Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Ukraine holds urban warfare drills in Chornobyl Zone

by Illia PonomarenkoFebruary 5, 2022 5:24 pm
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Ukrainian National Guard troops launch a simulated urban warfare offensive in the streets of Prypyat, a ghost city in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. (The Kyiv Independent)

PRYPYAT, CHORNOBYL EXCLUSION ZONE Cold and tired after so many sleepless days in battle, Ukrainian troops with National Guard special units go on the offensive, smashing the last resisting enemy troops at the roadway strongpoint in hard combat.

Minutes later, Ukrainian troops backed by the KORD special police forces continue the attack and storm the building nearby.

That was the scripted exercises carried out by Ukraine's National Guard, the police, as well as the emergency service in the ghost city of Prypyat, in the so-called Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, 150 kilometers north of Kyiv.

Ukraine's National Guard troops stand in line following an urban warfare exercise in the ghost city of Pripyat on Feb. 4, 2022 (The Kyiv Independent)

The legendary city which used to host nearly 50,000 dwellers was evacuated days following the infamous 1986 disaster on the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant just 3 kilometers away.

Ever since then, the city, along with the former nuclear station now covered with a giant confinement structure, is the heart of the 30-kilometer alienation zone that is expected to remain uninhabitable for the upcoming centuries.

The city, which is partly contaminated by radioactive fallout, stays abandoned up to this day. Its once-thriving streets and building are decaying and getting absorbed by nature.

But once in a while, Ukraine's law enforcement agencies use the ghost city to exercise in urban warfare, bringing back sweet memories for fans of the Ukrainian shooter video game series S.T.A.L.K.E.R., taking place in Prypyat and popular in the mid-2000s.

Ukrainian National Guard troops evacuate a simulated friendly casualty during urban warfare drills in the ghost city of Prypyat in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone on Feb. 4, 2022. (The Kyiv Independent)

The abandoned city, with its buildings and ruins, is an ideal arena for such training.

As part of the drills, the enemy was isolated in the close quarter, has sustained losses and couldn't be reinforced. Their organized positions were held in an abandoned 5-story building.

Ukrainian joint forces were tasked with regaining several dozen of meters from the enemy.

The enemy offered fierce resistance from the inside, machine guns went all blazing against the Ukrainian armored personnel carrier (APC), covering the offensive.

Shortly after, a Ukrainian special operations squad covertly makes it inside. Ukrainian troops successfully secure the premises.

Ukrainian National Guard troops get deployed to the ghost city of Prypyat in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone for drills on Feb. 4, 2022. (The Kyiv Independent)

The National Guard, as well as the police, and other law enforcement departments, are indeed preparing to wage effective street warfare as Russia continues threatening a full-scale invasion, greatly alarming Ukraine and the West.

Since November, Russia has elevated tensions on Ukraine’s border by massing over 120,000 troops along with tanks, artillery and other military equipment. Additionally, Russia has moved troops and equipment into Belarus, Ukraine’s northern neighbor, for joint military drills.

According to some intelligence reports, Russia might be considering seizing much of Ukraine by destroying the country's armed forces in a series of offensives avoiding cities.

Ukrainian cities, meanwhile, are expected to be an extremely complicated game for Russian invaders, and grueling, fierce urban warfare is likely to wear out a lot of Russian manpower and resources if the Kremlin decides to further invade.

A Ukrainian National Guard soldier pictured during urban warfare drills in the ghost city of Prypyat in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone on Feb. 4, 2022. (The Kyiv Independent)

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told the Kyiv Independent, amid the drills, that the fact that Ukrainian forces hold drills in the Chornobyl Zone does not mean that Russia is likely to launch an offensive in the contaminated area, due to its tight forestall terrain and numerous swamps.

Despite that, the Zone remains an ideal training ground for Ukrainian forces looking to defend the country's cities in case of an all-out war.

Ukraine's special police division KORD troops stand in a line following urban warfare drills in the ghost city of Prypyat on Feb. 4, 2022. (The Kyiv Independent)
Illia Ponomarenko
Illia Ponomarenko
Defense reporter

Illia Ponomarenko is the defense and security reporter at the Kyiv Independent. He has reported about the war in eastern Ukraine since the conflict’s earliest days. He covers national security issues, as well as military technologies, production, and defense reforms in Ukraine. Besides, he gets deployed to the war zone of Donbas with Ukrainian combat formations. He has also had deployments to Palestine and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as an embedded reporter with UN peacekeeping forces. Illia won the Alfred Friendly Press Partners fellowship and was selected to work as USA Today's guest reporter at the U.S. Department of Defense.

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