Third Battle of Kharkov
Known to the German side as the Donets Campaign, and in the Soviet Union as the Donbas and Kharkov operations, the German counterstrike led to the recapture of the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod. As the German Sixth Army was encircled in Stalingrad, the Red Army undertook a series of attacks against the rest of Army Group South. The Soviet victories caused participating Soviet units to over-extend themselves, months of continuous operations, had taken a heavy toll on the Soviet forces and some divisions were reduced to 1, 000–2,000 combat effective soldiers. On 19 February, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein launched his Kharkov counterstrike, using the fresh II SS Panzer Corps, the Wehrmacht flanked and defeated the Red Armys armored spearheads south of Kharkov. This enabled Manstein to renew his offensive against the city of Kharkov proper on 7 March, despite orders to encircle Kharkov from the north the SS Panzer Corps instead decided to directly engage Kharkov on 11 March. This led to four days of fighting before Kharkov was recaptured by the 1st SS Panzer Division on 15 March.
The German forces recaptured Belgorod two days later, creating the salient which in July 1943 would lead to the Battle of Kursk, the German offensive cost the Red Army an estimated 90,000 casualties. The house-to-house fighting in Kharkov was particularly bloody for the German SS Panzer Corps, at the start of 1943, the German Wehrmacht faced a crisis as Soviet forces encircled and reduced the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad and expanded their Winter Campaign towards the Don River. On 2 February 1943 the Sixth Armys commanding officers surrendered, total German losses at the Battle of Stalingrad, excluding prisoners, were between 120,000 and 150,000. Throughout 1942 German casualties totaled around 1.9 million personnel, on 2 February, the Red Army launched Operation Star, threatening to recapture the cities of Belgorod and Kursk. A Soviet drive, spearheaded by four tank corps organized under Lieutenant-General Markian Popov, pierced the German front by crossing the Donets River, despite Hitlers orders to hold the city, Kharkov was abandoned by German forces and the city was recaptured by the Red Army on 16 February.
Hitler immediately flew to Mansteins headquarters at Zaporizhia, on 19 February Soviet armored units broke through the German lines and approached the city. In view of the situation, Hitler gave Manstein operational freedom. When Hitler departed, the Soviet forces were only some 30 kilometers away from the airfield, by this time Stavka believed it could decide the war in the southwest Russian SFSR and eastern Ukrainian SSR, expecting total victory. The surrender of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad freed six Soviet armies, under the command of Konstantin Rokossovsky, which were refitted and reinforced by the 2nd Tank Army and these forces were repositioned between the junction of German Army Groups Center and South. Originally planned to begin between 12–15 February, deployment problems forced Stavka to push the date back to 25 February. Meanwhile, the Soviet 60th Army pushed the German Second Armys 4th Panzer Division away from Kursk and this opened a 60 kilometers breach between these two German forces, shortly to be exploited by Rokossovskys offensive.
However, unexpected German resistance began to slow the operation considerably, offering Rokossovsky only limited gains on the flank of his attack
Orsha offensives (1943)
The Orsha offensives were a series of battles, fought between the Red Army and the Wehrmacht during the winter of 1943. Orsha was a traffic junction with the north-south road from Leningrad to Kiev. After the failure of Operation Typhoon in the winter of 1941, the time afforded to them in 1942, a distinct period of inactivity, allowed the Wehrmacht to build formidable defensive positions. After their defeat in the Battle of Smolensk, the Wehrmacht retreated on a front to the Panther-Stellung line. The German 4th Army —part of Army Group Centre—took defensive positions near Orsha, the 3rd Panzer Army took up defensive lines around Vitebsk, and to the south the 9th Army held the area east of Bobrujsk. The Soviet Stavka saw the liberation of Ukraine as their goal, so the Lower Dnieper Offensive had priority in equipment. The 4th Army was in retreat to the Panther-Wotan line, pursued by the Soviets, Soviet troops launched a heavy attack on both sides of the Minsk-Moscow highway. The thrust was directed at Orsha, a traffic junction.
Frieser, Das deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg Vol.8
The Badaber uprising was an armed rebellion by Soviet and Afghan prisoners of war who were being held at the Badaber fortress near Peshawar, Pakistan. The prisoners fought the Pakistan army and the Afghan Mujahideen of the Jamiat-e Islami party in an attempt to escape. All the prisoners were killed in the siege and the fortress was destroyed. The Badaber fortress,24 km south of Peshawar, was a training centre of the Afghan Mujahideen who opposed Soviet presence in Afghanistan. The Mujahideen were trained by military instructors from the United States, the fortress was controlled by the Tajik-dominated Jamiat-e Islami party. Burhanuddin Rabbani was the party leader and self-declared president of Afghanistan, the military commander of the fortress was Ahmad Shah Massoud. In 1983 and 1984, Soviet and Democratic Republic of Afghanistan prisoners were brought to the fortress from holding cells, the prisoners were forced to perform hard labour, for example and loading ordnance. In 1985,12 Soviet and 40 Afghan prisoners were held at the Badaber fortress, on 26 April 1985, at about 6 pm, only two of seventy mujahideen guards were on duty.
