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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.