Ukraine update: Forget offensive operations, Russia is digging in for defense around Kyiv, Kherson

Smoldering Russian vehicle after a Ukrainian ambush.

This isn’t the sort of thing you expect to see from an invading army: 


What’s this about? Instead of trying to take new territory, Russian invaders are now sweating Ukrainian counterattacks in the region. Look at what’s being reinforced (map from here): 


You can see the little airport icon for Antonov International Airport in Hostomel, and I added the two other towns listed in that tweet, to the left of the map (and circled). In other words, they’re reinforcing the current front lines, under pressure from the current Ukrainian counteroffensive. You can rest assured similar defensive emplacements are going up on all those front-line towns in the area. Would be fun if Ukraine was able to cut off Russian defenders in Hostomel and Bucha. It’s critical that Russia is kept outside artillery range of central Kyiv. 

Speaking of artillery range, being out of it makes all the difference to a city. We’ve been following Ukrainian counter-attacks in Southern Ukraine, and in particular the effort toward Kherson from Mykolaiv. Now free of the scourge of MLRS and other artillery barrages, life quickly returns to normal

For weeks, Mykolaiv was on the front line. Now, with Ukrainian forces pressing a counteroffensive, the Russians have been pushed back and the port city’s 470,000 people are attempting a tentative return to normality.

Coffee shops and some restaurants are open again. Supermarkets have been restocked with fresh groceries. Bank branches have reopened. Municipal buses and trams run the streets. Mothers with children play in playgrounds as the sound of artillery thuds in the distance. Fresh tulips and roses are available in a variety of shades in a row of downtown flower shops.

Reports state that Russia’s besieging army retreated to Kherson, so it might be too well-defended at this point for a head-on assault. Troops in town have been digging in since earlier this week. Ukraine might be happy enough to just free Mykolaiv from most daily terror. And I emphasis “most,” because cruise missiles hit an army barracks that killed at least 40 soldiers. Perhaps it’s small consolation that at least this time, Russia actually targeted a military facility. 

Down in Mariupol, hopes of rescue were dashed by Ukrainian general staff, which announced that the closest Ukrainian troops were at least 100 kilometers away. The city should’ve fallen on the first day of the war. It’s a wonder it has lasted this long, and every day it holds out is another miracle. But those days are running out.

Finally, this is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen: 

That is next level.

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