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Ukrainian Attacks Stall Against Russian Defenses Along Southern Frontline

Leo Timm
Leo Timm covers China-related news, culture, and history. Follow him on Twitter at @kunlunpeaks
Published: June 9, 2023
A destroyed or abandoned German-made Leopard 2A6 tank sits along the wreckages of M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles of the Ukrainian army sometime in early June, 2023. The vehicles were likely deployed with the Ukrainian 47th Mechanized Brigade and attacked en route to the front in Zaporizhzhia oblast, southern Ukraine. (Image: Screenshot/via social media)

Update (June 11): The Ukrainian forces appear to be pressing their attacks, taking small amounts of territory or at least contesting Russian control over it.

A week of attacks along the frontline by Ukrainian mechanized forces in the southern oblast, or province of Zaporizhzhia have failed thus far to make much of a dent in the heavily fortified Russian positions.

Similar operations in the neighboring Donetsk oblast to the east were also repulsed.

Video and photos from recent engagements show destroyed and abandoned combat vehicles of Western manufacture, including the advanced Leopard 2A6, a German-built tank, and M2 Bradley, a U.S.-made modern armored personnel carrier, in addition to older hardware.

Night-vision footage released by Russian sources shows the view from helicopter pilots or gunners firing on Ukrainian vehicles with guided missiles.

Over the past months, as Russian and Ukrainian divisions clashed in the protracted Battle of Bakhmut, Western armies trained and equipped Ukrainian units in preparation for an awaited counteroffensive aimed at liberating territory occupied by Russia.

Russia, for its part, called up hundreds of thousands of reservists to deploy to Ukraine, while beefing up fortifications along and behind the frontlines.

Observers of the war have noted very little change in the frontlines despite the flurry of Ukrainian attacks, though Ukraine has managed to retake some territory to the south and north of Bakhmut, a strategic city that fell to Russia on May 22.

It is unclear whether the Ukrainian attacks mark the start of an actual counteroffensive, or if they serve as a kind of probing operation to test the strength of Russian positions.

While Ukraine has imported more than a dozen Leopard 2A6 tanks and over 100 of the older 2A4 model, in addition to other Western armored vehicles, deploying them effectively in combat involves the challenge of Russian air power.