Ukrainian troops and artillery on the frontline in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, July 2022 (Getty)
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1400 GMT:
Journalist Ivan Safronov has been sentenced to 22 years in a penal colony on a charge of treaston.
Safronov, a former military correspondent for Kommersant and Vedomosti, was arrested in 2020 and accused of disclosing classified information.
UPDATE 1354 GMT:
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has effectively admitted that Moscow used the pretext of a “leak” to cut off gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline (see 0950 GMT), and that there will be no resumption until international sanctions are lifted on Russia.
The problems pumping gas came about because of the sanctions western countries introduced against our country and several companies. There are no other reasons that could have caused this pumping problem.
UPDATE 1343 GMT:
The European Union has agreed to provide another €500m ($496m) in aid to Ukraine, supporting housing, education, and agriculture.
The European Commission announced the commitment after senior officials hosted Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Brussels.
Shmyhal also highlighted agreements on participation in “Digital Europe” and for cooperation in customs and tax matters.
UPDATE 1114 GMT:
Amid Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south, a Russian proxy official in the Kherson region says the Kremlin’s plans for a referendum on annexation have “taken a pause due to security considerations”.
Kirill Stremousov, who has been in the Russian city of Voronezh more than 500 miles from Kherson, We have got prepared for voting. We wanted to organise the referendum in the near future, but because of the current developments, I think we will take a pause.”
Even before the counter-offensive, the plans for the referendum — tentatively set for September 11 — had been beset by residents’ resistance and by Ukrainian partisan sabotage and assassinations.
Stremousov confirmed that the Antonivskiy Bridge, a vital link across the Dnipro River to the western Kherson region and Kherson city, has been damaged by Ukrainian forces and can no longer carry traffic.
UPDATE 0950 GMT:
Amid a de facto Russian cutoff of supply, European gas prices rose up to 30% on Monday.
Russia State company Gazprom announced an indefinitely halt to delivery through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Friday, using the pretext of a “leak” in the turbine at a compressor station.
Russian gas via Ukraine has also been reduced.
UPDATE 0731 GMT:
An outlet for the Russian mercenary Wagner Group says Ukraine’s advance in the south is because Russia’s forces are not using their firepower on the ground and from the air.
After trying to contain the offensive, the soldiers of the VDV [airborne forces] and special forces had nothing left but to retreat to the prepared defense lines in order to maintain the combat effectiveness of the units.
But…not all of them came out.
GREY ZONE “Wagner Group” channel recaps Ukrainian assault, dismisses amphibious landing claims.
They accuse Russian artillery and aviation of inaction in this direction which leads to Ukrainians continuing their advance.
Basically, GREY ZONE is the new Girkin. pic.twitter.com/mjMLrUL7KA
— Dmitri (@wartranslated) September 4, 2022
Analyst Rob Lee notes that weeks of Ukraine strikes and sabotage operation — including the destruction of more than half of the warplanes of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in an explosion in Crimea last month — may account for the Russian inaction.
UPDATE 0707 GMT:
Reporting from Mykolaiv, Oliver Carroll of The Economist pushes back on Russian propaganda of overwhelming Ukrainian losses in Kyiv’s counter-offensive in southern Ukraine.
ussian news sites have peddled the idea that Ukraine’s southern push has failed, at a vast cost in lives. Mykolaiv, the city closest to the frontline, has witnessed the worst of it, they claim, with overflowing morgues and hospitals struggling to treat the massed ranks of wounded.
A visit to the city on September 3rd showed those claims to be untrue. Long queues outside blood-donation clinics did suggest a degree of local trepidation. But there was no panic at any of the city’s morgues. The city’s hospitals are closed to the press: a Russian missile strike near one of them overnight offered clues as to why. But a doctor working at the main emergency unit said he was seeing between 15-30 injured soldiers a day. “More than usual, but not our worst nightmare.”…
[Mortician Nelly] Yarovenko insists that the number of funerals, running at around a dozen a week since the end of March, has not changed in the past week. Marina Ryabovolik, a local clothes manufacturer turned army volunteer, offers her own evidence. The Ukrainian military has not yet asked for two things that would usually raise alarm bells: underwear and flags. Doctors put the underwear on wounded soldiers after they have had their uniforms cut open, she says, otherwise they would be evacuated to the next hospital naked. The flags end up on Ms Yarovenko’s coffins.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: There were multiple signals on Sunday of Ukraine’s counter-offensive advancing against Russian invaders in the south of the country.
Ukrainian officials have called for secrecy over any details of the operations, launched a week ago, but President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday night that forces had liberated two settlements.
Zelenskiy did not name the positions, but Ukrainian forces reportedly reclaimed the village of Vysokopillia. Yuriy Sobolevskyi, first deputy head of the Kherson regional council, announced, “Vysokopillia is Ukraine”. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Zelenskiy’s office, posted an image of soldiers raising the Ukrainian flag atop a hospital: “Vysokopillya. Kherson region. Ukraine. Today.”
Russian military bloggers supported the reports, saying troops withdrew to avoid encirclement.
Ukrainian attacks continued to erode Russian supply lines and logistics. Military officials reported the destruction of another Russian ammunition depot, and confirmed the demolition of one south of Kherson city on Friday.
Zelenskiy went farther with the declaration that Crimea, seized by Russia in 2014, will also be recovered.
Everyone can see that the occupiers have already started fleeing Crimea. This is the right choice for all of them. We will return freedom to Crimea, to all our people in Crimea.
Russia’s Defense Ministry also subtly acknowledged the shift in Ukraine’s favor. It replaced its declaration of total Ukrainian defeat, made at the start of the counter-offensive, to claims of high Ukrainian losses among personnel and military equipment.
Ukraine Pushback in East
There are also indications that Ukraine is pushing back Russia’s stalled offensive in the Donetsk region in the east.
Zelenskiy said one settlement was liberated and there were “good steps” near Siversk and towards Lysychansk, occupied by the Russians in the neighboring Luhansk region.
The US-based Institute for the Study of War echoes:
Ukrainian forces are advancing along several axes in western Kherson Oblast [in the south] and have secured territory across the Siverskyi Donets River in Donetsk Oblast. The pace of the counteroffensive will likely change dramatically from day to day as Ukrainian forces work to starve the Russians of necessary supplies, disrupt their command and control, and weaken their morale even as counteroffensive ground assaults continue.