Russians advance into Ukraine

Updated on Jan 25, 2023 05:10 PM IST

General Vatutin’s tanks on the southern flank of the Soviet drive to envelop Kharkov have crashed forward into the Ukraine and seized the town and railway station of Starobelsk--midway along the branch railway from Valuiki to Voroshilovgrad.

Russians advance into Ukraine
Russians advance into Ukraine
By, Moscow

General Vatutin’s tanks on the southern flank of the Soviet drive to envelop Kharkov have crashed forward into the Ukraine and seized the town and railway station of Starobelsk--midway along the branch railway from Valuiki to Voroshilovgrad.

The capture of this town, 130 miles south-east of Kharkov was reported in a special announcement on Sunday from Moscow. Soviet forces advancing in a parallel thrust to the north are now less than 90 miles from Kharkov and are driving forward from Urazova near Valuiki.

Nearly 3,000 more Germans have been captured during the past 24 hours in the Kamensk-Rossoch sector of the southern front. This makes the total number of prisoners taken on this front up to about 70,000 in 11 days.

In the Caucasus, Cossack squadrons driving on Kropotkin have advanced another 25 miles overnight, outflanking the retreating Germans and cutting their rear communications with Rostov and the Black Sea coast. The whole left wing of the German armies on the southern front is now bending under day and night blows of the Red Army.

Hitler’s southern front bases of Kursk and Kharkov are equally threatened tonight as General Golikov’s men drive west and north-west from their new positions southwest of Voronezh. His troops are already within sight of cutting the Voronezh-Kursk railway, thus still more endangering the critical position of the German armies on this front.

TIKHORETSK THREATENED

Reuter’s special correspondent in Moscow writes: Crack Soviet guards have swept forward another 25 miles on the Northern Caucasus front where the Red Army is threatening Tikhoretsk, the last way out from the Caucasus for Germany’s battle-worn troops. Coming from the Kuban steppes, another Russian force is helping to establish a double squeeze against Tikhoretsk and both are remorselessly keeping up their pressure. The Tikhoretsk rail junction marks the crossing of the two great railway arteries in Southern Russia---the Rostov-Baku line from north to south and the Stalingrad-Novorossisk line from east to west. It is at Tikhoretsk that the main oil pipeline from the Caucasus starts on its last straight run to Rostov.

Moving westwards across the Stavropol plateau, the right wing of the Soviet Caucasus Army has advanced a further dozen miles towards Tikhoretsk, capturing the towns of Molotovskoe, 45 miles south of Salsk, and Bezopasnoe, 60 miles south-east of Salsk. From the southeast the main Caucasus forces striking north-east from Armavir along the Baku-Rostov railway have got within 22 miles of Kropotkin, another key rail town, 40 miles south-east of Tikhoretsk. These forces have captured Kaminnobrodskaya, 21 miles north-east of Armavir.

North of Rostov, Soviet forces by their capture of Starobelsk, 75 miles south-east of Valuiki, have cut the Valuiki-Ondrashevika railroad for the third time in three days. Another column has taken Shulginka, 17 miles south of Starobelsk, which brings the Russians out on the western side of this railway line.

GERMANS IN FULL FLIGHT

Today the Germans in the Caucasus are in full flight and Soviet troops are pressing forward on their heels at a tremendous speed, anxious to destroy as many stragglers and to seize as much materials as possible before the Nazis are finally driven from the Kuban. Superior Russian strategy and superior Russian fighting power have been too much for them.

The Russians are clearly aiming to cut the railway south of Rostov at one or more points before the Nazis can complete their enforced evacuation of the Kuban.

As the Nazi position grows steadily worse along the whole length of the front the relations between the Germans and the satellite troops are also steadily deteriorating. One Rumanian Division encircled near Stalingrad actually discussed the possibility of trying to hack its way through both the Russian and German lines and gathering strength from other Rumanians on the way trying to fight back to Bucharest.

SOVIET ‘COMMUNIQUES’

Monday’s Soviet midday communique states: “During the night of January 24 our troops in the area of Stalingrad, south of Voronezh, in the Northern Caucasus, in the area of the Lower Don and the N. Donetz as well as south of Lake Ladoga continued to engage the enemy in the same directions as before.

The supplement to the Soviet midday communique says: On the southern front, a Russian unit repelled counterattacks and on the heels of the retreating enemy stormed a strongly fortified inhabited locality. In another sector, Soviets captured two large inhabited localities. On the south western front, they continued the offensive and occupied several inhabited localities. There was especially fierce fighting for one of these localities which changed hands several times. By infantry attack, the Germans were routed in hand-to-hand fighting.

The Germans who lost one battalion in killed and wounded retreated. On the Voronezh front, Soviet troops continued successful offensive operations. One encircled German group was liquidated and 1,100 prisoners captured. A Soviet unit in stubborn fighting occupied one inhabited locality. In the Northern Caucasus, Soviets captured dozens of inhabited localities. Guard units advanced some 30 to 40 kilometres (19 to 25 miles). Eight hundred Germans were killed and a hundred prisoners taken.

The Soviet midnight communique on Sunday after repeating the special announcement added:

Our troops also occupied the large inhabited localities of Paulouka, Bakhmutovka and one other as well as the railway station of Krasno Ozerovka.

Our troops on the Trans-Caucasian front captured the district centres of Pishenakovakaya and Molotovskaya and several large inhabited localities as well as the railway station of Pieshenokopka.

During the week ended January 23, 152 enemy aircraft were destroyed in air combat and on enemy aerodromes. Our losses in the same period were 75 aircraft. Between January 1 and 15 our warships in the Barents Sea have sunk nine enemy transports and one coastguard vessel of a total tonnage of 51,000.

The supplement to the midnight communique said:

“On the southern front our forces are developing their offensive and repelling enemy counter-attacks. In one sector the enemy launched a counter-attack and pressed our units back somewhat. In strenuous fighting our troops pressed back the enemy to his original positions.

‘’On the south-western front our troops continued offensive engagements. One guards unit broke the stubborn resistance of the enemy and captured the town of Starobelsk. In another sector our tankmen made a daring raid on a railway station, smashed two trains with German infantry and put a German armoured train out of action. Our troops on the Voronezh Front continued their successful offensive. 1,500 prisoners were taken during the day. The garrison of Volokonovka which had refused to lay down arms, was completely wiped out.

“On the Trans-Caucasian front one formation advanced and occupied a number of inhabited localities. Six hundred Germans were wiped out at the approaches to the town of Armavir and eight tanks were destroyed. The name of the locality captured on the southwestern front is Shulginka. On the Trans-Caucasian front the large inhabited localities captured are: Krasnaya Polyana, Novo Mitailovskaya, Bezopsnoye, Krasno-Oktyabrsky, Kamennobrodskaya and Voskresenskoye.”

VORONEZH NEVER LOST

Voronezh, the key point of the southern front, was never lost by the Russians, writes Reuter’s military correspondent. At one time the Germans, who actually claimed the capture of the city in July last, might have had a foothold within the area of the city but they never succeeded in occupying it.

It was determined Soviet resistance - at Voronezh which paved the way for the defence of Stalingrad and ultimately to the Soviet counteroffensive.

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