Is Ukraine succeeding in the south in their counteroffensive on Russian-occupied areas?
After more than six months Ukrainian forces have launched the first major counteroffensive and aim to retake the southern region of Kherson.
Last week Ukrainian forces began a new counteroffensive, aiming to reclaim land in the south of Ukraine in an ambitious new stage in the conflict. Ukrainian officials are thought to be targeting the Russian-held region of Kherson, which they hope to retake by the end of the year.
This spell of ground assaults has been the most sustained period of counterattack since Russian troops invaded back in February. In recent weeks Ukrainian forces had launched attacks on Russian ammunition stores, command posts and fuel reserves in anticipation.
The United States is not entering into the conflict due to fears about trigger an escalation, but has been providing Ukraine with significant military support and a degree of oversight. US observers have found that the Ukrainian offensive has managed to disrupt the Russian supply lines.
“What we’ve seen in the Kherson region first is some continued offensive operations by the Ukrainians,” said Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder. “They continue to make some forward movement. We are aware that they have retaken some villages.”
Ukrainian officials are reported as saying that they are intent on retaking not only the important city of Kherson, but also Nova Kakhovka, which is home to both a hydroelectric plant and a canal which is essential for providing water to Crimea. Their plan is ambitious but it is thought to be possible if Ukrainian forces continue to advance at the current rate.
Institute for the Study of War outlines “verifiable progress”
Ukraine appears to have made a promising start to the counteroffensive in the past week but it is difficult to get a reliable overview of events on the ground. The Russian authorities have refused to confirm any Ukrainian progress and the battle for territory is raging on across the country.
Fortunately a recent report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has outlined the consequence of the recent Ukrainian effort. They found that the nation’s forces have made “verifiable progress” against the Russian invaders and the rate of progress could hasten in the coming months.
“The pace of the counteroffensive will likely change dramatically from day to day as Ukrainian forces work to starve the Russians of necessary supplies, disrupt their command and control, and weaken their morale even as counteroffensive ground assaults continue,” the ISW report reads.
The successful counteroffensive has even spurred some self-reflection in Russia, where commentators are being forced to acknowledge the rate of Ukrainian progress.
The ISW report states: “Ukrainian forces have made substantial enough progress to begin evoking more realistic commentary from the Russian milbloggers, who had been hewing very closely to the Kremlin’s optimistic rhetoric until today.”