On Tuesday evening, Russia was trying to establish a defensive line across their holdings in the Kherson area that stretches between the town of Bruskynske on the west and Mylove on the east. This is designed to halt the rapid Ukrainian advance in northern Kherson. It’s unclear if this effort has been in any sense successful, but it does seem to have temporarily halted the “take a village as fast as you can reach it” parade that has gone on for the last three days.
Since Sunday, Ukraine has liberated over 50 locations in northern Kherson, along with over 1,600 square kilometers. It crushed not just Russia’s front-line positions, but the positions that had been provisioned as fallbacks. Along the whole front, Ukraine is now 30 km south of the positions it held a few days ago, and less than 30 km from reaching Russia’s ultimate fallback positions at Beryslav, just across the damaged bridge from Nova Kakhovka.
That location at Beryslav is not just the point where Russian forces are expected to gather in a last attempt to hold something of northern Kherson, it’s also the site of an exfiltration camp, where Ukrainian citizens kidnapped from their homes across the region have been taken for sorting, processing, and shipment to unknown sites in Russia. The liberation of Beryslav would give the first opportunity for the world to see what one of these camps is like. There are already reports suggesting that an army that has been fighting with World War II-style tactics is fully capable of World War II-level horrors.
On Tuesday, the northern advance moved so far that it actually overran the long-fought-for town of Davydiv Brid, connecting the area acquired in the north to the bridgehead across the Inhulets River that had been one of Ukraine’s biggest counteroffensives in the area until this week.
Most of the locations along Russia’s new defensive line are not great. Like most of this area, the terrain is flat, and Russia hasn’t done a lot to prepare the area for fighting because it never expected to be there. The exceptions are at the ends of the line.
On the east, Mylove both has some limited higher ground and ditches that guard approaches on two sides. The northern approach to the city is also across a bridge 2 km to the north, which has likely been destroyed. Ukraine’s advance to this location in force may have also been slowed because Russia destroyed the bridge up by Dudchany when they retreated from that location.
On the west, both Bruskynske and neighboring Ishchenka (that first red dot above Bruskynske) do have a number of trenches and other fortifications, expressly because they were the subject of long-term fighting connected to that Inhulets bridgehead. Essentially these were the second-line positions on the west all along, and now they’re anchoring the defensive line on that side.
There were reports on Tuesday evening that Ukraine was close to pushing Russia out of Bruskynske. However, the position there has reportedly been reinforced by Russian forces that retreated from the north. On Wednesday morning, there doesn’t seem to be any sign that Russia has been moved from this position. Of all these locations, Bruskynske may be the best prepared for this moment.
However, while Bruskynske may be the end of Russia’s defensive line, it’s not the end of Ukraine’s positioning. Ukraine has reportedly moved a large number of forces to Sukhyi Stavok and is fanning out from there. Rather than take Bruskynske directly, it seems likely that Ukraine will repeat the tactics it has used against locations such as Balakliya and Lyman: it will go around Bruskynske, secure the only supply route along the T2207 highway, then pick up this Russian hard point after broadening its position in the rear.
There is also the center of this new line at Borozenske. Reports suggest that Russia has done little to prepare this location, and it doesn’t appear to have any topographic feature that makes it a formidable location. Perhaps the only thing making it at all tenable is that there are limited highway approaches from the north, meaning that Ukraine either has to go cross-country or try to find another way in. Or Ukraine could take advantage of the 20 km of pretty much nothing between Borozenske and Mylove and just drive on south.
Considering the pace of things in the area, it’s likely that we will know soon.
Further south, on the other side of where the infinitely twisty Inhulets River turns north-south to divide the Kherson area in half, there were reports on Tuesday evening that Snihurivka had been liberated. This would be an enormous deal as this has been one of Russia’s most heavily fortified, reinforced, and fought over locations, similar to Vysokopillya in the north except that Snihurivka guards a direct approach into the city of Kherson.
The best information on Wednesday morning is that Snihurivka is mostly liberated. The majority of Russian forces have been pushed out, Ukrainian troops have moved in, but there still appear to be pockets of Russian resistance left within the town. With a pre-invasion population of over 12,000, Snihurivka is a significant location with an industrial sector in the southwest and a large number of housing blocks to be investigated and cleared. Even if the vast majority of Russians have fled the area, it may be some time before Snihurivka is officially liberated.
The official position out of Russia this morning: “The Russian army has completed a regrouping action in Kherson in order to gather forces for a strike.” All of pro-Russian Telegram and Twitter is applauding the way Russia has maneuvered Ukraine into a trap and “the jaws are about to close.” Actual Russian sources are too busy plotting ways to escape across the river. There have also been reports of Russian surrenders in Kherson, though it’s not clear if this has happened in large numbers.
Meanwhile, in the north …
Just because things have been moving so rapidly in Kherson doesn’t mean they’ve stalled in the north. Ukraine has now pushed to within 20 km of the Russian hub at Svatove from multiple directions. Along the road coming north from Lyman, Ukraine has pushed north of Makiivka and there was a reported fight at Novovodyane on Wednesday. Also launching out from Makiivka is a new thrust to the east, this time along the road that runs through Ploshchanka to Krasnorichenske. Securing these two locations would cut the strategic P66 highway. Ploshchanka is likely liberated, but there has been no announcement or images to confirm this. Holding these two locations would not only position Ukraine to continue north toward Svatove, but threaten Russia’s already besieged position in Kreminna.
To the west, Ukraine liberated the town of Horlivka. However, it’s unclear which way they’ll go from there. They might continue to move northeast from that position along a series of unpaved roads in spite of muddy conditions, or they could shift forces east to Makiivka or west to join in fighting that was already underway at a series of Russian-occupied villages.
Northwest of that location, Ukraine has been pushing east from Borova. Fighting is reported in the area of Pershotravneve, with some sources saying Russian troops had pulled back from that location. If Ukraine can continue along this route, there’s little else in the way until near the junction just west of Svatove.
Right now, the area around Kupyansk seems to be least active. Official Russian sources claim that there are big battles—and big Ukrainian losses—in this area. Real-world chatter from both Russian and Ukrainian sources doesn’t seem to suggest much more than skirmishes in the area. So far, Ukraine doesn’t seem to have made a serious attempt to advance down the P07 highway.
The topography at Svatove sucks … for Russia. If Ukraine can reach the area of that highway junction just west of the city, they will be on high ground that commands a view across the entire city. If Russia chooses to make a stand in this location, it will not go well.
There are once again claims of significant numbers of Russian troops killed in the south along with equipment captures, but I don’t have locations to go along with those claims. I will try to produce an updated map for Zaporizhzhia in the next couple of days.
I find it hard to resist a good liberation group shot.
This week on The Downballot we check in on Pennsylvania, where Republican Doug Mastriano has called for “40 days of fasting and prayer” to save his ailing campaign for governor; dig into ad spending numbers that show Democrats airing far more spots because they aren’t relying on super PACs; and recap the dispiriting results of Italy’s general election, which saw the far-right win for the first time since Mussolini.
Wednesday, Oct 5, 2022 · 3:15:27 PM +00:00
Don’t worry. Just because this claim was immediately debunked and shown to be a complete lie based on images taken in Georgia in 2008, doesn’t mean that pro-Russian Twitter won’t be citing it from now until Putinfall.
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