Ukrainian forces have broken through in Verbove, top general says

    WORLD  23 September 2023 - 14:08

    The general leading Ukraine’s counteroffensive along the southern front line says his forces have broken through in Verbove – and predicts an even bigger breakthrough to come.

    “On the left flank [near Verbove] we have a breakthrough and we continue to advance further,” Oleksandr Tarnavsky told CNN Senior International Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen during an interview on Friday, though he conceded his troops were moving slower than anticipated.

    “Not as fast as it was expected, not like in the movies about the Second World War,” he said. “The main thing is not to lose this initiative (that we have). And, well, not to lose it in practice, with actions.”

    At the beginning of September Ukrainian forces said they had taken the village of Robotyne and were pushing east toward the village of Novoprokopivka. Soldiers said they expected battles for control of high ground to the south and east of the village as they approached the next layer of Russian defenses. Verbove is a few miles east from Robotyne.

    However, Tarnavsky told CNN he believed the big breakthrough of the counteroffensive would be if Ukraine could take Tokmak, a strategic hub for Russia, which is its first major target in its fight in the south.

    CNN reported earlier this week that the Ukrainian forces were still some 20 kilometers from Tokmak, struggling to break through the multiple layers of Russian defenses.

    “I believe yes [there will be a big breakthrough],” Tarnavsky said. “I think it will happen after Tokmak. At the moment (the Russians) are relying on the depth of their defensive line there.”

    One of the reasons for the slow advance, the general said, was the fact that Russia had been able to learn some lessons from other Ukrainian offensives.

    “The Russians are learning quite fast, as they don’t have any other choice. If they don’t learn, they will be defeated sooner,” he explained. “I wouldn’t say they are adapting to our actions, as we also change our tactics.”

    He said Ukraine had also been adapting to using Western equipment, as well as Western tactics.

    When asked about rising resistance in the West to continuing weapons supplies to Ukraine, especially in the US, where some have voiced doubt about Kyiv’s chances of success, Tarnavsky said he respected their view.

    “Let it be the opinion of the skeptics. It’s not a competition and we don’t have a choice,” he said. “I understand somebody may have imagined large scale counteroffensive operations. But times are changing, enemy tactics are changing, weapons change.”

    “We have one goal – liberation of our territories. However hard it is we will keep on working. And I want to thank even the skeptics, their criticism also influences our task’s success,” he said.

    He thanked Ukraine’s Western allies for their continuous support and pledged to treat the tanks and armored vehicles they have supplied with great care.

    Tarnavsky told CNN that strikes on Crimea are important for the success of Kyiv’s counteroffensive.

    “The success of offensive operations is not only about destroying the enemy in front of you, it’s also about destroying places of concentration of equipment, personnel and especially destroying the command centers,” he said, adding that it can create a “a mess on the battlefield.”

    The general added striking Crimea was especially important as a rallying cry for Ukrainian forces and to boost morale.

    “It helps us but it also gives us hope for the future,” he said.

    Caliber.Az

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