Ukrainian armor has broken through Russia’s main defensive line in the southeast for the first time and is making major advances toward the town of Verbove, in a sign the counteroffensive is continuing to pick up pace and could soon reach a breakthrough.
Ukraine’s infantry made it past the main layer of defenses in the frontline weeks ago, but armored vehicles have now rolled past dragon’s teeth obstacles and are advancing near the town of Verbove in a critical step for Kyiv’s operation.
Armored vehicles, including American-made Strykers, breached the main layer of the infamous “Surovikin line” of defenses, named for the Russian Gen. Sergei Surovikin, which is made up of trenches, mines and anti-tank obstacles.
The Institute for the Study of War first assessed last week that armored vehicles likely penetrated the main layer, though it wasn’t immediately clear if the positions would hold.
Ukrainian commanders have also confirmed to media outlets that the armored vehicles blasted through the main line after troops cleared the way.
Videos and images online are also showing the breach, which indicates Ukraine is securing its position behind Russia’s defensive layers.
If Ukraine can secure its advance around the towns of Verbove and Novoprokopovka next, it can then advance toward Tokmak, a key waypoint toward the ultimate objective of taking the city of Melitopol.
Ukraine still has a long way to go, at least 15 miles or so, to reach Tokmak, and the path is scattered with more Russian defenses.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces continue to advance near Verbove, said Ukrainian military blogger Konstantin Mashovets, who described troops as “attempting to break through to the west of the village and bypass it from the north.”
Other Ukrainian forces are fighting fiercely against Russian forces in Novoprokopovka, where progress appears to be more limited. Russian forces are counterattacking against Ukraine’s advance viciously but are expending high rates of troops and supplies to do so.
Ukraine launched its counteroffensive in June and has struggled to make any headway. But in August, troops breached the first main defense layer and seized the town of Robotyne.