Ukrainian service members stand near a M777 Howitzer at a front line, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Donbas Region, Ukraine July 18, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

In view of the numerous reports about the desolate state of the Russian army, it is surprising that Moscow would like to launch a large-scale offensive in southern Ukraine. And it could start as early as next week, as an adviser to President Zelenskyj said on Wednesday.

For this purpose, Russia has assembled new troops in Cherson, Ukrainian General Oleksiy Gromov said at a press conference. There are also said to be troop reinforcements and an advance further east around the city of Zaporizhia. The aim of both efforts is probably the capture of Selenskyj’s birthplace, Kryvyj Rih. It would be a huge undertaking if more than 100 kilometers as the crow flies would have to be bridged.

The Ukrainians had actually announced an offensive in the south. Russia could try to forestall that. The fact is: the troops that Moscow is moving to the south are lacking in the east. Observers estimate that Ukraine could make its own advances there.

Perhaps it is also a diversionary maneuver by the Russians. As an aggressor, you move troops for attack rather than defense. This is how you keep the narrative of strength alive. Whether that is still sufficient is more than questionable.

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