DThe Ukrainian armed forces made the biggest breakthrough on the southern front since the beginning of the war. Troops advanced on the front line in the Dnipro River area of the Kherson region on Monday. Thousands of Russian soldiers threatened to be cut off from the supply lines. The government in Kyiv initially only commented cautiously on what was going on in the war. But Russian sources reported Ukrainian armored forces advancing south along the course of the river.
An adviser to the Kyiv Interior Ministry, Anton Gerashchenko, released a video showing Ukrainian soldiers raising their national flag in the village of Solota Balka. The area lies between the cities of Cherson and Zaporizhia, whose regions Russian President Vladimir Putin declared on Friday as annexed.
“The information situation is tense, let’s put it that way, because there have indeed been breakthroughs,” said Vladimir Saldo, Russia’s installed governor in the occupied parts of Kherson, on Russian state television. Saldo specifically named the area around the village of Duchany on the banks of the Dnipro. “There are settlements that are occupied by Ukrainian troops.” Duchany is about 30 kilometers south of the previous line of the front before the Ukrainian breakthrough. This was the strongest advance of Ukrainian troops in the south. After the start of the Russian war of aggression, the area around Cherson was marked by a rigid front line for a long time.
Rob Lee of the American think tank Foreign Policy Research Institute quoted Russian bloggers as reporting that their troops had withdrawn to Duchany, about 40 kilometers further south on the banks of the Dnipro. “When so many Russian channels sound the alarm, it usually means they’re in trouble,” Lee wrote on Twitter. Should Ukrainian forces make further advances on the banks of the river, thousands of Russian soldiers could be trapped. The Dnieper is very wide in places, and Ukraine destroyed most of the bridges.
By Monday afternoon, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense had only confirmed the capture of a town about 20 kilometers from the previous front line. Serhiy Chlan from the Kherson Regional Council listed other towns that had been taken by Ukrainian troops, including Soloto Balka. “It means that our forces are advancing with strength on the banks of the Dnipro, closer and closer to Beryslav,” Gerashchenko of the Interior Ministry in Kyiv said. “Officially, there is no such information yet, but the panicking (Russian) pages on social media (…) absolutely confirm these photos.”
Meanwhile, according to official information, the first recruits called up in the course of the partial mobilization in Russia have been transferred to the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. “Mobilized soldiers are undergoing combat training in the Donetsk People’s Republic,” the Defense Ministry in Moscow said on Monday on its Telegram channel. It also posted a video showing soldiers doing target practice. The Russian military had previously announced the arrival of reservists in the Luhansk region.
Both in Luhansk and in the northern part of the Donetsk region, Russian troops have recently fallen on the defensive. So they had to evacuate the strategically important city of Lyman. Ukrainian formations are now targeting the connecting roads between the towns of Svatove, Kreminna and Rubischne in order to encircle the Russian units stationed there or force them to retreat. Moscow military bloggers report a shortage of personnel on the Russian side.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, however, the reservists will not be deployed to fill gaps, but will secure the supply routes after their training in the rear of the front. The Russian leadership said that all reservists should first go through training before being deployed to refresh their military knowledge. Experts estimate that most of the recruits will only be deployed in one to two months. However, numerous irregularities and problems in the course of the partial mobilization have already become known.