Russian forces have been reinforcing defences around the key town of Tokmak in southern Ukraine as they fear breaches in their first lines of defence, according to an update from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The occupied town is around 16km behind the front line and Russia has been setting up more checkpoints and laying more “hedgehog” anti-tank mines intelligence reports have indicated.
The Russians are also digging more trenches in the area which is held by its 58th Combined Arms Army amid fears of a Ukrainian breakthrough in the north, the update says.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 17 September 2023.
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The intelligence update posted on X, formerly known as twitter, says: “In recent days Russian forces have likely reinforced their defences around the occupied town of Tokmak in southern Ukraine.
“Russia is likely deploying additional checkpoints ‘hedgehog’ anti-tank defences and digging new trenches in the area.
“Tokmak is preparing to become a lynchpin of Russia’s second main line of defences. Improvements to the town’s defences likely indicates Russia’s growing concern about Ukraine’s tactical penetrations of the first main defensive line in the north.”.
Ukraine launched its counter-offensive in June with the aim of pushing Russian forces out of the country.
The main push has been in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions although operations have aldo included attacks on the Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 but its forces were repelled after an assault on the capital Kiev. However Russia holds territory including in the Zaporizhzhia region which is home to the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe.