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Former Deputy Commander reveals South Ukraine’s defense preceding Russian invasion


In an exclusive interview with, former Deputy Commander of the Southern Operational Command (OK “Pivden”) of Ukraine, Major General Andriy Sokolov, has shed light on critical details concerning the defense of Southern Ukraine leading up to the Russian invasion. The revelations provide valuable insights into the state of Ukraine’s preparedness and the challenges faced during this crucial period.

Key points from the interview include:

  1. Inadequate Troop Strength: At the time of the Russian invasion, the Southern Ukraine region had approximately 1,500 personnel on the ground, far below the planned deployment of four brigades (comprising two Ukrainian Armed Forces and two territorial defense units).
  2. Russian Incursion from Crimea: General Sokolov disclosed that around 20,000 Russian troops were advancing from Crimea towards Southern Ukraine, indicating the scale of the Russian military movement.
  3. Understrength and Unprepared Units: The 59th Brigade was undergoing reformation and was not fully equipped for combat. Additionally, artillery and sapper units were understaffed due to ongoing training activities.
  4. Initial Russian Incursions: On the first day of the invasion, Russian forces from Crimea encountered only about three platoons, with one stationed at each of the three entry points into Ukraine.
  5. Weak Defense in the Melitopol Direction: There was a lack of significant Ukrainian forces in the Melitopol direction, with defense primarily provided by a reserve tank company.
  6. Lack of Defensive Infrastructure in Kherson Region: The Kherson region, with no distinct status since 2014, had no fortified defensive positions in place. Defensive structures were only present along the border with Crimea.
  7. Uncleared Bridges: Bridges further inland within the Kherson region had not been demined since 2018, presenting a logistical challenge and potential danger for Ukrainian forces.

The interview conducted by highlights the vulnerabilities and challenges faced by Ukraine’s defense forces prior to the Russian invasion. It underscores the importance of a thorough investigation into the events leading up to the conflict. Currently, the South Ukraine defense command is being examined by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) for further investigation.

These revelations offer a sobering perspective on the state of Ukraine’s military preparedness at a critical juncture in the ongoing conflict with Russia and provide valuable context for understanding the events that unfolded in the early days of the invasion.

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