Urban populations currently present some of the biggest challenges for Ukrainian troops, according to a Facebook post from the Operational Command South of the Ukrainian armed forces.
“Dense urban development is the hardest place to fight, perhaps the worst job for infantry,” read the post Wednesday. “And almost the only place where not artillery or tanks will play a crucial role, but the skill of every shooter and the coordination of small infantry groups.”
The post contained several pictures of combat soldiers sweeping an abandoned building during a training exercise, a familiar sight since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The Russia-Ukraine war has been a prime example of the challenges of urban combat, reported the military outlet Defense One, as both sides have been constrained to what weaponry and equipment can be used while fighting among high-rise structures and congested areas.
Ukrainian soldiers aim their weapons at a moving car from a position under a destroyed bridge in the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 13, 2022. On Wednesday, the Ukrainian armed forces reported that urban populations present some of the biggest challenges for ground combat forces.
Other obstacles that urban warfare poses include forcing troops to make “rapid and decentralized” decisions and creating challenges for information management across ranks, read the report. As Defense One also noted, urban fighting creates a “manpower-intensive” scene that relies on individual soldiers’ skill sets.
Ukraine’s armed forces wrote that training like the one pictured in its Facebook post is made “to ensure that at the crucial moment everyone worked perfectly and the task was completed without losses.”
One of Ukraine’s most heavily hit urban hubs has been the southern city of Kherson, the first major region to fall to Russian forces at the start of the 11-month war.
Despite Russia ordering its troops to withdraw from the city in November 2022, a humiliating defeat for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kherson has suffered some of the most “intense shelling” along its border with the Dnieper River, according to British intelligence.
Putin has also focused on Bakhmut in recent months, a city located in the eastern Donetsk region that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said is under “constant Russian attacks” aiming to “exhaust” Kyiv’s forces.
In the past week, Putin’s troops have continued to “make small advances” around Bakhmut, reported the U.K. Ministry of Defence, after Russia recently captured a nearby town, Soledar. As of Monday, however, Russia had still failed to encircle the industrial city, according to an update from the Institute for the Study of War.
According to the ISW, Ukrainian troops are “maintaining supply to their grouping in Bakhmut despite constant Russian shelling of critical roads,” an indication that Kyiv’s forces are not threatened by Russian troops potentially encircling the city anytime soon.