The Ukrainians have begun their long-awaited southern offensive by breaking through Russian lines near Kherson and the Dnipro River. Is this new effort the end of the beginning in a story that sees the Ukrainians retake their lands, or simply an interlude in the march to victory for the Russians? Perhaps it’s neither and nothing much will come of the effort, leaving Ukraine deadlocked in stasis with Russia for the long term. The Wall Street Journal’s Ian Lovett reports:
Ukraine pressed forward with an offensive in the country’s south on Tuesday, seeking to build on some initial gains after launching the assault to retake the Kherson region a day earlier.
Videos on social media showed explosions overnight throughout the city of Kherson. Russian state media reported that a number of buildings in Kakhovka had been destroyed. Ukrainian forces have seized at least one village to the northeast of Kherson, the regional capital, and were fighting hard for several others, according to Russian military bloggers closely connected to the Russian armed forces.
Ukraine’s strategy for the offensive was beginning to emerge Tuesday through reports from both sides. For weeks, Ukraine has focused on cutting Russian supply lines across the Dnipro river using U.S.-supplied long-range rockets to take out Russian logistics across the region. Ukrainian officials said they lacked the weaponry and manpower for a broad offensive.
Now, after destroying bridges and ammunition depots across the Kherson region, the Ukrainians have launched an assault focused on expanding a bridgehead eastward across the Inhulets river.
A Ukrainian officer in the region said Ukrainian units on the eastern bank of the Inhulets were pushing toward the Dnipro to the northeast of Kherson in an apparent attempt to divide Russian forces sandwiched between the two rivers.
“This is a planned slow operation to grind the enemy, saving the lives of our military and civilians,” Oleksiy Arestovych, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, wrote on Telegram early Tuesday. “Of course, many would like a large-scale offensive with news about our military’s capture of one settlement an hour. But we don’t fight like that. And our means are limited.”
Ukrainian military officials said Tuesday that they had hit 13 Russian command centers across the Kherson region, as well as a Russian crossing of the Dnipro near the village of Lvove. Military officials advised residents of the region to stock up on food, water and medicine to prepare for the continuing assault.
Russian officials installed in occupied southern Ukraine by Russia initially denied there was any Ukrainian offensive. On Monday evening, the Russian Ministry of Defense said the attacks had failed and resulted in heavy losses for Ukraine. The ministry repeated the claim on Tuesday afternoon.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Tuesday that the “special military operation,” the Kremlin’s euphemism for the war, was progressing “methodically” and according to plan. “All of its goals will be achieved,” he said.
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