Russian forces employ tunnel warfare in Eastern Ukraine offensive

On Sunday, the Russian Defence Ministry announced via its Telegram channel that assault units operating in the occupied Donetsk region had successfully captured a major stronghold of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near the rural settlement of Pivnichne.

Russian military forces have reportedly adopted tunnel warfare tactics in their ongoing offensive in eastern Ukraine, according to a statement from the Russian Defence Ministry. This development marks a significant shift in strategy as Moscow continues its push to gain control over the Donbas region.

On Sunday, the Russian Defence Ministry announced via its Telegram channel that assault units operating in the occupied Donetsk region had successfully captured a major stronghold of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near the rural settlement of Pivnichne. The operation reportedly involved the use of an underground tunnel stretching more than 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) along the Seversky Donets Canal.

This revelation comes as Russian forces intensify their efforts to make substantial territorial gains in eastern Ukraine, particularly in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions that make up the Donbas. These areas have been subjected to constant shelling as part of the Kremlin’s strategy to fully capture the region, a goal that dates back to Russia’s initial incursion into eastern Ukraine in 2014.

The ongoing conflict, which escalated into a full-scale war in 2022, has seen Russian forces continue to make incremental advances in the Donbas, despite fierce Ukrainian resistance. The use of tunnel warfare represents a new dimension in the conflict, potentially allowing Russian troops to bypass heavily fortified Ukrainian positions and launch surprise attacks from behind enemy lines.

This tactic, reminiscent of strategies employed in other protracted conflicts around the world, underscores the evolving nature of the war in Ukraine and the lengths to which both sides are going to gain tactical advantages in the heavily contested Donbas region.

As the conflict continues to unfold, military analysts will likely be closely monitoring the effectiveness and wider implications of these tunnel warfare tactics in the context of modern, high-intensity combat operations.

The situation remains fluid, with both Ukrainian and international observers yet to independently verify the Russian Defence Ministry’s claims. As always, developments on the ground in eastern Ukraine continue to shape the broader trajectory of the conflict and its potential resolution.