A Blog by Jonathan Low


Sep 3, 2023

Ukraine's Pace of Advance Increases As Hilltop Fort South of Robotyne Captured

Despite Ukraine's post-Robotyne offensive shift towards Verbove, Ukrainian forces increased the pace of their advance south of Robotyne, capturing the most prominent Russian hilltop strongpoint in that direction. 

They did so by attacking when the Russians were rotating in replacements, catching the Russian units by surprise and taking the fortification, which opens up further lines of advance towards Tokmak. JL 

Yuri Zoria reports in Euromaidan Press:

The pace of Ukrainian advance is steadily increasing. Russian sources confirmed that Ukrainians breached fortification “Boot,” located on a hill, the most formidable strong point south of Robotyne. The Ukrainians did it after they deprioritized this direction and started focusing on Verbove. The commander of the Ukrainian units closely monitored when Russians were rotating their troops. A small Ukrainian assault unit caught them by surprise during a rotation and established control over the fortification. Ukraine breached the second line of defense at 2 points, anticipating more extensive use of tanks and heavy equipment when Ukrainians get closer to the third line of defense south of Verbove.

The biggest news comes from the Tokmak direction. After Robotyne was lost, Russian sources started circulating information about the Russian plans. They claimed that the retreat from Robotyne was done to allow Ukrainians to get deep inside the pocket to close in in the future with as many Ukrainians as possible. Russians also conducted an information operation and released fake documents to claim that Ukrainians received an order to kill every Russian soldier who would surrender. This information operation aims to scare Russian troops and force them to fight till the end instead of surrendering.

Map: screenshot from the video.

Unfortunately for Russians, today, they lost the most powerful fortification south of Robotyne anyway. At noon, Russian sources confirmed that Ukrainians breached the so-called fortification “Boot.” If we look at the topographic map, we can see that this position is also located on a hill, making it a formidable strong point.

Interestingly, Ukrainians also did it after they deprioritized this direction and started focusing on Verbove. The reason why Ukrainians still managed to establish control over this position lies in the fact that the commander of the units on the ground was very patient and closely monitored how and when Russians were rotating their troops. When he collected all the necessary information, he prepared a small Ukrainian assault unit that caught them by surprise right during rotation and established total control over the fortification in minutes.

Some Russian sources claimed that this was the last powerful Ukrainian attack because there were no more troops and equipment left, while others gave a milder prognosis and claimed that Ukrainians had forces maximum for one more powerful push.

The Ukrainian side indirectly responded to this information operation by releasing a video with dozens of Western tanks, claiming that they still have a lot of resources and that Russians are yet to see a powerful attack.

And this is partially true because, so far, Ukrainians were facing extremely dense minefields that they needed to slowly and methodically pass and demine. But now, as Ukrainians already breached the second line of defense at least at 2 points, some Russian analysts started talking about the possibility of a more extensive use of tanks and heavy equipment, especially when Ukrainians get closer to the third line of defense south of Verbove.

And the Russian High Command seems to understand that Russian forces may not be able to withstand the pressure, especially given that the pace of Ukrainian advancement is gradually but steadily increasing.

Map: screenshot from the video

That is why, as reported by the Head of Ukrainian Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, the Russian military deployed elements of the newly formed 25th Combined Arms Army to the front. Interestingly, this new Army was created as a part of a long-term objective to increase the size of the military. However, due to the horrible situation on the front, Russians had to urgently send them to the front. According to Ukrainian Intelligence, the 25th Combined Arms Army would not be combat-ready until at least 2024.

Right now, the formation is severely understaffed, not near the strength of two divisions, and, on top of that, did not complete the training. The 25th Army is supposed to substitute forces in the Luhansk region, while severely degraded but, at least, experienced troops from the 41st Army are being redeployed toward Tokmak.


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