One week into a new counteroffensive, Ukrainian forces are making gains in the south, with the ambitious goal of taking back most of the Russian-occupied region of Kherson by the end of the year, senior US officials and Ukrainian officials tell CNN.
The last week has seen the most ambitious ground assaults by the Ukrainians since the beginning of the invasion, following sustained attacks on command posts, ammunition stores, and fuel reserves far behind the front lines, according to geolocation of video and satellite imagery.
The US has observed Ukrainian forces achieve some success in attacking Russian supply lines, with the intention of cutting off and isolating Russian troops currently deployed west of the Dnipro River, according to a senior US official.
“What we’ve seen in the Kherson region first is some continued offensive operations by the Ukrainians,” Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters. “They continue to make some forward movement. We are aware that they have retaken some villages.”
Ryder also said that the US has seen “some offensive Russian activity … near Bakhmut.”
According to Ukrainian officials, the goal is to take at least all territory north or west of the Dnipro River, including not only the city of Kherson but also Nova Kakhovka, site of an important hydroelectric plant as well as the canal that supplies Crimea with much of its water.
The current offensive in the south is broad-based – extending more than 100 miles wide – to prevent Russian units from concentrating on one point. Additionally, there has been an uptick in sabotage operations and attacks on pro-Russian officials in occupied areas.
US officials acknowledge the Ukrainian goal of recapturing Kherson by the end of 2022 is ambitious but remains possible if Ukraine continues to make progress in its current operations.