Ukraine launched its long-awaited counter-offensive in the Kherson region on Monday. “Go in, finish them off and take back what’s ours,” said a 32-year-old Ukrainian private in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, describing his unit’s task in the battle for territory in southern Ukraine.

In general, however, there is little information about the counter-offensive in Cherson, which had already been occupied at the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. The Ukrainian General Staff has called on the population and the media not to share details and images of the battles and whereabouts of the troops.

The little information known from Kherson comes from Russian military bloggers, non-observers of information blacklisting, and Ukrainian soldiers. The Wall Street Journal was able to interview some of them while maintaining their anonymity in a hospital just behind the front lines in southern Ukraine.

“The boys are in a fighting mood. They are moving forward,” the private told the newspaper. His unit recaptured an occupied village in the first hours of the offensive. Other troops advanced in the direction of the regional capital of Kherson and tried to evacuate villages along the way.

Russian soldiers were sometimes fleeing their positions, leaving behind equipment and booby-trapping the bodies of dead comrades, said the private, who was hospitalized with concussion.

“They throw everything at us,” said another Ukrainian soldier. The Russians would fight with artillery, tanks, helicopters and mortars. “They have a lot of equipment, but few men.”

But how long the Russian equipment and ammunition will last is unclear. The Russian occupiers are apparently suffering from personnel and supply problems, according to the British Ministry of Defense’s daily intelligence update on the Ukraine war on Tuesday. The bridges over the Dnieper, which serve as supply routes for Putin’s army, have been badly damaged for weeks. The Russians have to ferry their material across the river, the New York Times reported about a month ago.

“We’re advancing in some areas and being crushed in others,” another soldier, who is also hospitalized with a concussion, told the Wall Street Journal.

The US Department of Defense is also aware of fighting in southern Ukraine: “We are aware of Ukrainian military operations that have made some forward movement, and from the Kherson region we know that Russian units are falling behind in some cases,” Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder on Wednesday. With a view to military-tactical considerations, however, he did not want to go into detail.

The US played a key role in preparing Ukraine’s counteroffensive, reports CNN. Not only arms deliveries played a role. Several sources have confirmed to the US news channel that the counter-offensive was planned with so-called war games.

Various scenarios were played out in preparation for the counter-offensive. The US has also urged the government in Kyiv to limit the counter-offensive geographically in order to avoid fighting on several fronts in southern Ukraine.

Most of the casualties are currently being inflicted on Russian troops with airstrikes on command posts, positions and ammunition depots, Deputy Head of Ukraine’s Main Operations Department Oleksiy Gromov said, according to the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform.

On Friday, the Ukrainian military’s Southern Command claimed responsibility for the destruction of five Russian ammunition depots. Information on ground forces was not given. The information cannot be independently verified.

Meanwhile, Russia declared the Ukrainian counter-offensive in Cherson a failure on Wednesday. Ukraine has suffered heavy losses, the Defense Ministry said in Moscow. The information cannot be independently verified. However, the US “Institute for the Study of War” (ISW) warned against “not being taken in by Russian information campaigns”.

On the maps that the ISW publishes with its daily situation reports, large parts of the area north of the regional capital of Kherson are marked as “claimed Ukrainian counter-offensives”. The institute gets its information from the few snippets of information that the official Ukrainian sources disclose, pictures and videos from social media and satellite photos. According to the ISW situation report, Russian military bloggers are also reporting ongoing attacks by the Ukrainian army in Cherson.

The bloggers are on the official line of the Russian leadership that the Ukrainian attacks will be repelled and the counter-offensive has failed, reports the “Institute for the Study of War”. However, the ISW also reports contradictory claims.

For example, some military bloggers have claimed that Russian airborne troops have repulsed Ukrainian attacks on the town of Olhyne in the far north of the Kherson region, while others have reported that Russian forces have the southern half of Olhyne “safely under control”.

The situation report of the “Institute for the Study of War” suggests that the offensive of the Ukrainian army is far from over. The US military experts quote from various sources and paint an opaque picture of individual battles. As long as the Ukrainian general staff maintains its information blackout and most of the players comply with it, this should remain the case. “Military operations on the scale of the ongoing Ukrainian counter-offensive have not been successful or failed within a day or a week,” the ISW experts summed up in their most recent situation report.