It looks like the Ukrainians are about to heat things up in the south! We’ll get to that in a minute.
There was no address from President Zelenskyy posted today. Nor was their an operational update from Ukraine’s MOD. Nor a DOD backgrounder. So we’re going to briefly check in on what’s going on the east and then move to the south.
Here is former NAVSECGRU Squadron Commander Chuck Pfarrer’s updated map and analysis for the battle in the east:
BATTLE BRIEF / BILOHORIVKA On 8 JUL, UKR forces engaged a Russian crossing of the Donets north of Bilohorivka. Indications & Warnings reported that RU units on the south bank would be exposed; they were destroyed by UKR artillery strikes. RU losses are judged as serious. pic.twitter.com/I7jkw1QlIH
— Chuck Pfarrer (@ChuckPfarrer) July 9, 2022
This follows on from last night. Not only did the Ukrainians go hunting, they were quite successful!
Let’s move on to what is going on in the south after the jump:
The Guardian is reporting that the Ukrainian government has ordered a general evacuation for everyone in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia!
Ukraine has warned residents in southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to evacuate as it prepares to launch a counteroffensive to retake the area. The Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions were quickly occupied by Russian troops in late February after they crossed the bridge from Russian-annexed Crimea.
Late on Friday night, Iryna Vereshchuk, the deputy prime minister for the ministry of reintegration of temporarily occupied territories, called on Ukrainians in the occupied territories to leave by “all means possible”.
“You must look for a way to leave because our armed forces will de-occupy. There will be a huge battle. I don’t want to scare anyone, everyone understands everything anyway,” said Vereshchuk. She said that evacuations are taking place and that people in the occupied territories were aware.
Yuriy Sobolevskyi, the deputy chairman of the Kherson regional council, told Ukraine’s United News on Saturday that although it is very difficult to evacuate, “it must be done”. He told those who cannot leave to prepare for heavy fighting.
“Those who can’t [leave] in any way should prepare for the fact that they will need shelter again, it is necessary to have a supply of water, a certain amount of food in order to survive the onslaught of our troops,” said Sobolevskyi.
Russia has continued to fire artillery and rockets on urban areas in the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv regions, injuring and killing civilians.
The level of violence ramped up in new areas of Donetsk this week as Russian forces advanced from newly captured territory in neighbouring Luhansk.
Serhiy Haidai, the head of Luhansk’s regional military administration, said on Friday that Russian forces have not slowed their campaign, rejecting western assessments that Russia had paused to rest and regroup after it successfully occupied almost the entire Luhansk region last week.
Haidai said on Telegram that Russian forces were “firing along the entire frontline” as they attempt to conquer more territory in the Donbas, control of which is one of their professed strategic goals.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk regional-military administration, said on Saturday afternoon that Russia is shelling the Ukrainian-controlled town of Sloviansk “day and night”, and the nearby town of Druzhivka was hit by a Russian missile. The town of Kramatorsk was also hit, said Kyrylenko.
Much more at the link!
David Patrikarakos at Unherd takes a deep dive into the partisan underground and resistance behind the lines in Kherson.
“The situation in the city is very, very bad. The Russian occupiers are increasing their presence all the time. They ride around the city with impunity and break down the doors of houses and apartments. Soldiers usually come at around midnight and start searching for evidence of partisan activity. Often, they just take people away. Now they’ve turned their attention to officials. A few days ago, they arrested the mayor and some members of the city council. It’s getting worse…”
This message, from a pro-democracy activist inside Kherson, reached me via an intermediary on Wednesday evening. It’s getting harder by the day to find out what’s going on in the region — especially inside the city. A lifetime ago, back in mid-April, in a village just beyond Mykolaiv, I stood in the garden of a house destroyed by Russian shells, listening to the sound of incoming Russian fire overhead, and looked southeast. There, just under 100km away was Kherson. The Russians had occupied parts of the city on 2 March and had been fighting it out with the Ukrainians ever since. Today, the Russians control most of the region; and they are making their presence known. But from Mykolaiv and, critically, inside Kherson itself, the Ukrainians continue to resist.
