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NY Post
New York Post
2 Sep 2023

NextImg:Ukraine counteroffensive breaks through Russia’s strongest defense line in south

Ukrainian forces reportedly broke through Russia’s first — and strongest — line of defense in the south and have taken aim at Moscow’s military units that provide cover for fleeing soldiers.

The breakthrough came after weeks of slow progress as Ukrainian forces cleared minefields in the Zaporizhzhia region amid the counter-push, a high-ranking military official said.

Brig. Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavskiy told The Guardian Moscow’s first line of defense was its strongest, because Russia devoted most of its resources to it since they did not expect Ukraine to get so far.

Tarnavskyi estimated that Russia spent about 60% of its time and resources building the initial line of defense, while committing about 20% each to its second and third lines.

“We are now between the first and second defensive lines,” he said.

“In the center of the offensive, we are now completing the destruction of enemy units that provide cover for the retreat of Russian troops behind their second defensive line,” he added.

In the weeks leading up to the breakthrough, Ukrainian infantry engineers meticulously cleared a route through a minefield while Russia troops “just stood and waited for the Ukrainian army” while they did so, using drones and artillery to pick off vehicles.

However, since the defensive line was broken, Moscow started shifting troops from Kherson in the west and Lyman in the north-east, as well as from inside Russia, to the southern region.

Ukrainian soldiers conducting a counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region were filmed burning Russian flags.

“The enemy is pulling up reserves, not only from Ukraine but also from Russia,” Tarnavskiy said.

“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. Everything is ahead of us.”

He added that the counteroffensive got off to a slow start because of the de-mining process — which had to be carried out at night to avoid Russian strikes — and because wounded soldiers had to be evacuated.

However, he said the breakthrough was a big step.

“In my opinion, the Russians believed the Ukrainians would not get through this line of defense,” Tarnavskiy said.

A Ukranian soldier takes a selfie in front of an artillery vehicle as it fires.
Ukraine has been focusing on attacking Russian military units used to provide cover fire for retreating troops, Brig. Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavskiy said.

“They had been preparing for over one year. They did everything to make sure that this area was prepared well.”

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Washington has taken note of Ukraine’s counteroffensive push, which he said made “some notable progress” over the last 72 hours.

The advances came as the U.S. appears to be planning to send controversial depleted uranium ammunition as a part of a new aid package.

The multimillion-dollar aid package could include the uranium rounds, which use a dense metal to penetrate armor, that are designed to be fired from U.S.-made Abrams tanks, which are expected to be included in the same package, according to a report citing a draft document and two American officials.

The U.K. sent depleted uranium rounds, meant to be used in British Challenger 2 tanks, in March, although the decision sparked backlash after Russia used the shipment of shells, which they claimed contained a “nuclear component,” as a pretext to station nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory.

Meanwhile, Ukraine continued targeting a key bridge linking Russia to Crimea, according to Moscow officials.

Russia destroyed three naval drones that were attempting to attack the bridge, causing it to temporarily close for the third time in less than a year, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday.

Ukraine, which has generally avoided commenting on attacks carried out of Russian territory, did not confirm whether it launched the drones.

With Post Wires