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"Marinka no longer exists": ISW explained whether the situation in the city gives Russia a tactical advantage. Map

ISW explains whether the situation in Marinka gives Russian troops an advantage

The alleged capture of Marinka in the Donetsk region by Russian troops is a limited tactical gain and does not bode for any significant operational advance. The town, which the occupiers have been trying to take since 2014, is now virtually non-existent, having been turned into rubble.

In addition, even if the enemy were there, they would be unlikely to be able to launch a quick operational offensive from the town to other areas. This is how analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assess the situation on this section of the front.

According to the experts, the "capture" of Marinka will "help" Russian troops in an operational sense if they can significantly improve their ability to carry out a rapid mechanized offensive. But so far, the aggressor has shown no signs of this happening.

As a reminder, on December 25, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to dictator Vladimir Putin on the "complete capture of Marinka" (directly west of Donetsk).

The next day, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said that the Defense Forces had been partially withdrawn from Marinka, but added that the defenders were still operating on the northern outskirts and had prepared a defensive line outside the city, which no longer exists because the fighting had destroyed it.

''Marinka no longer exists'': ISW explained whether the situation in the city gives Russia a tactical advantage. Map

Geo-referenced images published on December 25 show Russian forces advancing in the northern districts of Marinka. ISW estimates that the occupiers likely control most, if not all, of the city, despite the fact that there was no visual evidence of its capture by Russia as of December 26.

Putin claimed that this maneuver would allow Russian troops to push Ukrainian combat units away from occupied Donetsk and create a wider operational space for Russian forces. Against this backdrop, many Kremlin propagandists began to spread the news about Marinka, claiming a "tactical victory" and arguing that it would allow the aggressor army to conduct offensive operations towards settlements 15 km west of the city "in the coming weeks and months, threatening nearby Ukrainian ground communications."

Their "triumph" was dispelled by analysts at the Institute for War Studies. They reminded that Russian troops have been trying to capture Marinka since 2014 and have been conducting daily frontal attacks on the city since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and these attacks have intensified since early October 2023. Both sides have now acknowledged that the fighting has completely destroyed Marinka, which was home to about 9,000 people before the full-scale war.

"The small and completely destroyed town does not provide Russian troops with a reliable foothold for further offensive operations. Marinka is located less than a kilometer from the front line before the invasion, and Ukrainian forces have long since fortified many of the nearby settlements that Russian forces are also trying to capture," ISW said.

According to the report, since February 24, 2022, the Russian army has advanced to about three kilometers in depth into Marinka, and there is no indication that the rate of its advance to the next settlements designated by the Kremlin as "tactical objectives" will be faster, especially given the rate of attrition with which the Russian Armed Forces had to capture a small settlement directly on the border with the territory that Russia has controlled since 2014.

It is noteworthy that Russia's "capture" of Marinka came after several months of very little success and was not the result of a sudden rapid mechanized Russian offensive. Since the spring of 2022, Russian troops have not conducted a single operation that would lead to a rapid and mechanized offensive, and the aggressor country's ability to conduct the mechanized maneuver necessary for this has seriously deteriorated.

''Marinka no longer exists'': ISW explained whether the situation in the city gives Russia a tactical advantage. Map

Recently, the occupiers demonstrated the lack of these capabilities in unsuccessful waves of massive attacks to capture Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, and these offensives led to further losses of armored vehicles, prompting the Russian command to switch to ground attacks using heavy infantry. In addition, the enemy needs combat-ready mechanized units to conduct rapid maneuver warfare, and the Russian groups that took part in the capture of Marinka are mostly elements of poorly trained and less effective units from the "DPR."

"Russian troops are unlikely to be able to launch a quick operational offensive from Marinka. And reports of Russia's capture of the settlement create conditions for only limited further tactical success," ISW experts concluded.

As OBOZ.UA reported earlier, according to NSDC Secretary Oleksii Danilov, a small part of what is left of Marinka is still under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He called the situation there worse than in Bakhmut because of the terrain in particular.

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