Key developments on Aug. 28:
- Ukrainian forces liberate Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia Oblast
- Experts say 67% of foreign components in Russian drones originate in China
- Russia claims to destroy 2 drones, cruise missile over Crimea
- Russia likely cancels major military drills due to lack of troops, equipment, British defense ministry says
Ukrainian forces liberated Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia Oblast and moved southeast of the village, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said early on Aug. 28.
Maliar also said that the military is advancing towards nearby settlements of Novoprokopivka and Ocheretuvate in the Melitopol axis despite "Russian resistance."
Robotyne reportedly served for the Russian troops as a strongpoint, a key point in a defensive fighting position that anchored the overall defense line.
It took Ukrainian forces six days of heavy fighting to reclaim the village after Ukraine's 47th Mechanized Brigade broke through multi-echelon Russian defensive lines near Robotyne and entered the settlement on Aug. 22.
The following day, Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi posted a video showing the Ukrainian flag raised on the roof of a destroyed building in Robotyne.
The village was confirmed to be fully under control of Ukrainian troops on Aug. 28.
Ukrainian troops have managed to attack through Russia's first main defensive belt in some areas along the front lines, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said on Aug. 25 without specifying the area.
Securing Robotyne, around 20 kilometers from Orikhiv in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, allows Ukrainian troops to advance south toward the Russian-occupied Tokmak and Melitopol, the key logistics hubs of the Russian forces in the area.
The next major Russian strongpoint after Robotyne is Tokmak, 65 kilometers northeast of Melitopol, which potentially could open Russian logistical routes to Ukrainian artillery.
Following the announcement, Maliar said that Ukrainian forces are entrenching in the area after "having a success" southeast of Robotyne and south of Mala Tokmachka in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Meanwhile, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces reported in its evening update on Aug. 28 that Ukrainian forces are continuing offensive operations in the Melitopol direction. The axis is one of the three sectors where Ukraine conducts its counteroffensive launched in early June.
Besides the gains in the southeast, Ukrainian forces are also advancing in eastern Donetsk Oblast, reclaiming one square kilometer south of Bakhmut over the past week, Maliar reported.
Ukrainian forces have reclaimed a total of 44 square kilometers around Bakhmut since the start of the counteroffensive, according to the military.
Majority of foreign components in Russian drones originate in China
The Yermak-McFaul Expert Group on Russian Sanctions examined 174 foreign components from three drone models used by Russia to attack Ukraine — Shahed-136/131, Lancet, and Orlan-10 — discovering that more than 67% of foreign parts had come from China.
Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are responsible for 5 and 2 percent of parts, the President's Office said on Aug. 28.
The expert group found parts, including processors, microcircuits, and transistors, made in Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, and other countries.
While many components are available online, which makes it difficult to regulate, the expert group, led by President's Office Head Andriy Yermak and former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, called on manufacturers to do more to prevent Russia from accessing their products.
According to a Ukrainian internal document shared with the ambassadors of G7 member states and obtained by the Kyiv Independent, China accounted for 80% of the flow of electronics components to Russia, with over $211 million worth of products shipped over January and February of 2023 alone.
Russia claims destroying drones, missile over Crimea
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that its air defense had destroyed two drones and a cruise missile over the occupied Crimea on the morning of Aug. 28.
No casualties were reported.
The Kyiv Independent couldn't immediately verify these claims.
However, Krym Realii media outlet reported, citing local Telegram channels, that sounds similar to the air defense work were heard near Yevpatoria on Crimea's west coast.
The Russian Defense Ministry blamed Ukraine for the attack. Kyiv hasn't yet responded to the accusation.
Reports of drone and missile attacks targeting the Russian logistics, ammunition, and fuel depot and bases in occupied Crimea, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts have increased in recent weeks.
Russia likely cancels major drills due to lack of troops, equipment
Russia has "highly likely" canceled Zapad (West) drills, its large-scale joint strategic exercise, due to the lack of available troops and equipment, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported in its latest intelligence update on Aug. 28.
The exercise should have taken place in September and become "the culmination of the military's training year," according to the report.
"There is a realistic possibility that the Russian leadership is also sensitive to domestic criticism liable from running another slickly presented joint strategic exercise during wartime," the ministry said.
Russia has based the joint strategic exercise in western Russia at least every two years since 2010 as it prioritizes countering what it sees as a threat from NATO.
"The Russian military's under-performance in Ukraine has highlighted how joint strategic exercises have had limited training value and have largely been for show," the ministry said.
The Zapad drills in 2021 became the largest since the early 1990s.