According to analysts, Ukrainian officials, and Russian military bloggers, Ukrainian forces are making progress along two major lines of attack after months of difficult advances through minefields, small villages, and open steppes. Although the advances may be small in terms of territory taken, they are compelling Moscow to redeploy forces. The Institute for the Study of war has called these advances “tactically significant,” and it is believed that they will create new challenges for Russian forces spread across the vast front line. Britain’s military intelligence agency has stated that the Russian redeployments could create opportunities for Ukraine to exploit.
The two main lines of attack for Ukrainian forces are heading south, one towards the Russian-occupied city of Berdiansk through the eastern village of Staromaiorske, and the other towards the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, a vital transportation hub near the coast. Ukrainian forces have advanced about 10 to 12 miles further south along both lines since they started their counteroffensive push in early June. However, military analysts caution that there are many factors that will determine the outcome of the fighting in the coming months, and the limited information put out by both armies makes it difficult to analyze.
As Russia tries to prevent a Ukrainian breakthrough, the move will likely weaken Russian defensive lines. Nonetheless, analysts warn that even if Ukraine’s forces manage to break through Russia’s first line of defense, Moscow has had ample time to prepare formidable fortified positions, including trenches, tank-traps, minefields, machine gun nests, and air support. Meanwhile, Russian forces are conducting their own offensive operations in northeastern Ukraine to draw Ukrainian forces away from other areas where they are on the offensive.
Ukraine is hoping that pressure along the front, combined with deep strikes aimed at command posts, ammunition depots, and supply lines, will eventually overcome the Russian defenses. The British analysis suggests that as Russia redeploys forces to defend against Ukraine’s main lines of attack, its defenses in the Kherson region along the Dnipro River will likely weaken. Ukraine currently holds the west bank of the river and has been harassing Russian forces on the other side. Ukrainian forces recently launched an assault across the Dnipro, but it is too early to determine whether they will be able to maintain a presence on the eastern bank.
In one of the main lines of attack, Ukraine has consolidated its gains around the ruined village of Staromaiorske and appears to be pushing farther south towards the Russian stronghold of Urozhaine. However, the city remains fiercely contested, with heavy artillery fire reported in the area. Along the line of attack towards Melitopol, Ukrainian forces have made steady progress around the village of Robotyne, despite having to navigate dense minefields and numerous obstacles.
Valerii Shershen, a representative of the Ukrainian forces, has reported that Russia is calling up reinforcements from its second lines of defense to stop the Ukrainian advance. Despite the challenges posed by minefields and constant airstrikes from Russian aircraft, Ukraine’s forces continue to make gains.