Right now, the global media is filled with talk of the battle for the Donbas. But it is in the south, with its long coastline and large grain stores, where the war for Ukraine will be won or lost. And it is in Kherson, now under Russian occupation, where we will find the answers to so many questions vital to that victory or defeat. Can the Ukrainian army fight back with sufficient effectiveness to retake a major city from the Russians? Can the country hold out while its grain is stolen and its ports are blockaded? And, perhaps most importantly of all, how real and how strong is Ukrainian resistance under Russian occupation?
“We need to understand that the situation is different across the region,” Sergiy Danylov, Deputy Director for the Centre of Middle Eastern Studies, tells me. He continues: “The south and west parts of the Kherson region are a catastrophe. There have been mass killings and rapes — it’s a second Bucha there. Some villages were just totally demolished by the Russians.”
From the first days of the occupation, protestors hurled insults, not flowers, at incoming Russian troops. Now the resistance has morphed into two distinct strands. The first is violent; the second is what they call the “fight for the symbolic environment”. This centres on placing pro-Ukrainian graffiti and leaflets throughout key areas and destroying pro-Russian flags and symbols. In both camps, of course, there is the social ostracisation of collaborators.
Everywhere they’ve occupied the Russians have relied on collaborators. They don’t have enough people to both police the local population and staff all the administrative positions necessary for governance. Yet the number of collaborators appears to be small: if someone joins the local Russian government they get a Russian passport, and in Kherson, as of last week, only 23 people have received a Russian passport from direct collaboration out of a population of several hundred thousand in the city.
But while the collaborators may be making hay, they are nervous. “They move around the town in bullet proof jackets and with a lot of bodyguards,” he continues. “They are afraid of assassination. The city resembles the wild west days of the Nineties.”
Posters are now going up across the city, many with images of individual collaborators accompanied by personal messages.”Kiril, we’ve got something for you,” reads one with an image of the man’s head above drawings of a noose, a gun and an exploding car. A similar poster shows an image of a corpse half-covered in dirt: “A lot of Russians are already wormfood. You’re next.” Graffiti splayed across a central street in the town of Hola Prystan reads: “AFU [the Ukrainian army] is nearby. Orcs be afraid. Hopry [short for Hola Prystan] is Ukraine”.
“I am proud of our younger generation,” says the pro-democracy activist. “They are constantly spraying patriotic graffiti around the city: blue and yellow stripes in parks and neighbourhoods; they fling paint against the many propaganda billboards now erected around the city.”
Then there is the more direct action. As the Russians have taken almost full control of the region, Ukrainian resistance has grown in proportion. On 16 June, Eugeniy Sobolev, the pro-Russian head of the Kherson prison service, was hospitalised after a bomb shattered the windows of his white Audi. Just under a week later, on June 24, Dmitry Savluchenko, the pro-Russian official in charge of the Department of Youth and Sports for the Kherson region, was blown up in his car. Serhii Khlan, an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian Kherson Civil Military administration, called Savluchenko a “traitor” and announced that “our partisans have [won] another victory”.
These actions are boosting morale inside Kherson. “Attempts to physically eliminate collaborators are very popular,” the activist continues. “Everybody wants to oppose the Russians and is waiting for the quick return of the Ukrainian armed forces. There are even cases of poachers shooting Russian soldiers patrolling the river at night. That’s why the ‘liberators’ now move only in convoys of three or more boats. They are afraid. I think that it’s only by these sorts of methods will we have success. They need to feel constantly afraid for their lives.”
It’s hard to assess just how widespread violent resistance is. Most of the cases remain unpublicised because the Russians don’t want to appear weak or vulnerable and the partisans don’t want to jeopardise their security. In many small towns, there are a lot of cases of youths with knives stabbing drunken soldiers. No one says anything because it’s bad both for the Russians and for the kids.
“Usually those engaging in violent acts are young or middle-aged men, most of them are without any special training or preparation,” says Danylov. “But there are more sophisticated actions as well. A few weeks ago, several Russian soldiers were invited for a drink, and all had their throats cut. I cannot imagine that these people were not trained, but there is never any public confirmation. Clearly, though, there are contacts between the security forces and locals. It’s impossible for an ordinary person to get explosive materials in Kherson itself — so these bombs are being delivered by professionals in one form or another.”
Much more at the link.
I think that’s enough for tonight.
Your daily Patron!
— Patron (@PatronDsns) July 8, 2022
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