The south of Ukraine is becoming a major point of the war, which entered its sixth month this week, the day after bombings on the port of Odessa and while kyiv claims to want to liberate the Kherson region.
This “will be definitively liberated by September and (…) all the plans of the occupiers will fail”, declared on Sunday the adviser to the head of the regional military administration of Kherson loyal to kyiv, Sergiy Khlan.
“We can talk about a turnaround,” he assured. “We are moving from a defensive phase to a counter-offensive”. According to him, the Ukrainian strikes targeting two strategic bridges, as well as those on ammunition depots and enemy command posts, prepared an ongoing ground offensive.
The Russians had taken control of Kherson as early as March 3.
Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the British University of Saint-Andrews, notes that the intensity of the fighting has diminished. “Unless the Russians are subtle and slowly and quietly replenish their ammunition stocks for a major offensive, they are suffering,” he said.
US officials this week highlighted the benefit they see of the new Himars precision artillery systems, multiple rocket launchers mounted on light armor with a range of 80 kilometers. Data released by NASA shows a lower volume of Russian strikes on the front, again suggesting the impact of the Himars.
But the analysis is difficult to confirm definitively and independently.
“Mykolaiv was again bombarded” on Sunday the day after a strike that injured five, according to the Ukrainian presidency. “Residents of almost all districts in the region (…) report numerous shellings and explosions”.
According to Sergiy Khlan, the Ukrainian strikes targeting two strategic bridges, ammunition depots and Russian command posts served to prepare the ground for the ongoing ground offensive.
Phillips O’Brien asserts that kyiv knowingly lured enemy soldiers to the south. “The strategy could be to bleed them in Donbass, bleed them in Kherson, defeat them in Kherson.”
“Ukrainian forces are probably preparing an offensive or have already launched one in the Kherson region,” says the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which admits fragmentary information and notes that Ukrainian civilians have been Please do not communicate on the subject.
The institute argues that the area between the front and Kherson is rural and dotted with villages, making military developments more opaque.
As for the strikes on Odessa, Moscow assured that they had destroyed the day before in the port a Ukrainian military ship and Harpoon anti-ship missiles delivered by the United States. “A factory for the repair and modernization of Ukrainian army ships has also been put out of use,” according to Moscow.
Ukraine has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of having “spit in the face” of the UN and Turkey and of compromising the application of the agreement signed on Friday in Istanbul on the resumption of grain exports blocked by the conflict.
Northeast and East
The Ukrainian presidency reported shelling in the region of Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, where “several residential buildings were damaged and residential buildings burned down”.
The ISW, for its part, evokes a “land assault limited to the northwest of Sloviansk”, bombings to the southeast and southwest of Izium and strikes on Dibrovne, Krasnopillya and Mazanivka, along the border between the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions.
The Ukrainian general staff suggests that the Russian forces could also “approach the surroundings of Siversk from its positions in the east”. The strikes continue in the north, south and east of the city. Fighting is also recorded around Bakhmout, assure the institute like the British Ministry of Defence.