War in Ukraine: Is the counter-offensive making progress?

5 days ago 53

Ukrainian troops successful  a trenchImage source, Getty Images

By Frank Gardner

BBC Verify

Ukraine's generals accidental they person "broken through" Russia's archetypal enactment of defence successful the south.

We've assessed however acold Ukrainian forces person truly progressed, and what signs determination are of further breakthroughs on the frontline.

Ukraine began its large counter-offensive successful aboriginal June to propulsion Russian forces backmost from onshore they seized. It attacked astatine 3 points on the 600-mile-plus (965km) frontline.

The country to the south-east of the metropolis of Zaporizhzhia is by acold the astir strategically important.

Striking retired successful this absorption towards the Sea of Azov, if successful, could chopped disconnected Russia's proviso lines that link the Russian metropolis of Rostov-on-Don to Crimea.

There hasn't been overmuch advancement connected this front, but for the country astir the villages of Robotyne and Verbove successful the Zaporizhzhia region, arsenic seen highlighted successful purple successful the representation above.

If Ukraine tin sever this main proviso way past Russia volition find it each but intolerable to support its immense garrison successful Crimea which it annexed successful 2014.

Despite important obstacles, determination are present confirmed sightings of Ukrainian troops breaching Russia's antiaircraft structures on the confederate front.

We person verified 9 societal media videos on the frontline adjacent Verbove.

Four of the videos amusement Ukrainian forces breaching Russian defences northbound of Verbove.

However, these amusement incursions, not that Ukraine has managed to instrumentality power of the area.

So acold it has lone been Ukrainian infantry getting through, and we're not seeing Ukrainian armoured columns pouring through, exploiting the spread and holding the crushed taken.

What is stopping Ukraine advancing faster?

This is what they look similar from abstraction - lines of interlocking obstacles, trenches, bunkers and minefields, each covered by artillery.

Vast minefields person slowed the Ukrainian advance.

These minefields are intensely packed, successful immoderate places up to 5 mines laid successful a quadrate metre.

Your instrumentality whitethorn not enactment this visualisation

Ukraine's archetypal effort to complaint done them successful June rapidly ended successful failure, with its modern, Western-supplied armour crippled and burning. Ukrainian infantry came likewise unstuck, taking horrific casualties.

Kyiv has since had to edifice to clearing these mines connected foot, often astatine nighttime and sometimes nether fire. Hence the dilatory advancement to date.

Ukraine's tanks and armoured vehicles are susceptible to Russia's mines, drones and anti-tank missiles - similar successful this video analysed by BBC Verify which shows a British-supplied Challenger 2 vessel that got deed adjacent Robotyne.

Media caption,

Ukraine: First British Challenger 2 vessel destroyed

These volition lone beryllium capable to propulsion guardant successful numbers erstwhile a sufficiently wide way has been cleared done the minefields and erstwhile Russian artillery determination has been subdued.

What adjacent for Ukraine's counter-offensive?

"The occupation that the Ukrainians person now", says Dr Marina Miron astatine King's College London War Studies Department, "is to get an opening large capable to get much troops in".

Meanwhile Russia has been moving successful reinforcements, and this battlefront is dynamic, it's moving, and Russia could inactive reverse Ukraine's gains.

We've geolocated a Russian drone video which backs up reports that its elite airborne forces, the VDV, person deployed adjacent to the municipality of Verbove - a determination aimed astatine plugging immoderate gaps created by Ukraine's counter-offensive.

"Ukrainian forces proceed to look absorption from Russian forces connected the battlefield," says Kateryna Stepanenko, Russia expert astatine the London-based deliberation tank, RUSI.

"Alongside artillery fire, drone strikes and Russian antiaircraft structures - Russian forces are besides extensively utilizing physics warfare measures that purpose to impede Ukrainian signals and drone usage."

Ukraine has hardly progressed much than 10% of the mode to the coast, but the world is overmuch much nuanced than that.

Image source, Reuters

Image caption,

Ukrainian troops adjacent the colony of Robotyne connected the confederate frontline

Russia's forces are exhausted and perchance demoralised aft sustaining 3 months of intensive attacks, including long-range strikes that are targeting their proviso lines.

If Ukraine tin interruption done the remaining Russian defences and scope arsenic acold arsenic the municipality of Tokmak past this would bring Russia's obstruction and roadworthy proviso routes for Crimea wrong scope of its artillery.

If they tin bash that, past this antagonistic violative tin beryllium judged a qualified success.

It whitethorn not extremity the war, which is apt to resistance connected good into 2024 and possibly longer - but it would earnestly undermine Moscow's warfare effort and enactment Ukraine successful a beardown presumption for erstwhile bid talks yet begin.

But for Kyiv, the timepiece is ticking. The rainy play volition get wrong weeks, turning the roads to mud and hindering further advances.

Beyond that lies the uncertainty of the US statesmanlike elections, wherever a Republican triumph could spot US subject enactment for Ukraine dramatically slashed.

President Putin knows helium needs to pugnacious it retired until then. The Ukrainians cognize they person got to marque this counter-offensive succeed.

Reporting by Jake Horton, Paul Brown, Benedict Garman, Daniele Palumbo, Olga Robinson.

Graphics by Tural Ahmedzade, Mark Bryson, Erwan Rivault.

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