern edge of the city in order to use it.
This Russian position is also on the southern edge of the village:
It’s not an “ammunition depot”, not even the Russians are stupid enough to put one right on the front line. Actually, it looks like the Russians set up shop next to the fertilizer shed, so part of the explosion is glowing orange. It certainly makes for great dramatic shots.
Sometime in mid-July, Ukraine suffered more losses against the invaders:
Note that only one of these armored vehicles and the Tigr-M (like the Hummer) are new. The rest are destroyed husks from the other attacks described above. Russian reports of this failed attack also revealed casualties from an unspecified attack:
Cool visuals in this news report of a Ukrainian air force defending a village, with the alarm-inducing sound of artillery and small arms fire in the background. Definitely makes me wish I spoke Ukrainian:
This suggests that instead of occupying mountain heights, infantry with anti-tank weapons patrol the woods near the base, ambushing armor or infantry attempting to advance.
I started looking for these tweets, then I realized @Danspiun had already done so. He’s one of the guys helping catalog the Oryx database equipment losses. His final equipment losses from these tweets:
11 armored personnel carriers
4 unknown armored vehicles (APC or tanks)
2 Tigr-M damaged
1 armored personnel carrier
1 Unknown tank
Full strength Russian BTG on paper has 10 tanks and 40 armored personnel carriers. At least Russia has lost one and maybe 1½ BTG worth of tanks in this city. Ukraine has not been left unscathed, but by all accounts it has been a rough fight. We don’t know how many Russians have been killed or wounded here, but the equipment count (and one video of dead Russians I posted above) suggests that the number is significant.
Now @Danspiun doesn’t think Russia has withdrawn from the area, disagreeing with other OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) analysts who have concluded that Russia has left, along with the now-missing pontoon bridge that once supplied the axis. I’ve written about the confusing situation here , and the preponderance of evidence seems to show that Russia is gone.
The Ukrainian General Staff last reported ground attacks on Bohorodychne on July 23 and 26, nearly a week since the last attack. And while artillery barrages appear regularly, they seem less frequent in recent weeks (coinciding with the general decline in Russian artillery following the arrival of HIMARS).
Holding Bohorodychne has been a great tactical success, but what does it mean strategically? This means that Russia’s advance on the twin support cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk has stalled. And if Russia can’t get through this lowly spot on the map, how is it supposed to 1) reach Slovyansk with even longer supply lines and 2) capture cities with a combined pre-war population of 250,000?
Bohorodychne opened up a lot of tactical possibilities! They could move south to cut off the Ukrainian defenders just south of Dovhen’ke. They could threaten the small Ukrainian salient to the east, protected by the river. They could build a pontoon bridge to better secure this axis of attack.
Now none of that is happening. We have reported on rumors that Russia is draining the Izyum approach to consolidate the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions in the south. If you see “V” marked vehicles in the south, they all used to be in Izjuma. Perhaps Russia has a few more breaths left in this area, but the front has not moved since the fall of Dovhenke on June 4.
Considering that this area was once the largest concentration of Russian forces in the entire country, it is a shame that the two small towns of Dovhenke and Bohorodychne, no more than 800 souls before the war, stopped their advance.
Speaking of Dovhen’ke, something may have happened. On July 28, the General Staff reported the Russian attack from Dovhen’ke:
In the direction of Sloviansk, in order to find weak points in the defense of our units, the occupiers launched attacks in Dovhenke-Mazanivka. [direction].
Here is their report from yesterday:
In the direction of Slovyansk, the enemy fired artillery at Slovyansk, Andriivka, Dolina, DovhenkeKurulka, Husarivka, Adamivka, Bohorodychne, Krasnopillya, Karnaukhivka, Chervone, Semilanne, Hrushuvaha and Chervona Polyana. [Emphsis mine]
Remember the HQ Code – they won’t always announce when cities change hands, but you can read between the lines. Why would Russia fire on Dovhenke if they still had control over these ruins?