Ukraine makes progress in Zaporizhzhia as signs of insubordination among Russian paramilitaries persist

A soldier and a destroyed tank on Friday in Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia (Reuters) (VIACHESLAV RATYNSKYI /)

Ukrainian forces have achieved important tactical advances in western Zaporizhzhiaaccording to reports from Ukrainian and Russian sources that troops are currently advancing through a series of Russian defensive positions, in what could constitute the most challenging set of defensive lines prepared by Moscow, affected by a tense climate after the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The latest developments indicate that Ukrainian forces are now within range of the next series of Russian defences, according to the report of the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) released on Saturday.

Although potentially weaker than previous defenses, these positions still present a formidable challenge. Current Russian defensive positions are characterized by intricate layers of minefields and fortifications, the maintenance of which requires considerable resources and effort. The progression of Ukrainian forces along these lines is a significant achievement.

Geolocated images released on Friday indicate an advance of Ukrainian forces to the south, placing them 1.5 km northeast of Novoprokopivka. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed that Ukrainian troops are actively attacking the main set of Russian defensive preparations along their axis of advance. This suggests that Ukrainian forces could have successfully penetrated the more formidable Russian defenses in the region.

“Ukrainian forces continue the offensive operation in the direction of Melitopol (Zaporizhzhia region), consolidate in the positions reached and carry out counter-battery actions,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported on Saturday.

Advance of Ukrainian tanks in Robotyne (Reuters)
Advance of Ukrainian tanks in Robotyne (Reuters) (VIACHESLAV RATYNSKYI /)

It is notorious that the irregular Russian formations continue to manifest insubordination. He Sabotage and Reconnaissance Group “Rusich”, a Russian paramilitary unit, recently declared his refusal to carry out combat missions until the release of a commander is secured in Finnish custody, highlighting the challenges facing the Russian command in maintaining discipline among its irregular forces.

The Rusich Group indicated that it is likely to be operating on the Robotyne-Verbove line, a critical area of ​​the front line where the Russian military command probably cannot afford any unit to rebel and refuses to carry out combat missions. As stressed by the ISW, the Russian Defense Ministry has previously fought against insubordination and defection threats from other Russian units in the area.

Furthermore, reports suggest that the Russian Defense Ministry is persecuting junior officers and soldiers for complaining from top management’s inattention to front-line issues. This pattern of shifting blame away from senior officers highlights existing concerns within the Russian military command structure.

In its latest report on the situation on the Ukrainian fronts, the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) indicated that Russian troops defending in the eastern Zaporizhzhia region have not rotated or received significant reinforcements since the beginning of Junewhen the Ukrainian counteroffensive began.

Although reports indicate a significant Ukrainian advance, it is important to differentiate between individual Russian defensive positions and the broader defensive network of southern Ukraine. Defensive “lines” are characterized by layered positions, each with its own forward and rear zones. Russian defenses vary along the front, and not all positions are fully occupied. The operational reserves of the Russian forces appear limited, leading to lateral redeployments of elite formations to reinforce crucial sectors.

As speculation about the future of the Wagner Group continues, prominent channels directly affiliated with Wagner have provided no additional information. Russian sources are mainly focusing their attention on frontline activities.

The Kiev forces not only limited themselves to attacking the Russian defensive lines in the Zapoprizhzhia region, but also struck in the Crimea, where in a drone attack they caused “dozens of casualties” to the enemy, according to sources from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

“We can already speak for sure of several dozen dead and wounded Russians. Ammunition storage areas were also hit. In addition, the military material was seriously damaged,” the sources said.

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