December 3, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Ukrainian armor penetrated the first of three Russian trenches

Ukrainian armor penetrated the first of three Russian trenches

Ukrainian armor broke through the outer trench of Russia’s three-layer defensive line – the so-called “Surovykin Line” – just west of Verbov, in the Zaporizhzhya region of southern Ukraine.

Videos From Russia’s 56th Air Assault Regiment, which appeared online on Wednesday, depicts Ukrainian Marder and Stryker infantry fighting vehicles – almost certainly belonging to the 2,000-strong 82nd Air Assault Brigade – advancing east towards Verbov, past the first trench holding down the defences. Russian.

Russian artillery targeted the Ukrainian column, apparently damaging or destroying one of the wheeled Strykers. But the Ukrainians kept coming: armored trucks driving behind armored fighting vehicles as the 82nd Brigade’s assault force reached the second trench.

It is unclear how deeply the Ukrainian force penetrated the Russian lines, and whether it remained or retreated. But this breakthrough, even if brief, is bad news for Russian forces on the axis running from Robotyn — liberated by the 82nd Battalion and its neighboring brigades in mid-August — through Tokmak toward Russian-occupied Melitopol, 50 miles to the south.

While the Ukrainians were driving the last Russians out of Robotin, the Kremlin in desperation redeployed some of its last operational reserves – in the form of the Guards 76th Air Assault Division – from east to south. If the 76th GAAD cannot prevent the Ukrainians from breaking through Verbov and continuing their advance towards Tokmak and Melitopol, any unit Can Stop them?

The 82nd Brigade’s attack was not hasty. After freeing two robots a month ago, Ukraine’s 9th Operational Corps — which oversees several well-equipped brigades on the Melitopol axis including the 46th and 82nd Air Assault Brigades and the Army’s 47th Mechanized Brigade — paused to regroup and reconsolidate its forces south of the settlement.

During this pause, the first Ukrainian reconnaissance divisions slipped through the outer trench line northwest of Verbov. At that time, the Russians acquired the first ex-British Challenger 2 tank, 14 of which were equipped – or armed– Tank Company of the 82nd Brigade.

The brigade appears to have been keeping Challenger 2s a mile or two behind the line of communication, using them as precise mobile fire while protecting them from drones and mines. But one of the 69-ton four-man tanks hit a mine while changing positions south of Verbove. After its movement was disabled, it was an easy target for a drone loaded with explosives.

If the remaining 13 Challenger 2s supported Wednesday’s attack across the farther Sorovikin Line, they did so from long range. None of the tanks appeared in the Russian videos.

It should come as no surprise that the 31-ton, nine-person Marders and the 19-ton, 11-person Strykers led the way. The 82nd Brigade’s infantry battalions initially operated 40 ex-German Marder tracked aircraft and 90 ex-US Stryker wheeled aircraft.

In the 15 weeks after Ukraine launched its southern counteroffensive, the brigade lost at least three Stryker aircraft. But the Germans and Americans pledged to provide plenty of replacement vehicles: an additional 60 Marders and a hundred or so Strykers. All of this means that infantry fighting vehicles are less valuable than Challenger 2 vehicles.

Alongside this, Ukrainian offensive doctrine is evolving to become more infantry-focused. While the Ukrainian Marine Corps, fighting in southeastern Ukraine, favors mixed assault forces that combine armored trucks with fast T-80 tanks, the Army and air assault forces in southwestern Ukraine are increasingly driving with their vehicles and trucks and keeping their tanks in the rear to fire. . supports.

This helps explain why 82nd Brigade crews described their Challenger 2s as “snipers,” and why we saw the 47th Brigade’s German-made Leopard 2A6 guns firing their main guns at high altitude, as if they were howitzers.

Although these methods may be unorthodox, there is no arguing with the results. Ukrainian forces are advancing, albeit slowly, and have gained heavy equipment across the first of three main lines of Russian fortifications in the south.

Videos of Wednesday’s attack showed only the vital work carried out by Ukrainian artillery in the days and weeks leading up to the attack. Ukraine’s howitzers and missile launch crews are the unsung heroes of the counterattack. By matching precise intelligence with Western-made long-range rifles and rocket launchers, artillery batteries successfully closed the traditional gap in casualties between attackers and defenders.

Traditionally, an attacking army would expect to lose three people or vehicles for every one person (person or vehicle) lost by the entrenched defender. But thanks in large part to their artillery, the attacking Ukrainians actually lost less More people and vehicles were lost than the defending Russians.

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