KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s military leadership has withdrawn its officers to the Russian-annexed city of Kherson across the Dnieper River in anticipation of an advance by Ukrainian troops, the Institute for the Study of War said Sunday.
To delay the Ukrainian counteroffensive as the Russians complete their withdrawal, Moscow has left newly mobilized and inexperienced forces on the other side of the wide river, it added.
The troop movements come as the Ukrainian military said its forces continued their counteroffensives in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
On Saturday, Russian authorities installed in Ukraine told all residents of Kherson to leave immediately ahead of an expected move by Ukrainian troops to retake the city.
Kherson has been in Russian hands since the early days of the eight-month war in Ukraine. The city is the capital of a region of the same name, one of four that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month and placed under Russian martial law on Thursday.
On Friday, Ukrainian forces shelled Russian positions across the province, targeting pro-Kremlin forces’ supply routes across the Dnieper River and preparing for a final push to retake the city.
The ISW think tank also said on Sunday that Russia’s latest war strategy to target power plants in recent days appears to be aimed at undermining Ukrainians’ willingness to fight and forcing the Ukrainian government to spend additional resources to protect civilians and energy infrastructure. He said the effort was unlikely to affect Ukrainian morale but would have a significant economic impact.
The Ukrainian military said on Sunday that Russian forces were now mostly on the defensive, but continued offensive attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and several cities in the eastern Donbas region.
Nine regions in Ukraine, from Odesa in the southwest to Kharkiv in the northeast, saw attacks that again targeted energy and other critical infrastructure in the past day, the Ukrainian General Staff said. It reported a total of 25 Russian airstrikes and more than 100 missile and artillery strikes around Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian counteroffensive forces in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions targeted Russian-held installations, particularly in the town of Nova Kakhovka, and carried out 17 airstrikes throughout the campaign, according to the Ukrainian General Staff.
In a Telegram post on Sunday, the Ukrainian military claimed to have destroyed 14 Iranian-made Russian drones in the past day.
Russian S-300 missiles struck a residential neighborhood in the city of Mykolaiv overnight, injuring three people, according to the Southern Command of the Ukrainian military. Two blocks of flats, a playground and a warehouse were damaged or destroyed, according to a Facebook post. The reports could not be immediately verified.
Elsewhere, Ukraine’s security service said on Sunday it had detained the head of a major jet engine factory, accusing him of collaborating with Russia by supplying military equipment for Russian attack jets.
Viacheslav Bohuslaiev, the president of the Motor Sich plant in Zaporizhzhia, and another top plant official were charged with collaboration and “assistance to the aggressor state.”
Ukraine’s SBU security service said in a statement that the two are accused of colluding with a Russian arms manufacturer close to the Kremlin to supply Ukrainian-made engines and spare parts to Russian forces. The SBU described a complex scheme using intermediaries in three countries to avoid sanctions against Russia.
Motor Sich is one of Ukraine’s leading manufacturers and has been a key producer of aircraft engines since Soviet times. Its installations were repeatedly targeted by Russian attacks during the war. Engines produced by Motor Sich were used to power Russian helicopters before the supply was halted following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
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