- Ukraine is making slow and steady territorial gains in the southern Zaporizhia region.
- However, a communications specialist with the Kiev military says there are significant challenges, such as Russia’s air lead.
- Moscow’s guided bombs were among the “greatest fears” of front-line troops, the soldier said.
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As Ukraine advances through offensive operations in the south, its front-line soldiers continue to face dangers from the air, with guided bombs among their “greatest fears”.
A Kiev military communications specialist named Oleksandr Solonko recently explained in an X thread. He emphasized the threat posed by Moscow’s powerful guided bombs, the challenges of fighting through Russia’s complex defenses and fortifications – including minefields, trenches, tunnels and anti-tank obstacles – and the role played by aerial reconnaissance coupled with long-range fire in countering movement.
Any soldier can be spotted by the enemy from afar, regardless of the unit they serve in or the topography of the battlefield, Solonko wrote, adding that personnel and equipment could be targeted and fired on from afar. Attempting to conduct a mission in complete secrecy is “largely impossible,” he said, according to a translation his remarks by another military official.
Solonko also noted the “enemy’s air advantage,” which, according to him, is a key factor in Ukraine’s armored vehicle losses.
Much of the airspace over the battlefield remains contested after 18 months of full-blown warfare, but early in the counteroffensive Russian gunship crews found they could attack out of range of Ukrainian short-range air defenses. Since then, Ukrainian forces have gotten better at eliminating these threats, but there are others, such as Russian planes, that can launch guided bombs from a distance.
“KABs are one of the greatest fears,” Solonko said, referring to Russia’s arsenal of guided bombs. “The Russians use them extensively. I can’t say anything about their accuracy, but the weapons are powerful.” The Ukrainian military has been raising concerns about these types of weapons for months, identifying them as a serious threat to Ukrainian operations. Some of these bombs can weigh over 3,000 pounds.
“They’re trying to target logistics and command centers just like we are,” he continued, adding that they’re also shooting at roads and forward defenses in settlements.
“The Orlan Zala Supercam system associated with air reconnaissance is effective and causes problems,” Solonko said, referring to different types of Russian drones. “You identify goals and start [Lancets]and release them in swarms along with KABs. They’re trying to break in and track vehicles.”
Soldiers from the 128th Separate Brigade of the Territorial Defense Forces hone their first aid skills as they practice storming enemy positions during a tactical exercise towards Zaporizhia, southeast Ukraine. Photo by Ukrinform/NurPhoto via Getty Images
“The positions retaken are even more calibrated,” he added, before highlighting the destruction at the front lines. “Bombs are not spared. There is no shortage of mines either. The tree line where one of the crews operated was simply leveled. Only a palisade remained, and a well-developed ditch was no longer usable.”
Solonko’s comment came shortly after Ukrainian forces raised the country’s flag in Robotyne, a small village in the Zaporizhia region. Kyiv’s Defense Ministry on Monday officially confirmed Robotyne’s release and issued a statement Video by soldiers of the 47th Mechanized Brigade detailing the operation to capture the village.
In the video, a soldier described the covert nighttime operation to hoist the Ukrainian flag in Robotyne. He said Kiev’s troops approached a building and evacuated it. However, they had limited visibility and weren’t sure if they would encounter traps, so they planted the flag on the first floor. As the sun rose they realized they could reach the roof, so they changed their plans and put the flag up there.
“Thank you to all your fellow campaigners,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an address to the nation on Sunday. “And to all our other warriors of various ranks, from various units, who are doing everything possible to ensure that our flag flies in all its rightful places throughout our state’s territory!”
Although Robotyne is quite small, its capture marks a bright moment for Ukraine as it continues to make slow and steady progress amid a grueling and bloody counteroffensive. Clearing Russia’s complex and established defense lines proved an arduous task for Kiev troops and prevented them from retaking territory more quickly.
“For those who are ‘overly clever’ and believe that it took Ukrainian forces an incredibly long time to drive the Russians out of the village of Robotyne, they must have overlooked the defense system that had to be breached in order to push back the Russians.” “Get away from the Mariupol highway and gradually approach the village, circle it and finally take control,” Solonko said. “Truly, a monumental task has been accomplished.”