Dhe speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday evening left room for interpretation. “If they want to survive, it’s high time for the Russian soldiers to flee,” Zelenskyi said a few hours after the Ukrainian military announced the start of offensive actions in southern Ukraine. “The occupiers must know: We will chase them to the border.” These words fit the picture that could emerge on Monday in the face of reports of explosions and fighting: the great offensive to liberate Cherson, which has been speculated about for weeks will, has begun. But Zelenskyj also said: “Who wants to know what our plans are? You won’t hear anything concrete from anyone really responsible.” It sounded like nothing big had started yet.
These sentences also corresponded to earlier statements by the Ukrainian military. The spokeswoman for the Southern Command Nataliya Humenyuk, who caused a storm of hopeful expectations in the Ukrainian media and social networks with her words about the “counterattacks”, did not provide any information about their location and scope. Such surgeries “love the silence,” she wrote on Facebook. Other representatives of the Ukrainian leadership had already warned against exaggerated interpretations of events during the afternoon: “I understand our wishes and dreams,” wrote Zelenskyy’s adviser Mykhailo Podoliak on his Telegram channel. However, pending official statements from the Ukrainian military, no “super-sensational statements” should be made.
Reports of liberated towns not confirmed
On Tuesday, the southern command of the Ukrainian armed forces spoke again of “position battles to improve the situation at the front”. Reports of allegedly liberated localities have not been confirmed. Whether there were actually significant changes at the front remained unclear. But it seems certain that the fighting in southern Ukraine on Monday was much heavier than usual. This comes from a large number of reports in Ukrainian media, Ukrainian and Russian Telegram channels as well as the daily situation analyzes of the British Ministry of Defense and the American think tank ” Institute for the Study of War”.
In some places, Ukrainian troops appear to have managed, at least temporarily, to break through Russian defenses on Monday. This emerged both from Ukrainian reports and from the reports of some Russian military bloggers. While the Russian state media remained silent on the situation in southern Ukraine, some wrote about massive artillery shelling, Ukrainian advances and a “worrying situation”. The news from the Ukrainian side that the 109th regiment of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” had left their positions caused a stir.