A Russian military truck drives past an unexploded munition during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Russia-controlled village of Chornobaivka, Ukraine July 26, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Ukrainian partisans are apparently targeting officials from the Russian occupation administration. Last week, “partisans blew up one of the organizers of the ‘referendum’ in temporarily occupied Melitopol,” the Ukrainian Resistance Center said. The officer is said to have been taken to a hospital. His current state of health is unclear.

Partisans are now playing an important part in the Ukrainian defense against the Russian war of aggression. Just last week, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on residents in the Russian-occupied territories to resist. They should send information about the enemy or collaborators to the Ukrainian armed forces through secure channels, Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Wednesday.

The alleged attack on occupation officials in Melitopol is just the latest attack on collaborators working with Russia. “The action took place as part of the hunt for collaborators who are helping the Russians to ‘legalize’ the occupation,” the resistance center justified the attack. Collaboration is “bad for your health”.

Also last week, Vladimir Saldo, the mayor of Cherson who was installed by the occupying forces, is said to have died, reports the Spanish daily El Mundo. The man suddenly fell ill at the beginning of August, reports several media. On August 6, he had to be flown to Moscow for further treatment.

Russia attributes Saldo’s death to a heart attack resulting from an infection with the corona virus. The New York Times reporter Michael Schwirtz, on the other hand, reports that the collaborator was said to have been poisoned by Ukrainian partisans. An operation that was apparently planned for several months. In March, almost a month after the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, his assistant was shot dead in Cherson, reports the news portal “Newsweek”.

According to the Russian occupation administration, a man named Vitaly Guru died in Cherson at the beginning of August. The deputy head of the administration of the occupied city of Nowa Kakhovka suffered multiple gunshot wounds in an “assassination attempt” in his house on August 6, the Russian news agency TASS reported, citing circles of the occupation authorities. A little later, a representative of the authorities announced the death of the collaborator.

Meanwhile, in the occupied territories, posters appeared threatening the Russian occupiers and their sympathizers. “Traitors cannot hide,” according to “El Mundo” is one of the messages. In addition, blood-smeared mannequins dressed in Russian uniforms were set up in Cherson. Posters read: “Moscow is 500 kilometers away, but our army is only ten kilometers away.”

The Spanish newspaper compares the Ukrainian partisans to Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”, who attack, terrorize and “kill with knives, bullets or poison” the attackers behind enemy lines. In the blockbuster, a star cast fights in enemy territory against the Nazi occupiers in France during World War II.

The resistance movement is closely monitoring the collaborators, the Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security warned via Telegram on August 12. She knows “everyone by face and name”.

The message is clear: Ukrainians should think twice about cooperating with the Russian occupiers. The attack on the blogger Valery Kuleshov shows that the murder plans of the Ukrainian partisans are not just limited to collaborating politicians. Several media outlets reported in late April that the prominent pro-Russian blogger was shot dead in his car in Kherson.

“El Mundo” reports that these attacks and actions are coordinated from Kyiv. In addition to civilians, smuggled soldiers are also regularly involved in the actions. Some observers also attribute the explosions at a Russian airbase in western annexed Crimea a week ago to saboteurs and Ukrainian special forces.

Another explosion on Tuesday at a Russian military base on the Black Sea peninsula damaged an ammunition depot, among other things, Russian news agencies report. The Ministry of Defense in Moscow speaks of an “act of sabotage”. The head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Andriy Yermak, praised the detonation as a “masterstroke of the Ukrainian armed forces”. It is unclear whether partisans were involved.

The Ukrainian artillery behind the front lines is also dependent on information from the partisans. For example, they mark targets for the Himars rocket launchers. As a result of the tactical deployment in the Kherson region, the defenders destroyed three important bridges across the Dnipro. The occupiers can now only bring supplies across the river with difficulty. In some cases, however, the partisans would also carry out sabotage actions against supply lines themselves.

And the Russian and pro-Russian occupiers don’t seem to be indifferent to the actions of the partisans either, writes the think tank “Institute for the Study of War” (ISW) in one of its latest status reports on the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Presumably, pro-Russian troops shot down a Russian helicopter near Mariupol.