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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Russia says Ukraine has launched major attack in south


People shelter during an air raid alarm at a public bomb shelter in the city center of Odesa, July 26, 2023.


By MATTHEW MPOKE BIGG


Ukrainian forces launched a significant attack south of the town of Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday, suggesting that a new phase of Kyiv’s southern counteroffensive might be underway.


Ukraine deployed three battalions reinforced with tanks, said Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Defense Ministry’s chief spokesperson, but he added that the “massive” attack and a second one near Robotyne, a Russian-held, front-line village around 8 miles southeast of Orikhiv, had been repelled.


Konashenkov’s comments, reported by the Russian state news agency Tass, could not be independently confirmed, and Ukrainian officials did not directly comment. But the area south of Orikhiv, a town that Ukraine holds, is a key battleground in its push to expel Russian forces from the south and east of the country, and both sides have built up their forces in the area.


Ukraine’s counteroffensive — launched last month along three axes including in Zaporizhzhia — has failed to score a breakthrough, in part because of dense Russian minefields and heavy entrenchment by Moscow’s forces.


A major Ukrainian military objective is to reach the Sea of Azov, about 60 miles south of Orikhiv, in order to drive a wedge through Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine’s southeast.


Vladimir Rogov, an official appointed by Moscow in southern Ukraine, said on the Telegram app that fierce battles had begun south of Orikhiv, involving Ukrainian troops who had been trained abroad and were equipped with about 100 German-made Leopard tanks and American-made Bradley Fighting Vehicles.


Another Russian occupation official in Zaporizhzhia, Yevgeny Balitsky, said that Ukraine had made 36 attempts to shell settlements in the region since Tuesday. He said that Moscow’s forces had rebuffed Ukrainian attempts to break through Russian defenses.


The Ukrainian military’s general staff said in its daily update on Wednesday that Russian forces were engaged in defensive operations in the Zaporizhzhia region. A spokesperson for the general staff, Andriy Kovalev, said that Russian forces had unsuccessfully tried to restore lost positions northeast of Robotyne. “The enemy continues to put up strong resistance, moves units and actively uses reserves,” he said.


President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine said that he had met with Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, and discussed offensive and defensive fighting on the front line. “We believe in our boys,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram, giving no details of military operations. “We continue to work.”

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