Ukrainian forces are breaking through Russian defenses in the Kherson region as the southern offensive continues, with more areas being liberated “every day,” regional council deputy head Yurii Sobolevskyi said on Ukrainian television early Tuesday.
Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed on Monday that “top enemy tank units” had hit Russian defenses towards Zolota Balka, a town of Kherson on the west bank of the Dnipro River, but said Russia was responding with “massive fire”.
CNN reported Monday that Ukrainian troops captured Zolota Balka, citing a regional official and a pro-Russian military blogger.
During the night, Ukrainian forces tried to advance even further, towards the town of Dudchany, about 30 kilometers (more than 18 miles) south of Zolota Balka, separatist leaders said on Tuesday.
Vladimir Saldo, the head of Russia’s regional administration, wrote on Telegram: “They managed to break through… Yesterday and this morning there were quite alarming reports about what is happening there.” But his deputy, Kirill Stremousov, later said the advance “has now almost stopped, and now all the aircraft and artillery that entered the sovereign territory of the Russian Federation are ending up in a bag of fire,” according to Russian state news agency TASS. , referring to a video posted on his Telegram channel.
Russian forces appear to have withdrawn to rear positions on that southern front, according to Igor Girkin, a pro-Russian military analyst who served in the government of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic in 2014.
“Bypassing the growing encirclement, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation withdrew along the entire front of the Inhulets River to the east of the previously captured enemy bridgehead on this river,” Girkin said in Telegram. “Apparently, the goal of our group’s command is to reduce the front line, at least to the point of creating a continuous line covering Beryslav and Nova Kakhovka Dam.”
The successful push south comes as Ukrainians celebrate decisive victories on the eastern front after taking the key city of Donetsk Lyman.