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Advancing to the second line of defense: How Russians are pushed out of Robotyne and will Ukrainian offensive accelerate

Advancing to the second line of defense: How Russians are pushed out of Robotyne and will Ukrainian offensive accelerate Photo: Ukrainian military forces are trying to push the Russians out of Robotyne (Getty Images)

Ukrainian forces appear to be close to another local success. This time, it is about the village of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region, the liberation of which is expected to pave the way to Tokmak and Melitopol.

Details about the situation in Robotyne, its tactical significance, and the potential developments of the counteroffensive after its liberation you can read below.

Arena of a major battle in the south

Robotyne has become the arena for the largest battle in the summer counteroffensive campaign. This village, with a pre-war population of fewer than 500 people, is part of the Tokmak city community in the Polohy district of the Zaporizhzhia region.

Located 80 kilometers southeast of Zaporizhia, 20 kilometers from the administrative center of the community in occupied Tokmak, and 30 kilometers from the district center in occupied Polohy, the village is situated along the territorial road T0408, with the Orikhova Balka river originating from within the village.

Shift to the Second Line. How Russians Are Being Pushed Out of Robotine and the Potential Acceleration of the Ukrainian Advance

Advancing to the second line of defense: How Russians are pushed out of Robotyne and will Ukrainian offensive acceleratePhoto: Robotyne village is located southeast of Zaporizhzhia (

The village is under Russian occupation since March 2022, Ukrainian defense forces have been assaulting this direction since June 2023. According to some reports, Ukrainian units may have entered the village in the first decade of August.

According to DeepState data, Ukrainian forces have managed to liberate over 40 square kilometers of territory in and around Robotyne in just over two months. Currently, Ukrainian forces are attempting to exploit the breach in the enemy's defense between Robotyne and the village of Verbove.

Reportedly, the Russian defense in the area has been breached by almost 7 kilometers. While fierce battles continue, considering all factors, Ukraine is approaching another local success.

The northern part of Robotyne is under control, while the center is in the gray zone

Ukrainian command has been reporting progress on this front for several weeks.

"Our forces continue offensive actions in the Melitopol direction in the area of Robotyne settlement. The ongoing actions to destroy the enemy are underway there. There is also an advance for hundreds of meters," said Deputy Commander of the Tavria Operational-Strategic Group Serhii Kuzmin two weeks ago.

According to the General Staff, currently, the Russians are attempting to recapture the lost positions, including by launching aerial strikes. According to official data, all these attempts are being repelled, and Ukrainian soldiers are inflicting significant losses on the enemy. For instance, last week, a Ka-52 Alligator helicopter was shot down with a portable anti-aircraft missile system.

Official details about the situation in Robotyne are not being disclosed. Today, Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar only mentioned "planned combat operations" and success in the southeast of Robotyne and south of Mala Tokmachka.

DeepState analysts highlight progress on the eastern flank. They believe that fighting is already taking place within the village itself, and due to the loss of initiative, the Russians are trying to establish a defense in the southern part of the village and might withdraw from it in the near future.

Footage of Ukrainian soldiers entering the village has been on the internet since the week before.

Based on geolocation data, experts from the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) are confident that Ukrainian forces have gained a foothold in the northern part of Robotyne, despite Russian claims to the contrary. They also noted reports from so-called "war correspondents" claiming a temporary withdrawal from the village.

One of the Russian propagandistic Telegram channels, WarGonzo, claims that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are launching attacks with artillery support between the villages of Robotyne and Verbove. The channel asserts that Ukrainian forces have partially occupied the forward defense lines of Russia. It also discusses the challenge of expanding the offensive line for the occupying forces, but so far, this is deemed "not critical."

A military-political expert from the Information Resistance project, Oleksandr Kovalenko, points out that battles in the northern areas of Robotyne have been ongoing for a while, and from around the end of last week, the central part transitioned into the gray zone.

"I believe that in the nearest future, we will receive more information from official sources. The main thing is that the village will be liberated one way or another. And when that happens, it's important to understand that the overall situation on this front section will change, as Robotyne is the main obstacle on the way to the second line of Russian defense," he told RBC-Ukraine.

He also notes that apart from the fact that the Ukrainian forces have managed to gain a foothold between Robotyne and Verbove, there has been intensified efforts to establish a foothold on the right flank between Robotyne and Kopani village since last week.

Flanking operation following combat reconnaissance

The offensive near Robotyno began in June 2023 with an unpleasant episode. In one of the initial attacks, still on the approach to the village, several units of Western military equipment were lost.

As noted by DeepState analysts, on June 7, the enemy managed to detect a column in the early stages and break it with artillery strikes. The Russian side published footage confirming the damage to several Leopard 2 tanks and Bradley armored vehicles.

