Ukrainian servicemen load with rockets a Bureviy multiple launch rocket system at a position in Kharkiv region, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova

Even on the 163rd day of the Ukraine war, the focus is on developments in the south of the country. Kyiv speaks of a major Russian offensive that could start in the next few days. Reports came again today, including from the head of the military administration in Kryvyi Rih (Zelenskyi’s birthplace), that there were increasing Russian troop movements near the city.

However, on the Russian side there is a suspicion that Ukraine wants to distract from its own plans with reports like these. This is what the pro-Russian veteran Igor Girkin writes, for example, who is still considered to be very well connected in the Russian and pro-Russian military. In turn, he reports that Ukraine is massing large troop formations in the area around Cherson and Zaporizhia and could launch a double offensive in the south.

Ukraine’s progress is already clear: in the past few weeks, the army has been able to conquer 60 villages and small towns along the more than 200-kilometer-long front line in the Cherson region. More than 50 ammunition depots and command posts were destroyed (source here).

It is difficult to say how many soldiers are facing each other in the south of the country. Current expert estimates assume 12,000 to 25,000 soldiers on the Russian side in the area around Cherson. Some observers estimate that half of all Russian troops are now in southern Ukraine.

The experts of the think tank “The Institute for the Study of War” come to an interesting assessment in the analysis of the current phase of the war: “Ukraine’s preparations for the counter-offensive in Kherson and the first operations as part of this counter-offensive in connection with the dramatic weakening of the Russian armed forces seem to be enabling Ukraine for the first time to actively shape the course of the war.” (Source here) In the next few weeks, it will no longer be Russia that could determine events, but Kyiv.

1. Reports of “deep distrust”: What is the relationship between the US and Ukraine really like? (T)2. Natural gas crisis in Europe: ten ideas on how Germany can save energy3. Amnesty International raises serious allegations: Did Ukraine’s war tactics really endanger civilians?