Ukraine ‘corrodes’ Russian forces in southern counteroffensive

Ukraine has deepened a counteroffensive in the south of the country in the 23rd week of the war, striking Russian garrisons and ammunition stockpiles, forcing Russia to bring in reinforcements and weakening other fronts as a result.

Ukraine also scored a diplomatic victory: Russia has agreed to lift its blockade of Black Sea ports to allow Ukrainian grain exports, which Ukraine estimates will bring in $10bn in much-needed revenue.

Ukraine likely lost territory on its eastern front, including a key defensive position near Donetsk city; while an explosion in a Russian prisoner of war camp in occupied Donetsk killed an estimated 50 Ukrainian soldiers, in what Ukraine describes as a war crime.

The southern counteroffensive
Even before August 2, Ukraine claimed to have liberated 46 settlements in southern Kherson province and it says the number now liberated has risen again over the past week.

Britain’s defence ministry said the Kherson counteroffensive was “gathering momentum” after Ukrainian-operated HIMARS rocket artillery systems struck three Russian-controlled resupply bridges on the Dnieper river between July 20 and 27.

On July 30, Ukraine struck again. Its southern command said it had damaged a railway bridge over the Dnieper, rendering the movement of freight impossible. These strikes have jeopardised Russia’s ability to resupply forward positions in the south, and Ukraine’s general staff have reported that Russian forces are trying to repair the damaged bridges.