Ukraine Monitor presents the latest news concerning internal and external matters of Ukraine – a unique country where the interests of the East and the West clash almost every day.
Date: 29 August 2023
Ukraine About To Make Vital Breakthrough In Zaporizhzhia
Three months into their long-awaited counteroffensive, Ukrainian forces are gaining a foothold in the area where they have breached Russia’s first main defensive line in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine could liberate the strategic settlement of Tokmak and thus cut communications and supply lines between Russia and the Russian-occupied territory of Crimea and the eastern Kherson region.
On August 23, the Ukrainian 47th Mechanized Brigade liberated Robotyne. The village is situated some 75 km northeast of Melitopol and 100 km from the port of Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov. Seizing Robotyne does not mean easier access to the Sea of Azov; instead, it helps Ukrainian troops carry on more offensive operations. Russia has lost a major stronghold in its defensive system in this sector. Ukraine succeeded amid Kyiv’s decision to amass troops along some sectors of the frontline, a move somewhat enforced by Ukraine’s Western allies. General Valery Zaluzhny, the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on August 10 had phone calls with General Mark Milley, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, UK Admiral Tony Radakin, and General Christopher Cavoli, the Supreme Commander of the NATO Joint Armed Forces in Europe. On August 15, Zaluzhny along with some senior Ukrainian military commanders met with top NATO officials at an undisclosed location in southeastern Poland. During an hours-long talk and maps analysis, all parties eventually came to an understanding. Ukraine’s Western allies urged Kyiv to focus war efforts on just one or two sectors, preferably in the south in Zaporizhzhia, and not in the east, thus in Donbas. Now Ukrainian forces are approaching Russia’s weaker second defensive line in southern Ukraine. The second line resembles the first as it features minefields, fortifications, anti-tank ditches, or trenches, but it contains fewer mines. The reason for that is simple–– to guarantee a safe way for the troops retreating from the first defensive line. “Our troops are moving southeast of Robotyne, towards Novoprokopivka and Ocheretovate,” Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar told journalists. The situation seems serious as Russia has sent airborne troops to safeguard defensive positions. Moscow has deployed its 76th Guard Air Assault Division (GAAD) to the region, with elements being spotted near Robotyne last week. Ukrainian forces advanced closer to the weaker Russian second line of defense in the Robotyne area. The third line is seemingly weaker than the second one. Russia is now building up its second and third defensive line in occupied territory in southern Ukraine. Fighting was fierce in Zaporizhzhia on August 22–25. Ukrainian forces made persistent efforts to push Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army despite Russian reinforcements. Since mid-August, Ukrainian soldiers have been widening a gap in the frontline between the villages of Robotyne and Verbove. Ukrainian forces blitzed south from the town of Velyka Novosilka to launch an assault on Pryutny and Kermenchyk. Kyiv reported local battles near the lower Dnipro River where Ukrainian forces had gained a foothold on the right bank. Russia’s situation worsened after experienced troops had been moved eastwards to Zaporizhzhia, where Ukrainian troops breached the Russian defensive system in two sections. Moscow moved a regiment of the 7th Guards Air Assault Division to Robotyne from a defensive line along the lower Dnipro River. It is another example of the weakening of the Dnipro Army Group as earlier another regiment of the 7th Division and a motor rifle brigade had been moved eastwards.
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