Yesterday’s update included a map of the Kherson region, so it may seem too early to hit it again. We’re hitting it again. This is because on Monday the Ukrainian forces liberated the town of Kyselivka.
In the last census, the population of Kyselivka was just over 2,500. Compared to the capture of a city like Severodonetsk (population 101,000 before the invasion) by Russia, this may not seem like such a big deal. And it’s not—this isn’t the capture of a big city. However, Kyselivka is important because it was one of the points where Russian forces had dug in, fortified the area and established a line from which Ukrainian forces had been unable to move during weeks of fighting. Now that line is broken.
Rather than being compared to the capture of Severodonetsk, it is more like when Russia breached Ukraine’s defenses at Toshkivka. It was not the capture of a great city, but it created this capture. Kyselivka was not just one of two Russian strongholds along the M14 road that runs into the center of Kherson, it may be the first time in this part of the battlefield that Ukrainian troops have successfully driven Russian forces out of a well-fortified position.
What happens in the direct fall of Kyselivka is unclear. It is highly unlikely that this will lead to a quick capture of Kherson. But it brings Ukrainian troops and weapons closer to the city, and makes it harder to hold Russian positions north and south of Kyselivka. Ukrainian forces have distanced themselves south and west of Kyselivka on Tuesday, although it is unclear if any additional towns or villages have been secured.
As late as the second month of the war, we visited the small town of Popasna in the east and its place in the Ukrainian defense line. The fall of Popasna created a cascade of events and still affects the course of the fighting in Donbass. Kyselivka is not Popasna. Russia had only fortified the place for months, not years, and the city itself is an order of magnitude smaller. But a Ukrainian strike through Russian lines at this point could mean a real change in the course of events in the Kherson region.
As for the rest of the region, Kyselivka is probably not the only place where Russian lines are falling back. At the far northern end of the line, Vysokopilya’s position appears increasingly weak. In fact, some posts claim that Ukraine largely controls the area, and some of this cringe-worthy euphemistic “milking” is still going on. A Russian Telegram post described the actions there as Russia trying to “take” the city from Ukrainian control. Both of these descriptions may be optimistic, and there is no doubt that there is still fighting in the area, but Ukraine’s position appears to be improving.
Before leaving Kherson, it is worth noting a few other points:
- In the northeastern corner of the map, the Golden Beam is indicated as a disputed site. I had it as Ukrainian release for weeks, then somewhere when I wasn’t paying close attention, it seems to have slipped back into Russian occupation. Now there seems to be an active battle for control of the city.
- As for this bridgehead south of Davidiv Brid, despite many sites wiping it off their maps, there have been multiple reports from Russian sources that it has been completely destroyed, and more recent reports that Russia is “pushing these troops back across the Inhulet” . the only thing i can say is it’s not gone. It is not even clear whether Ukraine has lost control over the villages it secured after the crossing.
- Southwest of Snihurivka is a new yellow bump on this map, and several villages that were marked as under Ukrainian control are now marked as contested. This does not mean a new Russian offensive. This is another in a long line of messages that I missed a few days/weeks ago. Russian troops are reported to be operating in the area with a limited Ukrainian presence, but they do not appear to be trying to take/consolidate positions in the area.
- Nova Kahovka, located on the eastern side of one of two critical bridges over the mighty Dnieper River, was the site of Monday’s spectacular explosion, in which a HIMARS system took out a Russian ammunition depot with semi-apocalyptic results. have greatly upset the Russians. As of midday Tuesday, explosions were still reported at the site of that strike.
- Ukrainian artillery has been in full control of the Kherson airport for several days, and reportedly took out the Russian base in Chornobayvka on Monday. The strike reportedly collapsed several warehouses, destroyed equipment on the ground and killed more than a dozen senior officers. Chornobayvka is the second “hard point” on the way to Kherson. It looks like it might be a lot softer than a week ago.
- The scientists who casually suggested that HIMARS is not operational in the Kherson region should quit and give me 20. Now excuse me, I’ll be back in about an … hour.
As Ukraine consolidates its hold on the area, they are now about 5 kilometers closer to the city of Kherson than they were on Sunday. And although “15 kilometers from Kherson!” may seem like something you’ve heard here before (because you have), the capture of Kyselivka, the destruction of the Russian base at Chornobayvka, the huge explosion at Nova Kahovka, and the pressure of Ukrainian forces up and down the Kherson front. shows that Ukraine is not backing down this time.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi made a statement over the weekend that liberating southern Ukraine was a priority. Kherson would be a great place to start.
Back in the southeast, around Donetsk, a series of HIMARS strikes recorded on Monday suggest something similar to what is happening in the Kherson region. These strikes also appear to target the same combination of resources that were targeted in the west: warehouses, ammunition depots, fuel depots, and command centers. Ukraine appears to have used artillery in the area in addition to the HIMARS, but the HIMARS strikes were conducted about 60 kilometers into Russian-occupied territory.
One of these strikes at A number of senior officers were reportedly also taken out in the Shakhtarsk region.
Another view of the results of this strike,
If the last few days have been marked by significant Ukrainian victories and strikes against military targets, it doesn’t mean that Russia hasn’t scored its points…it seems to be the main way the Russian military operates now.
at Chasiv Yar alone killed at least 30 in Monday’s Russian missile strike (revised from the tweet below as rescue workers are still trying to find survivors under the rubble).
The attack was just one of many when Russian missiles detonated apartment buildings and business blocks across Ukraine. Russian forces may be getting hit hard, but they can certainly kill innocent civilians.
According to NPR, Russian officials have made “contradictory and sometimes laughably false claims” about the strikes. This includes the claim that the attack on the Amstor mall, which killed at least 20 people and injured 60, was in fact no one harmed because “the mall was empty” and that Russia did not hit the mall at all.
There are signs that Russia would be like to hit some military targets. They just can’t. Their weapons are either not accurate enough to pick the right target, or are unable to overcome anti-aircraft defenses. A reasonable leader may decide to suspend the launch of a missile that may not be of any military benefit and whose use will likely only add to the list of war crimes.
But then a sane leader would not have launched this illegal invasion.
Are Ukraine’s Targeted Attacks on Ammunition Depots Having an Unexpectedly Strong Impact? Check this out.
This withering fire level repeats on July 7th and July 8th and July 9th. Then on July 10th… something happens.
The number of hotspots has dropped sharply across the region. It would be easy to attribute this to the weather – after all, FIRMS shuts down when it’s raining heavily or overcast, but the last three days have been sunny or partly cloudy across the area, and FIRMS data for other areas of Ukraine is also scarce. flashed during this period.
Finally, you can look at any of the last two days and get something like this. Which is just…horrible.
It would be great to think that Ukraine’s attacks on Russian munitions depots were so effective that they turned off the taps completely. On the other hand, much of the fire observed on July 6 was directed outward toward the Russian positions. It makes no sense for both Ukraine and Russia to be silent at the same time. Since the fire is not visible from either side, the problem is almost certainly with the FIRMS data, even if things appear to be normal near Donetsk or Kherson.
On the other hand, there is this…
What is happening east of Slovyansk? Today there is clear and sunny weather. I will wait for the next FIRMS pass.
But I don’t believe that everyone is suddenly having a picnic.