Urgent: Russia-Ukraine WarRussian Defensive Tactic Helps Slow Ukrainian Advance

By ceding ground before striking back, Moscow’s forces are using a longstanding method to impede Ukraine’s counteroffensive, analysts say- russia.

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A tactic known as ‘elastic defense’ is one of several factors aiding Russia.

As Ukraine’s counteroffensive has rumbled forward in recent months, it has encountered minefields and forces dug into elaborate trench networks. Kyiv’s forces have also run up against a Russian tactic of ceding ground before striking back.

Reports on Monday illustrated the issue: Russian forces said they had staged an assault on Ukrainian troops on the frontline in Zaporizhzhia region, while Ukraine’s forces said it had “repelled the attacks.”

Rather than holding a line of trenches at all costs in the face of Ukraine’s assault, security experts say, Russian commanders have employed a longstanding military tactic known as “elastic defense.”

Ukraine and Russia have fought intense battles since June, when Kyiv launched a counteroffensive buoyed by billions of dollars in military aid from NATO allies, but relatively little ground has changed hands. Here’s a look at the state of the battlefield.

The main thrust of Kyiv’s counteroffensive is taking place in southern Ukraine in the western half of the Zaporizhzhia region. Ukraine took the village of Robotyne last month after weeks of combat. There have since been reports of other small advances. Ukraine needs to push through miles of territory and minefields before it reaches the fortified city of Tokmak, some 15 miles southwest of Robotyne. After that, Ukraine’s next objective in that part of the front line could be the city of Melitopol, which is around 31 miles from Tokmak.

The Russian ruble briefly weakened to a symbolically important exchange rate of 100 to the dollar on Tuesday for the first time since mid-August, when worries about wartime shocks to the economy led the central bank to call an emergency meeting at which it sharply raised interest rates to 12 percent.

The dip also came two and a half weeks after the central bank announced that it would raise the benchmark interest rate again, to 13 percent, in response to higher inflation that the bank said was driven by demand outpacing production capabilities. Higher interest rates make it relatively more attractive to hold ruble-denominated assets.

Since mid-August, the ruble has hovered around 95 to 99 rubles to a dollar, significantly weaker since the start of the year, in a sign of the financial volatility unleashed by President Vladimir V. Putin’s war against Ukraine. High military spending, labor shortages and a steadily worsening trade balance have led to concerns about a weakening economy and the sustainability of Moscow’s intense spending on the war.

Russian attacks have wounded five people and caused damage in parts of Ukraine, the authorities said Tuesday, in yet another daily reminder of the toll on the country after 19 months of war.

Ukraine’s Air Force said air defenses shot down all but one of the 31 drones and a cruise missile that Russia launched overnight into Tuesday, but falling debris from the interceptions can also be dangerous. In the city of Dnipro, a business, a car and a garage caught fire, according to Mykola Lukashuk, the head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Council. He said on the Telegram messaging app that 13 drones had been shot down overnight in the region.

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