Ukrainian forces have successfully pushed through Russia’s defense lines in southeastern Zaporizhzhya, according to state media sources.
Earlier this week, gains were reported in the strategic city of Robotyne, which is home to a critical resupply highway used by Russia troops. “In the Novodanylivka-Novoprokopivka direction, they have been successful, are consolidating their positions, inflicting artillery fire on the identified enemy targets, and conducting counter-battery operations,” the Ukrainian military’s general staff said on Thursday.
Kyiv’s efforts to create cracks in Moscow’s defense lines have been extremely challenging, considering the landmines and anti-tank obstacles put in place by Russian forces.
While the U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have been frustrated with the lack of progress in Kyiv’s counteroffensive, these recent successes could alter the war’s trajectory.
Kyiv launched its highly anticipated counteroffensive back in June and has only managed to recapture small amounts of territory so far. However, Ukraine’s advances on the southern front is certainly a morale boost for the country which has been under siege for more than a year and a half. According to Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Kyiv’s success in taking back the Russian-occupied cities of Melitopol and Tokmak was particularly challenging due to the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), helicopters and other airframes that Moscow employs to dominate the airspace. He later described how the ultimate advances were made possible by a group of 31 Ukrainian soldiers who “literally crawled on their stomachs through kilometres of minefields”, eventually making it possible for a brigade to retake Robotyne.
Which weapons are fueling Ukraine’s advances?
Many Western officials had hoped that Kyiv would commence its counterattack much sooner, however, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was hesitant until additional supplies were provided. Since the invasion broke out in February 2022, the U.S. and NATO countries have delivered billions of dollars’ worth of military aid to support Ukraine’s defensive efforts.
Despite these staggering weapons shipments, Kyiv was still burning through ammo and other essential military goods on the battlefield.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the American-provided cluster munitions sent to Ukraine has been specifically helpful in its counteroffensive. The Biden administration was condemned by human rights organizations and other nations for providing these lethal bombs to Kyiv, which function similarly to landmines.
As detailed by the Journal: “Ukrainians on the offensive are using the munitions—which release dozens of smaller bomblets and can cause devastation over a broader area than ordinary artillery shells—to target Russian troops running across open ground, either to flee or to provide reinforcements.”
The arrival of Western tanks should further improve Kyiv’s arsenal
The incoming arrival of Western modern MBTs are also expected to enhance Kyiv’s counteroffensive attacks. In addition to the American-made M1A1 Abrams, more deliveries of British Challengers and German Leopard 2s will make useful reinforcements along the frontlines.
Russia’s own arsenal of armored vehicles has suffered greatly at the hands of Ukraine since the invasion first began. Considering Ukraine’s most recent advances and incoming weapons deliveries from the West, Russian troops and their more outdated equipment are in trouble.
Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.
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