Russian forces have in recent days likely reinforced their defenses around the occupied town of Tokmak in southern Ukraine, which is approximately 16 kilometers behind the current front line, the UK Defense Intelligence said in its daily Ukraine situation report for Sept. 17.
Russia is likely deploying additional checkpoints, “hedgehog” anti-tank defenses and digging new trenches in the area, which is held by its 58th Combined Arms Army, the report said.
Tokmak is preparing to become a lynchpin of Russia’s second main line of defenses, UK Defense Intelligence reckons. Improvements to the town’s defenses likely indicates Russia’s growing concern about Ukrainian tactical penetrations of the first main defensive line to the north in Zaporizhzhya Oblast, the report said.
Ukrainian forces managed to break through the first line of Russian defense in August. The formidable defensive line consisted of minefields, anti-tank trenches, and so-called dragon's teeth (concrete barriers).
U.S. officials noted that the Russians had spent many months preparing for this, and that the Ukrainian counter-offensive had been both bloody and slow.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has been urging its western military allies to provide more weapons and equipment, especially long-range ATACMS rockets, to allow it to speed up the progress of the counter-offensive.
While there have been indications in recent days that the United States might be considering providing Ukraine with a limited number of ATACMS rockets, a final decision on this has yet to be announced.
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