Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) have reported that Ukrainian forces "are within striking distance of the next series of prepared Russian defensive positions" in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Source: Institute for the Study of War
Details: As observed by ISW’s military analysts, Ukrainian forces have made additional and tactically significant gains in the west of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and several Ukrainian and Russian sources have reported that Ukrainian forces are advancing through what Ukrainian and US sources have suggested is the most difficult set of engineered Russian defensive positions.
The report says the Ukrainian troops are now within range of the next set of prepared Russian defensive positions, which may be weaker than the previous lines, but still present a considerable test.
The series of defensive positions through which Ukrainian troops are now advancing consists of dense rows of minefields and fortifications which Russian forces have expended significant amounts of manpower, materiel and effort to defend.
These Russian defensive positions, which are in the path of the Ukraine’s forces, most likely consist of a relatively denser network of anti-tank ditches, anti-tank barriers such as the so-called "dragon's teeth" and additional minefields behind which Russian combat positions are located, just as they were on the first Russian line of defence.
Experts note that each of these Russian "lines" is a multi-layered defensive position with its own forward and rear areas, and it is important to distinguish between the rear areas of specific Russian defensive positions and the rear areas of Russian defence in Ukraine's south as a whole.
The Institute explains that "Russian defensive lines are additionally notional in the sense that Russian prepared positions are not uniform across the front in southern Ukraine, and are not fully manned.
There are additional series of prepared Russian defensive positions further south of the current Ukrainian advance, although Russian forces will only be able to fully leverage these positions if they have the available personnel and materiel to incorporate them into cohesive defensive operations."
The report also cites a Ukrainian source, which says Russian troops have redeployed relatively elite forces from around the Kreminna area in Luhansk Oblast to the vicinity of Robotyne in the west of Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
It is also noted that Russian irregular forces are continuing to threaten to withdraw from the fighting unilaterally, despite the recent efforts by the Russian military command to purge and quell disobedience.
To quote the ISW's Key Takeaways on 27 August:
- Ukrainian forces have made further tactically significant gains in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and several Ukrainian and Russian sources reported that Ukrainian forces are advancing through what Ukrainian and US sources suggested may be the most challenging series of prepared Russian defensive positions.
- Ukrainian forces now appear within striking distance of the next series of prepared Russian defensive positions, which may be weaker than the previous set of Russian defences but still pose a significant challenge.
- A Ukrainian source indicated that Russian forces have laterally redeployed elements of a relatively elite formation from the Kreminna area in Luhansk Oblast to the Robotyne area in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
- Russian irregular formations remain willing to threaten to withdraw from combat unilaterally despite recent efforts by Russian military command to purge and suppress insubordination.
- The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is reportedly prosecuting the junior officers and soldiers of a Russian unit that complained about senior commanders’ inattention to frontline issues.
- No prominent channels known to be directly affiliated with Wagner shared additional information on the future of the group, while the majority of Russian sources have focused their attention on kinetic activity on the frontline.
- Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, and in western Donetsk Oblast but did not make any confirmed advances.
- Russian regional governments continue to facilitate the forced deportation of Ukrainian children from occupied Ukraine to occupied Crimea.