Ukraine Situation Report: Kyiv’s Forces Enter Robotyne
After two months of fighting, Ukraine’s 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade says it broke through heavy Russian defenses and entered Robotyne.
Ukraine's 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade says it entered the strategic Zaporizhzhia Oblast town of Robotyne Tuesday with the help of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and rescued civilians under heavy fire.
“Two months of fierce fighting and the fighters of our brigade with the support of other units broke through the [multi-layered] line of defense of the occupiers,” the brigade said Tuesday on its Facebook page. “The first thing the military did was to inform the locals of the need to leave urgently, as the enemy cynically continues to wipe the village off the face of the earth.”
In a video released Tuesday by the brigade, Robotyne residents are seen greeting the troops who liberated them from 18 months of Russian occupation. The video opens with a drone shot of a column of Bradley Fighting Vehicles entering Roboytne, then cuts to troops dismounting from the Bradleys and being greeted by grateful residents at an undisclosed location.
"Already in a safer place, medics of the 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade examined the civilians and gave them the opportunity to call their relatives," the brigade said on its Facebook page.
But the danger there is not over.
“Soldiers of the 47th brigade, which entered the village of Robotyne with a fight, organized the evacuation of civilians on the Bradley,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Tuesday on her Telegram channel. “Our fighters perform planned combat work and destroy the enemy. In response, the Russians are continuously shelling Robotyne with artillery. Fighting continues.”
The U.S.-trained 47th - which operates donated Leopard 2 tanks as well as the Bradleys - has borne the brunt of difficult fighting in this sector of the front. It was their vehicles that were seen destroyed in June south of Mala Tokmachka in imagery widely shared on social media.
It is unclear how much of Robotyne has been liberated. The Kremlin-connected Rybar Telegram channel on Tuesday claimed that "fierce fighting" is still going on there.
"The Armed Forces of Ukraine are trying to cling to the center of the village with the tactics of 'meat assaults,'" Rybar claimed, using a phrase common on both sides for costly attempts at advancing.
The Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) on Tuesday said it repelled some attacks near Robotyne, but did not specifically address the claims that the 47th has entered the town.
“Geolocated footage published on August 20 and August 21 indicates that Ukrainian forces reached the central part of Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv) and broke through some Russian defenses south of Mala Tokmachka (9km southeast of Orikhiv)," the Institute for the Study of War said in its Aug. 21 assessment.
The liberation of Roboytne would be another small but important step in Ukraine's counteroffensive efforts in the push southward toward Melitopol, which, as we explained in December, is a key objective that must be overcome or bypassed in any effort to liberate Crimea or at least cut off Russia's land bridge to the occupied peninsula.
Located on the TO408 Highway, Robotyne is about 15 miles north of Tokmak, a heavily fortified Russian garrison city in occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast, which has to be taken or bypassed before Ukraine can reach Melitopol.
The coming days should show just how much momentum Ukraine has gained by breaking through the defenses of Roboytne.
Before we head into the latest news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage of the war here.
The first group of eight Ukrainian pilots is now in Denmark to learn how to fly F-16 Vipers, the Danish Defense Ministry said today in a statement.
The eight pilots have arrived at the Danish military air base in Skrydstrup along with 65 personnel who will be trained in maintaining and servicing the jets, the Danish armed forces said in a statement, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Denmark, as we reported Sunday, has also agreed to provide Ukraine with 19 F-16s. The Netherlands also pledged an unspecified number to Ukraine, with at least 42 aircraft in total being donated. You can read more about that in our story here.
Separately, English language training for Ukrainian Air Force pilots is underway in the U.K., a U.S. Air Force official told The War Zone Tuesday morning. Those are the pilots U.S. Air Force Gen. James Hecker, head of U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), as well as NATO's Allied Air Command and U.S. Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA) referred to last Friday.
During a press briefing Tuesday, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon's top spokesman, said while the U.S. is ready to train Ukrainian pilots here if European capacity is reached, no bases have yet been selected to conduct that training.
“In order to prevent a possible violation of the state border of the Russian Federation and to counter UAVs conducting radio-technical reconnaissance, two Russian fighter jets from on-duty air defense forces were raised,” the Russian MoD claimed on its Telegram channel. “As a result of the actions, the UAVs changed their flight direction and left the areas where aerial reconnaissance was being conducted.”
