June 16, 2024

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Ukrainians cross the area of ​​the first trench of the Sorovikin Line

Ukrainians cross the area of ​​the first trench of the Sorovikin Line

Written by David X

In anticipation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive that finally began on June 4, the Russians, under General Sergei Surovikin, completed three major defense lines in southern Ukraine this spring and early summer.

Army engineers and private contractors erected concrete barricades in front of opposing tanks, dug trenches, and perhaps most importantly, buried hundreds of thousands of mines in the ground: the “Surovykin Line” is one of the strongest military fortifications in the world.

The minefields located north of this defense line are the main reason why Ukrainian forces were able to advance a few kilometers along the most important Russian defense axes in southern and eastern Ukraine. But the slow pace of advance may soon change: On Wednesday — or just before Wednesday — the Ukrainian 82nd Airborne Brigade broke through the first of three defense lines, outside Verbov in the Zaporizhya region.

A drone video posted online by the Russian Army’s 100th Brigade on Wednesday shows artillery forces shelling Ukrainian forces. The Russians are presenting the video as evidence of victory on the battlefield. But think about where this battle took place: on the former Russian side of the outer trenches of the Surovikin Line.

Observers were not surprised by this development. A week after the liberation of Robotyn, a key point on the road to Melitopolis in Russian-controlled Zaporizhia, Ukrainian brigades turned their attention to the next city along the same axis: Novoprokopivka.

All indications are that the Ukrainian 82nd and 46th Brigades did not want to directly attack the Russian positions in Novoprokopivka, a village with a population of 800 before the Russian invasion, located on the T0408/0401 road, which runs south from Tokmak to Melitopolis, a distance of 50 km. Mila.

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No, the brigades headed east toward Verbove, once home to 1,200 permanent residents. Their aim appears to have been first to liberate Verbove so that they could approach Novoprokopivka, and then to pass the outer trenches of the “Surovikin Line” as easily as possible.

Surovykin’s first line of defense consisted of two areas south of Novoprokopivka. In addition, Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army and other units deployed twice as many troops in Novoprokopyevka as in Verbov. The arrival of the Russian 76th Guards Airborne Division to the region may change this balance of power.

But it may be too late for the 76th GAAD to rescue the Russian garrison at Verbov. The two Ukrainian brigades advancing on the city – the 46th and 82nd – are among the strongest divisions in the Ukrainian battle line. They are also fresh, having recently joined a 13-week strike.

It was not easy for the Ukrainians to cross the “Surovykin Line”. The Russian general was forced to retire due to his ties to the late Yevgeny Prigozhin, the former head of the Wagner Group.

The defensive lines built by Surovikin show his skill as a general. “We are not talking about simple trenches,” explained Ukrainian soldier Oleksandr Solonko. “It’s a whole network of trenches and tunnels in some places.”

With the forces of the 46th and 82nd Brigades on the other outer side of the “Surovykin Line,” the Ukrainians must exploit the gap and surround the Russian battalions. Then they would have to break through two more defensive zones to cross the entire “Surovikin Line” and Tokmak, the pivotal city halfway to Melitopolis.

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