A Blog by Jonathan Low


Sep 12, 2023

Ukraine Widens Tokmak-Direction Bridgehead - And Are Using Tanks Extensively

As Ukrainian forces widen and deepen the expanding bridgehead south of Robotyne towards Tokmak, this enables them to use their new tanks more extensively because have more room to maneuver due to the suppression of Russian artillery and infantry who are being pushed further away from the axis of advance. 

While the Ukrainians have, until now, used tanks primarily as indirect artillery, they are now being used more for infantry attack support which is fearsome and efficient. As Ukraine further degrades Russian defensive capabilities, more tanks will be brought in to help create a breakthrough. JL 

Euromaidan Press reports:

Ukrainians captured 3 Russian trench networks west of Robotyne, then today, opened additional lines of attack from the north and gained more ground. Leopards 2A6 undermined the Russian defense in the tree lines before the infantry assault by demolishing it with high-explosive shells. Ukrainians also conducted a tank raid on Novoprokopivka. The tanks cut along the tree line from the Ukrainian side, causing detonations of anti-personnel mines. The tanks also demolished fortifications. After the tank raid, Ukrainian infantry conducted a clearing operation and established control. As the bridgehead continues to widen, Ukrainians will be able to use tanks more extensively.

Today, there are a lot of new developments in the Tokmak direction.

Map: screenshot from the video.

As Ukrainians secured the road to Robotyne, they started to ramp up their offensive operation in all directions. The first direction of advancement became Kopani. The goal of Ukrainians here is to demolish the remnants of the first defense line to gain more freedom of movement inside the bridgehead. As you can see, if Ukrainians broke the Robotyne-Verbove section of the first line of defense long ago, then the Robotyne-Kopani section remained virtually intact, constricting the movement of the Ukrainian assault units.

If yesterday, Ukrainians were confirmed to capture up to 3 Russian trench networks west of Robotyne by attacking them from the village itself, then today, according to Russian sources, Ukrainians opened additional lines of attack from the north and successfully gained more ground.

Map: screenshot from the video.

Ukrainian sources published combat footage showing how several Leopards 2A6 were undermining the Russian defense in the tree lines before the infantry assault by demolishing it with high-explosive shells. The moment Ukrainians saw the explosion of the first Russian artillery shell, they retreated, never giving the Russians time to correct their fire and destroy Leopards.

However, this was already enough, and after a series of assaults, Russians were pushed out of multiple positions. Shortly after that, Ukrainian fighters released a video of how they were evacuating a stuck Russian tank, which suggests that those fields that were previously in the grey zone are now under total Ukrainian control.

Evacuation of a captured Russian tank stuck in the mud in the area of Kopani, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Screenshot from the video

But this was just the beginning. Today, Ukrainians also conducted a tank raid on Novoprokopivka. Recently released combat footage gave a lot of insights into what was actually happening on the ground.

Map: screenshot from the video.

It looks like the tanks entered the area right after artillery preparation, which successfully blew up small Russian ammunition depots in the shelters.

Aerial view of the Novoprokopivka area during the Ukrainian attack. Screenshot from the video.

After the tanks cut the distance and got close to the tree line, one of them tried to go as much through the line as possible and also along the tree line from the Ukrainian side. This is a very prudent move because it causes detonations of anti-personnel mines and creates safe trails for the infantry that is going to enter this region after the tanks. The hardest part is to get there safely, and Ukrainian fighters will have a lot of cleared ground from the safest side. Once the infantry is there, they will be able to demine the whole tree line gradually.

The tanks also looked for intact shelters or any fortifications that could present a threat, especially to the infantry, and made sure that everything was demolished.

Ukrainian tank clearing a tree line near Novoprokopivka. Screenshot from the video.

Soon, the tree line was cleared. However, Ukrainians did not stop here and moved further. As they got closer to the new positions, the tanks became in direct view of one of the Russian ATGM positions. Unfortunately for the Russians, the missile missed the target. A Ukrainian drone operator immediately identified the area from where the missile was launched and gave the coordinates to both the artillery and tank crews.

The ATGM position was quickly suppressed, if not completely demolished, and Ukrainians decided to continue their movement even deeper. Shortly, they got right in front of the village of Novoprokopivka and opened fire on the Russians inside the village. The standing tanks became a perfect target, and the Russians took another try to destroy them. Fortunately, the Ukrainian drone operator was extremely vigilant, noticed the Russian kamikaze drone, and immediately told the crew. The drone missed the target as well. After all objectives were achieved, the tank crews returned to the base.

After the tank raid was completed, Ukrainian infantry conducted a clearing operation and established total control over new positions.

Map of the situation at Novoprokopivka after the Ukrainian assault operation. Screenshot from the video.

One fighter showed that his unit collected a whole trunk of equipment in the trenches. Another fighter filmed a video on the contact line between Robotyne and Novoprokovka. Because of the necessity to cross an open space, the reconnaissance unit had to always be running. The fighter said that the area is being surveilled, and some sections of the trail are not only densely mined but also under sniper control. The fact that the fighter published the video means that he safely returned and the operation was likely successful.

The analysts claimed that as the bridgehead continues to widen and Russians continue to lose one hill after another, Ukrainians will be able to use their tanks even more extensively because the area will be more secure. And as seen from the footage, tank raids simplify the infantry’s job much more than mere artillery strikes.

Robotyne bridgehead landscape. Map: screenshot from the video.


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