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Official: Russia starts reinforcing 'third line' of defenses in south

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 13, 2023 7:53 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian soldiers of the infantry unit from the Territorial Defense Unit (TRO) 62nd Battalion of the 103rd Brigade go to their positions for a mission with a military vehicle in Zaporizhzhia Oblast on Aug. 23, 2023. (Photo by Andre Alves/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Russian forces have started to strengthen the "third line" of defense in Russian-occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of Melitopol, said on Telegram on Sept. 13.

Ukraine is on the offensive on the southern front towards Melitopol, which was captured by Russian forces shortly after the start of the war.

Russian forces have begun to reinforce the 'deep rear' of their defenses on the southern front line, even as they claim Ukraine's counteroffensive has already failed, Fedorov said.

These measures include new trenches around Polohy, currently around 15 kilometers from the front line, as well as anti-tank obstacles and roadblocks in villages near Tokmak.

Tokmak is over 20 kilometers to the southwest of Robotyne, a settlement in Zaporizhzhia Oblast that Ukraine confirmed was liberated at the end of August.  

Fedorov reported that the Russian military is bringing ex-prisoners to hold the front line around Robotyne, which was a strong point on the first main defensive belt the Russian forces had constructed.

Ukrainian forces have retaken 4.8 square kilometers of land from Russian troops on the southern front over the past week, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Sept. 11.

In total, Ukrainian forces have retaken 256.5 square kilometers of land on the southern front, which covers Zaporizhzhia Oblast and a part of Donetsk Oblast, since the start of the full-scale invasion, Maliar reported.

As counteroffensive presses forward in southeast, ‘every meter costs a life’
Editor’s note: The Kyiv Independent is not disclosing the soldiers interviewed in the story by their full names due to security concerns amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. The article also contains photos that some readers may find disturbing. DONETSK OBLAST – Twenty-nine-year-old assault company com…
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