Regrettably, the victory under Marinka is hardly being remembered today, two years later. Not a single leader of the Russian mercenaries remembered today of that battle – they covered their own people with dirt and could not care less for them. Due to this achievement the Ukrainian soldiers made the Russian military leadership lose taste for a long time for conducting further offensive operations. The victory showed the fortitude of our infantrymen, great skills of field artillerymen, and resoluteness of commanders who took the responsibility for violating the order about non-employment of heavy weapons. Specifically a critical role of a new unit of Ukrainian Armed Forces "Air Reconnaissance" has to be mentioned, which provided an online flow of important accurate data about enemy amassing their units. The combat success cost us a lot – on June 3, four Ukrainian soldiers died as heroes, more than 40 were wounded and shell-shocked. We remember that day and our victory and the price we paid for it.
At around 4 a.m., the Ukrainian positions in the suburbs of Donetsk – small town Marinka – were attacked by a Tactical Team out of 1 Army corp of the Russian occupational forces in the Donbas, comprised of 2nd battalion of 100th brigade of Republican Guard, BN of RG "Pyatnashka (Slide Puzzle)", Separate Assault BN "Somalia", 2nd Separate Tank battalion "Diesel", 1-st Tank battalion of the 5th Motorized Rifle Brigade "Oplot (Bulwark)", 2nd Recon Co of the 1st Spetsnaz Battalion "Khan", Spetsnaz unit "DPR MGB", Special Operations Command and Control unit of "DPR Prosecutor General office".
The strength of the tactical force according to enemy’s own estimations was up to 1,500 in personnel, up to 30 tanks, which were supported by artillery and light armored vehicles (it is interesting to note that АТО HQ assessed the strength of the enemy TF more modestly - up to 1,000 personnel).
The goal of the operation – to drive the Ukrainian units out of Marinka and to completely occupy this urban area.
At the arrow head of the enemy strike there was the 2nd Battalion of the 28th OMBRD with the strength at that moment not exceeding 300 men, spread thin over a several kilometer long contact line. So, not even all the soldiers of the unit could take part in the battle at the initial phase of the operation. The Battalion commander was Lt Col Serhii Shcherbyna, the Brigade Commander was Col Viacheslav Lishchynskyi.
The enemy conducted artillery fire preparation and started the attack by massive infantry force assault supported by tanks against our two strong points.
As Ukraine officially observed the cease-fire, the Ukrainian tanks were withdrawn away from the forward lines and could not help our infantrymen. Also the BRD artillery employment was limited; most of our artillery was also withdrawn. There was a harsh order in place that strictly controlled the day-time employment of weapon systems prohibited by the Minsk agreements. The units of the 2nd battalion left their positions under the attack.
But this was not a helter-skelter flight. Only one soldier was taken captive - Roman Marchenko. This was an organized retrograde movement under pressure to a small distance. Due to the courage and experience of the infantry units, as well as firm leadership of the Lt Col Shcherbyna (callsign "Zheton /Token)", the command and control over our units was preserved, the soldiers stepped back to a small distance without panicking, all BN took part in repelling the enemy assault, all the fire systems working as ordered. The 1st BN began working against the flank of the attacking forces, too.
However, to disrupt the enemy attack without the weapon systems withdrawn from the forward line proved impossible. The 2nd Battalion was fighting bravely but the enemy had a significant superiority, they had the initiative.
Without giving the order for artillery and tank employment in the day-time, it was not clear how long the infantry units alone who were only supported by mortar batteries, would be able to hold the front against the enemy.
The enemy advanced toward the center of Marinka conducting tank direct fire at the hospital. But the advancement of the striking elements of the enemy was hampered, the resistance of the 2d BN and their losses made them slow down, act carefully, the blitzkrieg failed. Near the hospital and at the captured Ukrainian block-post the enemy amassed his assault forces for the attack continuation, but a very unpleasant surprise awaited them at these places...
There was much criticism in mass media on different issues about Viacheslav Leshchinskyi and the 28th OMBRD, there were quite reasonable rebukes made, but we will not discuss them now, we will only talk about the battle.
All the officers who participated in the battle make this emphasis – it was BRD Commander Leshchinsky who at this critical hour took the responsibility upon himself and committed into the battle the BRD artillery, tank force and the reserve Recon Co at the time of the officially declared ceasefire, in violation of the АТО Commandment order.
At 6 a.m., the 5th self-propelled artillery battery of the 28th BRD opened fire at the attacking forces of the enemy.
Today, two years afterwards, we can say that the battle for Marinka became the first tactical employment of the new system of reconnaissance and targeting, which had been installed by the servicemen and volunteers from the “Air Recon” unit right before the enemy’s offensive at the penetration area. So, the offensive of the 1st Army Corp was sudden, but not altogether unexpected. They had been waited for.
