Ukrainian service members are seen with a BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle in Zaporizhzhia region.
Ukrainian forces in southeastern Ukraine have broken through Russia’s first line of defense.
Russia devoted 60% of its time and resources to the first line, the Ukrainian general told The Observer.
“Sooner or later, the Russians will run out of all the best soldiers,” he said.
The Russians will eventually run out of all the best soldiers, one of Ukraine’s top generals told The Observer in an upbeat assessment of the progress of the counteroffensive against Putin’s occupying army.
Ukraine’s recent success in overcoming Russia’s first defensive line comes after weeks of painstaking mine clearance. Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskiy, commander of the Tavria operational and strategic group of forces fighting in south Ukraine, says Moscow never expected Ukrainian forces to cross the first line, so their fortifications beyond this are weaker.
He estimated that Russia had allocated 60% of its time and resources to the first defensive line, with only 20% each left over for the second and third lines.
“They had been preparing for over one year. They did everything to make sure that this area was prepared well,” he told the UK news outlet in an exclusive interivew.
Ukrainian forces pressed forward despite heavy pushback from Russian troops. Ukrainians were heavily shelled by Russians who had bunkered down in concrete dugouts behind anti-tank traps. The minefields in between the opposing forces were densely packed with explosives.
Infantry forces performed the dangerous task of clearing corridors through the minefields at night, advancing meter by meter.
“As soon as any equipment appeared there, the Russians immediately began to fire at it and destroy it. That’s why de-mining was carried out only by infantry and only at night,” said Tarnavskiy, per The Observer.
Now that the infantry forces have successfully breached the minefield, Russians have lost a trump card.
“There is a very big difference between the first and second line of defense,” said Tarnavskiy. There are still minefields ahead, but they are in scattered patches instead of a single defensive cordon because Russian forces are also operating in the area.
For weeks, Ukrainian infantry sappers had to work on foot to clear an assault route across the minefields. Now, they are back in their armored vehicles for the defensive lines ahead.
“Everything is ahead of us”
Soldiers conduct military exercises in Moscow, Russia, on September 1, 2022.
Russian Defense Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Moscow is feeling the pressure and has been forced into maneuvers. Russia is redeploying troops to the area near Zaporizhzhia from other fronts and Russia.
“The enemy is pulling up reserves, not only from Ukraine but also from Russia. But sooner or later, the Russians will run out of all the best soldiers. This will give us an impetus to attack more and faster,” Tarnavskiy said. “Everything is ahead of us,” he told The Observer.
Now that Ukrainians are facing weaker defensive lines, we can expect faster counteroffensive gains, he said.
Tarnavskiy is one of Ukraine’s most admired generals. Last September, he led the campaign to recapture the city of Kherson.