Last week, Kyiv confirmed it had launched its anticipated counterattack in the south. Initial reports claimed that Ukrainian soldiers had scored some early successes. Oleksiy Arestovych, a senior adviser to President Zelensky, said that Ukraine’s army had broken through Russian defences in several sectors of the frontline near the city of Kherson.
The city is located on both the Black Sea and Dnipro River and as such is of vital strategic importance.
It fell early in the war to the Russians, after its defenders abandoned it without a fight.
New reports from Russian military bloggers suggest that Ukraine’s army has managed to breach Russian defences again within the last 48 hours and cross the Inhulets River.
Analysts from the Institute for the Study of War wrote in their daily bulletin: “Several prominent Russian military bloggers amplified claims that Ukrainian forces broke through Russian defensive lines in Ternivka (16km northeast of Snihurivka), crossed the Inhulets River, and took control of Blahodativka.”
Snihurivka is located in Mykolaiv province and is around 30 miles to the northeast of Kherson city.
They also noted that videos posted to social media channels on Saturday indicate that Ukrainian troops may have advanced into areas near Myroliubivka, about 5km south of Posad Pokrovske.
The researchers said one Russian source “reported that Ukrainian troops are accumulating equipment in Posad Pokrovske and taking up defensive positions in Myrne and Lyubomirivka, just east of Posad Pokrovske.”
Posad Pokrovske is located about 20 miles northwest from Kherson City.
Russian military bloggers claim that Ukraine’s army is fighting in three distinct directions as of September 3.
These directions are: northwest of Kherson City along the Kherson-Mykolaiv Oblast border; in western Kherson Oblast near the Inhulets River along the Kherson-Mykolaiv border; and in northern Kherson Oblast south of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border.
Some analysts argue that the counteroffensive at this stage is not designed to reconquer vast tracts of territory or even take Kherson.
Rather the main aim is to isolate and destroy a Russian unit located between the Inhulets and Dnipro rivers.
Volodymyr Demchenko, a film director who is now a soldier, said: “In general, in my personal opinion, the main goal of this operation is not the capture of Kherson, but the defeat of the Russian group north of Kherson, right between the Ingulets and Dnipro rivers.”
Ukrainian officials have been at pains to stress that there will be no quick victory in the south.
Mr Arestovych said the counteroffensive was a “planned slow operation to grind the enemy” in a post to his Telegram channel last week.
He added: “We do not fight for show-offs and high-profile phrases as an enemy.
“We fight for a cause. And this thing takes time and effort. Therefore, be patient.
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“This process will not be very fast, but will end with the installation of the Ukrainian flag over all the settlements of Ukraine.”
The senior adviser repeated his message in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Saturday.
He told the newspaper the goal was the “systemic grinding of Putin’s army and that Ukrainian troops are slowly and systematically uncovering and destroying Russia’s operational logistical supply system with artillery and precision weapon strikes.”
Russia’s Ministry of Defence has rejected claims that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is going to plan.
They alleged that Putin’s army was continuing to inflict damage on Ukrainian troops and equipment and that Ukrainian losses are causing troops to desert in increasing numbers.