Russo-Ukrainian War 5/28/22

A Ukrainian T-64 tank during a training exercise. (Image via Ukrainian Ministry of Defense)

Ukraine has reportedly launched a counterattack against Russia in southern Ukraine, punching through Russian lines ~70km northeast of Kherson.

It is highly likely that Ukraine is using armored divisions previously stationed in Odesa, including units outfitted with tanks donated by NATO Allies. In light of the increasingly dire defense of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, Ukraine has assessed that the majority of Russian support and materiel was being funneled into securing the Luhansk pocket. With increasingly older-generation equipment being sent to the frontlines, Russia is facing a shortage of fresh troops and advanced, serviceable equipment. This has the effect of thinning Russia’s numerical advantage, so far the only reason Ukraine has remained entrenched. It was reported by a spokesman for President Zelenskyy that Ukrainian forces were outnumbered 7 to 1 in parts of eastern Ukraine, presumably the Luhansk pocket. This concentration of troops allowed Ukraine to attack Russia in other regions (Kharkiv and now Kherson), a distraction similar to the role Mariupol played for the wider defense of the Donbas.

Russia has seemingly responded by retreating to haphazard fortifications in the northeast, which the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense assessed as ‘unfavorable’ for Russian forces. A significant artillery bombardment was reported in the contested areas between Kherson and Mykolaiv, though there are no indications that any Ukrainian counteroffensives have begun in that zone.

Russian officials have previously delayed and ultimately postponed a referendum, with occupation authorities in Kherson allegedly claiming integration with the Russian Federation could come by 2023. In the face of Ukrainian success near Mykolaiv and the inevitable counteroffensive to liberate Kherson, Russia’s postponement of decisions regarding Kherson was likely the only option, given the lack of local support and alleged partisan warfare in Kherson Oblast.

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