Following a summer of hard fighting, Ukraine’s long-anticipated offensive is reportedly making progress. Kyiv’s forces have successfully broken through Russian defensive lines in the Zaporizhzhia region in the southeast, and earlier this week it was announced that Ukraine has fully reclaimed the village of Robotyne.
Advances have been slow, as the Ukrainians have to push through Russia’s heavily fortified positions.
But after three months, Kyiv has pierced the Kremlin’s main defensive line.
A Land of Mines in Ukraine
Ukrainian forces have reportedly broken through the first of three main trench lines that make up Russia’s so-called Surovikin Line, which has been described as one of the most daunting military fortifications in the world. It was built under the supervision of Russian Army Gen. Sergey Surovikin starting in the spring, and it has been steadily upgraded throughout the summer.
Geolocation specialists tracked the fighting, which has involved Ukraine’s 82nd Air Assault Brigade, to the outskirts of Verbove, a village behind a line of Russian fortifications that include “dragon’s teeth” anti-tank spikes, trenches, and minefields, iNews reported on Wednesday.
Images and videos of the locations where the heaviest fighting has occurred have been shared on social media.
“The number of minefields and fortifications is unprecedented. Russian drones, helicopters and planes dominate the air. But we are gradually succeeding,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the BBC.
The advances could open the way for pushing the Russian military back into the annexed Crimean peninsula and cutting the land bridge to Moscow’s forces in the eastern regions. That would split the land the Kremlin currently occupies and make Moscow’s supply lines far more complicated.
The breach of the Russian line followed the largest Ukrainian drone strike yet conducted on Russian cities. The strike involved five separate drone attacks overnight on Aug. 29-30. In addition, Kyiv’s forces have been pressing their offensive operations south of the destroyed eastern city of Bakhmut, which was captured by Russian troops in May.
Have Faith Already
The seemingly slow progress of Ukraine’s long-anticipated counteroffensive has raised concerns in the West. Moscow even claimed the campaign had failed. Kyiv has countered that its commanders are moving slowly on purpose, carefully degrading Russian defenses and logistics.
There was also criticism earlier this summer that Ukraine wasn’t employing its Western-made main battle tanks properly. It lost several in the opening stages of its attack. However, as David Axe of Forbes.com reported earlier this week, in 13 weeks, Ukraine has lost only five of its 71 Leopard 2 MBTs.
As previously reported, Ukraine is fielding older tanks, including the T-64, along with other platforms to clear the minefields, holding back the more modern tanks to exploit a breakthrough.
“The latest territorial gains are the result of weeks of fighting and destroying Russian defensive lines,” Alex Kokcharov, a security analyst specializing in Ukraine and Russia at intelligence firm S&P Global, told iNews. “I would expect the Ukrainians to regain more territory.”
That is likely welcome news for the West, which continues to support Ukraine. It also could be a form of vindication that Kyiv’s slow progress was the right course of action.
“Criticizing the slow pace of (the) counteroffensive equals … spitting into the face of (the) Ukrainian soldier who sacrifices his life every day, moving forward and liberating one kilometer of Ukrainian soil after another,” Kuleba said at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Spain this week. “I would recommend all critics to shut up, come to Ukraine and try to liberate one square centimeter by themselves.”
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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