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Frontline report: Ukrainians use bad weather to advantage in attacks near Verbove, Zaporizhzhia Oblast

Despite rainy conditions, Ukraine struck Russian strongpoints around Verbove, combining artillery, rockets, airstrikes, and made ground advances, using Leopard tanks.
Map: Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.
Frontline report: Ukrainians use bad weather to advantage in attacks near Verbove, Zaporizhzhia Oblast

Day 600.

On 16 October, there were a lot of updates from the Tokmak direction, Zaporizhzhia Oblast The most intense clashes took place around Verbove.

Map: Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

As you remember, previously, we saw a video showing how Ukrainian armoured fighting vehicles were entering the settlement, indicating that Ukrainians had a foothold in the northern part of the village.

The goal was to conduct a pincer movement onto the remnants of the Russian second defence line and then develop their offensive further.

Map: Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

By entering the village, Ukrainians completed the first half of the plan. However, Russian forces conducted a flank attack from the southern fields, saving the Russians in the last trench networks and undermining the Ukrainian plan.

Map: Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

Later, it was reported that Russian forces stopped a Ukrainian attack near Verbove, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Ukrainians understood that the level of control over the southern fields was still insufficient to launch a storming operation without putting the troops in jeopardy, which is why they quickly adjusted their plans and focused on the southern vector of attack.

On 16 October, Russian sources reported that Ukrainians launched an intense artillery preparation on the forefront positions with a specific focus on the Russian fortifications around Verbove. Ukrainians reportedly used not only high-calibre artillery but also rockets launched from fighter jets.

When Russians started reinforcing the region in anticipation of the attack, Ukrainians used cluster shells to target forces concentration moving to the contact line.

After damaging and destroying Russian strong points in the tree lines south of the village, Ukrainian fighters from the 82 Airmobile Brigade started attacking under the cover of tanks and armoured fighting vehicles.

Interestingly, the weather in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast was rainy today, but it seems like Ukrainians used the bad weather to their advantage.

Since Russians could not use their drones, Ukrainians started using Leopard tanks more aggressively, and even though they still refrained from getting too close to the contact line, the tanks helped to breach multiple Russian positions much more easily.

A fighter from the 24 Assault Brigade reported that the weather could not affect the assault if the commanders could make a good plan of assault and added that Russians were getting penetrated hard.

Several hours later, Russian sources admitted that Russian forces lost a certain number of strong points near Verbove. If we look at the topographic map, we can see that Ukrainians are moving in the direction of the ridge of the hills.

Map: Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

By establishing control over the tactical heights, Ukrainians would completely annihilate the possibility of a similar Russian flank attack that undermined the Ukrainian plans of storming Verbove.

However, there is an even bigger – strategic – goal behind it. By establishing control over the entire line of hills, Ukrainians would be ready to attack Tokmak. If we look a little bit south, we can see that Tokmak is basically on the other side of the hills.

Map: Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

The distance between Tokmak and the ridge is around 12 km, which is exactly the same distance as from the ridge to the initial contact line before the Ukrainians launched the counteroffensive operation.

The biggest difference is that all this time, Ukrainians were fighting an uphill battle, but once the ridge is crossed, Ukrainians will be attacking downhill all the way to Tokmak, which is way easier from the tactical perspective.

Map: Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

The main strategic goal of Ukrainians, therefore, is to establish control over the ridge before the ground becomes soaked in rainwater, entrench themselves, and wait until spring to resume their offensive effort. And Ukrainians are very close to achieving this goal. We already saw geolocated footage of the progress near Kopani. On 16 October, it was confirmed that Ukrainians gained more ground in the fields southwest of Verbove. If, on top of that, Ukrainians also manage to take Novoprokopivka, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, then they would secure their hard-earned gains.

Map: Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.

According to the US National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby, Ukrainians still have 4 to 6 weeks before the weather will impact both Ukrainian and Russian operations.

The remaining time may be enough because, as Ukrainian military analysts stated, Ukrainian forces are actively taking advantage of the recent Russian self-destructive offensive near Avdiivka by advancing towards Verbove, near Kopani and east of Nesteryanka.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi recently visited the command center of counteroffensive operation. Zaluzhnyi stated that he analyzed with the commanders of the forces on the ground possible opportunities and threats and identified the next objectives of the Ukrainian counteroffensive operation.

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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