- Ukraine claimed Monday to have taken Robotyne
Russia has deployed one of its most elite fighting units to the front lines in a desperate bid to halt Ukraine’s advance.
While Kyiv‘s counter-offensive has made slow progress since it was launched earlier this year, Ukraine reported a breakthrough on Monday saying its troops had liberated the southeastern settlement of Robotyne.
New efforts from Ukrainian military
Its forces are now trying to push further south, likely with the ultimate goal of reaching the Sea of Azov to split Russia’s ‘land bridge’ that connects the invading country’s mainland to occupied Crimea, providing a vital supply route.
The Ukrainian military said last week that its forces had raised the national flag in the strategic settlement, but were still carrying out mopping-up operations.
Russia responds by deploying its best fighting unit
In response, reports have said Moscow has deployed its 76th Guard Air Assault Division (GAAD) – sometimes described as Russia’s best fighting unit – to the region, with elements being spotted near Robotyne last week.
In a daily update on the situation in Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War – a Washington-based Think Tank, said on Saturday it had seen evidence of ‘lateral redeployments of elements of the 7th Guards Mountain VDV Division from Kherson Oblast to the frontline in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and elements of the 76th VDV Division from the Kreminna area to the Robotyne area’.
This, it said, suggests ‘that Russian forces may be using relatively elite units to reinforce critical sectors of the front.’
Sunday, it repeated the report about elite units being redeployed, adding: ‘Russian forces committed a considerable amount of materiel, effort, and manpower to hold the series of defensive positions that Ukrainian forces are currently penetrating’.
Would Russian forces retain the advantages they have held if…?
It added: ‘It is unclear if Russian forces will retain the advantages they have held if they cannot commit the same level of resources and personnel to these next layers of defence.
‘The next Russian defensive layer will, nevertheless, very likely pose significant challenges for the Ukrainian advance.’
Images circulating on Ukrainian social media appeared to show tow Russian unit patches from the 234th and 104th Guards Airborne Assault regiments – both part of the 76th GAAD.
The patches were reportedly taken as trophies.
Russia’s 234th regiment it believed to have been involved in the Bucha massacre, a mass killing of Ukrainian civilians by Russian soldiers in March 2022.
Extensive reporting by the Associated Press and other news outlets uncovered how the regiment carried out a ‘cleansing’ operation in the Kyiv suburb, arresting, torturing and murdering Ukrainian residents.
Elements of the 76th GAAD had been fighting in Kremmina in the Luhansk region – around 150 miles to the north-east of Robotyne.
Their sighting around the southern village suggests some have been moved.