Ukraine Situation Report: Kherson Bridges Out, Russians Face Supply Nightmare
Reports are circulating that Kherson’s occupation leadership fled south over the Dnieper River as Ukrainians strangle fragile supply lines.
The Russian frontline in Kherson may be on its last legs as Ukrainian forces continue their counteroffensive toward the Dnieper River.
Previous Ukrainian attacks crippled both main bridges near the occupied city and the road crossing upriver at the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric plant. Despite the Russians’ confounding use of radar reflectors near the bridges, subsequent strikes have occupied forces reliant on ferries to keep supplies and personnel moving, if barely at all.
But reports from the Ukrainian administration in nearby Mikolayiv suggest the leadership of the Russia-backed occupational government fled Kherson and crossed the river on Saturday. It was not clear whether Russian military commanders had also evacuated across the river. If true, it may be a sign that Russian forces are preparing a withdrawal to defensive positions on the south bank.
Saturday’s intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense indicated that Russian forces’ endurance west of the river may depend on their stockpiles now that supply lines are all but cut. Oh, and those stockpiles are still vulnerable to Ukrainian attack as evidenced by the large explosions in Nova Kakhovka on Saturday.
Video from state-run Russia Today showed Rosvgardia Spetsnaz troops in the Kherson region searching a damaged building, likely for partisan fighters, some of which further threaten Russian supply lines in occupied territory.
Russia’s precarious situation on the Dnieper gives Ukraine serious leverage on the attack knowing the opponent cannot be easily resupplied. Continued Ukrainian advances may force Russia to switch from reinforcing its position to evacuating what it can, assuming that shift hasn’t already occurred.
A collapse of the Kherson occupation could further cost Russian goals elsewhere along its massive frontline. If Ukraine actually has destroyed 20% of the Russian units committed to the war as it claims, a rout from its largest occupied city will only further weaken the "special military operation." At the same time, the head of the Ukrainian military is once again reminding the world that his forces are in dire need of additional artillery.
Some of Ukraine's neighbors and allies have come up with a plan to help in this regard, boosting production of artillery systems to supply the war effort:
Before heading into the rest of today’s news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up on our previous rolling coverage of the war here.
The Netherlands and Norway have joined the Britain-based and led NATO training program for Ukrainian troops, becoming the latest participants in a growing effort to support Kyiv's war effort.
Ukrainian intelligence reports that Russian forces are shelling the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in continued false-flag attacks. A Russian 2S7 Malka self-propelled howitzer was spotted near the plant, and reports from locals and at least one engineer at the occupied facility seemed to confirm these attacks. Of course, substantiating these claims is impossible at this time, so take them as such.
We previously wrote about continued calls to demilitarize the facility, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, amid fears of radiological disaster should it suffer further damage.
Saturday’s shelling reportedly spurred a mass exodus from the neighboring city of Enerhodar, with video in Zaporizhzhya Oblast showing a lengthy line of civilian and commercial vehicles clogging a two-lane road.
Former Russian president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, in continuing the Russian line that solely Ukrainians are attacking the facility, ominously referred to possible “accidents” at European Union nuclear plants in reference to a potential disaster in Zaporizhzhya.
Incredible new drone footage shows just how deadly the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile is in Ukrainian hands, even at range. Filmed near Izium in late July, the video shows the long arm of Saint Javelin landing a killing blow on a Russian T-80BV with a lofted shot. The damaged tank drives off smoking before catching fire as a crewman jumps out and sprints away.
On the topic of anti-tank weapons, the Ukrainians appear to have fitted one of their MT-12 Rapira anti-tank guns to an MT-LB. While the Soviet Army used its MT-LBs as an artillery tractor, including dragging along its MT-12s, the 100mm cannon is a big gun on this chassis.
Ukraine has some MT-LBs in the anti-tank role equipped with 9K114 Shturm missiles, but fitting the Rapira looks to have required some modifications. Firing the gun requires rear braces fit for a Cold War 8-inch howitzer, likely making this vehicle a little slower on the shoot-and-scoot than contemporary AT systems, not to mention less effective against modern armor.
With less mobility, Ukraine may see this as more of an assault gun to support attacking infantry, freeing up tanks for other tasks beyond laying siege to Russian positions. Ukrainian artillery and their Russian counterparts continue to expend huge quantities of ammunition, so another option for suppressive firepower can’t hurt.
The Ukrainians also have a new toy to spot for that artillery. Introducing the SHIELD Bus T5, the camo-painted, minivan-mobile observation post you never thought you needed. With the right terrain or some thick summer vegetation, the periscoping camera system looks to provide a decent view for the user.
CNN got an up-close look at a Ukrainian artillery unit and its Polish-supplied AHS Krab self-propelled howitzers. The 155mm NATO-standardized howitzers are seen completing fire missions before retreating into the cover of a tree line. Its crews gave the Polish system high remarks compared to their former Soviet equipment.
The Krab isn’t the only NATO 6-inch howitzer getting attention this week, as Slovakia delivered four of its Zuzana self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine.
We also have stunning drone footage from the Russian side showing the frontline town of Pisky under thermobaric bombardment. The bombed-out town has seen eight years of fighting along the trench lines west of the former Donetsk International Airport, and Russian forces have thrown everything and the kitchen sink at what’s left of it in recent weeks.
Lastly, we’ve got some pictures from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense showing some of its military working dogs and their gear, much of it crowdfunded.
We will continue to update this story until we state otherwise.
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