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Russia preparing counterattack in Ukraine’s Kherson region: officials

03.08.2022 10:30
Russian forces are likely setting conditions for a counterattack in southern Ukraine, aiming to capture the country's entire Kherson region, Ukrainian officials have said.
Ukrainian artillerymen at a position in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, August 1, 2022.
Ukrainian artillerymen at a position in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, August 1, 2022.PAP/Abaca/Sofia Bobok

Ukraine’s Operational Command “South” reported on the plan in a Facebook post on Tuesday night, according to Polish state news agency PAP.

US dismisses Russian claims of destroying Ukrainian HIMARS

Also on Tuesday, the Pentagon denied the Kremlin’s claims that Russian forces had destroyed six US-supplied HIMARS rocket systems since the start of the conflict in Ukraine.

The claim had been made by Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu earlier in the day, the Reuters news agency reported. 

"We are aware of these latest claims by Minister Shoigu and they are again patently false," said Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale. 

Meanwhile, the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assessed that the Russian defence ministry was "likely trying to assuage distress that Ukraine’s effective use of the US HIMARS is causing Russian military personnel ... with inaccurate claims of destroying HIMARS launchers.” 

In its latest analysis of the war in Ukraine, published on Tuesday night, the US think tank wrote that in addition to Shoigu’s claims, the Russian Defence Ministry “released a video claiming to have destroyed a building that housed two HIMARS launchers in Kharkiv Oblast on August 1.” 

Ukrainian Southern Command Chief Andriy Kovalchuk said that Russian forces “did not destroy any HIMARS,” and an unnamed Finnish official called Russian claims ”wishful thinking,” according to the ISW.

HIMARS ‘demoralising' Russian troops

The US experts also cited Ukraine’s military-intelligence agency (HUR) as saying that “Russian defence authorities are covering up Russian service-member casualties by transporting wounded Russians in civilian cars and misreporting the number of casualties caused by Ukrainian HIMARS strikes in the media.” 

The ISW said that Ukraine’s HIMARS strikes have prompted many military correspondents "to express concern over the effectiveness of air defence systems and the threats to Russian logistics, and these strikes are likely demoralising Russian servicemen on the ground.”

Iran sending drones to Russia?

Meanwhile, according to unconfirmed social media reports, “Iran may have sent the first batch of drones to Russia and sent pilots and maintenance personnel to train on the Russian Su-35” aircraft, the US analysts said. 

This potentially suggests that “Iran may seek to use recent aviation agreements to facilitate the acquisition of Russian combat aircraft,” the ISW added.

'Limited ground attacks' in eastern Donetsk region

On the frontlines, Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk and east of Siversk, in the eastern Donetsk Oblast, the US experts noted. 

At the same time, Russian troops “made marginal gains southeast of Bakhmut and continued offensive operations to the northeast and southeast of Bakhmut,” the ISW said.

It also reported that Russian forces “made incremental advances around Avdiivka" and were "continuing attempts to push southwest of Avdiivka.”

'Unsuccessful offensive operations' north of Kharkiv 

On the Kharkiv front, Russian units “conducted unsuccessful offensive operations northeast and northwest of Kharkiv City” in northeastern Ukraine, according to the US-based think tank.

In the south, Russian forces “launched two assaults in northern Kherson Oblast and are continuing to redeploy troops to the Southern Axis,” the American experts noted.

New volunteer battalions form in Russia

Meanwhile, “Russian federal subjects are forming new volunteer battalions in Novosibirsk, Saratov, Ulyanovsk, and Kurgan Oblasts, and are changing time periods for enlistment compensations," the ISW said. 

Ukrainians 'acts of civil disobedience and partisan sabotage'

The think tank also reported that Ukrainian civilians were "continuing to resist the Russian occupation with acts of civil disobedience and partisan sabotage as the Kremlin considers longer-term methods of population control in occupied Ukraine.”

Wednesday is day 161 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Source: PAP, understandingwar.org, Reuters