In the current climate of an ongoing confrontation, the Zaporizhzhia region in southeast Ukraine has emerged as the newest battleground, according to Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu. Amidst this 18-month-long conflict, Ukrainian forces are accelerating their counteroffensive campaign.
Shoigu informed Russian military officials that reserve brigades have been mobilized in Ukraine, with training provided by their Western allies. However, Shoigu failed to substantiate his claim, and independent verification could not establish its credibility.
The southeast is prime ground for potential influence over the trajectory of the war. The collapse of Russian defenses in this region could pave way for Ukrainian forces to push southwards, splitting Russian forces.
Shoigu’s statements are supported, at least in part, by other reports, and assessments of Ukraine’s three-month operational attempt to dislodge Russian troops. The Institute for the Study of War, using geolocated footage, has asserted that Ukrainian light infantry has moved beyond some of Russia’s sophisticated defenses, including anti-tank ditches and dense minefields, in Zaporizhzhia. Although, they could not confirm breaching these defenses entirely due to the lack of Ukrainian heavy armour presence.
Ukrainian brigades in the south are edging forward, claiming recent victories under intense fire. The ongoing counteroffensive, initiated three months ago, has seen Ukraine pushing 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) into the Zaporizhzhia region. Last week, Ukrainian forces successfully overcame sturdy Russian fortifications to reclaim the village of Robotyne, marking the first significant tactical victory in that region.
Advancements have continued in these areas with the recaptured positions now being fortified. However, battlefield claims from both sides could not be independently verified.
Looking ahead, a 15-kilometre advance from Robotyne could place Ukraine within striking distance of Russia’s vital east-west transport routes – a development that could significantly impair Moscow’s combative capabilities.
The absence of air cover is making the Ukrainian advancements more challenging, while Russia is launching its own attacks in the northeast to keep Ukrainian forces engaged and impede their redeployment to the south.
Ukraine has recently tweaked its counteroffensive tactics, shifting from brute force through Russian lines using Western-supplied armour, to more refined tactical incursions that achieve small progress. However, this approach is proving slow, with an advancement of roughly 700-1,200 metres (2,300-4,000 feet) every five days, permitting Russian forces to reposition and regroup. This assessment stems from the Royal United Services Institute.