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Kherson’s news blackout lifts just enough to indicate Ukrainian advances

During World War II, those who stayed at home could read daily newspapers about the course of the conflict, listen to the voices of journalists from Europe or the Pacific who came to them over the radio in the evenings, and visit the local cinema catch a glimpse of the action in the latest newsreel. Over the course of more than a decade in Vietnam, Americans became accustomed to the bizarre nightly ritual of official body counts, magazines full of searing photos, and reporters bringing news footage of a war that never seemed far from chaos. In both cases, the action reports that the public received were heavily filtered and optimistic, but they at least gave a sense of how things were going.

In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, most major media outlets don’t seem to deliver… very much, really, especially when it comes to answering questions about the tactical or strategic progress of the war. Today’s New York Times contains a single message about the invasion of Ukraine, and it has more to do with US arms sales than any actual action on the ground. There are actually more mentions of the war in the sports section, where Russia continues to hold both American basketball star Brittney Griner and preventing a Russian ice hockey player from moving to the US CNN also features a single story about the invasion of Ukraine, one that focuses on volunteers but, to its credit, the general situation in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s goals describes in the area. MSNBC also has a single story related to Ukraine, an interview with a former Zelenskyi adviser.

Anyone with an answer to “Yes, but what is actually happening in Ukraine?” is pushed back to the one place that seems to hold all the answers these days: social media, where breaking news from tens of thousands of propaganda accounts has to be sift through. At the start of the war, Twitter made a concerted effort to take down Russian bot accounts, but any drop in these accounts was temporary (India seems to be the current server location of choice). It is questionable whether Russia even needs these one-note accounts, as more than half of the US right wing, as well as right wing accounts from Brazil to Hungary, seem to regularly “declare” how corrupt the Ukraine that started the war is Joe Biden and they are pleased to announce that Russia is win-win-winning. Some of these accounts have tens of thousands of followers, all ready to sign up and celebrate Vladimir Putin.

But it’s not just pro-Russian propaganda blurring the picture. This week, one of the most followed pro-Ukrainian accounts was deleted after the account that allegedly portrayed the online face of several volunteers who served on the front lines of the war was finally exposed as fake. It certainly didn’t help that she posted a picture of her rifle, which turned out to be an airsoft gun. To be fair, a lot of people have had serious concerns about this account for months (trust me, I’ve got your email on the subject), but the unrelentingly optimistic, pro-Ukrainian victory-is-just-around-the-corner – Chatter from This report made it difficult for many people to resist, especially in the sea of ​​doom posts.

The same rules apply to social media as to any other news source: beware of finding a report that is too kind to your own deep-rooted hopes.

Can Russia win the war in Ukraine? no There is no way for Russia to assert itself economically, militarily or diplomatically. In any case, Moscow is now much weaker than at the beginning of this war. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has turned his country into an international outcast, exposed the Russian military as an ugly parody of what many believed, derailed Russia’s main source of income, permanently impoverished the Russian population and left the nation in a position where it cannot determines his own destiny.

Putin cannot even determine when this war will end – unless he is ready to return every inch of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea, to Kyiv. He has put his finger (and everything else) in a trap from which he cannot escape. Putin can announce victory tomorrow and every day after. Nobody will listen. This war will end when Ukraine says it will end.

Can Russia’s ongoing effort to simply rubbish Ukrainian cities and towns with artillery and then dump conscripts on top of the rubble can be stopped? The answer seems to be “not yet”.

All of this was a very long prelude to this question: So what’s happening over at Cherson?

Well, what’s happening, and what’s been happening in the last two weeks, is that Ukraine has been very, very quiet about Kherson. Social media is a (sometimes…okay, rarely) wonderful thing, but Ukraine seems to have found that when attacking at a dozen points along a 80-kilometer front, every push and save immediately became the subject of detailed Facebook analysis and 80 -Posting twitter threads might not be a good thing. So they worked hard to stop their forces from chattering. In the past two weeks, there have been few images of Ukrainian troops in the region and much fewer reports of detailed action amid a declared “blackout.”

