Putins army scrambling as Kyiv prepares new major Kherson offensive

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Russian commanders are scrambling to get ready for further Ukrainian attacks after a former intelligence officer warned that Kyiv may be poised to launch new offensives in the northeast and south of the country. Ukraine’s military inflicted humiliating defeats on Putin’s army in the autumn, after initiating a series of devastating counteroffensives on the Kharkiv and Kherson fronts. In September, Russian forces were routed by advancing Ukrainian units and forced into an ignominious retreat from the Kharkiv region.

More humiliation was to follow in November when the Kremlin had to abandon the port city of Kherson in the south of Ukraine and relocate its forces to the east bank of the Dnipro River.

Kherson had been the only regional capital that Putin’s commanders had managed to capture in over ten months of bitter fighting.

Since the spring, Ukraine has managed to reclaim over 70,000 square kilometres of occupied territory from Putin’s invading hordes.

Now, it appears that Kyiv may be on the verge of continuing its unrelenting assault on Russia’s beleaguered and bedraggled army.

Igor Girkin, a former FSB officer, said that Ukrainian commanders were potentially looking to capture bridgeheads on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in the areas of Kherson and Kakhovka.

He also noted that there was a large build-up of Ukrainian troops in the Kharkiv region.

In his daily war blog, Girkin wrote: “There is a threat that the enemy will capture bridgeheads on the eastern bank of the Dnipro in the area of Kakhovka and Kherson.

“There is also the threat of an offensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the direction of Melitopol-Berdyansk.”

He added: “The enemy is gathering a strong grouping in the vicinity of Kharkiv.

“I do not share the opinion that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are ‘not ready or even capable’ of a new offensive, (as stated yesterday by Daniil Bezsonov).”

Mr Bezsonov is a spokesperson for the Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region.

Girkin was a former army and security services officer who played a key role in the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

He helped organise pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas in their battles with Ukraine’s army back in 2014.

The former FSB operative has also been convicted for causing the deaths of 298 passengers on the Malaysian airlines flight MH-17, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Along with two others, he was sentenced in absentia by a Dutch court to life in prison in November.

Recent weeks have seen heavy fighting in the Donbas, particularly around the city of Bakhmut.

The Russians have since the summer launched unrelenting attacks on the city, yet have only succeeded in making incremental gains.

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Despite the current focus on the Donbas, a senior adviser to President Zelensky claimed the next major military target for Kyiv’s commanders was to break through at Melitopol.

Oleksiy Arestovich said that if Russian lines could be destroyed around Melitopol, then the road to Crimea would be completely open.

He said: “Through Melitopol, logistics is carried out in the south, linking Russian forces on the right with those on the left bank of the Dnipro right up to the border with Russia in the Mariupol region.

“If Melitopol falls, then the entire defence to Kherson collapses.

“The Ukrainian Armed Forces jump right to the border with Crimea on the isthmus.”

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