Ukraine retakes the village of Robotyne, south of Orikhiv

Ukraine has confirmed it has captured a key village on the southern Zaporizhzhia front, the latest step in a gradual advance aimed at splitting the Russian lines that defend the overland route to Crimea.

Hanna Maliar, a deputy defense minister, said on Monday morning that the village of Robotyne, south of Orikhiv, had been liberated, bringing Ukraine into contact with Russia’s main defense line to the south covering routes to the Sea of Azov.

Although the territory gained in the Orikhiv sector is relatively modest – about four miles since the start of the counteroffensive in June – Ukraine’s progress has been steady as it has cleared dense minefields and trenches on the frontline.

A lengthy social media post on Saturday by Oleksandr Solonko, a Ukrainian solider, outlined the difficulties faced by Ukrainian forces as they seek to advance across flat, open terrain punctuated by tree lines, where he said “your movement is visible from afar”, whether by drone or from defensive positions.

“There has been a great deal of talk about fortifications and minefields. Every tree line has been dug up.

“On one stretch of the Mariupol highway, anti-tank fortifications have been installed. We’re not just talking about trenches. There’s an entire system of trenches, dugouts, and even underground tunnels in some places,” he wrote.

Ukrainian forces quickly revised their strategy from the early stages of the counteroffensive to focus on clearing an area of mines – often a mix of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines – with specialist sapper infantry. But the soldiers are vulnerable to artillery strikes, making the task dangerous.

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s security council, told the Guardian that Russia had laid mines as densely as four to five per square metre in some places. He said progress “isn’t as quick as we’d like it to be, or as our partners would like it to be. But nevertheless we are going forward, step by step”.

The country is urgently trying to obtain extra mine-clearing equipment from the west, and last week Norway became the latest country to publicly confirm it was making a donation. “We are very grateful to all our partners but of course we’d like it more and faster,” Danilov said.

Ukraine came under pressure from the US earlier this month to concentrate its counteroffensive on the southern front amid concerns that the effort had been too spread out. As well as trying to press at two main points in the south, Ukraine had been attacking around Bakhmut in the east, baffling Washington.

Military insiders in Kyiv argue that Ukraine has to fight on a broad front, without significant air support, and has to respond to fresh Russian attacks. Since the start of August, Moscow has launched an artillery-led assault on Kupiansk, near Kharkiv, and territory to the east of the Oskil River, recaptured last September by Ukraine.

The frontline moved a couple of miles closer to Kupiansk in the middle of the month, forcing Kyiv to respond by announcing the evacuation of more than 10,000 civilians from the area and reinforcing the line.

Although the front appears to have stabilised, Russia is outshelling Ukraine by four to one in the sector, local commanders report.

© 2023, GDC. © GDC and Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.