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The word direction is common in the English versions of the "operational updates" from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine . For example, from the August 6 update:

In the direction of Bakhmut, the enemy from tanks, barrel and jet artillery shelled the areas of the settlements of Bakhmutske, Toretsk, Bilohorivka, Krasnopolivka, Pivnichne and Vershyna.

It led offensive battles in the direction of Yakovlivka-Vershyna and Kodema-Zaitseve, it was unsuccessful and left.

Leads an offensive in the direction of Bakhmut, hostilities continue.

It led an offensive in the direction of Lozove-Nevelske, was unsuccessful, withdrew.

And also:

There are no major changes on the Volyn, Polissya, and Siversky directions.

In the Slobozhansky direction, the enemy conducted defensive combat operations with the aim of holding the occupied lines and preventing the offensive of Ukrainian units.

In the Kharkiv direction, the districts of Prudyanka, Slatyne, Pytomnyk, Petrivka, Korobochkyne, Mospanove and Zamulivka were shelled with barrel and rocket artillery.

In the Slovyansk direction, the enemy carried out fire damage from artillery of various types near Mazanivka, Krasnopilla, Sulihivka, Karnaukhivka, and Virnopilla.

The enemy is conducting an offensive operation in the Donetsk direction, concentrating its main efforts on the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions.

In the Kramatorsk direction, shelling was recorded near Spirne and Ivano-Daryivka.


The texts and a bit of map-reading both suggest that this use of direction is meant to mean something like "area" or "region", without any of the orientation aspects as listed in Wiktionary's gloss:

A theoretical line (physically or mentally) followed from a point of origin or towards a destination. May be relative (e.g. up, left, outbound, dorsal), geographical (e.g. north), rotational (e.g. clockwise), or with respect to an object or location (e.g. toward Boston).

But the same updates also use English words like area and vicinity:

Conducted aerial reconnaissance by UAVs in the areas of Lisne, Pytomnyk, Ryasne, Protopopivka, Pryshyb and Nortsivka settlements.

The enemy fired tanks and various types of artillery in the areas of Lymany, Prybuzke, Tavriyske, Luch, Myrne, Partyzanske, Blahodatne, Shyroke, Kyselivka, Kvitneve, Kavkaz, Bila Krynytsia, Bilohirka, Dobryanka, Osokorivka, and Mykolaivka. It carried out airstrikes in the Andriyivka area, as well as the Khutorska valley and the Plotnytsky tract.

Reconnaissance actions of enemy UAVs were recorded in the vicinity of Bila Krynytsia, Nyzhni Sirohozy, Lozove and Andriivka.

My ability to puzzle out the Ukrainian versions isn't good enough to determine whether the source for these examples of direction refers to a specific class of geo-political entity, like "county", or is just a general term for a geographical region.  No doubt some commenters will be able to clarify this.




  1. Phillip Minden said,

    August 12, 2022 @ 9:12 am

    The Ukrainian term (напрямок) is used as a military term, not only in general speech, but still simply means "direction", ie line of where something's going.

  2. Garrett Wollman said,

    August 12, 2022 @ 10:20 am

    I think I've brought up before (not sure if it was here or another forum) ski racers' use of *scalar* "direction", as in "she didn't have enough direction coming over the roll and missed that blind gate" or "he took too much direction coming onto the jump and ended up skiing out". Surprised that this sense isn't in Wiktionary already — perhaps it doesn't show up in enough written sources.

  3. AntC said,

    August 12, 2022 @ 4:20 pm

    Thanks @Garrett (I think). I'm no skier. And I've no objection to everyday words being used in opaque senses within a specialism — I sail dinghies.

    What's a "roll"? What makes a gate "blind"? Isn't a skier "skiing out" everywhere?

    IOW you utterly failed to convey to a non-skier what "*scalar 'direction'" signifies for a skier. It's something to do with speed or momentum, as well as heading?

    Please try again.

  4. Garrett Wollman said,

    August 12, 2022 @ 4:42 pm

    @AntC: If they were going in the right direction, they would have stayed within the race course. In ski jargon, this has slipped from a qualitative assessment ("right" or "wrong" direction) to a pseudo-quantitative one ("not enough" or "too much" — if they stayed on course it wouldn't be worthy of comment). In the scalar sense, you can think about "direction" as "radius of turn". Some disciplines, notably Super-G, require the skier to memorize the course, and often have turns on them that the racer must initiate before they can actually see the flags (gates) that mark where the course is on the other side of a jump or steep drop-off. So having "enough direction" is critical, because otherwise the skier will be disqualified for going out of the course.

  5. AntC said,

    August 12, 2022 @ 7:30 pm

    you can think about "direction" as "radius of turn"

    Thanks, I'm not sure I'm getting it; but I did mis-spend part of my youth at the ice rink (where the attraction was girls rather than pirouettes, but I digress …). I'll extrapolate:

    In motion on skis (skates) you are stable travelling in a straight line, or at a steady radius of turn where you're balancing the forces on the edge of the ski/skate. Where you're unstable is changing your radius of turn/shifting from turning left to right/swapping edges.

    "enough" scalar direction is then being at the correct radius of turn, and getting stable on it early enough to complete some tight maneuvre. Not "enough" is then getting half way through the turn; finding you're at the wrong radius; trying to turn tighter; failing to control the change in balance of forces; then either falling or skidding out of the marked course.


    Hmm. How to express that in Wiktionary format?

  6. F said,

    August 12, 2022 @ 7:33 pm

    Agreed with Philip Minden — it means a "direction" in which the invading forces are trying to proceed.

  7. Sergey said,

    August 13, 2022 @ 1:29 am

    In this context "direction" means literally a move towards that town. It's not necessarily in the vicinity, the fighting might be happening a sizable distance away but aiming to advance towards that town and capture it.

  8. David Marjanović said,

    August 13, 2022 @ 3:34 am

    What Sergey said seems obvious to me from my German-language background.

  9. Garrett Wollman said,

    August 14, 2022 @ 3:43 pm

    I'll leave it here lest we get too far off topic, but for @AntC's benefit: the important factor that makes skiing different from skating in this respect is that you can't turn while you're flying through the air because of a bump or jump, so if you don't get it right, by the time you see your mistake, it's either too late, or requires such a tight turn to get back on track that you lose all your speed. Skiers are generally taught not to try to "save" a run by pulling a tight turn because that's how you destroy your knees.

  10. Joshua K. said,

    August 15, 2022 @ 9:12 am

    @Sergey: The first four quotes from the Ukraine MoD make sense with that meaning and look like standard English to me.

    But the latter six quotes where "direction" follows a proper name are harder to understand for me and don't look like idiomatic English.

  11. Dara Connolly said,

    August 19, 2022 @ 5:23 pm

    But the latter six quotes where "direction" follows a proper name are harder to understand for me and don't look like idiomatic English.

    The word "sector" would not be unusual in reporting military activity in English. Sector implies a division of the territory based on direction from a reference point.

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