Ukraine announced on Monday that it had liberated the settlement of Robotine in southeastern Ukraine and that its forces were pushing further south in a counteroffensive. The army said last week that they had raised the national flag in the strategic settlement, but are continuing to carry out clearing operations.
Robotine is located 10 kilometers from the frontline in Zaporizhzhya province and lies on an important road to the town of Tokmak, the Russian-occupied road and rail junction. If Ukrainians managed to capture that, it would be a major milestone for Ukrainian forces as they move toward the Sea of Azov.
In recent days, there have been increasing reports that the Ukrainians have broken through Russia’s first line of defense in the south. This has been denied by several sources, and the Russians have not yet confirmed the reports; however, German newspaper Welt reports that such a breakthrough has indeed occurred.
The paper writes: “Another breakthrough by the enemy would jeopardize the entire operational capability of the Russian army in southern Ukraine. The land bridge between Russia and the illegally occupied Crimean peninsula is at stake.”
In addition, the Ukrainians do not have to advance all the way to Melitopol and Berdyansk to cause serious damage to the Russians. According to the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), the Ukrainians only need to advance another 10 to 15 kilometers “to aim their guns at Russia’s east-west transport routes, essential for the combat effectiveness of the Russian army.”
Security policy expert Attila Demkó wrote on Facebook: “It is never what Russia (or Ukraine) says, but what it does. No matter what official Russia says, Robotine has fallen because there is fighting south of the settlement. Is this a “huge breakthrough” as some Hungarian portals interpret it? No, it’s not – it would be a huge breakthrough if Tokmak is taken.”
He also pointed out that the Russian actions show that they are taking the situation seriously, as the strongest Russian defense line is now defended by a strong Russian force and increased artillery support.
“Wherever the 76th VDV Division from Pskov appears, the situation is serious. They were there at Kyiv, Izium, Popasna and Bakhmut – and suffered heavy losses. But it is still an elite unit with morale and training above the average Russian conscript,” the expert explained. He added that if this defensive line is breached by the Ukrainians, there is the fortified Tokmak, which is a town of 30,000, not a village of a few streets, so it is very difficult to take.
“I still don’t think it likely that Tokmak will fall – Melitopol (over 60 kilometers from Tokmak) or Berdynansk (a hundred kilometers away) even less so. This is the reality, in my opinion,” added Demko, enclosing a map showing that the main defense line (Surovikin 1) has been reached by the Ukrainians in the last few days, with Surovikin 2 behind it, and then a large space to the sea.
Welt also reports that Ukraine has addressed its shell shortage in recent weeks, increasing its average daily shell expenditure from 3,000 to 8,000.