An increase in fighting in two southern sectors of Ukraine has been reported as maps show the progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive which is nearly two months old.
Kyiv started the push to retake Russian-occupied territory around June 4 although analysts, world leaders and Ukrainian officials have said that it was going slower than expected.
However, it seems that the counteroffensive has entered a new phase. Citing Pentagon sources, The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Kyiv was committing much of its reserves to a large-scale attack on the sector of the front line south of Orikhiv in Zaporizhzhia oblast.
Unverified social media videos show Ukrainian vehicles reaching the first set of Russia’s heavily fortified defenses in the region.
British defense officials said on Saturday that there had been a spike in hostilities over the last 48 hours near the village of Robotyne, south of Orikhiv, the responsibility of Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army.
The Institute for the Study of War has provided daily maps along with its updates which graphicize the state of the conflict on the ground. On Friday, its map of the control of terrain around Robotyne said geolocated footage showed than Russian forces were exerting “less control” north and east of the settlement as of Thursday.
The ISW noted Russian military bloggers saying Moscow’s forces had repelled Ukrainian ground attacks near Robotyne and two other settlements south of Orikhiv.
Around 50 miles to the east, Ukrainian forces defeated the 247th Guards Air Assault (VDV) Regiment, part of the Russian airborne forces, to capture the village of Staromaiorske, in a gain that was touted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Meanwhile, in the north, other Russian VDV units continued their offensive operations in the Serebriansk Forest, west of Kreminna, in the Luhansk oblast but “have achieved little ground,” according to the U.K. Ministry of Defense.
The ISW map shows that Russian units had captured the settlement of Novohryhorivka and had crossed the Zherebets River.
Further south, Kyiv said that the counteroffensive on the northern and southern flanks of Bakhmut was continuing. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on Thursday that Kyiv’s forces continued an advance along the south of Donetsk city fiercely fought over for months.
Ukrainian forces led by the 3rd Assault Brigade are said to be closing in on the capture of the key settlement of Klishchiivka, the Kyiv Independent reported. Military analyst Rob Lee told the publication that the counteroffensive would continue for a while.
“I think we will see Ukraine eventually going back to that attritional approach with infantry assaults, going into August or maybe September,” he told the outlet.
It comes as the Russian-installed governor of Kherson Oblast, Volodymyr Saldo, said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces had attacked with cruise missiles the railway between Hehichesk in the region and Dzhankoi in occupied Crimea overnight on Friday.
Saldo said Ukraine had “fired 12 long-range Storm Shadow missiles,” and that “Russian air defense downed all of them.” The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday its air defenses had “downed seven Storm Shadow missiles” over the past day.