The Ukrainian Armed Forces have breached the first line of Russian defences on the southern frontline near Zaporizhzhia after several weeks of mine clearance efforts, Ukrainian southern front commander Oleksandr Tarnavskiy said in an interview with The Guardian published on Saturday.
The commander claimed that the Ukrainian troops are now located between the first and the second line of defences in the Robotyne-Verbove area and are advancing to expand the breached area, strengthening their positions on the liberated territories.
The Russian forces spent around 60% of their time and resources to mount the first line of defences and only 20% for the second and the third ones each because they did not expect that Ukrainian troops would manage to break through, Tarnavskiy noted.
The second line is not fortified like the first one, which means that Ukraine can use its military equipment and hardware. Moscow is feeling this pressure, which forces the command to redeploy additional forces from other parts of the frontline and also from Russia.
“The enemy is pulling up reserves, not only from Ukraine but also from Russia. But sooner or later, the Russians will run out of all the best soldiers. This will give us an impetus to attack more and faster,” the commander added. He believes that the advance will only get easier from this point on.
On 2 September, The New York Times published a report about the Ukrainian advance along the frontline, covering the new defence tactic used by Russia: setting minefields ablaze. Ukrainian service members say that Russian troops lace pastures filled with mines with flammable agents. As soon as the Ukrainians begin a mine clearance operation, the Russians drop a grenade from a drone, “igniting a sea of fire and explosions”.
However, despite the slow and tough advance of the Ukrainians forces, some of them believe that the breach of the first line of defences will unlock a direct passage to the Sea of Azov for them:
“We will be able to go directly to the sea from the first and the second line of defences, no more fortifications,” one marine told the newspaper.