The others were gathered at the square for evening prayers. In an uprising, prisoners entered the fortress armory, took weapons and ammunition, some may have tried to capture the fortress radio center to report their location. However, the guard, Haist Gol, raised the alarm. The prisoners did seize key locations within the fortress, Afghan Mujahideen, Pakistani infantry and tank units, and artillery forces of the XI Corps blockaded the fortress. Several attempts to recapture the fortress were repelled by the prisoners, at 9pm, Burhanuddin Rabbani, arrived at the base and negotiated with the prisoners. He suggested they surrender and their lives would be spared, the prisoners demanded a meeting with the Soviet and Afghan ambassadors to Pakistan and representatives from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The prisoners threatened to ignite the armory if their demands were not met, Rabbani rejected the prisoners demands and fighting continued. On 27 April 1985 at around 8am, Rabbanis bodyguard was wounded by rockets fired by the prisoners, Rabbani prepared to attack the fortress using rockets and Pakistan Air Force helicopters.
The uprising ended when the fortress was destroyed by an explosion and it may be that artillery shells struck the armoury or it may be that the explosion was caused by the prisoners themselves. Any survivors of the explosion were dragged to the walls and killed, the identities of the prisoners are uncertain
First Battle of Kharkov
The Soviet 38th Army was ordered to defend the city while its factories were dismantled for relocation farther east. The German 6th Army needed to take the city in order to close the gap between the 4th Panzer Group and the 17th Army. By 20 October the Germans had reached the edge of the city. In that time, most of Kharkovs industrial equipment had been evacuated or rendered useless by the Soviet authorities, in the autumn of 1941, Kharkov was considered one of the Soviets most important strategic bases for railroad and airline connections. It not only connected the east-west and north-south parts of Ukraine, but several regions of the USSR including the Crimea, the Caucasus, the Dnieper region. Kharkov was one of the largest industrial centers of the Soviet Union, one of its greatest contributions was the Soviet T-34 tank that was both designed and developed at the Kharkov Tractor Factory. It was considered to be the most powerful tank plant in the country, other factories that were located in the city included the Kharkov Aircraft Plant, Kharkov Plant of the NKVD, and the Kharkov Turbine Plant.
Military products that were in Kharkov before the battle started included, tanks, Su-2, artillery tractors,82 mm mortars, sub-machine guns and other military equipment. The main objective for the German troops was to capture the railroad and military plants, adolf Hitler himself stressed the importance of those military plants stating, … The second in importance is south of Russia, particularly the Donets Basin, ranging from the Kharkov region. It was rated at 901,000 people on 1 May 1941, in September 1941 the population skyrocketed to 1.5 million people, due to numerous evacuees from other cities. After multiple attacks and many deaths, the population of Kharkov decreased to 180 –190,000, Kharkov was one of the most important Soviet centers for the fleeing Jewish population. According to records, Kharkov had 10,271 people of Jewish ethnicity living in the city, 75% of whom were women, after the battle, many of them were either transferred to concentration camps or executed. After the Battle of Kiev, Army Group Center was ordered to redeploy its forces for the attack on Moscow, Army Group South, and in particular Walther von Reichenaus 6th Army and Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagels 17th Army took the place of the Panzer Divisions.
Meanwhile, needed to stabilize its southern flank and poured reinforcements into the area between Kursk and Rostov, at the expense of its forces in front of Moscow. The Southwestern Front, which had completely destroyed during the battle of Kiev, was re-established under the command of Marshal Semyon Timoshenko. The 6th, 21st, 38th and 40th Armies were reconstituted almost from scratch, with the Battle of Moscow under way, the Germans had to protect their flanks, and on 6 October von Reichenau advanced through Sumy and Okhtyrka in the direction of Belgorod and Kharkov. On the same day, the 17th Army commenced its offensive from Poltava towards Lozova, the Southwestern Fronts 6th Army and 38th Army failed to conduct a coordinated defense and were beaten back. In the lead up to the Battle of Moscow, the Red Army suffered a defeat at Vyazma and Bryansk
Battle of Arghandab (1987)
The Battle of Arghandab was an offensive launched by Afghan government forces, supported by Soviet troops against Mujahideen strongholds in the Arghandab District of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. The operation ended in failure, and the government forces withdrew after suffering heavy losses, during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the Afghan mujahideen had important forces in the Kandahar area. These were affiliated with different parties, and while they cooperated with each other, the principal commanders were Mullah Naqib of Jamiat-e Islami, Lala Malang of Hezb-e Islami Khalis and Abdul Latif of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan. In early 1987, the mujahideen launched an attack in and around Kandahar, diversionary raids targeted Soviet and WAD positions, but the main objective were the defensive outposts manned by pro-government militias defending the city. These were the Jowzjani Uzbek militia of Abdul Rashid Dostum, the Achakzai militia of Ismatullah Muslim, the militias suffered heavily in the attack, causing the government to plan a retaliatory offensive against resistance strongholds in the Arghandab District.
The Soviets contributed the 70th Motorized Rifle Brigade and air units, but the bulk of the force was composed of Afghan forces, the communist regime sent its defense minister and interior minister to oversee the operation. The terrain of Arghandab district presented several difficulties for an attacking force, the offensive began on May 22, supported by massive artillery and aviation strikes. After some aircraft were shot by Mujahideen Stinger missiles, the Soviet helicopter gunships which had provided much of the air support were called off, the Afghan troops found themselves facing entrenched Mujahideen, dug in to camouflaged bunkers, and their morale suffered accordingly. The government troops often refused to attack, and large numbers defected to the resistance with their weapons, by the end of June the offensive ended. The DRA losses were 500 killed and wounded, as well as 1200 defections, the Mujahideen lost 60 killed defending Chaharqulba, the stronghold of Mullah Naqib, and many others in other areas.
Afghan Guerrilla Warfare, in the Words of the Mujahideen Fighters, war in a Distant Country, Afghanistan and Resistance. Out of Afghanistan, The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal