Ukraine Targets Crucial Hybloke Village in Northeast Offensive

It is becoming increasingly tense and grim for the invaders in a small village in the northeast.

Shankar Narayan
8 min readJun 8, 2024
Nasa fire map shows intense fighting for Hybloke

On May 12th, two days after the Russians crossed the Ukrainian border in the northeast and took control of several Ukrainian villages, a sizable column of Russian soldiers marched on foot to take over Hlyboke, a small village next to the Trav’yans’ke reservoir.

If the Russians hold this village, they will be able to control the banks of the Trav’yans’ke Reservoir. Ukraine’s 42nd Mechanized infantry have entered the village and are engaging the Russian forces who are holed up there. Some Russian soldiers have been taken as prisoners. Neither side is fully in control of the village, but the intensity of the Ukrainian attacks shows that they are determined to reclaim it.

Why is this village so important?

To understand the importance of the village, we need to grasp the Russian plan. The Russians are trying to advance towards Kharkiv city by keeping the Siverskyi Donets river to their left and the Kharkiv river to their right.

The green lines for the rivers are not in scale. I just drew it for us to see them clearly. Kharkiv city is at the left bottom corner

As you can see, the Russians have created two bulges. The right one spans both banks of the Siverskyi Donets River, while the one on the left is on one side of the Kharkiv River.

The Russians aim to advance with the rivers on both their sides, making Hlyboke village a very important and highly strategic location. If Ukraine takes control of it, the Russian plan to take the entire section and advance towards Kharkiv city will be thwarted. This will lead to pitched fighting, turning Hlyboke village into a crucial point on the map. Unless Russia reclaims it, their entire plan will fail.

If Ukraine takes the village, it will put them in a stronger position to impose heavy costs on the Russians. I have no doubt that if Ukraine takes over, they will immediately start to dig in. The Russians should have done this, but Ukraine moved in too quickly, and most of the Russian troops ordered to hold this highly important village were just infantry.

The Russians are running out of heavy weapons. It is starting to take a toll on thier offensive plans. They should have sent in a heavily armored column to the Hybloke village. Backed that up by infantry and then poured in their artillery units as the final layer. They did none of that, because they are running out of them.

Reports from military bloggers on both sides indicate that the Russian army must send in reinforcements. I am in complete agreement with that line of thinking. Kremlin does not have a choice. The village has not yet fallen into Ukrainian hands, but if it does, it will be Ukraine’s first major tactical victory in the northeast.

From a tactical point of view, the Russian plan to advance towards Kharkiv city while straddling the rivers was a sound one. Rivers serve as natural defensive barriers. The Ukrainian response to target Hlyboke is equally strategic, as it denies the enemy a natural defensive barrier.

This is going to be a pitched battle. I saw some pictures of the quaint little village, and of course, they are beautiful. Unfortunately, it is going to be ravaged, just like Bakhmut and Avdiivka. Nothing stands when Putin’s army steps foot into it. Sadly, there is no choice. This village is extremely critical. Ukraine has to secure it before the Russian reinforcements arrive.

Russian forces are yet to realize what Ukraine is doing, certainly not at the higher level. ISW reported today that Russians are yet to mobilize in the direction of Hybloke. They are still regrouping after they got stalled in the northeast.

  • The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces did not conduct offensive operations in the Lyptsi direction (north of Kharkiv City) as of 1400 local time on June 7. The Ukrainian General Staff added that Russian forces in the Kharkiv direction are regrouping, likely meaning a tactical regrouping prior to resuming offensive operations.
  • Geolocated footage published on June 7 shows Ukrainian forces operating in southwestern Hlyboke (north of Lyptsi) after Russian milbloggers previously claimed that Russian forces were in this area of the settlement, suggesting that Ukrainian forces conducted a local counterattack.
  • Ukrainian Kharkiv Group of Forces Spokesperson Yuriy Povkh stated that 25 Russian personnel abandoned their positions in the Lyptsi direction and that Ukrainian forces have observed an unspecified element of Chechen Akhmat Spetsnaz operating as a blocking detachment in the area.

After taking over Hlyboke, Ukraine can continue to push further into Russian positions to the north of the village and keep advancing towards the Russian border.

Ukraine has broken through the Russian defenses in the northeast. The next few days will be extremely important for both sides.

