Ukrainian Offensive Forces Russia Reinforce Forces in Occupied South | Ukraine

According to the deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Russia is moving large numbers of troops into southern Ukraine to fight against the country’s armed forces through the newly occupied territories and Crimea.

If Russia won, it would try to capture more territory, Vadym Skibitsky said. “They are increasing their troop numbers and preparing for our counteroffensive” [in Ukraine’s south] and perhaps they are preparing to launch an offensive of their own. The south is crucial for them, especially because of Crimea,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed these reports in his latest national speech, saying that Russia is moving troops from eastern to southern Ukraine to advance into the regional capital of Kherson and the Zaporizhzhya region.

“Now the Russian army is trying to strengthen its positions in the occupied territories in the south of our country, increasing activity in the relevant areas,” he said, adding that “Russia strategically has no chance of winning this war.” .

Russian troop movements come in response to Ukraine’s announced counter-offensive to liberate the occupied southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya.

According to the military governor of the region, Dmytro Butrii, Ukrainian forces have recaptured dozens of villages and towns along the border and are pushing through to the regional capital of Kherson.

The Kherson region stretches across the Dnieper River in Ukraine. Earlier this month, Ukraine carried out precision strikes with US-supplied weapons on the Antonovskiy Bridge in the Kherson region, damaging a key Russian supply line. Washington’s Institute for the Study of War said Ukrainian troops and partisans also damaged the only two other bridges connecting occupied Kherson.

The Ukrainian army said on Saturday it had killed dozens of Russian soldiers and destroyed two ammunition depots during fighting in Kherson.

The first deputy head of the Kherson Regional Council, Yuri Sobolevsky, told residents to stay away from Russian ammunition depots and said the “Ukrainian army is pouring it out against the Russians, and this is just the beginning”.

According to Skibitsky, Russia withdrew tactical airborne groups from Donbas two weeks ago and moved them to occupied Kherson. Russia is also moving troops from the Eastern Military District, which was used to attack Sloviansk, a city in Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk, and which was in reserve in Russia’s southern Belgorod region.

The open-source research group, Conflict Intelligence Team, partially confirmed Skibitsky’s claim last week.

Meanwhile, a prison containing Ukrainian prisoners of war was hit in occupied eastern Ukraine on Thursday night. Zelenskiy denounced the strike as a “war crime” and accused Russia of carrying out the attack to cover up the mistreatment of prisoners. Russia denied responsibility, saying Ukrainian troops hit the prison with missiles. Zelenskiy said at least 50 people died. Ukrainian authorities say they do not yet know the identity of the dead.

Despite moving its tactical battalion groups from the Donbas to the south, Russia would continue attacks in the region, albeit with less intensity, Skibitsky said.

In the Kharkov area, he said, Russia was focused on defending positions and stopping Ukrainian troops from reaching the Ukraine-Russia border.

If Russia won the battles in southern and eastern Ukraine, it would launch new offensives to capture more Ukrainian territory using units it was currently forming in Russia, Skibitsky said. “They are currently creating rifle battalions of reservists in every Russian military district and a third army corps in [Russia’s] western military district,” he said.

The training and equipping of the new corps had begun under the direct supervision of the Russian Minister and Deputy Minister of Defense.

Where Russia would use the new corps would depend on how the battle developed in Ukraine’s southern and eastern regions, Skibitsky said.

He warned that one of the “positives” of the Russian military was its ability to move troops and equipment quickly. He said Russia did this during military exercises leading up to the war and pointed out how Russian troops withdrew from Ukraine’s northern regions in March and reappeared in the Donbas two weeks later. “We know they can return to Belarus in two to three weeks if necessary,” he said.

Skibitsky said that in addition to more weapons, Ukraine also needed help training troops abroad. He said Russia had actively targeted Ukrainian training bases, citing several examples, including an attack on a military base just northeast of Kiev that killed 87 Ukrainian soldiers in May.

Running out of steam…

— Richard Moore (@ChiefMI6) July 30, 2022


Ukrainian forces said Russian troops hit a military base northwest of Kiev last Thursday. It was not clear if there were any casualties. Ukraine has not disclosed military losses for strategic purposes since the beginning of the war.

MI6 head Richard Moore tweeted on Saturday that Russia was running out of steam after losing dozens of men and being forced to use Soviet-era weapons.

Skibitsky said Russia was running out of high-quality missiles, but he stressed that they had “a huge amount” of old Soviet missiles in stock. In the past two months, Russia has used Soviet anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles on land targets.

“They’re using missiles that are, say, past their sell-by date — over 30 years old — and so are less effective,” he said. “But they have plenty and every missile works to scare the population.”

Russia ramped up production of new weapons, he added. In early July, Russia’s parliament passed war austerity measures to force companies to deliver goods to the military and to force certain workers to work overtime.

While Western sanctions on hi-tech components that can be used for military purposes have made things slower and more difficult, Russia seems to have found ways to get around them. US authorities have blacklisted dozens of companies for helping the Russian military evade sanctions since the invasion.

“We are entering winter,” said Skibitsky, who said Ukraine needs weapons as well as food and funding from the west to get through.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian ships loaded with grain spent another day in the port. The ships are ready to start exporting goods, but the country is waiting for a green light from the UN and Turkey, who have signed a deal with Russia to allow Ukrainian ships safe passage.

Shipments from the ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi will be monitored by a joint coordination center in Istanbul, involving Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN officials.

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