Ukrainian soldiers of the Separate Assault Battalion ‘Skala’ enter the embattled village of Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, in this screengrab taken from a handout video released on August 25, 2023. Separate Assault Battalion ‘Skala’ of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Ukrainian Armed Forces/Handout via REUTERS
Russia has sent elements of an elite paratrooper division to the south of Ukraine, reports say.
Ukraine says it has broken through the first line of Russian defenses and liberated a village in the area.
Analysts say that Russia’s move suggests it lacks sizable reserves.
Russia has sent some of its most elite paratroopers into battle in the south of Ukraine to halt the progressing counteroffensive, reports say, indicating they are short on reserves, according to experts.
Earlier this week, elements of the 76th Guard Air Assault Division were seen close to Robotyne, a frontline village near the city of Zaporizhzhia, where Ukraine has been pushing through Russian defenses, according to think tank The Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
The 76th is arguably Russia’s best division and is “relatively fresh,” according to Rob Lee, an analyst with the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.
Ukraine claimed on Monday to have “liberated” Robotyne from Russia, with plans to continue pressing forward towards the Sea of Azov where it aims to split Russian forces in two, Reuters reported.
Ukraine’s capturing of Robotyne is one of its most significant achievements since its counteroffensive began over two months ago. Ukraine’s progress has been slower than expected, as troops have come up against complex Russian defenses.
Both sides are reaching deep into their reserves to put up a good fight in the south. Ukraine recently sent its powerhouse 82nd Air Assault Brigade into battle in Robotyne, which helped it achieve its breakthrough, per Forbes.
Using the 76th in the south suggests Russia lacks reserves, experts say
Elements of Russia’s elite 76th Guard Air Assault Division have been deployed in key parts of Ukraine throughout the conflict.
Russia’s decision to redeploy elements of these units to the south suggests that Russian forces lack sizable operational reserves, the ISW said.
A Ukrainian reserve officer who goes by the name @Tatarigami_UA on X, formerly known as Twitter, similarly said that while moving units to the south would strengthen Russia’s operational capacities, it would impair “combat-ready reserves for rapid deployment.”
The units sent to Robotyne appear to have been moved from the Kremmina area in eastern Ukraine, ISW noted.
This suggests that as Ukraine’s counteroffensive continues to push forward in the south and east of the country, Russia will have to make difficult decisions about which sectors of the frontline to prioritize, the think tank said.