Ukrainian forces are breaking through Russian defenses in the Kherson region as they plough on with the southern offensive, with more areas liberated “every day,” Yurii Sobolevskyi, the deputy head of the regional council, said on Ukrainian TV early Tuesday.
The Russian defense ministry confirmed Monday that “superior enemy tank units” had struck Russian defenses towards Zolota Balka, a town in Kherson that sits on the western bank of the Dnipro River, but claimed Russia was responding with “massive fire.”
CNN reported Monday that Ukrainian troops had captured Zolota Balka, citing a regional official and a pro-Russian military blogger.
Overnight, Ukrainian forces attempted to go even further, towards the village of Dudchany, some 30 kilometers (more than 18 miles) south of Zolota Balka, separatist leaders claimed on Tuesday.
The Russian-backed head of the Kherson regional administration, Vladimir Saldo, wrote on Telegram, “They managed to break through… Yesterday and this morning there were quite disturbing reports about what is happening there.” But his deputy, Kirill Stremousov, later said the advance “has now practically stopped, and now aviation and artillery are finishing off all those who broke into the sovereign territory of the Russian Federation in a fire bag," according to Russian state news agency TASS, citing a video posted on his Telegram channel.
Russian forces appear to have withdrawn to fallback positions on that southern front, according to Igor Girkin, a pro-Russian military analyst who served in the government of the self-declared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.
“Avoiding the emerging encirclement, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation withdrew along the entire front of the Inhulets River to the east of the previously taken enemy bridgehead on this river,” Girkin said on Telegram. “Apparently, the goal of the command of our group is to reduce the front line, at least to the state of creating a continuous front line covering Beryslav and the Nova Kakhovka dam.”
The successful push in the south comes as Ukrainians celebrate crucial victories on the frontline in the east after capturing the key Donetsk city of Lyman.