General reveals details of the organization of defense of the South at the beginning of the invasion
Major General Andrii Sokolov, who at the beginning of the Russian invasion was Deputy Commander of the Operational Command Pivden (South – ed.) and was in charge of the Pivden grouping of troops, revealed the details of the organization of defense in the area.
According to him, as of February 24, 2022, the number of Ukrainian soldiers in the south was about 1,500.
He told about this in an interview with Ukrainian Pravda.
“The South Grouping of Forces was founded on a rotational basis. That is, some people arrived, then they were replaced by other people. If we take the total number of combat units, there were about 1,500 people at the time of the invasion,” Sokolov said.
In particular, he said that the 59th Brigade had approximately 1,300 personnel, as the brigade had left the JFO zone the day before in December 2021 and was restoring its combat capability. The restoration process had not yet been completed when they were appointed to the group. The soldiers were moved to the Oleshky Sands training area. The brigade’s staffing was up to about 60%.
Andrii Sokolov also noted that at the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukrainian artillery had an incomplete composition, as two divisions were training in Divychky (a training ground in Kyiv region – ed.), and the engineering support group, sappers, were also training in Kamianets-Podilskyi.
There were about 250 more people in the 137th Marine Battalion, which was also at 50% strength. And out of those 250 people, some were conscripts who were engaged in stabilization operations on the border with Crimea.
“What are stabilization actions? They were spread out over a stretch of up to 200 kilometers with observation posts along the entire border and watched the enemy’s actions to make sure there was no illegal crossing. And only a small part of them: about one platoon (15-45 people – Ukrainian Pravda), was in a stronghold just before the bridge in Chonhar. Another platoon was located near the Kalanchak checkpoint, where there was also a stronghold. And another platoon stronghold near the village of Kairy was the Chaplynske checkpoint, opposite the Titan plant. In fact, three strongholds – that’s who met the enemy on the first day,” explained the Major General.
There were not enough troops
He noted that this number of troops was not enough even for a stabilization operation.
“During the escalation, it was planned to have up to two brigades: one in the Kherson direction was to perform tasks and conduct stabilization activities, and one in the Melitopol direction. And one battalion, which as an advanced unit stood directly on the border. But I didn’t even have those forces, I had only one brigade. There were no forces at all in the Melitopol direction. I sent there my reserve, a tank company, to cover it somehow before the invasion,” said the Major General.
At the same time, he stated that the issue of increasing the group was raised. It was the Major General who reported on that to the Commander of the Joint Forces, Serhii Naiev. However, it did not happen due to insufficient forces and means. Russia concentrated its troops in a large area from Belarus to Crimea.
“We did not have enough forces, we had to keep troops in the JFO area, cover Kyiv, cover the North, Slobozhanshchyna, Kharkiv direction. I believe that this is why we lacked forces,” Sokolov added.
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