A series of Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF) attacks across the Kherson sector was gaining ground at multiple locations on Tuesday, but Ukrainian officials cautioned that hopes that Kyiv has kicked off a major counteroffensive are probably overblown.
Preliminary Monday reports of contacts and fighting, along with satellite images of fires burning overnight, seemed to show that on Monday the UAF shifted its forces to attack in at least three locations in the Kherson sector.
Two focuses of fighting – in the east near the town of Vysokopole, and in the center of Snihurivka – appeared to have the UAF objectives of limited ground gains and destroying Russian Forces (RF) troops in the immediate vicinity.
The third area of heavy firing, per these sources, was centered on the M-14 highway, along the shortest and most direct road from UAF-controlled Mykolaiv to RF-controlled Kherson. Combat was still in progress in this sector on Tuesday.
The Ukrainian blogosphere exploded at the news of the long-awaited UAF “counteroffensive” in the Kherson sector, often predicting a quick and decisive RF defeat.
A Twitter post from the Georgian Legion, a volunteer contingent fighting on the UAF side since 2014, recalled a disastrous battle from those days against overwhelming RF force, and claimed the Kherson attacks mean payback time had come for the Kremlin: “We told you it (a major UAF offensive) was coming – now you’re about to learn that karma’s a bitch. 8 years ago today was (the battle of) Ilovaisk…Be seeing you orcs (RF soldiers) real soon. And we’re bringing friends.”
But Oleksiy Arestovych, a Presidential Administration advisor frequently commenting on military issues, said the chain of attacks was a “small, limited offensive.”
On the ground, on Tuesday, a picture was emerging of a series of deliberate, pre-planned, UAF combined-arms assaults aimed at taking individual villages or front line positions held by RF forces.
Scattered but numerous images and accounts from the line of contact by UAF service members drew a picture of UAF infantry, armor and artillery advancing in close cooperation towards limited objectives. At one location, soldiers reported Dutch YPR-765 armored personnel carriers participated in an attack. At another, video showed UAF howitzer shells systematically tearing up a wood line reportedly holding RF troops.
One infantryman in a video recorded in the Kherson sector told of participating in a conventional ground assault, backed by UAF artillery and tanks, on fortified RF positions, at one point across a minefield. Soldiers received some injuries but their unit took its objective, he said. A UAF soldier in the Snihurivka sector told Kyiv Post, by text message, that his unit had attacked, was supported by artillery and air strikes, and gained its objectives.
Unnamed UAF officials told CNN that four villages were captured by Ukrainian units in the first day of attacks: Novo Dymytrvka, Arkhangel’ske, Tomina Balka and Pravdino.
RF-affiliated news platforms likewise reported UAF forward movement without major breakthroughs. UAF units “expanded their positions in a limited success” in the vicinity of the towns Davydiv Brody and Sukhoi Stavok, but a UAF assault on the village Blahodatne was halted with losses, the pro-Russia Telegram channel Readovka reported. On Tuesday morning combat near the village Vysokopol’ was still in progress, the platform claimed.
All four key bridges critical to RF units for supply – three across the Dnipro River and one across the Inhulets River – are fully destroyed, the OCS statement said. RF sources also reported the bridges are down, and that ferries used by the RF to move troops and equipment across the Dnipro by water, are now under regular UAF artillery fire.
The most visible RF response to the UAF attacks was, according to a Ukrainian government statement, the Monday afternoon launch of sixteen RF S-300 anti-aircraft missiles at Mykolaiv city. Two civilians died and 24 were injured in the bombardment striking homes, businesses and in one shot narrowly missing the main bridge connecting the two sides of the city over the Inhulets River.
The RF blogosphere was downbeat and at times panicky in its first reports of the UAF attacks. One pro-RF commentator, RUSVARG wrote in his Telegram channel: “We are receiving very worrying information. As many as 14 tanks of the enemy are trying to break through in the Mykolaiv sector in the region Posad-Pokrovska. Heavy battles are in progress.”
Russian military commentator Anatoliy Dremov wrote: “From the very morning in the Kherson direction the Ukrops (Ukrainians) have gone completely nuts. They are shooting with everything that they have and these days they have a lot…there’s a big risk we’ll lose Kherson. There are many losses on our side.”
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