Ukraine: On Monday, Ukrainian forces made their biggest breakthrough in the south of the country since the war began, breaking through the front and advancing rapidly along the Dnipro River, threatening Russian supply lines.
There was no official confirmation of the gains from Kiev, but Russian sources confirmed that Ukrainian tanks had advanced dozens of kilometers along the west bank of the river, recapturing a number of villages in the process.
While Moscow has threatened nuclear retaliation and annexed territory in an effort to raise the stakes, the breakthrough mirrors recent Ukrainian successes in the east that have turned the tide in the war against Russia.
“The information is tense,” Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader in Ukraine’s Kherson province, told Russian state television.
Right along the Dnipro River is a settlement called Dudchany. There are settlements that are occupied by Ukrainian forces,” he said.
Around 30 km (20 miles) south of the front where it stood before the breakthrough, Dudchany is one of the fastest advances of the war, and by far the fastest in the south, where Russian forces had been dug into heavily reinforced positions along a mainly static front line since the early weeks of the invasion.
Kiev maintained almost complete silence, as it has during previous offensives, but some officials described unconfirmed reports of gains.
Ukrainian soldiers posed with their flag draping a golden statue of an angel, according to Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry. Mikhailivka was around 20 km beyond the previous front, he said.
We have seen our soldiers in the first photo of Osokorivka in the last few days… we have seen our troops near the entrance to Mykhailivka, and we have seen our troops in Khreschenivka, near the monument.” The Kherson regional council member, who named villages in that region, told Reuters that Zolota Balka was also under our armed forces control, and the Dnipro banks near Beryslav were being pushed by our armed forces.
The (Russian) social media pages that are panicking confirm these images, although no official information is available.
Tactics similar to those used in the east
It is the same tactics that have brought Kyiv major gains since the start of September in eastern Ukraine, where its forces rapidly gained control of Russian supply lines, cutting off larger Russian forces and forcing them to retreat.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia to be Russian territory forever during a concert on Moscow’s Red Square. Ukraine recapturing Lyman, the main Russian bastion in Donetsk province, hours later.
By doing so, it has been able to advance deep into Luhansk province, threatening the main supply routes to the territory Moscow captured in some of the war’s bloodiest battles during June and July.
Ukraine’s advance on the west bank of the Dnipro targets supply lines for thousands of Russian troops. As a result of Ukraine’s destruction of the main bridges, Russian forces are forced to use makeshift crossings. They could be completely cut off by a significant advance down river.
As a result of breaking through the front, the Russian army lost its ability to attack, and today or tomorrow it could lose its ability to defend, said Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst based in Kiev.
As a result of our destruction of supplies and reduction of combat effectiveness, this group is functioning on minimal ammunition, fuel, and food rations.”
In response to Russia’s failures on the battlefield, Putin has been escalating: annexing occupied territory, calling up tens of thousands of reservists, and threatening nuclear retaliation.
Putin’s ruling party passed bills Monday endorsing the annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian provinces in Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
In spite of Russia’s declining fortunes, state media hosts have acknowledged setbacks and searched for scapegoats due to the country’s flagging fortunes.
We should not expect good news right now, said Vladimir Solovyov, the most prominent presenter on state television.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who commands a personal army, demanded the Russian commander in eastern Ukraine be stripped of his medals and sent to the front lines.
Kadyrov also said Russia should use nuclear weapons. Despite saying they could use nuclear weapons to protect Russian territory, including newly annexed provinces, Putin and other officials have not explicitly said they would. Upon being asked about Kadyrov’s remarks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is an emotional time.”
Peskov told reporters, “The heads of regions have the right to express their views.” “Emotions should be excluded from any assessment even at difficult times.”
Putin’s other big gamble, Russia’s first mass military mobilization since World War Two, has also been a disaster. There have been tens of thousands of Russian men called up, while similar numbers have fled abroad. According to Western nations, Moscow lacks the supplies and manpower to train and equip the new conscripts.
According to Mikhail Degtyarev, governor of Khabarovsk region in Russia’s Far East, around half of those called up there have been found unfit. The military commissar of the region was fired by him.