Jul 16, 2023
- Ukrainian forces have faced dense minefields while carrying out counteroffensive operations.
- It has forced Ukrainian units to move slowly on foot rather than using tanks or other vehicles.
- Ukrainian officials are now calling for F-16 jets and more mine-clearance equipment.
Ukraine has been forced to change its counteroffensive strategy after repeatedly coming up against dense Russian minefields, a report says.
Ukrainian units are leaving behind the battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles donated by Western allies and advancing slowly on foot, The Washington Post reported.
“You can no longer do anything with just a tank with some armor because the minefield is too deep, and sooner or later, it will stop, and then it will be destroyed by concentrated fire,” Ukraine’s commander-in-chief General Valery Zaluzhny told The Post.
The minefields have exposed the limitations of Western-provided armor, which Ukraine had long been requesting to help in its fight to take back territory occupied by Russia.
Although the vehicles are sturdy, soldiers inside typically suffer only minor injuries; they have failed to overcome Russia’s defenses alone, according to the report.
Nearly a third of the Bradley armored vehicles sent to Ukraine by the US have already been put out of action, according to open-source data.
Zaluzhny said that Ukraine now needs modern fighter jets like the US-made F-16 to improve its ground capabilities.
Ukrainian officials have also been requesting more mine-clearance equipment from its Western allies, as they say, they have received less than 15% of the demining and engineering equipment that they had asked for before the counteroffensive.
Ukraine uses the US-provided M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC) systems, which Zaluzhny said “are also being destroyed,” per The Post.”
There’s nothing wrong with that. It takes a lot of them,” he added.US officials said Washington is looking to provide more of the system and the charges it uses, per The Post.
Ukrainian forces are trying to save their few mine-clearing systems by manually clearing mines instead, often using small teams of soldiers that crawl on the ground and try to spot mines themselves, per The Post.
Russian forces also continue to drop more mines from the air onto areas that Ukrainians have cleared, further complicating Ukraine’s clearance efforts.
Ukrainian soldiers told The Post that the long buildup to the counteroffensive gave Russians time to fortify their defenses, allowing them to densely mine areas three and 10 miles deep in front of its key strongholds.
The minefields are posing major problems along the southern Zaporizhzhia front line. Russia had expected Ukraine to attack the area and attempt to cut off a stretch of land that links to Crimea, a region Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a retired US general, noted that attempting to break through Russia’s defenses, which include rows of trenches, anti-tank traps, minefields, and barbed wire, was like trying to get through “20 kilometers of hell,” Insider previously reported.
So far, Ukraine has made incremental gains in the counteroffensive, but Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has admitted that progress is so far “slower than desired.”