Donbas is, obviously, the toughest and the hottest spot on the front today. It is there that Russia has thrown its main forces to reach the administrative borders of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Street fights are currently underway in Sievierodonetsk. The enemy captured most of the town, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine retreat to the prepared positions nearer to Lysychansk.
On the other fronts, the situation is less difficult. In the south, the Ukrainian army carries out a counter-offensive. However, the information from the General Staff has traditionally been scarce.
Military expert Petro Chernyk comments on the situation as follows: the tactic of small steps in action – the process in the south is set in motion. At the same time, he draws attention to an important detail: the enemy is building the three-level line of echelon defense in Kherson region.
What does it mean?
“Let's think: if the enemy invests resources in the echelon defense, does it plan to conduct large-scale offensive operations? Answer: hardly it does,” says Mr. Chernyk, “but this in no way cancels the logic that tomorrow everything can change. And today the Armed Forces of Ukraine have, if not a strategic, then a significant operational advantage in Kherson region.”
What advantage is this?
"On May 30-31, the Armed Forces of Ukraine launched a counter-offensive in Kherson region in the general direction of Davydiv Brid. The village of Davydiv Brid is located on the banks of the Inhulets River and on the T2207 motorway leading to Nova Kakhovka. The capture of the bridgehead on the east bank of the Inhulets River is very important for the Armed Forces of Ukraine as is a stronghold for further counteroffensive aiming to "cut" the orc groups in Kryvyi Rih direction into several parts, surround them, and dispose of them," says Petro Lakiychuk, Captain 1st rank of reserve, head of the military programs at the Centre for Global Studies "Strategy XXI".
According to him, the counter-offensive unfolded simultaneously in several directions. Near Davydiv Brid, the Ukrainian soldiers split the enemy group into two parts, creating a threat of "noose" for them. At the same time, the enemy was knocked out from Mykolaivka, and the success was developed in the direction of Oleksandrivka and Stanislav.
"Later, our guys gained a foothold in Andriyivka and Bilohirka on the southern flank of the attack, thus protecting the bridgehead against the attacks from the south," the military expert adds.
Oleh Zhdanov, Colonel of the reserve, tells us the same thing: “It was very important for us to cross the Inhulets River. Why? Because if we have a bridgehead on the east bank of this river, we can amass troops there and develop a further offensive on Nova Kakhovka. And Nova Kakhovka is the bridge over the hydroelectric dam which allows for supplies to a group of Russian troops that advanced on the positions 30km of Kryvyi Rih."
And it will be of strategic importance to us.
"If we reach Nova Kakhovka and control this bridge, we will cut off a group of Russian troops stationed near Kryvyi Rih," Mr Zhdanov stresses.
“If you look at a map, you will see that a direct road leads to Beryslav district from Davydiv Brid and down to Nova Kakhovka, and there is a crossing in the area of Nova Kakhovka. That is, if we manage to capture this road and reach the banks of the Dnipro River, we will actually cut the enemy group in half,” repeats Serhiy Hrabsky, Colonel of reserve, a participant in peacekeeping missions in Iraq and Kosovo, “and the enemy group, which remains north of this breakthrough, will get completely encircled. They will have no chance to get to the other bank of the Dnipro River because there is the Kakhovka Reservoir behind them. You can't carry a lot of ammunition and fuel on boats, so the ruscists will be cut off from supplies."
And it will be a disaster for the Russian army. Does the enemy command understand this? Of course, it does.
"The counterattack in the south came as a complete surprise to the enemy, whose attention is focused on the offensive in the east, where it pulls all its reserves. But soon the enemy recovered from the panic and tried to stabilize the defense," says Pavlo Lakiychuk.
But how many enemy troops are involved?
"According to some estimates, Russia has amassed up to 10,000 soldiers there, about a hundred tanks," says Serhiy Hrabsky.
What else is known?
“The enemy fires all kinds of weapons,” continues Mr. Lakiychuk, “not allowing the Armed Forces of Ukraine to advance beyond Kostroma and Bruskynske [10-15 km of Davydiv Brid], which are the main strongholds of the Russians on this section of the front.
“Nevertheless, our bridgehead on the Inhulets River has expanded significantly in recent days, but we cannot move deeper to push back Russian artillery, primarily from bridges,” says the head of the military programs at the Centre for Global Studies "Strategy XXI". “I will remind sceptics, who complain about the ‘unprepared counterattack’, that the main battle is now taking place in Luhansk region and any withdrawal of enemy forces from there works for our victory. Besides, the Kakhovka direction is not easy."
Nova Kakhovka is the Kakhovka HPP, the main hydraulic structure of the North Crimean Canal, i.e. the key to "water to Crimea".
"And when Lavrov says that the main goal of the ‘military operation’ against Ukraine is to ‘restore the historical borders’ of Luhansk and Donetsk ‘people’s republics’, it is just a publicity stunt. The land corridor to Crimea and the stable maintenance of the North Crimean Canal are real vital tasks for the enemy. The assault on Kakhovka calls these plans into question. The enemy will stay there with all its strength, sparing no people," notes Pavlo Lakiychuk.
Thus, the counterattacks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the south, primarily in Kakhovka direction, are of strategic significance, not even operational. They are as important for the defense of Donbas as the supplies of new heavy artillery and Western multiple rocket launchers to the front.
"In Kherson region, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been blocking the occupiers for almost two months. And when their advanced units were no longer capable not only of attacking but also of actually holding positions in certain areas, our counter-offensive began. And its successful development shows that the place and time were chosen perfectly well," expert Oleksandr Kovalenko emphasizes.
Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have chosen a defensive strategy for conducting hostilities: "About 80% of all hostilities conducted by our army are defense, while about 20% are counter-offensive."
The essence of defense is to take the most advantageous positions to block the advance of the occupiers and, of course, to further inflict systematic damage on them to weaken and deplete the enemy units.
"When these units are exhausted in a certain area, a counter-offensive begins. We have seen how this tactic worked in Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy regions. We see how it works right now in Kharkiv and Kherson regions,” Mr. Kovalenko notes. “Today we have witnessed the advance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Kherson region, but it should be understood that we will learn about certain successes of our troops later. This is an important principle of information: do not announce anything unnecessary before the victory."
The victories which, according to the expert, may question the overall presence of the occupiers in Kherson region in the near future.
“It may happen in late June or early July. Let’s be patient,” Oleksandr Kovalenko summed up.
We hope so. After all, American and British MLRS and howitzers are on the way. So we keep our fingers crossed, support and believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine!
We will win!
Myroslav Liskovych. Kyiv
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