From the military point of view, of key importance was the speed of making military decisions in the changing tactical situation, close surveillance of the battle by the higher commanders, resoluteness in employment of tactical reserve and committing of tanks as well as skillful employment of artillery. The enemy failed to show the same flexibility and did not realize his enormous superiority in numbers.
We must give credit to the mutual assistance and cooperation between all our units during the battle. All the units of the 28th OMBRD tried to participate in the battle. Also the fire support from maximum distances was provided rapidly from the brigade artillery and tanks of the adjacent tank BN of the neighboring 93d OMDRD.
Stable communication was preserved, artillery fire control allowed to conduct strikes on previously reconnoitered targets, set both by the recon element and the BRD artillery force, and on the amassed enemy units in Marinka itself as well as on the captured block post. Artillery managed to make a lot of instances of successful lethal target coverage. The most shocking surprise for the enemy was the accuracy of Ukrainian artillery on that day. They all speak of their big losses to heavy artillery fire and how it was impossible to continue attacking under amassed fire (all our batteries were equipped by the tablets with a volunteer-developed fire control system installed on them by Yarolsav Sherstiuk who introduced into the table the data for shooting by active-missile rounds which were so helpful on that day).
Having suffered big losses and facing quickly deployed reserve of the 28th OMBRD, the enemy began to withdraw after a short fire engagement. At that, a number of elite special units of the mercenaries gave way to panicking and disorderly flight.
Meanwhile, the АТО Commandment allowed the use of a battery of Sector "B" Artillery BRD; according to some information, the 203-mm 2S7 PION (Peony) or Malka guns were even used by Ukrainians for the punishment of those who had violated the Minks agreements first. Also fire support was given by the artillerymen of the neighboring 93d BRD, who liberally supplied active-missile 152 mm rounds to the enemy rear. It was a massive fire on the combat echelons of the Russian troops that came from Ukrainian artillery on that day.
Initially, the leader of the "DPR" Zakharchenko reported of 40 killed enemy soldiers. But later a well-know Russian terrorist FSB Col Igor Girkin assessed the losses of their troops in 57 killed personnel. And the Russian propagandist Boris Rozhin spoke of more than a 100 killed on their side. The enemy abandoned some of their wounded men at the battle field and they died of the blood loss. Also 12 mercenaries were caught captive, including one RF citizen. In their panicking reports about the battle the Russian propagandists called it "Marinka slaughter". Yes, indeed it was a slaughter for them. For Ukrainians it became a sensational victory.
Having been rebuffed and suffering great losses, failing at all their goals, the enemy Tactical Force had to flee most infamously. The Ukrainian units of 25th and 95th BRDs, 3d Regiment of Spetsnaz, Regiment of the NG "KYIV", were pulled to the area of operations to ultimately clear the battle space.
28th Brigade defended Marinka, and fully restored its control over this town. Odesa based Brigade can rightfully be proud of their success.The operation demonstrated the increased combat efficiency of the Ukrainian Army. Despite all the problems, undermanning and disorder, the Ukrainian infantry “kicked the butt” of the elite assault and spetsnaz (special purpose) units of the so called "DPR", who enjoyed numerical pre-eminence and superiority in arms throughout the whole battle.
The captive soldier Roman Marchenko soon was changed back.
BN Cmdr Shcherbyna for leading this battle was nominated for a Hero of Ukraine, but in the end was awarded the order of Bohdan Khmelnitsky. On June 19, Shcherbyna was wounded in the course of yet another battle in Marinka, was treated in a hospital and now he is back to his military service.
The Battle for Marinka in June of 2015 was the biggest and major battle after the end of the Debaltseve operation of 2015.
But first and foremost we have to remember on this day those who gave their lives, defending a small piece of Ukrainian soil to their last drop of blood.
They died as true sons of their nation and as soldiers faithful to their oath and their combat comrades.
Vasyl Pysarenko, 38 years old, First Sergeant of the 28th OMBRD, born in Koby village, Poltava region (he is survived by two children).
Vasyl Pykhtieiev, 31, Senior Sergeant of the 28th OMBRD, born in Hryhorivka village, lived in town Chornomorsk, Odesa region (he left behind a wife and a 6-year old daughter).
Oleksandr Halushchinskyi, 42, senior soldier of the 28th OMBRD, born in Berezky, Mykolaiv region (he left behind a wife and three children including a 3-year old son)
Volodymyr Sheliah, 36, soldier of the 3d Spetsnaz Reg., born in Khynoch, Rivne region (did not have a family of his own).
Eternal glory to our heroes.
Much gratitude and respect to the soldiers of the 28th Mechanized Brigade, to the rank-and-file men and their commanders who demonstrated their worth and skills in a heavy combat and did not let the enemy have an inch of Ukrainian ground.
Yurii Butusov, Censor.NET
This article was translated by Cissana Mukhametshyna
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