Russia could begin an offensive towards the city of Kryvyi Rih, staged out of Kherson. The announcement, made by Ukrainian sources, comes after reports of Ukrainian counterattacks pushing Russian forces back to the suburbs of Kherson, underscoring the serious lack of momentum the Russian army has. Despite lack of success, the United Kingdom has assessed that Russia is proceeding with plans to hold a farce referendum for the annexation of Kherson.
Ongoing resistance in Mariupol and fighting along the Donbas frontlines have largely stemmed the Russian Donbas offensive, which has been so slow to commence that some analysts have retracted statements that it had started.
Attacks have escalated in Kharkiv, but no significant Russian victories have been made; in certain positions, Russian troops were able to advance and were later repelled by Ukrainian forces.
There is still a serious risk of a Russian escalation, particularly as Western analysts fear Putin may be in an ‘echo chamber’ founded by Putin’s distrust and fear from advisors regarding reprisals for perceived failure. Notably, Putin boasted of his new Satan II missile, remarking on its capability to strike the mainland United States. Such rhetoric by the Kremlin is not new or unexpected but is serious and concerning in light of what some perceive as the possibility of nuclear weapons used to secure Mariupol or Odesa.
In Kyiv, after a meeting between senior U.S. officials Anthony J. Blinken and Lloyd J. Austin with President Zelenskyy, the U.S. announced the resuming of diplomatic services in Kyiv within a week. Though Russia has claimed it is restricting its war goals to Southern Ukraine, it is still unclear whether this represents a permanent withdrawal from any Kyiv and Northern Ukraine operations. Previously, Russian media and politicians have claimed that following a successful Donbas offensive, Russian troops could return to Kyiv.
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