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Frontline report: Ukraine’s advance in Zaporizhzhia’s Verbove continues as its reserve placement creates dilemma for Russian defenses

By tactically placing reserve forces in the center of their Robotyne bridgehead, Ukrainian troops force overextended Russian defenses to spread thinly as they continue advancing on Verbove village, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Abandoned Russian tank after a Ukrainian ATGM strike near Verbove, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Photo: Screenshot from a military video.
Frontline report: Ukraine’s advance in Zaporizhzhia’s Verbove continues as its reserve placement creates dilemma for Russian defenses

Day 573: Sep 19

Today, there are a lot of updates from the Tokmak direction.

Map: Screenshot from the video.

Here, the main clashes are taking place in front of Verbove. After Ukrainians conducted a series of assaults east of Robotyne, Ukrainians managed to push Russians out of the adjacent to the road trenches and widen the bridgehead. Ukrainians reportedly did not ramp up their offensive operation towards Kopani, and when they ensured that Russians no longer had any chance to establish direct fire control over the road, they reduced the level of activity to just positional fighting in order to channel resources toward achieving the main goal.

Map: Screenshot from the video.

And indeed, as confirmed by the Russian forces, once Ukrainians secured the supply road, they resumed their attacks west of Verbove. Today, Russian sources reported that Ukrainians conducted at least 3 assaults with the goal of finally entering the village of Verbove. Previously, geolocated footage of Russian artillery fire suggested that Ukrainians were already present on the western edge of the village, however, securing positions is not easy, as Russians are constantly conducting counterattacks.

Recently released footage by the Russian side shows exactly one of such Russian counterattacks – Russians break into the region under never-ceasing fire and assault Ukrainian positions in the trenches. As can be seen from the video, Russians did recapture several positions, however, the main trench network remained under Ukrainian control.

Verbove area. Screenshot from the video.

If we look at the map, we can see that this fight took place right on the doorstep of Verbove. It means that Ukrainians continue to advance and have just one more field of fortifications to clear to secure the whole southern flank.

Map: Screenshot from the video.

Even though the shown Russian counterattack was successful, other Russian counterattacks were rebuffed. Another footage from the region shows an abandoned burning tank that was shot down by a Ukrainian ATGM crew in the fields.

In the meantime, Ukrainians continued to advance along the second trench network in front of Verbove. Ukrainian fighters from the 15th Brigade recently released footage showing how they were capturing new positions in the area.

Right now, the main goal of the Ukrainian units on the contact line is to set conditions for a huge attack on Verbove, and the operation is in its final stages because combat footage is already showing reconnaissance-in-force assaults on the western edge of the village, and it also shows that Ukrainians have almost finished clearing the main line of fortifications that was supposed to prevent Ukrainians from conducting a flank attack.

Russian analysts claimed that Ukrainians already started preparing for the next big push. Russian sources reported that Ukrainians are gradually reinforcing the region with elements from the 71st Jager Brigade, 82nd Assault Brigade, and 46 Airmobile Brigade.

Map: Screenshot from the video.

Russians claimed that Ukrainians were accumulating these forces in the Chubenkova gully, somewhere in the center of the bridgehead. Having forces in such close proximity to the front line increases the chances of successful exploitation of the element of surprise because the probability that Russians notice and react on time to a massive assault is low.

On top of that, by keeping these forces right in the middle, Ukrainians create for Russians an unpleasant dilemma because the Russian defense line is breached not only near Verbove but in several places along the entire line. So, Russians must be prepared to face a big attack on Verbove, Novoprokopivka, between the two, and also near Kopani.

Map: Screenshot from the video.

Due to the uncertainty, Russians cannot concentrate their forces in one place and must spread them out thinly, decreasing the average level of defense.

And Russian forces already felt the shortage of forces, which is why, as previously reported, they started deploying their strategic reserves to the front. According to Ukrainian Intelligence, the 25th Army that Russians were building for their strategic reserves did not get a chance to get fully formed and was deployed with 80% of troops, 55% of equipment, and even less training.

Today, British Intelligence reported that Russians understood that even that was not enough and decided to relocate at least five more regiments from the 7th and 76th Airborne Divisions to Zaporizhzhia. Formally, this should mean around 10,000 troops, however, the real number of forces is much lower.

Map: Screenshot from the video.

Ukrainians are keeping their hand on the pulse and have already conducted a series of strikes on the main Russian logistical hubs and bases in the Zaporizhzhia region. The target of the first strike became Melitopol. Local residents reported hearing at least five explosions on the Russian bases.

Map: Screenshot from the video.

Russian sources reported that Ukrainians launched Storm Shadow missiles to destroy the Crimean Bridge but that all those missiles were shot down above Melitopol. Later, it turned out that the missiles hit Melitopol and that Ukrainians destroyed a Russian command post.

Moreover, Ukrainians also conducted a HIMARS strike on Molochansk, which is right near
Tokmak. Local residents reported hearing at least 4 explosions.

This time, the target of Ukrainian forces became the area of enemy concentrations, likely,
the newly arrived reserves because the movement of troops in front of Tokmak can be easily seen from the drones on the contact line.

In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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