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Russian forces have likely bolstered their defenses around the occupied town of Tokmak in the southeastern oblast of Zaporizhzhia, the U.K. Defense Ministry said on Sept. 17.
According to the ministry, Russian forces have in recent days added more checkpoints, anti-tank hedgehogs, and trenches in the area, which is currently held by Russia's 58th Combined Arms Army.
The U.K. Defense Ministry said the area, located 16 kilometers from the front line and around 60 kilometers northeast of occupied Melitopol, is likely to become "a lynchpin of Russia's second main line of defenses."
"Improvements to the town’s defenses likely indicate Russia’s growing concern about Ukrainian tactical penetrations of the first main defensive line to the north," the intelligence report says.
More than three months into Ukraine's long-awaited counteroffensive, Kyiv is taking initiative in some parts of the front line – mainly in Zaporizhzhia Oblast and in the Bakhmut and Velyka Novosilka axes in Donetsk Oblast.
Ukraine has thus far been able to liberate more than a dozen villages since early June, with the most recent success seen in the Bakhmut area.
Though it is difficult to hold on to recaptured territories, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar on Sept. 11 said that Ukraine has been able to liberate 4.8 square kilometers of territories in the southern part of Donetsk Oblast and in Zaporizhzhia Oblast over the past week.
Since the beginning of the counteroffensive in early June, Ukraine has liberated 256.5 square kilometers of territory on the southeastern front, according to Maliar.