Advancing Russian Troops Threaten to Reverse Some of Ukraine’s Hard-Won Gains

Russian troops in recent weeks have been taking ground from Ukraine all across the front line.

In some cases, they are seizing land that Ukrainians had recaptured in hard-fought battles just last year. And in a surprise offensive, Moscow has made its biggest territorial gains since late 2022.

This is a sobering situation for Ukraine, one that may hurt the morale of its soldiers and dampen the public mood. Analysts say Russia is likely to increase its gains in coming months while Ukraine waits for American military aid to reach the battlefield.

Here’s a closer look at some of Russia’s recent advances.

Russia appears close to retaking Robotyne.

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed last week that its troops had seized Robotyne, a tiny village in the Zaporizhzhia region in southeastern Ukraine. The village had been retaken by Ukrainian soldiers in August, a much-celebrated, if rare, success in Kyiv’s disappointing summer counteroffensive.

Ukraine has denied the claim, but maps of the battlefield compiled by independent analysts from satellite imagery and video footage of the fighting showed that Russian troops coming up from the south had reached the northernmost part of the village.

“Robotyne should be viewed as a mostly Russian-controlled grayish zone,” said Emil Kastehelmi, an analyst with the Black Bird Group. He said that Ukraine’s “main forces have pulled out from there,” but that they continued to target Russian forces from north of the village, mainly with attack drones, and were preventing them from securing a permanent presence there for now.

Ukrainian soldiers holding a position near the village of Robotyne, Ukraine, last year. The Russian Defense Ministry recently claimed its troops had seized the village. Credit…Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters
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