Military experts have been warning for days against a “too rapid advance of the Ukrainian units through the Russian lines in depth, without taking flank protection into account”. Now the well-known 56th Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian Army may be encircled by Russian forces, several thousand Ukrainian soldiers may be in these untenable positions, under constant artillery fire and Russian air force attacks.
The collages of images of Ukrainian women pleading for the rescue of their husbands and sons serving in the 56th Brigade are now circulating on social media channels: they are holding placards with #save56brigade in the smartphone cameras so that the West, above all the EU, still finds a way of rescuing the surrounded soldiers.
The women’s appeal, which is also addressed to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was also published in the Telegram channel of the 56th brigade: “For several months, our defenders have been shedding blood in an unequal struggle against the occupying forces. There aren’t enough guns. There aren’t enough medicines. The commanders, under the threat of death, drive the soldiers to occupy the same positions where only the occupiers destroyed their comrades. Nobody takes away the bodies of the dead soldiers and they are left in broken positions to be fed to stray dogs. Many of our soldiers have been captured, they must be brought home! Many others have long been missing and no one but their loved ones is looking for them.”
A month ago, the 21st Battalion of the 56th Brigade was almost completely wiped out in a Russian artillery attack near Peski. The remaining operational two infantry battalions should now have been used in the counter-offensive. So far, there have been no official confirmations from Kyiv of an encirclement.