(HOT NEW) Ukraine detects Russia’s ‘defensive hole’ throughout 1,000 km of the front line to open a counterattack

A Ukrainian soldier in a trench in Donetsk April 9, 2023. Photo: Washington Post

Even as they grapple with ammunition shortages and await equipment from their Western supporters, Ukrainian forces are still scrambling to find Russian defenses in preparation for a counter-offensive. is expected.

In a trench location just over a kilometer from the Russian line, a Ukrainian corporal is coordinating with a partner unit using commercial drones to monitor Russian forces, identify points weak and planned an attack to destroy the fortifications.

“We are testing them,” he said, describing small military operations aimed at identifying Russian combat positions and measuring their response.

“Of course, they’re doing the same to us,” said the corporal, who only revealed the nickname “Boxer”.

Boxer said that such small operations are being carried out by his unit in preparation for a full-scale attack, while they wait for more ammunition and heavy equipment. “It’s better not to let (the Russian army) stand firmly, so that we can push them out more easily,” he said.

The potential spring counterattack has been seen as Ukraine’s decisive opportunity this year to regain territories held by Russian forces, which total about a fifth of the country’s area. However, the operation was delayed due to weather, slow supplies of equipment and shortage of ammunition, raising fears of a deadlock.

Ukrainian forces during a training session with Soviet-era tanks in the Zaporizhzhia region in early April 2023. Photo: Washington Post

Complicating the planned counterattack was the leak of dozens of US military and intelligence documents, including many details about the state and capabilities of the Ukrainian military, including its weaknesses. anti-aircraft defenses, which could force commanders to change plans.

If Kiev is unable to regain key territories and continues to gain Western support, many Ukrainians worry that they will be forced to negotiate with Russia from a disadvantageous position.

Corporal Boxer has held his current position for over 6 months. “We miss their voices,” he said of Russian soldiers just over a kilometer away.

Stationed outside the town of Bakhmut, another commander described carrying out similar operations to test Russia’s defensive capabilities.

“We see Russian troops have just been brought in just to dig, and they’re consolidating their positions very well,” said the 24-year-old captain, nicknamed Metis, who oversaw the planning. operational planning and reconnaissance for their forces “They are reinforcing with anything they can find: wood, even trash”.

In a recent operation, drones were first used by Ukraine to identify Russian minefields before two small squads of soldiers were sent. “The results were much better than our plans; some Russian soldiers returned fire, but many gave up their positions and weapons”, Metis said.His teams were able to push back the Russian first line, but the Ukrainians did not advance and Try to keep current position.

Ukrainian soldiers stand next to a pickup truck full of artillery shells in the Zaporizhzhia region in early April. Photo: Washington Post

Metis admits that the success of Russian exploration operations does not mean that his unit is ready for a full-scale attack. They are still waiting for more heavy equipment, armored vehicles to move large numbers of soldiers forward and more training.

He said that when the unit first received the advanced anti-tank weapon system, the soldiers trained themselves with instructions on how to use the system and even a tutorial on YouTube.

“The thing that interests me most is anti-personnel mines. We can’t see them with our drones,” he said.

According to Metis, during one of his operations, his unit found small mines scattered throughout a Russian defensive position. “There are even mines inside the trenches where they live”.

Western aid played a key role in helping Ukrainian forces push back Russian troops from Northeastern Kharkiv and parts of Kherson in the south last year. Since then, however, the battle has slowed, protracted, and it’s unclear if the additional support will be enough to break the stalemate. In some areas of Ukraine that Russia controls, they have now established and fortified a strict defense system.

The mined frontlines are expected to be a particularly difficult obstacle to navigate, says Metis. “The mines are on both sides of the front. We planted a lot of mines and so did the Russian side,” he said.

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