We already knew Ukraine had liberated Robotyne, the small but strategically important settlement on the advance toward the logistical hub city of Tokmak and, beyond that, Melitopol. But Ukraine hasn’t stopped there. With Russia’s first major defensive line breached, Ukraine’s advance is picking up steam.
It’s difficult sorting through franting Russian Telegram sources, rumors, and visually confirmed advances, so all the usual “fog of war” caveats apply. But by all indications, Ukraine has advanced south and east from Robotyne, and is either inside Novoprokopivka, or imminently so, while simultaneously threatening Verbove to the east.
Some Russian Telegram sources even claim Ukraine has taken Novoprokopivka, having simply walked in as Russian forces fall back to the next defensive line. That means Ukraine breached not only the first major line north of Robotyne but also the line on the road blocking the advance south to Novoprokopivka. The next major Russian defensive line is at Solodka Balka, through the heights east and west of it.
Ukraine hasn’t confirmed Novoprokopivka’s liberation, but there is interesting video evidence that something is going on. First, let’s start with this video of Ukraine absolutely mauling a Russian armored column heading north to reinforce Novoprokopivka, where the T0408 road enters the western edge of the town.
Honestly not sure what hit them. Could be artillery-deployed mines. It wasn’t dumb artillery, which isn’t that precise and even less so against moving targets. It wasn’t Javelins or other anti-tank missiles, unless Ukraine can see them from the hills around Robotyne. Which is possible, I suppose. It’s around 4 kilometers, the absolute edge of a typical anti-tank missile’s range. Still, the explosions don’t seem like clean hits, they seem to be hitting the ground around the armored vehicles, kicking up dust and dirt. They’re certainly not being hit with GMLRS rocket artillery. Could be laser-guided artillery rounds, which I didn’t realize could hit moving targets this effectively. My best guess as to what it was? Remotely deployed mines.
Regardless, all this tells us is that Ukraine has fire control over the road supplying the Russian garrison at Novoprokopivka. This next video is far more interesting:
Yup, these armored vehicles appear to be fleeing Novoprokopivka. That certainly looks like dumb artillery, since it’s striking the fields around the road. But the key detail here is that Russian forces are abandoning the settlement. It lends credence to the claims Ukraine waltzed in.
Ukraine’s General Staff is certainly celebrating something.
In the sectors from Novodanilivka to Novoprokopivka and from Mala Tokmachka to Ocheretuvate, our forces not only made significant advancements but are now solidifying their hold on the newly captured territories.
So you don’t have to look at a map, they’re talking about the advances directly south and east of Robotyne. This is what that looks like, based on visually confirmed advances:
Remember, this is the last bit of high ground before heading downhill all the way to Tokmak. Ukraine is still attacking uphill at this point, but they’re almost there:
Hill 166 is our fellow writer RO37’s name for the highest elevation point in the area, at an elevation of 166 meters. Once taken, Ukraine will be in a commanding position in that direction. So it makes sense for Russia to pull out of Novoprokopivka and finally occupy the defensive lines they created to, you know, defend. Those lines run right through Hill 166.
Tatrigami_UA, a Twitter user who describes themself as a Ukrainian intelligence officer, shares his read of the situation:
The situation for Russia is getting desperate, but Tatrigami_UA doesn’t buy claims that Russia is running low on reserves. There are reports that Russia is transferring units from Kherson and their Kreminna and Kupyansk attacks to plug gaps, but I don’t know how valid they are, and no one credible has confirmed it. We shouldn’t assume that Russia is out of troops.
In any case, breaching that first Russian defensive line at Robotyne was huge, and there is clear momentum on the other side of it. Now we’ll see how effective that next line will be. If Ukraine dislodges Russia from it, particularly that ridgeline through Hill 166, the shape of the battle will dramatically shift.