In the first days of the counteroffensive in early June, Ukraine launched an ill-fated assault at Novopokrovka which ended with a number of vehicles caught in an extensive minefield being hit by Russian artillery. Among the vehicles hit were the first Leopard 2 tank lost in the war and a Bradley fighting vehicle. That assault was paired with another at Robotyne, about 9 kilometers to the west. The string of losses there provided images and video that Russia would use for months. From all angles. And altitudes. Long after most of the vehicles had actually been hauled away for repairs.
Those early losses on the road to Robotyne appeared to come with very few gains. Very little ground exchanged hands, and if there were matching Russian losses, they were not obvious. The situation at Robotyne seemed, in technical terms, bad.
Meanwhile, Ukraine had extended its counteroffensive to a number of areas scattered across 150 kilometers of the Zaporizhzhia front. At some of these other locations, progress appeared to come much more quickly. Neskuchne and Novodarivka, Storozheve and Blahodatne, Makarivka and Rivnopil, Staromaiorske and Urozhaine: All of these towns were liberated by Ukraine. While progress seemed slow, that wasn’t bad work for three months of grinding it out toe-to-toe with the best defenses Russia could assemble.
So why, when it was time to double down, did Ukraine move back to Robotyne?
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