Ukraine breaches Russia’s Zaporizhzhia defensive line near Verbove | EUROtoday

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DNIPRO, Ukraine — Ukrainian forces and their armored automobiles punched by Russia’s predominant defensive line on the conflict’s southern entrance and are working on the opposite facet, a neighborhood commander stated Saturday, in a modest however essential achieve for Kyiv because it seeks a serious breakthrough in its grueling counteroffensive.

A Ukrainian air assault unit commander combating within the southeastern Zaporizhzhia area stated that over the previous week, the armored automobiles pushed by the so-called “Surovikin line” near Verbove, a small village situated a number of miles from Robotyne, which Ukrainian forces liberated final month. Russia nonetheless has substantial defenses constructed south of the line, akin to these surrounding Tokmak, about 25 miles southwest of Verbove.

The commander additionally stated that sending by the automobiles, together with German Marders and American Strykers, has come at a excessive value. “A lot of equipment was lost there,” he stated, talking on the situation of anonymity as a result of he was not approved to take action publicly.

The Surovikin line — named for the previous head of Russian forces in Ukraine, Gen. Sergey Surovikin, whom President Vladimir Putin fired originally of this yr — consists of three defensive belts, with a ultimate line of trenches and “dragon’s teeth,” concrete pyramid-shaped obstacles meant to decelerate automobiles and channel them into kill zones.

The commander stated that Ukrainian infantry handed the ultimate line “two to three weeks ago,” however the automobiles have solely lately been in a position to transfer by. He stated that “the front line has also moved further back behind the dragon’s teeth,” however this has taken place “more slowly.”

“You just have to understand that there is a saturation of antitank mines and a saturation of enemy forces, it’s just colossal,” the air assault forces commander stated. “In the direction of Robotyne and Verbove, there’s a constant incoming traffic of assault troops.”

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Analysts on the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War stated in a report on Thursday that geolocated pictures indicated that “armored vehicles are operating beyond the final line of the Russian defensive layer,” however they had been “not yet prepared to assess that Ukrainian forces have broken fully through” Russian defenses.

“It is unclear if Ukrainian forces retain these positions, however,” ISW wrote. “This is the first observed instance of Ukrainian forces operating armored vehicles beyond the Russian tri-layer defense.”

But Ukrainian forces’ “ability to bring armored vehicles to and through the most formidable Russian defenses” and “operate these vehicles near prepared Russian defensive positions” had been “important signs of progress in the Ukrainian counteroffensive,” ISW wrote.

Since launching their counteroffensive in June, Ukrainian forces have made solely incremental progress towards Russia’s well-fortified defenses, which embrace areas saturated with tank and antipersonnel mines between three and 10 miles deep.

The gradual tempo of the assault, which goals to drive Russian forces from Ukraine fully, has led Western officers to conclude that the counteroffensive will probably not obtain its short-term objectives — akin to reaching the town of Melitopol near the Azov Sea — earlier than winter begins.

Open-source photographs shared on social media, however that weren’t verified by The Washington Post, confirmed armored automobiles past the defensive line. They included photographs of U.S.-supplied Strykers, an eight-wheeled assault automobile that may ferry 11 troopers to the battlefield however has restricted safety towards tanks and anti-armor rockets.

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Footage additionally confirmed different Western-made mine-resistant automobiles, which provide safety for troopers on their option to the battle, and Marders, a German-manufactured assault automobile, which makes use of a 20 mm cannon gun to focus on enemy forces and shield weak allied automobiles.

Stern reported from Kyiv. Anastacia Galouchka in Kyiv contributed to this report.