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Dense minefields force Ukraine to change counteroffensive strategy – WP

Dense minefields force Ukraine to change counteroffensive strategy – WP
The minefields, laid in the buildup to Ukraine’s counteroffensive, extend 3 to 10 miles deep in front of the Russian forces’ main defensive positions. As a result, Ukraine’s military strategy has changed from using infantry fighting vehicles and battle tanks to advancing cautiously on foot.

Despite the use of US-provided M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC) systems, the depth and breadth of the minefields have successfully stalled the Ukrainian advance, necessitating the need for remote mine-clearance equipment, Washington Post writes.

“You can no longer do anything with just a tank with some armor because the minefield is too deep, and sooner or later, it will stop and then it will be destroyed by concentrated fire,” said Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine’s military chief.

The threat of mines has exposed the limitations of the newly arrived American Bradley fighting vehicles and German Leopard tanks. The Ukrainian military has asked for more modern fighter jets and systems to support ground operations.

However, they have only received 15% of the demining and engineering equipment requested from Western partners ahead of the counteroffensive. Ukrainian authorities, including Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, have reached out to their Western counterparts requesting more mine-clearing systems. Yet, some of these systems have become a target for Russian forces due to their scarcity.

Still, the extent and density of the minefields and the threat from Russian forces have made Ukrainian military personnel hesitant to use the advanced demining equipment. The ability to manually clear mines is hampered by the risk of being spotted by Russian drones and the significant time requirement.

“Our work needs time and tranquility,” said Lt. Col. Mykola Moroz, commander of the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade’s engineering and sapper battalion. “It’s not possible to do our work in these circumstances.”

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, acknowledging the challenges, commented, “We were preparing, but the Russians were also preparing. They understand that engineering equipment right now is solving a key problem and is a game changer, so they want to destroy all of that first.”

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