Troop Deployment in Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Ramps Up

July 27, 2023

Ukraine appears to be ramping up its counteroffensive by deploying more of its troops to the southern front lines, both U.S. and Russian officials said Thursday. 

The commitment of more forces to the southern front would signal a new phase in the counteroffensive, which has been slow-going over the past several weeks. 

Ukraine had been holding back large numbers of its trained troops since the counteroffensive began in early June. But recently, according to U.S. officials, it has deployed the “main bulk” of its forces to the operation. 

Since doing so, the Ukrainians have broken through Russian defensive lines in the southeast, allowing reserve units to join the effort as well.

That’s also according to U.S. officials. However, at least one Russian military official has admitted that Ukrainian forces have been able to “wedge in” to three sections of Russia’s front-line defense of Zaporizhzhia, which the Russians seized in the early days of the now 17-month-long war and claimed to have annexed in September.

“The second wave of the [Ukrainian] counteroffensive has begun” in Zaporizhzhia, said Vladimir Rogov, a Moscow-appointed official there. He added that Ukrainian forces had broken through “as a result of several waves of attack with more than 100 units of armored vehicles.”

Ukraine’s military has limited its commenting on operations along the southern front to saying that its troops were “gradually advancing.”

However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted on social media a video of what Ukrainian officials said was the 35th separate brigade of the Ukrainian Marine Corps, along with the 129th “Arey” brigade of the Territorial Guards, waving the Ukrainian flag after they had liberated the Staromayorskoye settlement in the Donetsk region.

“Our South! Our guys! Glory to Ukraine!” Zelensky wrote.

Rogov, meanwhile, said Russian forces were using their full arsenal, including aviation strikes, to push back against the Ukrainian units carrying out the assault, which he claimed “have been trained abroad, and the brigades themselves are equipped with Western military equipment, including Leopard tanks and Bradley [fighting vehicles].”

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday conceded that “hostilities have intensified and in a significant way,” though he then asserted that Ukraine’s counteroffensive forces were being pushed back—contradicting his officials on the ground.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the West can expect that Ukraine “will continue to press.”

“Ukraine is well prepared and well trained to be successful, and as you heard me say last week, they fought hard, they’ve been working their way to get through the minefields and other obstacles, but they still have a lot of combat power,” Austin said at a press conference in Papua New Guinea where he was meeting with that country’s Prime Minister.

PHOTO: @ZelenskyyUa

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