A commander fighting in the south told Reuters that Ukrainian forces had broken through a tough Russian defense line in the south and could now advance quickly.
Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in June, but well-prepared Russian defense lines reinforced with mines slowed their southward advance toward the Sea of Azov.
Ukrainian forces said on Wednesday they raised the national flag in the settlement of Robotyn in the southern Zaporizhia region, about 10 km (six miles) south of the main city of Origiv.
“We’re not stopping here,” said one commander, who led some troops into Robotine and used the name “Combat.”
“Next we have (the city of) Berdyansk, and so on. I immediately made it clear to my fighters: our goal is not Robotine, our goal is the (Sea of) Azov.”
Robotin is about 100 km from Berdyansk, a port on the shores of the Sea of Azov, and 85 km from the strategic city of Melitopol. Both are occupied by Russian forces following a full-scale invasion of Moscow in February last year.
Moscow has not confirmed Ukraine’s progress on Robotine.
A US official said last week that it was unlikely that Ukrainian forces would reach and retake Melitopol in their counteroffensive, aimed at splitting Russian forces in the south.
Zelensky expresses confidence in winning the war
Defending Ukraine’s strategy this week, President Volodymyr Zelensky rejected suggestions that his country’s troops were spread too thin and reiterated his hope that Kiev would recapture all Ukrainian territory seized by Moscow.
“We’ve passed the main roads that have been cut. We’re getting to those lines where we can go (forward). I’m sure we’ll go faster from here,” Kombat said.
He said two houses in Robotine were still under Russian control: “We are fighting for them, and then we will have full control (of Robotine).”
Kombat said that Ukrainian troops had now entered areas occupied only by “Russian logistics” groups, and he clarified that he did not expect it to be difficult to break through Russian defenses.
He said that we are making progress towards liberating all our territories.
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