Ukraine has deepened a counteroffensive in the south of the country in the 23rd week of the war, striking Russian garrisons and ammunition stockpiles, forcing Russia to bring in reinforcements and weakening other fronts as a result.
Ukraine also scored a diplomatic victory: Russia has agreed to lift its blockade of Black Sea ports to allow Ukrainian grain exports, which Ukraine estimates will bring in $10bn in much-needed revenue.
Ukraine likely lost territory on its eastern front, including a key defensive position near Donetsk city; while an explosion in a Russian prisoner of war camp in occupied Donetsk killed an estimated 50 Ukrainian soldiers, in what Ukraine describes as a war crime.
Even before August 2, Ukraine claimed to have liberated 46 settlements in southern Kherson province and it says the number now liberated has risen again over the past week.
Britain’s defence ministry said the Kherson counteroffensive was “gathering momentum” after Ukrainian-operated HIMARS rocket artillery systems struck three Russian-controlled resupply bridges on the Dnieper river between July 20 and 27.
On July 30, Ukraine struck again. Its southern command said it had damaged a railway bridge over the Dnieper, rendering the movement of freight impossible. These strikes have jeopardised Russia’s ability to resupply forward positions in the south, and Ukraine’s general staff have reported that Russian forces are trying to repair the damaged bridges.
Ukraine is also attacking the warehouses from which Russian resupplies are sourced.
Ukraine’s southern command said that precision strikes had destroyed Russian stockpiles of fuel, lubricant and ammunition in Berislav district northeast of Kherson city, and “critically reduced” supplies in Nova Kakhovka, where Russian forces keep large stockpiles.
Further east along the Dnieper river on the same day, Nikopol district administrator Yevhen Yevtushenko said a Ukrainian strike destroyed a Russian ammunition warehouse across the river from Nikopol.
tive adviser, also confirmed that Ukrainian HIMARS rockets destroyed a 40-car train with equipment in Brylivka, about 50km (around 31 miles) southeast of Kherson city. Some 80 Russian servicemen were estimated killed and 200 wounded in the attack.
Military experts say such tactics – decapitating the Russian army, thinning its resources and destroying logistics routes – are consistent with preparations for a counteroffensive.
Retired Australian Major-General Mick Ryan has called this a “strategy of corrosion”.
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