Ukraine announced the start of its full-scale counteroffensive on Aug. 28. The long-awaited and highly-teased operation focused around Kherson, in Ukraine’s Southern region.
Russia responded by sending reinforcements to the South, but the troop movements left the Russian battle lines thin. Ukraine’s military took advantage of the situation and seems to have launched a second counteroffensive to the North, in an area near Kharkiv.
In the last few days, around 20 settlements were liberated by Ukrainian soldiers, according to the Ukraine Defense Ministry. Videos began circulating on social media on Thursday, showing civilians embracing their Ukrainian liberators.
Bloomberg News reported pro-Russian bloggers and military analysts have been surprised by how fast Ukraine’s counteroffensive is progressing. There are now reports that thousands of Russian troops may soon be encircled and cut off from resupply. But it’s not clear if Ukraine will be able to hold the newly liberated areas, and the prospect of a drawn-out war spilling over into other countries is still very real, which is why Germany is buying life-size robotic replicas of Russian tanks and military vehicles.
Australia-based Gaardtech makes what’s called a “robotic enemy vehicle”, or REV. Gaardtech can produce more than 20 REVs based on Russian and Chinese designs. The robots mimic real tank movements. Four people can assemble it in under an hour. For added realism, the REVs have thermal cells to simulate heat signatures. This feature enables pilots, gunners and sensor operators have a more immersive training experience.
The purchase of the REVs marks a macabre milestone as Germans realize that for the first time since the Cold War, German and Russian troops could find themselves in combat.