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26 Jul, 2023 18:20

Russian military repels ‘massive’ Ukrainian offensive – Defense Ministry

Kiev’s forces have lost 22 tanks in a single assault in Zaporozhye Region
Russian military repels ‘massive’ Ukrainian offensive – Defense Ministry

Russian troops have stopped an “intensive” effort by the Ukrainian military to break their defensive lines near the village of Orekhov in Russia’s Zaporozhye Region. The village and its surroundings have been the scene of fierce fighting for weeks, as Ukraine’s floundering counteroffensive drags on.

Kiev’s forces “resumed intensive offensive operations” just south of Orekhov on Wednesday morning, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that evening. Despite the Ukrainian army launching a “massive” assault with three battalions backed by tanks, Russia’s 810th Marine Brigade, and 71st Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division held their positions and repelled the Ukrainian advance, the ministry said.

During the battle, Ukraine lost 22 tanks, 10 infantry fighting vehicles, and more than 100 men, according to the ministry.

Nearby, Russian troops repelled an attack on the village of Rabotino, and used air and artillery power to hit Ukrainian units near Malaya Tokmachka, Yablokovo and Rabotino.

All of these locations sit within the formerly Ukrainian region of Zaporozhye, where Kiev’s  forces have been attempting for almost two months to penetrate Russia’s multi-layered defensive lines and push south to the Black Sea. If Ukraine were to succeed in this gambit, Russia’s land access to Kherson Region and Crimea would be severed.

However, Ukraine’s efforts have thus far been in vain. Russia has heavily mined the no-man’s-land in front of its defensive lines in this area, and early attempts to push through these minefields have proven disastrous for the Ukrainian military. Photos and videos from the beginning of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in June showed lines of destroyed tanks and armored vehicles sitting in minefields between Malaya Tokmachka and Rabotino, burning after they hit mines, and being targeted by artillery and Russian helicopters.

Ukraine’s 47th Mechanized Brigade – a NATO-trained unit – reportedly lost 30% of its US-supplied Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicles in two weeks near Orekhov and Rabotino, while the 33rd Mechanized Brigade lost nearly a third of its 32 German-made Leopard tanks in the same area in a single week.

Across the entire frontline, Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive has already cost Kiev 26,000 troops and 3,000 pieces of heavy military hardware since June, according to the latest figures from Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the Ukrainian operation as “suicidal.”

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has admitted to having difficulties, saying the counteroffensive is developing “slower than desired.” Amid reports that his Western backers are displeased at the pace of the offensive, Zelensky has attempted to shift the blame for the apparent failure to the West, saying that Ukraine did not receive enough munitions, weaponry, or training to succeed.