That doesn’t mean nothing happened there. Russian (and some Ukrainian) soldiers have continued to talk shit on Telegram, making the usual claims, 80% of which are only intended to intimidate the other side. But reporters on the ground, who generally confirm movements in the area, have been much more reluctant to mention actions on either side.

However, in the last 24 hours, some light has been shed on this blackout. What is happening in Kherson? As far as I can tell, this is the current state of affairs.

Kherson area from July 2 (Open in another tab for larger view)

The last two weeks of relative absence of news in the area means that some things have changed, although it’s not that easy to see on a map. Ukraine is still struggling to take the same key positions in Kyselivka, Snihurivka and Vysokopillya. The front line of the armed forces is still about 15 km outside of Kherson. But just looking at these locations hides a lot of action – so much so that I actually pulled out a new crayon to illustrate the changes.

As is often the case on the Kherson front, Ukraine has made strides between the main points of Russian occupation. The counter-offensive that took place at the extreme southern end of the line appears to have ended for the time being. Instead, the action seems to be in the zone from Kyselivka to Snihurivka. The light blue area on this map indicates a zone of villages and towns that Ukraine has either moved from Russian occupation or from disputed to Ukrainian controlled in the last two weeks. It’s… actually quite a lot. Last but not least, it represents a significant strengthening of Ukrainian positions.

Note that several sources still place this entire wedge under Russian control along a line from Novopetrivka to Zahoryanivka. However, there is good reason to believe that the control lines given on the map above are a fairly accurate representation of current conditions.

There were several reports of the liberation of Snihurivka on Saturday morning, but these appear to be premature. As of Saturday, Russian forces were confirmed to be present in both Novopetrivka and Snihurivka, but there was active fighting in the area and Ukrainian forces appear to be advancing. It is quite possible that there will soon be good news in this area. The evacuation of these two cities would open important avenues for forces moving out of Mykolaiv or coming south from Kryvyi Rih. This area seems to be an area of ​​hard fighting at the moment, with several Ukrainian units maneuvering to advance in line.

Further up the Inhulets River, it is unclear if there is still a Ukrainian presence on the east bank south of Davydiv Brid. Several sources have indicated that Ukrainian forces have withdrawn and abandoned this beachhead. However, there are still scattered reports of fighting in the area, not only along the river near Davydiv Brid, but also as far from the river as Bruskynske. I put all villages in this area that were previously under Ukrainian control on “disputed” to say “I don’t know.”

At the northern end of the line, there was very little news of what was happening near Vysokopillya, which is still a major distribution and command center for Russia. There have been persistent reports of fighting at Arkhanhel’s’ke, which appears to offer Ukrainian forces an opportunity to isolate Russian troops in the far north of the Kherson front. But there is no confirmation of progress.

After two weeks of very limited news from Kherson, the dam is starting to break. Ground sources speak again. Soldiers post videos. It’s unclear if the Ukrainian MOD is in favor of shedding light on the situation, but the news will surely be appreciated by those of us who have been eagerly awaiting an update.

Russian Stuff Blowing Up Theater (Kherson Edition)

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Lysychansk

In the last two hours there are indications that Lysychansk has fallen or that only a small number of Ukrainian troops have remained there. Videos and images show Russian forces moving near the city center and there was heavy bombardment of westbound roads as Ukraine attempts to withdraw soldiers and equipment to a new site being prepared near Siversk .

Saturday 2 July 2022 18:10:41 +00:00

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Markus Sumner

In the last two hours there have been reports that Ukraine has secured the town of Ivanivka at the northern end of the Kherson line. Fighting in Arkhanhel’s’ke and Vysokopillya continues, but it looks like this is leading to a major shift in control south of Kryvyi Rih.

Ukraine captures Ivanivka and presses the area of ​​remaining Russian control to the north.

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