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ISW: Ukrainian troops make 'tactical gains' in Zaporizhzhia Oblast and near Bakhmut

by Abbey Fenbert September 8, 2023 6:24 AM 2 min read
Remnants of a rocket in a sunflower field in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, near Ukraine's southern front line. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
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Ukrainian counteroffensive forces made gains in two sectors of the front, advancing in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and south of Bakhmut, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Sept. 7 report.

"Ukrainian forces are making tactical gains and successfully attriting defending Russian forces," the ISW said.

Citing geolocated footage and Russian military commentators, the ISW said that Ukrainian troops advanced north of Verbove, reaching the northwestern outskirts of the settlement.

Verbove is located in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast, about 10 kilometers east of the recently-liberated village of Robotyne.

The ISW also said counteroffensive units made gains southwest of Bakhmut.

As Ukrainian forces begin to breach Russia's outer lines of defense, expectations for the next stage of the counteroffensive are changing. On Sept. 7, U.S. intelligence official Trent Maul said there was a "realistic possibility" that Ukraine would break through Russia's second and third defensive lines by the end of the year.

The ISW also cited a Ukrainian official, former Aidar Battalion Commander Yevhen Dykyi, who said on Sept. 4 that Russia's next defensive layers are not as heavily mined as previous ones.  

"The subsequent series of Russian defensive positions may be weaker, less mined, and less manned than the defensive layer that Ukrainian forces have breached," the ISW said.

However, the ISW also injected a note of caution. While "Ukraine’s counteroffensive may achieve operational successes in 2023," the ISW said it was important to note that Russian defenses "are not uniform."

Moreover, Ukraine's southern front faces an additional challenge. The National Guard reported on Sept. 7 that Russia is relocating troops from other sectors of the front to positions in the south.

"[S]ubsequent series of Russian defensive positions still pose significant challenges for Ukrainian forces and may in sections be strongly held," the ISW said.

Larger US military package required, says former special representative for Ukraine
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