We’ve assessed how far Ukrainian forces have really progressed, and what signs there are of further breakthroughs along the frontline.
Ukraine began its big counter-offensive in early June to push Russian forces back from land they seized. It attacked at three points along the 600-mile-plus (965km) frontline.
The area to the south-east of the city of Zaporizhzhia is by far the most strategically important.
Striking out in this direction towards the Sea of Azov, if successful, could cut off Russia’s supply lines that connect the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don to Crimea.
There hasn’t been much progress on this front, except for the area around the villages of Robotyne and Verbove in the Zaporizhzhia region, as seen highlighted in purple in the map above.
If Ukraine can sever this main supply route then Russia will find it all but impossible to maintain its huge garrison in Crimea which it annexed in 2014.
Despite significant obstacles, there are now confirmed sightings of Ukrainian troops breaching Russia’s defensive structures along the southern front.
We have verified nine social media videos along the frontline near Verbove.
Four of the videos show Ukrainian forces breaching Russian defences north of Verbove.
However, these show incursions, not that Ukraine has managed to take control of the area.
So far it has only been Ukrainian infantry getting through, and we’re not seeing Ukrainian armoured columns pouring through, exploiting the gap and holding the ground taken.
What is stopping Ukraine advancing faster?
Moscow saw this counter attack coming long ago and has spent months building the world’s most formidable layered defences in depth.
This is what they look like from space – lines of interlocking obstacles, trenches, bunkers and minefields, each covered by artillery. Its so-called dragon’s teeth are concrete anti-tank barriers.
Vast minefields have slowed the Ukrainian advance.
These minefields are intensely packed, in some places up to five mines laid in a square metre.
Ukraine’s first attempt to charge through them in June quickly ended in failure, with its modern, Western-supplied armour crippled and burning. Ukrainian infantry came similarly unstuck, taking horrific casualties.
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Kyiv has since had to resort to clearing these mines on foot, often at night and sometimes under fire. Hence the slow progress to date.
Source : BBC