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Ukrainian troop positions spark counteroffensive hypothesis

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian army forces have efficiently established positions on the japanese facet of the Dnieper River, in response to a brand new evaluation, giving rise to hypothesis Sunday that the advances could possibly be an early signal of Kyiv’s long-awaited spring counteroffensive.

The Institute for the Research of Struggle, a Washington-based suppose tank, reported late Saturday that geolocated footage from pro-Kremlin army bloggers indicated that Ukrainian troops had established a foothold close to the city of Oleshky, together with “secure provide traces” to their positions.

Analysts broadly imagine that if Ukraine goes forward with a spring counteroffensive, a significant aim can be to interrupt by the land hall between Russia and the annexed Crimean Peninsula, which might necessitate crossing the Dnieper River within the nation’s south.

Responding to Ukrainian media stories proclaiming that the institution of such positions indicated the counteroffensive had begun, Natalia Humeniuk, the spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Operational Command South, known as for persistence.

Whereas neither confirming nor denying the ISW report, she mentioned solely that particulars of army operations within the Dnieper delta could not be disclosed for operational and safety causes.

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Talking on Ukrainian tv, Humeniuk added that it was “very tough work” when “it’s needed to beat an impediment such because the Dnieper, when the entrance line passes by a large and highly effective river.”

The Kremlin-installed head of the Kherson area, one in all 4 components of Ukraine that Russia mentioned it was illegally annexing in September, denied on Sunday that Ukrainian forces have established a foothold on the east financial institution of the Dnieper.

In a Telegram replace, Vladimir Saldo mentioned that Russian forces are “in full management” of the realm, and speculated that the pictures referenced by the ISW might have depicted Ukrainian sabotage items that “managed to take a selfie” throughout the Dnieper earlier than being compelled again.

After greater than a yr because the Russian invasion, current combating has turn into a struggle of attrition, with neither facet in a position to achieve momentum.

However Ukraine has lately obtained refined weapons from its Western allies, and new troops freshly skilled within the West, giving rise to rising anticipation of a counteroffensive.

The fiercest battles have been within the japanese Donetsk area, the place Russia is struggling to encircle the town of Bakhmut within the face of dogged Ukrainian protection.

On Sunday, Russian Protection Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed Moscow’s forces had captured two extra neighborhoods within the western a part of Bakhmut, with out offering additional particulars or clarifying what areas have been nonetheless in Ukrainian arms.

Within the south, the Dnieper has for months marked the contact line within the Kherson area, the place its namesake capital is commonly pummeled by shelling from Russian forces stationed throughout the river.

Along with having established a foothold close to the city of Oleshky, throughout the Dnieper delta from Kherson, ISW mentioned that Ukrainian troops have been additionally approaching the close by village of Dachi, citing information from Russian army bloggers.

In Telegram posts on Thursday and Saturday, ISW mentioned the bloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces had maintained these positions for weeks and established secure provide traces to them, indicating a scarcity of Russian management over the realm.

The Related Press confirmed the posts from the bloggers, however it wasn’t instantly attainable to independently confirm the info they shared.

Russia can be anticipated to launch extra intensive assaults within the spring, however ISW reported that prime Russian protection figures are displaying indicators that they might be pushing for a consolidation of present features in Ukraine, moderately than expensive new operations, as Moscow struggles with each materials and manpower.

The suppose tank cited feedback from financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the top of the Wagner Group — a personal Russian army firm whose fighters have spearheaded the offensive on Bakhmut.

On Saturday, Prigozhin’s press service posted feedback he made on its official Telegram channel wherein he argued that Russian forces have to “anchor (themselves) in such a means that it is just attainable to tear them out with (the) opponent’s claws.”

The interview was printed shortly after Western leaders assembly on the Ramstein Air Base in Germany pledged to coach extra Ukrainian personnel and sustain their army assist for Kyiv.

As Moscow seeks to bolster its troop numbers, the U.Ok. Ministry of Protection famous Sunday in an intelligence briefing that Russian authorities had mounted a large-scale army recruitment marketing campaign utilizing social media, billboards and state tv.

It mentioned Russian officers are “virtually definitely looking for to delay any new, overt obligatory mobilization for so long as attainable to reduce home dissent,” whereas assessing that this newest effort would doubtless fail to satisfy the protection ministry’s acknowledged aim of recruiting 400,000 new volunteers.

In assaults in a single day, native authorities in japanese Ukraine reported that Russian forces had launched not less than 5 S-300 missiles at Kharkiv, the nation’s second-largest metropolis and the encircling area.

The missiles broken an industrial facility and personal houses however brought about no casualties, in response to Oleh Syniehubov, the Kharkiv regional governor.

In Kherson, one civilian was killed and two have been wounded as Russian troops used artillery, drones and warplanes to launch a complete of 54 strikes on the province, Gov. Oleksandr Prokudin mentioned on Telegram on Sunday morning.

Russian forces on Saturday and in a single day additionally dropped 5 guided aerial bombs over the Kherson area, Ukraine’s Operational Command South mentioned in a Fb submit Sunday. In keeping with the submit, the bombs have been launched from drones and plane and broken a number of residential buildings, however brought about no casualties.

Additionally within the Kherson area, two ladies, ages 85 and 57, have been hospitalized after being wounded in a Russian artillery assault that broken a neighborhood college and about 25 residential buildings within the village of Kizomys, Prokudin mentioned in a Telegram submit.

Within the neighboring Zaporizhzhia area, Russian shelling wounded a 56-year-old man in Stepnohirsk, a city on the banks of the Dnieper river, native Gov. Yurii Malashko wrote on Telegram. ___

Joanna Kozlowska reported from London.


This story has been corrected to indicate that the Kremlin-installed head of the Kherson area made the feedback on Telegram, to not RIA.

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