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How is the Ukrainian counteroffensive going?

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How is the Ukrainian counteroffensive going?

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky he confirmed the start of the Ukrainian counter-offensive along the border of the Russian army-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine. “Counteroffensive and defensive actions are underway,” he said without giving too many details on the operations. In recent days there has been very little official news because the Ukrainian government and army have chosen to maintain a certain confidentiality for tactical reasons, i.e. not to reveal the plans of action in a clear way.

It is possible to reconstruct the movements of the troops and the fighting thanks to various reports and intelligence information, even if it is difficult to make precise checks on the reliability of the sources. Surely since Wednesday the Ukrainian army has intensified military actions in the Zaporizhzhia region, which is located more or less in the middle of the long eastern front which from the Luhansk region in the north continues up to the Crimea, passing through the Donbass. The city of Zaporizhzhia is under the control of the Ukrainian army, but a large part of the region in which it is located is controlled by Russian soldiers.

Ukraine’s goal is to push the war front back to the east and break it into two parts: in this way the Russian army would not have control of the connections with Crimea from which any reinforcements could arrive. If the Ukrainian army manages to occupy these territories, the only way to supply the Russian troops in Crimea would pass through the bridge over the Kerch Strait, which directly connects Russia and Crimea, already attacked and heavily damaged in the autumn of 2022.

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According to theInstitute for the Study of War (ISW), a respected American research center that publishes analyzes of the war every day, the Ukrainian army has staged military actions in at least four areas of the front. Russian sources reported Ukrainian activity in the Luhansk area near the city of Bilohorivka.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian military, Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty, said Ukrainian forces had advanced 1,400 meters into unspecified areas of the front at Bakhmut. Some Russian bloggers reported Ukrainian advances northwest and northeast of Bakhmut. The Russian Defense Ministry also said that Ukrainian troops attacked in Velyka Novosilka. The Russian army is defending itself with a massive use of anti-tank weapons, above all mines, which damage or destroy the vehicles of the Ukrainian army both when they try to advance and when they withdraw from the counter-offensive area. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a video interview on Friday that Ukrainian forces had indeed begun their counteroffensive, but that attempts to advance had failed with heavy casualties.

The latest update on the counteroffensive (ISW)

The initial goals of the Ukrainian military may have been hampered by the floods that occurred in the south of the country after the destruction of the Nova Khakovka dam. The flood has submerged nearly 600 square kilometers on both sides of the Dnipro River. Since Tuesday 6 June, the day of the explosion, Ukraine and Russia have been accusing each other of destroying the dam, which cannot be rebuilt until the end of the war, by cutting off an important source of water and electricity that was produced from the hydroelectric plant within the infrastructure. Zelensky said 3,000 people had been evacuated from the flooded regions of Kherson and Mykolaiv.

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At the moment, operations in the flooded areas are impossible, also because the Ukrainian army does not have amphibious vehicles at its disposal. Even when the waters recede they will leave a predominantly muddy terrain on which military vehicles and troops will move with difficulty.

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