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Potential Ukrainian Offensive in the Kherson-Zaporizhian Direction: Liberating Southern Ukraine

According to Ukrainian analysts and special forces representatives, somewhere between the end of summer and the start of autumn, a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions is being planned. What are the preconditions for such actions, and why must it take place between the end of summer and the start of autumn?

First of all, we must look at the assistance provided by the “collective west.” Prior to the lend-lease, which will enter into force in the autumn, the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom transferred modern high-precision weapons systems to Ukraine. These include M777 howitzers; M109 howitzers; self-propelled artillery systems CAESER; artillery systems PzH 2000; self-propelled anti-aircraft systems Gepard; T-72 tanks; armoured personal carriers M113; the latest IRIS-T air defense systems; thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems including Javelin, Stinger, NLAW missiles; and, of course, the Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) and their lighter versions, the HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), which are currently in service in NATO countries.

The HIMARS have already proven themselves in combat across all fronts. The range of the rocket systems exceeds 80 kilometers, which makes it possible to effectively destroy ammunition depots, logistics hubs, command posts, and communication centers of the Russian Federation beyond the immediate line of contact. For all of these purposes, since the early days of their entry into service under the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU), the HIMARS have been working (fighting) very proficiently.

In the last couple of weeks alone, with the help of the HIMARS, four out of four strategically important bridges across the Dnipro and the Inhulets River have been shelled, which has completely cut off the occupiers from the region. The bridge over the Inhulets River near Kherson, the Antonivskyi bridge, and the Antonivskyi railway bridge, as well as the bridge over the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant were severely damaged. Furthermore, on the third of July, the AFU brought down the railway bridge between Melitopol and Tokmak.

The destruction of these objects is evidenced not only by eyewitness photos and videos but also by the statements made by the Russian side, more notably by retired FSB colonel Igor Strelkov-Girkin. He confirms the effective destruction of ammunition warehouses, command posts, and bridges in the South of Ukraine.

Another argument substantiating the potential offensive is the partisan movement developed in the Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts. Since the very start of the Russian occupation, residents of Kherson, under the auspices of a partisan movement, organised protests in the center of the city. Although some people were injured, the residents did not give up and organised similar actions all over Kherson. This movement is taking place throughout the temporarily occupied territory and is accompanied by the spread of yellow ribbons, which symbolises the unwillingness on the part of the citizens to accept the occupants from the Russian Federation.

Throughout the Zaporizhia and Kherson oblasts, partisans continue to operate. Even though they are exposed to risk, the movement only grows stronger with time. In addition to peaceful protests, militarised partisans, in cooperation and coordination with Ukrainian special services, liquidate collaborators and defectors who sided with Russia. For example, in Chornobaivka, the car of the collaborator Turuliov was blown up. He received minor injuries. In Kherson, the car of the collaborator Dmytro Savluchenko was blown up. He died on the spot. On 18 June, collaborator Yevhen Sobolev was injured in Kherson. His legs were severely damaged. One must also not forget about Volodymyr Saldo, who was appointed as the head of the Kherson oblast by the Russian occupiers. After an assassination attempt, he was hospitalised.

Overall, we can summarise that after the “operational pause” on the part of the Russian Federation, which marks the transition to a new phase of military action in Ukraine, namely the third, it is possible to state the readiness of the AFU to begin offensive actions in the Southern direction. In fact, a bridge is being set up in the direction of Kherson in the village of Andriivka across the Inhulets River. After the severe damage or partial destruction of the bridges across the Dnipro River, one can argue that Russian groupings in Kherson are in a difficult situation, as they understand that they are effectively cut off from reinforcements and resupply.

In such conditions, the combat capabilities and morale of the enemy are deteriorating, along with their desire to conduct further hostilities. Another factor that indicates the incapacity of the Russian units in the South is their use of S-300 anti-air defense systems as offensive weapons, with which they shell Mykolaiv every day. In the South, “Kalibr” and “Iskander” missiles, which were actively used in the opening phases of the war, are now rarely being used, highlighting their depletion. A breakthrough by the AFU is also possible in the Zaporizhian oblast, where Russian units are smaller and spread out more thinly, with weaker flanks. This may allow the AFU to create a tactical encirclement of Russian forces in the South. Partisan movements only strengthen the ability of Ukrainian forces to destroy military objects of the Russian Federation, but it also consolidates the population in the occupied territories and allows them to unite in action against the occupational administration, separatists, and traitors.

The Author Wishes to Remain Anonymous

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