Photo: consequences of the unsuccessful advance of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Robotyno area in June 2023 (

According to Oleksandr Kovalenko, the protected armored vehicles were thrown into combat reconnaissance in June, and they managed to uncover not only the supply line of the Russians but also the second line of defense of the Russian Federation with concealed artillery positions.

"By the way, we saw a record number of destroyed Russian artillery. They compensated by starting to use rifles and rocket artillery on a massive scale. Therefore, the losses in Western equipment were anticipated as part of the reconnaissance by combat," the expert believes.

After this incident, the offensive plan changed. Now the Ukrainian forces are striking to the east and west of Robotyno. And this cautious tactic is not only applied here. For example, at the junction of the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, UAF are also advancing along the Mokri Yaly River to the south of Urozhaine in the direction of Staromlynivka, expanding footholds on the left and right banks.

Military expert Vladyslav Seleznov emphasizes the encirclement of Robotyno.

"Our units act this way because a head-on approach is risky. The slow advance is explained by the incredibly dense minefields. The Minister of Defense (Oleksii Reznikov) recently spoke about up to 5 mines per square meter," he added.

Last week Forbes wrote that the 82nd Airborne Assault Brigade joined the advance on the outskirts of Robotyno, equipped with Marder and Stryker armored vehicles, as well as Challenger 2 tanks. And supposedly, the bad news is that without significant progress, the counter-attack to the south might lose momentum. Because when rotation time comes, this brigade allegedly doesn't have an equivalent replacement.

Today, the article was sharply criticized by the Ministry of Defense. According to Deputy Minister Hanna Maliar, the cost of news about the movement of the 82nd Brigade is equivalent to 5 air strikes on its positions per day.

The route to Tokmak through the second line of Russian defense

The importance of Robotyno is explained by Vladyslav Seleznov. According to him, it's one of Russia's key strongholds on the stretch between the controlled Orikhiv and the occupied Tokmak. The one that occupiers turned into a fortress on the way to another important node - Melitopol.

"There is a so-called triangle, whose mission is to close off approaches and the overland corridor to Crimea. This triangle is between Vasylivka, Tokmak, and Melitopol. And when the Ukrainian army breaks through to Tokmak, the entire defensive network of the Russians could seriously falter. But obviously, this process won't be swift, as the enemy is fortifying," he emphasized.

Advancing to the second line of defense: How Russians are pushed out of Robotyne and will Ukrainian offensive acceleratePhoto: the Vasylivka-Tokmak-Melitopol triangle blocks the overland corridor to the south of Ukraine (

Last week, CBS News reported progress in the advance on Tokmak. According to an unnamed American official, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have overcome the minefield to the north of the city and launched an assault on the first line of defense. CBS does not specify the distance from Tokmak to this line, but presumably, it refers to Robotyno.

Swift progress here is hindered by three lines of defense. The first consists of minefields several kilometers deep, the second is concentrated artillery, equipment, and personnel, and the third includes rear positions for resource accumulation.

But to reach Tokmak, it's necessary to go through Novoprokopivka, Ilchenkove, Solodka Balka, and Chervonohirka. Expert Oleksandr Kovalenko says this is the second line of defense and there are indeed fewer minefields there.

"On the second line, there are armored vehicles and artillery, so the problem won't be as much with minefields as with combat clashes with motorized units and mechanized components," he emphasized.

ISW analysts believe that a breakthrough in the Robotyno area will allow offensive operations in less mined terrain, theoretically speeding up the Ukrainian advance. This might include exploiting the fact that beyond the village, heights leading to Tokmak begin.

Vladyslav Seleznov looks at the situation less optimistically.

"Currently, the enemy continues to mine the lines to the south of Robotyno, trying to stop our advance. As for the dominant heights, it's the logic of supporting the advancing units. They need to be occupied to see what the enemy is doing and to conduct combat operations under more favorable conditions. I think our forces will focus on this – primarily occupying heights and systematically undermining the potential of Putin's army," he told RBC-Ukraine.

According to ISW data, Russia's desire to hold Robotyno has forced them to redeploy parts of the 7th Guards Airborne Division from the Kherson region and some formations from the area between the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions. As a result, other sectors are left exposed, which overall weakens the defense and may open up new opportunities for Ukraine.

Seleznov notes that the southern overland corridor to Crimea is guarded by a mixed force of 105,000 Russian troops, who will try to stop the Ukrainian forces through a larger amount of troops.

"Will this help the enemy? I doubt it. And regarding the units' redeployment, our intelligence should assess that. The key problem the enemy faces is not knowing exactly where and when the Ukrainian army will attack. On the southern front, there are at least four such areas – Vasylivka, Robotyne, Urozhaine, and Vuhledar (the last two are in the Donetsk region). Periodically, clashes intensify in all these areas, and the enemy will have to react," the expert added.