Ukraine, at the very least, has to keep this village heavily contested. They should not allow the Russian forces to settle down and turn Hlyboke into a defensive fortress.

Russians are fully stalled on the Vovchansk axis

Citing Russian military bloggers, the ISW has noted a couple of times in the last two weeks that the Russians made a few advances in the Vovchansk axis in the northeast. However, I do not see any progress for the Russians on that front. The last significant takeover in this axis occurred on May 19th, ten days after they crossed the border and entered Ukrainian territory. You can observe the Russian positions from the images below.

The boundaries did not change between May 20th and June 6th.

That’s over two weeks of no movement for the Russians in the Vovchansk axis. Ukraine has brought some of their units from various parts of the frontline, and it looks fully packed.

Credit: Projectowl

It’s surprising indeed where Ukraine got all those resources to send to the newly opened front. That was the whole idea of the Russians, wasn’t it? To open a new front and further stretch the undermanned Ukrainian troops.

Ukraine nicely mixed things up. They brought in some of their assault regiments along with Russian dissident groups fighting with Ukraine. Additionally, they deployed some of their police and border control units, which were trained over the last two years as a backup option. All these units are nicely mixed up in a small area.

Ukraine’s trained military units will lead the attack against the Russians, holding the front, while the secondary units will fill the gaps and form continuous defensive lines. The best combat units are positioned at the front, with weaker and inexperienced ones in the middle and rear.

Ukraine has also brought its air force into the mix. During the initial phase of the attack, the Russians took control of the Vovchansk city hospital and turned it into a base. Ukrainian air forces brought the entire building down on May 18th.

Russian occupiers held the Vovchansk city hospital. Urkaine sent a glide bomb to let them know that they are not welcome.

The terrain in the northeast is indeed complicated for both sides. The problem the Russians are facing is that they cannot effectively use their air force to devastate Ukrainian positions. They are the ones defending both axes in the northeast, and they have a clearly identifiable pocket. Ukrainian forces, on the other hand, are spread out and not dug in. This reduces the effectiveness of Russian air attacks while increasing the effectiveness of Ukrainian air attacks.

The problem for Ukraine lies in the many rivers that run through the section. As I was studying the map, the first thing that came to my mind after Ukraine started attacking Hlyboke was why not open another angle and go after the village of Lukyantsi?

Why not launch a simultaneous attack? However, this wouldn’t be a good idea because there is another river that runs through this section, as seen in the image below.

This makes Hlyboke village even more crucial. Ukraine’s challenge to the banks of the Trav’yans’ke reservoir is a strategic move. They are not attacking the center of the two bulges created by the Russians in the northeast.

All maps from are screenshots from Deepstatemap, with text added by me.

Instead, they are targeting the left and right extremes of the Russian bulges. This approach takes advantage of the terrain and provides advantages to Ukraine while reducing those of the enemy.

Since Russia cannot afford to suffer a setback at this point, they will bring in reinforcements and likely withdraw troops from other sectors to prevent being pushed out of the northeast.

I anticipate the northeast becoming the most important battle over the next several weeks. With both sides prioritizing this sector, developments in other parts of the map will be secondary. Ukraine has the potential to win this battle, but it will not happen overnight, as Russia will continue pouring more resources into this sector.

What we need to keep an eye on is the number of casualties the Russians record every day. So far, the Ukrainian report card on this aspect looks promising.

Russian losses by date:

  • June 1: 1,080
  • June 2: 1,270
  • June 3: 1,290
  • June 4: 1,280
  • June 5: 1,300
  • June 6: 1,080
  • June 7: 1,210

Every day Russia spends with casualties above the 1,000 mark, they weaken. Their offensive capabilities will diminish, and if they persist, their defense will also suffer. This is without considering what Ukraine is doing in the Russian rear with their long-range missiles.

Update: June 9th, 2024, (Ukraine Time 00:05) Ukrainian forces have successfully evicted the Russians from Hybloke. The next phase of the operations begin now. Ukraine has to keep pushing further, otherwise the Russians will try and strike this village. Here is the map of the current position that shows Ukraine is in control of the village.

Credit: ProjectOwl
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Shankar Narayan

He didn't care what he had or what he had left, he cared only about what he must do.