Ukrainian military activity suggests Kherson counterattack is underway

Kyiv, UKRAINE — The long-awaited Ukrainian move to retake the Russian-occupied zone in southern Ukraine appears to have started on Monday, according to both Ukrainian and pro-Russian sources. However, it is difficult to obtain independently verifiable information from the battlefield.

To remind both Ukrainians and curious Western observers of the stakes involved, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned He said people would not “hear details” about Ukraine’s military plans “from someone who is really responsible”, adding that “this is a war”.

The Ukrainian government has adopted a menacing and derisive tone about its operations. An adviser to Zelensky’s office, Mikhaylo Podoljak, tweeted on Monday: “Negotiations are going well.”

A rally against the Russian occupation of Kherson, Ukraine

A rally against the Russian occupation of Kherson, Ukraine. (Oleksandr Chorny/AP)

The day started like any other day this summer, with multiple Ukrainian High Mobility Artillery System (HIMARS) attacks on Russian positions around Kherson, a strategic Russian-controlled city in southern Ukraine. . Kyiv said last month’s artillery campaign damaged or destroyed roads and bridges and made key areas around the city impassable with heavy machinery. This claim was confirmed by Igor Gurkin, his FSB sanctioned by the US and his EU, who led Russia’s proxy war in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine several years ago. Much of the commentary is pessimistic about the Russian war machine and critical of the Kremlin’s unproven cheerleading.

The apparent attack escalated beyond the morning’s artillery fire, with infantry and armor advancing towards the Russian lines.By noon, Ukrainian sources said there were signs of progress claim Some of the Russian-Kremlin allied forces fled in the face of the advancing Ukrainian forces.

A senior Ukrainian military official, who spoke to Yahoo News on condition of anonymity, said the attack was indeed underway.

Ukrainian artillerymen at the Military Rally Center check and prepare their weapons and special equipment before going to frontline duty in Kherson, Ukraine, July 15, 2022.

Ukrainian artillerymen check equipment in the Kherson area in July 2022. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Pro-Russian bloggers and fighters also hinted that a significant Ukrainian operation was taking place.

By mid-afternoon, these pro-Russian chroniclers on social media were reporting that Ukrainian forces had lost territory. Telegram account “Gray Zone” linked to Russian mercenary group “Wagner”, announced “Three successful attacks on the enemy. One of the successful ones was from the Andreevka-Lozovoy direction, as a result of which Ukrainian troops advanced almost 6 km and captured the village of Sukhoi Stavok.”

According to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, workers in Nova Kakhovka were ordered to go to an air raid shelter as Ukrainian artillery shelled Russian positions in and around the city.

Ukrainian military sources Confirmed by CNN The liberation of the villages of Nova Dmytrivka, Arkhanhelske, Tomyna Balka, and Pravdyne by Ukrainian forces.

KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 23, 2022 - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky jointly with Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, at Konstytutsii (Constitution) Square outside the Verkhovna Rada building on Flag Day in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine Attend a press conference.  (See Kaniuka Ruslan/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images for photo credit)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Kaniuka Ruslan/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Kherson, the region’s anchor, was the first major population center to fall to the Russian advance on 2 March. The Kremlin began laying the groundwork for annexing the city, offering Russian citizenship to its inhabitants and attempting to convert the local currency into rubles. The city itself is a major industrial center, an important port, and a shipbuilding center, while the wider area is an important agricultural center and famous for its watermelons.

Under Russian occupation, the provincial capital has become a hotbed of riots, with daily protests morphing into a spate of car bombings and targeted assassinations of collaborators and members of the Russian military. Signs strewn throughout the city depict a Russian soldier with his throat slit.

Nor were these idle threats.

On August 28, Oleksiy Kovalyov, a former member of Zelensky’s People’s Party servants and appointed Deputy Chairman of Agriculture by the Russian occupation regime, was shot dead in his home by suspected Ukrainian agents. beginning of the monthOn August 5, the Russian-appointed governor of Kherson province, Volodymyr Sard, was hospitalized, and many speculated that he had been poisoned. The next day, Vitaly Fra, the Russian-picked deputy mayor of Nova Kakhovka, another city near Kherson, was shot while trying to leave his home.

russian soldier

Russian soldiers on guard as a group of foreign journalists visiting Kherson. (AP)

Even as Ukraine suffered losses in the exchange of artillery and city-by-city fighting in the eastern part of the country, officials continued to emphasize that their main objective was to defend Kherson. A senior official told Yahoo News in June that their schedule indicated a major counteroffensive would begin by the end of the summer before the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lyushchansk in Donbass were taken by Russia. He said he was.

Monday’s events may indicate that the timetable is indeed being followed.

While it is still too early to assess Ukraine’s long-term intentions and capabilities, two senior Pentagon officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: said on monday There is a good chance that Kyiv will recapture Kherson. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby has refused to characterize what is happening as a counterattack, emphasizing the local nature of what Ukraine has unleashed on Russians in the region over the past few weeks. .

last week, CNN reported So far, Ukrainian strategy has been built around the Resistance Operation Concept (ROC), or a sophisticated form of partisan warfare, adopted by Ukrainian special forces and developed in collaboration with US and European militaries. ing.

Explosion at Russian Air Force Base in Crimea

Explosion at Russian air base in Crimea. (UGC via AP)

The ROC’s achievements terrorized the Russian occupiers and thwarted their attempts to govern the seized territories, while for months depleting the Kremlin’s supply of soldiers and equipment and killing countless people. It was a constant death campaign by the cut.

Crimea, which Moscow illegally seized and annexed in 2014, has, in the past few weeks, moved behind enemy lines to military installations by Ukrainian forces that it has never been able or unwilling to attack. Attacks, including the August 14 attack on Sakhi Air Base, destroyed more than half of the Black Sea Fleet’s naval and air forces and left Ukraine with a current long-range ballistic or cruise missile arsenal. There was speculation that it may have been.

The preparations for the Kherson Offensive also included a constant bombardment of the western bank of the Dnipro River, which bisected the area, using long-range, accurate artillery platforms supplied from the West, such as HIMARS.

Ukrainian soldier

Ukrainian military personnel prepare to open fire on Russian positions from US-supplied howitzers in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine. (Evgeny Maroretka/AP)

Almost every day, command and control facilities and air defense platforms are destroyed with these weapons. Another recurring target is the Antonivsky Bridge. Without this, the Russians could reinforce their own forces occupying the city of Kherson and retreat if necessary.

Attempts to repair the bridge are plagued by an incoming clockwork salvo. Overhead images reviewed by Yahoo News show a badly cratered blacktop and smoke rising from a Russian barge brought in to fend off her HIMARS attack on the bridge.

Vitaly Kim, governor of Mykolaiv province, northwest of Kherson, joked on twitter “Demand for inflatable boats and mattresses on the right bank of the Dnipro is soaring.”