The Russian MoD did not say how close to Crimea the drones got or how long they were operating in the area. Nor did they specify who owned the TB-2 Bayraktar, which are made by Turkey but have been operated by the Ukrainian Air Force, especially during the early phases of this all-out war.
U.S. Air Force MQ-9s operate over the Black Sea frequently. The use of TB-2s by Ukraine has been significantly curtailed overall due to the fortification of Russia's anti-air umbrella over and beyond the front lines.
Seeing these two airframes operating together, if what Russia claims is true, is highly unusual.
We reached out to the Pentagon and U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) for additional details and will update this story with any information provided.
The Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) also claimed its jets destroyed two Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea in the past 24 hours.
The first incident took place last night, according to the Russian MoD, which said that “the crew of an Su-30SM [Flanker multi-role fighter] aircraft of the Black Sea Fleet's Naval Aviation destroyed an AFU reconnaissance boat near Russian gas platform in the Black Sea.”
The Russian MoD did not provide further details about what kind of boat or exactly where.
But they did provide details about an attack it said occurred around 11 a.m. Moscow time on Tuesday. The MoD said one of its fighters destroyed a U.S.-supplied Willard Sea Force high-speed patrol boat with a Ukrainian landing force east of Snake Island.
They released video of that, showing what appears to be the aircraft’s 30mm autocannon firing at and apparently destroying the boat, which tried to evade the attack with a zig-zag pattern. After several misses, the boat appears to be hit, but then the video cuts out.
Speaking of Crimea, Ukrainian Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Defense Intelligence Directorate, made an ominous veiled threat Tuesday of future Ukrainian attacks on the peninsula Russia has occupied since 2014.
In an interview with the ITV news agency Tuesday, Budanov stated that while there are individuals who are "very afraid" of the de-occupation of Crimea, there are also "a lot of people on the peninsula who are eagerly anticipating this outcome.”
"We need to instill confidence that their hopes are not in vain," Budanov said.
"That is why initiatives like the Crimean Platform are crucial. This involves resistance in the temporarily occupied territories and the removal of occupiers from our Crimea. Our actions are apparent now, with more to come in the next few days."
Asked by The War Zone for more details about what he means, Budanov offered a typically cryptic response.
"We will see," he said. "Wait."
The GUR also said that Russia is preparing for additional attacks on the Kerch Bridge, which was heavily damaged July 17 by a Ukrainian drone boat attack, which you can read more about here.
Russia is beginning to sink a second ferry to create a barrier around the bridge to protect it from future drone boat attacks, the GUR said Tuesday. The Russians plan to sink six ferries in that effort, the GUR claimed.
"Between the flooded ferries, the Russians intend to establish a boon fence. In this way, the enemy seeks to protect the Kerch bridge from defeat."
The bridge is being targeted to choke off Russian logistics, the GUR said.
"Periodic successful attacks by the Security and Defense Forces of Ukraine on this legitimate military goal led to serious damage to the construction of the bridge, in particular its road and railway canvases. Recent strikes on the Kerch bridge once again worsened the situation for the grouping of enemy troops in southern Ukraine and caused a hysterical reaction of the military and political leadership of the Moscow."
In addition to being used against vehicles, First Person Video (FPV) drones are also attacking personnel. In this video, a Russian FPV drone is seen attacking a Ukrainian soldier in a trench.
In this video, a Russian FPV drone attacks a Ukrainian soldier walking down a path. The drone is seen flying over two soldiers, then turning around to attack one of them. The soldier is seen trying to get out of its path before the video cuts to another drone view of an explosion seemingly in that location.
Ukrainians captured a Russian position and with it, a stack of Rubles, which they shared. But no one was getting rich. These 100 Ruble bills are worth about $1.06 a piece, if they can even find any place in Ukraine that will take them.
And finally, when it comes to recreation, it appears Ukrainian armor crews gravitate toward what can only be described as a tankman's holiday.
The New York Times' Thomas Gibbons-Neff caught up with several Ukrainian troops relaxing during downtime from hard battles by playing the World of Tanks video game.
“I’m playing from time to time, when I have a bit of free time,” said Lt. Nazar Vernyhora, who last year gained public attention for his command of a real tank that destroyed armored personnel carriers and damaged a Russian tank during a battle outside of Kyiv, Gibbons-Neff reported.
That's it for now. We'll update this story when there's more news to report about Ukraine.
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