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General: Ukraine troops broke through near Zaporizhzhia’s Verbove, advances further

The commander of Ukraine’s southern counteroffensive says Ukrainian forces broke through near Zaporizhzhia’s Verbove in the direction of Tokmak, a strategic hub for Russia.
Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, commander of the Tavria operational and strategic group of troopsю Photo: screenshot from a TSN video
General: Ukraine troops broke through near Zaporizhzhia’s Verbove, advances further

Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, leading the counteroffensive in the country’s south, says Ukraine’s forces have broken through near Verbove in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast’s Melitopol direction, and predicts an even more significant breakthrough to come.

“On the left flank [near Verbove], we have a breakthrough and we continue to advance further,” Br-Gen Tarnavskyi told CNN  during an interview on 22 September, conceding that his troops were moving slower than anticipated: “Not as fast as it was expected, not like in the movies about the Second World War,” he said. “The main thing is not to lose this initiative (that we have). And, well, not to lose it in practice, with actions.”

In recent weeks, the Ukrainian military claimed to have penetrated Russia’s first line of fortified defenses in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Situation in the area of Robotyne-Tokmak, Zaporizhzhia Oblast as of 23 September 2023, according to Deepstatemap. Note: the map is based on open-source data and official reports, and may not show the latest changes to the frontline.

“Open-source analysis of available video suggests that some Ukrainian units have crossed through an important line of Russian defenses near the village of Verbove,” CNN says.

The strategic goal of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south is to cut Russia’s “land bridge,” linking the recently occupied Azov Sea coast to the Crimean peninsula that Russia had occupied and annexed back in 2014.

Tarnavskyy told CNN that the big breakthrough of the counteroffensive would be if Ukraine could reclaim the town of Tokmak, a strategic hub for Russia, which is its first major target on the southern front.

Earlier this week, the Ukrainian forces were still some 20 kilometers from Tokmak, struggling to break through the multi-layered Russian defenses.

“I believe yes [there will be a big breakthrough],” Tarnavskyi said. “I think it will happen after Tokmak. At the moment (the Russians) are relying on the depth of their defensive line there.”

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