WP: Minefields are big obstacle to Ukraine's counteroffensive

WP: Minefields are big obstacle to Ukraine's counteroffensive

Russian forces have managed to significantly slow a Ukrainian counteroffensive by mining large areas around their positions.

That's according to The Washington Post, Ukrinform reports.

Areas between 5 and 16 kilometers deep in front of the Russians' main strongholds have been densely mined with antitank and antipersonnel mines and trip wires, and this forced the Ukrainian defenders to change their tactics. "Rather than try to break through with the infantry fighting vehicles and battle tanks that Western allies provided to aid Ukraine in this counteroffensive, units are moving forward, slowly, on foot," the article reads.

A senior Ukrainian official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military matters, said Kyiv received less than 15 percent of the quantity of demining and engineering materiel that it asked for from Western partners ahead of the counteroffensive. Some of that equipment arrived just last week, the official said.

"We need special equipment, we need special remote mine-clearance equipment," Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi said.

He added that "minefields are one of the problems that certainly affects the pace of the offensive."

The situation is complicated by the fact that the Russians are now prioritizing the destruction of mine-clearing equipment, realizing its key importance for the advance of the Ukrainians.

"Ukrainian military personnel on the ground also described hesitation to use the larger, more advanced demining equipment. Because, in the Ukrainians' opinion, there are so few of the mine-clearing systems, they have become an easier target for Russian forces, which have prioritized striking them," the article said.

At the same time, the depth and density of the minefields are particular challenges along the southern Zaporizhzhia front line, where the Russians widely expected the Ukrainians to assault.

Another challenge for Ukrainian defenders is that the Russians are able to drop more mines from drones, reseeding areas that the Ukrainians had cleared.

"Because the Russians have drones in the sky on the lookout for any mine-clearance systems to target with artillery and missiles, the Ukrainians are trying for now to save the few they do have by doing the job manually. Sapper units — sometimes a group of just four people — will often wait for twilight to clear paths, as they are too visible in the daylight and can be seen through night-vision devices in the dark," the article reads.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that he had informed the allies about this problem, urging them to "focus on this right now."

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