Intelligence chief: Ukraine has put Russian troops under pressure in south

Col. Margo Grosberg.
Col. Margo Grosberg. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Ukraine's methodological approach over the past week and a half has been enough to exert pressure on Russian forces on the southern front, Col. Margo Grosberg, commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Intelligence Center, said on Friday.

The advance of the Ukrainian armed forces has been slow. However, their well-thought-out and methodical approach has put Russian units under pressure, Col. Grosberg said at an Estonian Ministry of Defense press conference.

According to Grosberg, over the past week to a week and a half, the fighting has mainly been concentrated in the Zaporizhzhia oblast, in the direction of Robotyne and Verbove.

Ukrainian troops have reached the so-called "Surovikin defensive line" and have broken through it in at least one place, reaching the western side of Verbove, the colonel said.

It is there that the fighting has been most intense, Grosberg said, adding that Russia's difficulties can also be seen by the fact that they have been forced to bring in units from elsewhere. The colonel pointed to the example of units from the Pskov Airborne Division, which were brought out from near Bakhmut, while additional units have also been taken from Lyman.

"This action demonstrates quite a high-level of risk-taking by Russia, which shows that its reserves are limited, there's not much left," Grosberg said.

Ukraine's military leaders have also said that their success on the battlefield has been greatly helped by improvements in their artillery capabilities. According to Grosberg, Ukraine's artillery is equal or even better than Russia's.

As a result, Ukrainian units have been able to push Russian artillery units away from the front line to a distance at which they can no longer support their own units with fire. The colonel noted that, since July, Ukraine's counter-offensive against Russian artillery batteries has been particularly successful.

However, Grosberg added, that in other areas Ukraine has found things more difficult, with tactical success at Orikhiv proving more difficult to achieve. This means Ukrainian units still have a long way to go to reach the Sea of Azov.

At Svatove and Kreminna the situation is the same as it has been for the last few months, with neither side having made any progress. Meanwhile, at Velyka Novosilka the two sides are engaged in an artillery duel only, with little use of infantry in the fighting.

Commenting on Wednesday night's air strike on Russia's Pskov airfield, which destroyed two Il-76 transport planes and damaged two others, Grosberg said it was not yet known what was used to carry out the attack.

Russia's transport air force and the Pskov airfield are essential for Russia to continue an intensive military campaign in Ukraine. However, the loss of those planes will have no immediate impact on the war, Grosberg said.

However, this kind of offensive shows that Ukraine is pushing the Russian front line further back, making warfare more difficult for Russian troops as they are required to deal with more and more things happening at once.

Grosberg additionally referred to the announcement from Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the Ukrainian arms industry has completed work on the creation of a long-range missile system, which will provide Ukraine with additional capabilities to attack the enemy, including to the Russian rear. According to Zelenskyy, there is no longer any area in Russian-occupied Crimea that is able feel safe, Grosberg said.

Referring to joint exercises involving the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Belarus, Grosberg said, that although all five of the organization's exercises will be held in Belarus in the same year, they do not pose a direct threat to Poland or Lithuania.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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