The War in Ukraine: Is the Counteroffensive Making Progress? | Albiseyler

The War in Ukraine: Is the Counteroffensive Making Progress?
  • By Frank Gardner
  • BBC to verify

image source, Getty Images

Ukrainian generals claim to have “broken through” Russia’s first line of defense in the south.

We assessed how far Ukrainian forces have actually advanced and what signs of further breakthroughs exist along the front line.

Ukraine launched its major counter-offensive in early June to push Russian forces back from the country they had occupied. He attacked at three points along a front line of more than 600 miles (965 km).

The area to the southeast of the city of Zaporozhye is by far the most strategically important.

A strike in this direction towards the Sea of ​​Azov, if successful, could cut the Russian supply lines that connect the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don with Crimea.

There hasn’t been much progress on this front, except for the area around the villages of Robotyne and Verbove in the Zaporozhye region, as shown on the map above highlighted in purple.

If Ukraine can cut off this main supply route, then Russia will find it almost impossible to maintain its huge garrison in Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

Despite significant obstacles, sightings of Ukrainian soldiers penetrating Russian defense structures along the southern front have now been confirmed.

We verified nine videos on social media along the front line near Verbova.

Four of the videos show Ukrainian forces breaching Russian defenses north of Verbov.

However, these show invasions, not that Ukraine managed to control the area.

So far only Ukrainian infantry have come through and we don’t see Ukrainian armored columns pouring through, exploiting the gap and holding ground.

What prevents Ukraine from progressing faster?

This is what they look like from space – rows of interlocking obstacles, trenches, bunkers and minefields, each covered by artillery.

Extensive minefields slowed Ukraine’s advance.

These minefields are intensely charged, in places up to five mines per square meter.

Ukraine’s first attempt to break through them in June quickly failed, and its modern, Western-supplied armor was battered and burned. The Ukrainian infantry arrived similarly untied and suffered terrible losses.

Since then, Kiev has had to resort to removing these mines on foot, often at night and sometimes under fire. Hence the slow progress so far.

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Ukraine: First British tank Challenger 2 destroyed

They will be able to assert themselves in numbers only after a sufficiently wide path through the minefields is cleared and the Russian artillery is defeated there.

What will happen next with Ukraine’s counter-offensive?

“The problem the Ukrainians have now,” says Dr Marina Miron of King’s College London’s War Studies Department, “is getting a big enough opening to get more troops in”.

Meanwhile, Russia is building up, and this battlefront is dynamic, moving, and Russia could still reverse Ukraine’s gains.

We’ve geolocated video from a Russian drone that supports reports that its elite airborne force, the VDV, has been deployed near the town of Verbove – a move aimed at filling any gaps created by the Ukrainian counter-offensive.

“Ukrainian forces continue to face resistance from Russian forces on the battlefield,” says Kateryna Stepanenko, a Russia analyst at London-based think tank RUSI.

“In addition to artillery fire, drone strikes and Russian defense structures – Russian forces are also making extensive use of electronic warfare measures aimed at obstructing Ukrainian signals and drone use.”

Ukraine has barely advanced more than 10% of the way to the coast, but the reality is much more subtle.

image caption,

Ukrainian soldiers near the village of Robotyne on the southern front

Russian forces are exhausted and possibly demoralized after suffering three months of intense attacks, including long-range attacks targeting their supply lines.

If Ukraine can break through the remaining Russian defenses and reach the town of Tokmak, then Russian rail and road supply routes to Crimea would be within range of its artillery.

If they can do that, then this counteroffensive can be considered a qualified success.

It may not end the war, which is likely to drag on until 2024 and possibly beyond — but it would seriously undermine Moscow’s war effort and put Ukraine in a strong position when peace talks eventually begin.

But for Kyiv, the clock is ticking. The rainy season will arrive within weeks, turning the roads into mud and making further progress impossible.

Behind this lies the uncertainty of the US presidential election, where a Republican victory could lead to a dramatic reduction in US military support for Ukraine.

President Putin knows he has to wait until then. The Ukrainians know that they must succeed in this counter-offensive.

Reporting by Jake Horton, Paul Brown, Benedict Garman, Daniele Palumbo, Olga Robinson.

Graphics by Tural Ahmedzade, Mark Bryson, Erwan Rivault.

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