Ukrainian troops have entered the Robotyne in the western Zaporizhzhia region, rescuing ecstatic villagers who have described their “unexpected” joy at finally being liberated from Russian occupation.

In a video released on Tuesday morning by Kyiv’s 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade, soldiers are seen greeting civilians in an undisclosed area before they are evacuated by a military vehicle.

One woman on the phone to her daughter, says: “Hi, daughter. Hello, my darling. Baby, we were taken away. Stop crying, baby. We are at home now, finally.”

Robotyne has been under Russian occupation since March 2022. Describing her experience, the woman says: “Psychologically, it was tough. At first, we ran out of water, then of light, and then we ran out of bread.

“Thank God we had a potato growing in the backyard.”

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She goes on to describe how they always “hoped our defenders would come and rescue us,” but added: “We waited for so long that today happened almost out of the blue, very unexpectedly.

“At first, we couldn't even believe that our guys came. We are very grateful to our boys.”

She then describes her recent 52nd birthday, saying how even though they were under Russian occupation, she received “beautiful presents.”

“I was gifted mulberry pies, three loaves of bread. My mom brought me roses, and my child’s godfather brought me half a box of bagels, which he stole from the occupiers.”

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 21, 2024
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ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 21, 2024

Latest from the Institute for the Study of War.

In a post on Telegram, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hannah Maliar, said: “Soldiers of the 47th brigade, which entered the village of Robotyne with a fight, organized the evacuation of civilians on a Bradley Ambulance.”

“Our fighters perform planned combat work and destroy the enemy. In response, the Russians are continuously shelling Robotyne with artillery.

“Fighting continues.”

Fighting for Robotyne has been fierce. The village is at the southern-most tip of an offensive push launched by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) from near the town of Orihiv, in early June, in an attempt to punch through Russian defensive lines along the T0408 highway, towards its objective in the city of Tokmak.

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AFU progress has been slow and painful. One of the bloodiest battles along the T0408 took place on June 8 near the village Mala Tokmachka, where AFU forces reportedly lost three German Leopard 2 tanks and between 8 - 11 US-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicles in a few hours, after being ambushed in a minefield by Russian special forces infantry supported by helicopter gunships.

Following the Mala Tokmachka encounter, the AFU leadership has shifted its tactics away from front-on attempts to break through Russian fortifications towards slower, attritional attacks intended to grind down Russian defenses.

 Robotyne is some 11 kilometers south of Mala Tokmachka.

In its latest assessment on Monday, the highly-regarded Institute for the Study of War said: “Ukrainian attacks on Robotyne are tactically significant because a Ukrainian advance in the area may allow Ukrainian forces to begin operating past the densest Russian minefields.”

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It added: “Persistent Ukrainian advances in the Robotyne area also likely aim to degrade Russian forces that have committed significant effort, resources, and personnel to hold positions around Robotyne.”

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