Today, the biggest news comes from the Tokmak direction.
After Ukrainian tank crews conducted an extensive series of raids on the Russian positions in front of Novoprokopivka, Ukrainians set perfect conditions for infantry attacks. Recently released footage shows how Ukrainian fighters are entering the tree line and clearing positions. The tree line was still burning, which means that the infantry assault was either conducted immediately after a tank raid or after an intense artillery preparation. Such conditions are not rare because there is a lot of Russian ammunition and mines in the tree lines, some of which detonate during the strikes. Ukrainian fighters said that with the increased use of cluster shells, destroying enemy ammunition and causing fires in the tree lines became very easy.
On top of leaving the enemy with less ammunition, the burning ground helps Ukrainian assault units to identify scattered mines more easily. As you can see, the density of mines is insane, and demining equipment would not withstand so many explosions in one go. However, what Ukrainians found out is that when they attack through the burned field, the drivers of vehicles can just move around the mines because they can clearly see them. The mine clearing equipment, therefore, works as insurance in case some mines cannot be avoided. So, the use of cluster shells significantly improved the efficiency of infantry assaults not only by destroying ammunition but also by allowing Ukrainian assault units to get to the positions safely and also much faster because Ukrainians can use armored cars with light demining equipment instead of T-64 tanks. After the positions are taken, Ukrainians are demining the tree lines and the area around them. Ukrainians also recently created an improvised demining device with a remote control that specializes in demining light but tricky-to-find anti-personnel mines. All of that helped Ukrainians to deepen the bridgehead substantially.
Today, Russian sources reported that Ukrainians are already virtually on the outskirts of Novoprokopivka. After clearing all the fields and tree lines, now there is only one field that separates Ukrainians from entering the village itself. Recently released footage by Russian soldiers confirms that those units that are operating north of Novoprokopivka are retreating. The retreating soldiers pass the destroyed Russian equipment and personnel right behind their positions. The destroyed units were likely a reinforcement that never got to the contact line due to the Ukrainian artillery and drone fire. In fact, less than 1 minute in, the retreating Russian soldiers were detected by a Ukrainian drone and suffered from artillery fire. The Russians tried to run, but their fate is unknown.
As the Ukrainian command saw that Ukrainians were gaining momentum and the bridgehead – and, therefore, the area of operation – was increasing, the assault units were reinforced. Russian sources confirmed that the front line shifted even more south and reported that Ukrainians moved in additional elements from the 71st Jagger Brigade toward Robotyne and elements from the Ukrainian Special Forces toward Verbove to ramp up the offensive operation.
In order to undermine Ukrainian plans and not allow fresh forces to reinforce the units on the contact line, Russian forces conducted a massive flank attack. The main area where Russian delivered the hit was right between Novopokrovka and Verbove, and those fresh forces reportedly had to engage with Russians not where they expected. Russian sources reported that the goal was achieved, and the fresh Ukrainian troops were fixed and now are stuck defending the eastern flank instead of storming the southern line.
Unfortunately for Russians, it seems like Ukrainians breached the Russian defense in the south anyway. Recently released geolocated footage shows how Russian artillery is shelling Ukrainian troops inside the newly captured Russian trenches right behind the passed dragon teeth. As you can see, the situation remains difficult, but Ukrainian fighters are consistently getting closer to Tokmak. In the meantime, in anticipation of the liberation of their land, Ukrainians who are living in the villages near Tokmak were seen launching a Ukrainian flag in the sky towards Ukrainian forces on the southern contact line.