Ukraine Monitor presents the latest news concerning internal and external matters of Ukraine – a unique country where the interests of the East and the West clash almost every day.
Date: 20 September 2022 Autor: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Ukraine Takes Strategic Initiative On Two Fronts
Ukraine’s military says it has broken through Russia’s first line of defense in the Kharkiv region while advancing towards the Kherson region. Russia has no trained reserve personnel. Moscow has no longer an advantage on land, with its only assets remaining as missile attacks throughout Ukraine and a navy blockade.
Ukraine has scaled down its offensive in the country’s east. The state’s military command refused a further march putting at risk Ukrainian personnel. A strong Russian “Centre” group has continued its slow advance towards Bakhmut and Sloviansk. They were supplemented with the “West” group of troops that had withdrawn from Izium. It is now a top priority for Kyiv to strengthen its hold on recently recaptured territories west of the Oskil River. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the recently retaken city of Izium, marking a successful operation to oust the Russians from the Kharkiv region. The crushing Ukrainian victory in the Kharkiv region should not overshadow the successes around Kherson despite small territorial gains. The offensive in the south did not go as smoothly as in the Kharkiv region due to terrain constraints. In the east, Ukrainian forces were sheltered by a dense stand of pine forests, able to deploy armored forces unnoticed. Ukraine’s south is predominantly an agricultural area––with few forests and numerous steppes shattered with irrigation channels. It is in the south that Russia has deployed its best personnel and Chechen battalions, or barrier troops, with orders to shoot if front-line troops either deserted or retreated without permission. But the Russian command made a mistake when directing most reinforcements to the right bank of the Dnieper River from the east. Left at that side of the river, the Russian grouping is now in a tough position. About 20,000 Russian soldiers are now stranded in Kherson. Ukrainian officials have said their deployment has been critical in the fight to repel Russian troops and to strike their supply lines on the Dnieper. In consequence, Russian troops retreat south towards Kherson along the river. What is now key in morale after the Ukrainian “Blitzkrieg” by Kherson. The Russian forces have poor morale–– not incidentally, Russian troops on the right bank of the Dnipro have started negotiating their surrender with Ukrainian forces. Tensions run high between the Kremlin and top Russian generals. Whether the army is loyal to Russian state officials is yet another thorny issue. The military command of the Russian Federation has suspended the sending of new, already formed units into the territory of Ukraine. Kremlin-loyal Russian propaganda outlets seek to blame the army for failures––and not Putin. What the army will do next is unknown. The attitude of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu could be crucial here.
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