Russia reports large-scale drone attacks on country: Ukraine live updates

A woman walks past a destroyed building in the Russian-occupied city of Tokmak in January, in a photo released by Russian state…Alexander Galperin/Sputnik via The Associated Press

And as Ukrainian forces advance to try to secure the sliver of territory they have recaptured in the south, a strategic objective looms: the city of Tokmak, a road and rail hub whose recapture could eventually help Kiev push deeper into Russian forces. Control of territory to divide Moscow’s forces and supply lines.

On Monday, the Ukrainian military said its forces had breached Russia’s primary defense lines in the area and recaptured the village of Ropotyn, which is connected to Tokmak – 15 miles to the south – by highway, although other layers of barriers separate the two. Strong Russian defenses.

Ukraine launched its long-awaited counteroffensive in June, and its success has been measured in increments. In a sign of the herculean task, it took months of fierce fighting to capture Robotyn, and Ukrainian officials have said in recent days that they are still securing positions in the village while they mine the area and look south.

Andrei Kovalev, a spokesman for the Army’s General Staff, said: “We have achieved successes and are working to consolidate the positions that have been achieved.” He said on TuesdayHe added that Ukrainian forces were advancing towards Verbov, a village five miles southeast of Ropotyn. His claim could not be independently verified.

Control of Robotyn and the surrounding area could allow Ukraine to use it as a base to prepare and launch attacks on targets farther south. Oleksandr Shtubun, spokesman for the Ukrainian army in the southern Zaporizhzhya region He said this week Strengthening its foothold in Robotyn means that Ukrainian forces can bring more forces into the area, providing greater opportunities for manoeuvre.

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Damage to the city of Robotyn, Ukraine, last…Vyacheslav Ratynsky – Reuters

Tokmak is a major target for the Ukrainian army because it is a transit point for five major roads in the Zaporizhia region, including two connecting to the cities of Melitopol and Berdyansk near the Sea of ​​Azov. Access to the Sea of ​​Azov would allow Ukraine to drive a wedge into the so-called land bridge between Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea, a vital link to Moscow’s supply routes.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, said in press statements: A letter to French diplomats In Paris on Tuesday, he said that after securing the sides of Robotyn, “we are opening the way to Tokmak and, ultimately, to Melitopol and the border with Crimea.”

But Mr. Stubun, the army spokesman, acknowledged that the advance on Tokmak would not be easy. “I think the Russians will not leave this settlement easily, and the Ukrainian forces will have to fight for that,” he added.

Satellite images show that to reach Tokmak, Ukrainian forces will have to break through two other massive Russian defensive lines made up of trenches, dense minefields, earthen berms and anti-tank barriers – part of a vast network of defenses that military analysts say are the largest in Europe since World War II. .

Securing the city of Tokmak, which had a pre-war population of about 30,000, presents its own challenges. Once past the anti-tank traps surrounding the city, Ukrainian forces will have to fight through high-rise buildings and narrow side streets in close combat that is likely to be deadly for both sides.

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Kiev forces remain far from Tokmak, but Ukrainian officials claim the recent advance appears to have alarmed the occupying Russian authorities there. Ivan Fedorov, the Ukrainian mayor in exile of Melitopol, said on Tuesday that according to local residents, some Russian officials were leaving Tokmak as fighting approached.

The Ukrainians are “forcing the occupiers to leave Tokmak,” Mr. Fedorov said wrote in another On the Telegram messaging app. This claim could not be independently verified.

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