Ukrainian officials continue to sound optimistic that the second line of Russian defensive fortifications on the southern front may be easier to penetrate than the first, as Kyiv’s troops try to push through a web of dense minefields in a grinding counteroffensive.
Geolocated video in recent days indicates Ukrainian units have made limited progress beyond the village of Robotyne, as they seek to expand the territory in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region they reclaimed in August.
Ukraine’s military appears to have targeted its operations toward the strategic town of Tokmak — just south of Robotyne — a logistic hub that Russian forces use for resupply, and where fuel and ammunition depots are located.
Last week, Ukrainian forces said they had penetrated the first line of Russian strongholds in Zaporizhzhia.
However, the surrounding occupied area is encircled by complex lines of Russian defenses including minefields, anti-tank barriers and deep-set trenches, posing acute challenges for Ukrainian troops trying to regain the territory.
In attempting to breach the second line of Russian defenses, Ukrainian units “will benefit from the fact that the network of trenches, dugouts, and overlaps there is not as strong as on the first line,” Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesman for Ukrainian forces in the south, told Ukrainian television on Monday.
But Shtupun conceded that the second line “is quite powerful.”
“I don’t know why everyone thinks it is weaker. Indeed, the density of minefields there is lower, but their number is also quite large. The only thing that can play into our hands is that the trenches, dugouts, and overlaps are not as strong.”
The Ukrainian military said on Wednesday that it repelled a counterattack by Russian forces near Robotyne.
The General Staff said its units had been successful in consolidating their positions, inflicting artillery fire on identified enemy targets and conducting counter-battery operations.
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