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The Fight for Kherson Oblast

February 15, 2022 – Follow a battalion commander through the trenches of eastern Ukraine as he prepares his troops for a possible Russian invasion. A Washington Post team traveled to the outpost of Novotroitske, in Kherson Oblast, where soldiers keep their eye on nearby positions of Russia-backed separatists, wait for more Western weapons and wonder nervously about Russia’s next move. They say they appreciate the help from NATO, but also know they will have to fight any battles alone.

March 5, 2022 – Drone footage recorded by a resident of Kherson shows a really unique and rare glimpse of close combat between elements of two professional armies. The video was filmed on February 24 during clashes at the Antonovsky Bridge in the battle for Kherson. Without context the scenes show a section of Ukrainian Mechanized Armored Vehicles including 2 BRDM-2’s and a number of about 12-16 mounted Infantry coning from the north to inspect the remains of a disabled artillery convoy in the south.

What they do not know is that about three Squads of Russian Infantry, a total of 20-30+ soldiers, is already waiting for them west of the road to initiate an ambush from close range. Now some context to the footage. This video was recorded in Kherson on February 24. During that time Russian forces advanced from the south over the bridge while the Ukrainians defended the north. The two BRDMs were in fact Ukrainian while the attackers on the berm were Russian soldiers.

After matching the area with real time map images we were able to locate the exact location of this battle. We also matched the military equipment seen in this video with “comfirmed” losses on both side during the war. During our research we found out that till now no Russian operated BRDM loss was listed there but under Ukrainian losses there were BRDM-2s and 5 of these were lost in Kherson. We found out that this in fact had to be Ukrainian BRDM-2’s. Now we tried to identify the disabled convoy.

On the first look it appeared that the convoy must have been Russian given the fact that its location matched the course of the frontline during that time with Russian forces advancing over the bridge. However, a few observations let us think twice about this. The vehicles have no markings. Nearly all of Russian vehicles are marked with letters. While we do not think that they really mark every vehicle (SF operations for example) this regular convoy should have been marked. That was not the case.

However, it could have been that the markings just were not visible from the angle of the drone camera so we dug a bit deeper. Again, we looked up confirmed vehicle losses on both sides. Russia only had a couple of D-30 howitzers listed but none of the pictures to confirm the losses were taken in Kherson. So we took a look at Ukrainian side and in fact there were a couple of howitzers listed. Under them were two Ukrainian 12mm 2A65 Msta-B howitzers.

After looking at the pictures from them we were really stunned to see that the pictures in fact showed the same artillery in the same locations as in this video. Also, on the pictures you could clearly see no markings on any of the vehicle. That led to the conclusion that the convoy was in fact a Ukrainian convoy. This helped us to come to following conclusion: A section of two Ukrainian BRDM-2’s with two squads of 12-16 additional infantry was sent to the south from the north to inspect the remains of a destroyed Ukrainian artillery convoy.

It is possible that they were sent in to scout for enemy presence and to look for survivors. What they did not know when they were halfway at their AO was that about three Russian squads with 20-30+ soldiers had set up positions west of them on and behind a berm. When the Russians saw them coming closer, they started to engage them with small arms fire and grenades since it seemed they lacked anti-tank weapons. It could be that they already used them up on the convoy before.

The Ukrainian soldiers on the BRDMs dismounted and hit the ditch right next to them. A few also took cover behind the poles on the road but got engaged by grenades. All in all, the front BRDM and its men were hit harder by the ambush. They spread out much further than the men from the second BRDM and it appeared they needed much longer time to evacuate.

The second BRDM started a retreat while the first one remained at the scene when the video ends. It very likely that these two BRDMs were later destroyed on that road as the pictures of lost Ukrainian BRDM show. There are no other reports about confirmed losses during that battle when it comes to men. No Russian or Ukrainian numbers from this particular clash were released.

August 25, 2022 – Serpents, grass snakes, sun-baked plain — that is how the Ukrainian south from the Donbas and Sloboda — Ukrainian lands where the frontlines also lay. On this sunburnt plain, where the possibility of life seems somewhat illusory, the Ukrainian military has been living underground for several months. Life, it turns out, can go on here. Someone managed to propose to his girlfriend, someone got a dog — right here, in the dugouts. We saw firsthand what it costs for the Ukrainian army to move deeper into the Kherson region. And what the Ukrainian counteroffensive is like here.

One of the fighters Nastia and Kolian met here was killed two days later in a battle in a new, recently taken up position. Life here wins over death, even though death stands side by side – just in the next trench, in the next position, on the next task. The material was created in frame of «Life in War» project with the support of Public Interest Journalism Lab and IWM.

October 19, 2022 – On March 1 Dmytro Bahnenko, a journalist in Kherson, southern Ukraine, watched Russian tanks roll down his street. As his world, like many Ukrainians’, turned upside down, he secretly started filming everything around him, sensing history in the making, and sharing the footage with BBC Eye. Over the next three months Dmytro records his city’s resistance. Acts of defiance, including large demonstrations are followed by a violent crackdown. The city changes. Food and medicine become scarce. Russian military vehicles marked with the “Z” speed up and down Kherson streets.

Shelling is heard round the clock. Many people flee. Friends and prominent local people start to disappear – others are put through mock executions. As the Russians make their intentions clearer, Dmytro and his wife Lidia struggle to shelter their five-year-old daughter Ksusha from what is happening. The documentary is filled with colorful detail of how the young family find ways of coping as their city is steadily stripped of its Ukrainian identity. Dmytro realizes just how dangerous his secret project is when a pro-Ukrainian priest he has been filming is kidnapped and tortured by unidentified men from the Russian security services.

October 20, 2022 – Russia is scrambling to pull its military personnel and citizens out of the city of Kherson ahead of a Ukrainian counter-offensive. Ukrainian father Dmytro Bahnenko reflects on the months he and his family lived there under occupation and secretly filmed for BBC Eye at great personal risk. Dmytro, whose day job had been as a local reporter, never thought he’d be filming the invasion of his home city. Along with his wife Lidia, Dmytro struggles to shelter their five-year-old daughter Ksusha from the war as she increasingly senses the danger around her. Kherson was the first major city to fall to Russian forces when they invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 and he began filming the family’s lives when Russian soldiers first marched past their window on March 1.

November 19, 2022 – “They tortured us. It was frightening even to hear it. You’re trying to take a nap, but you hear everything happening in the neighboring cells,” says Maksym Negrov, who was held captive by the Russians in Kherson for two months. The occupiers made a torture chamber for Kherson residents in the local temporary detention center. People’s screams could be heard from the building at night. In the store next to the torture chamber, the saleswoman saw the hearses coming to the detention center. A pungent stench was wafting through the city. During these months in captivity, Maxim lost 15 kilograms and “celebrated” his birthday. Maksym says that thoughts about his future grandchildren helped him endure all this. How Maksym Negrov survived being captured by the Russians – in the hromadske’s video.

November 20, 2022 – In March, Newsy spoke via video conference with the director of an orphanage in Kherson, Ukraine. Now, correspondent Jason Bellini travels to the newly liberated city to find out how he protected most of the children from being taken from the Russians.

November 25, 2022 – The small village of Novooleksandrivka, Kherson region, was under Russian occupation for six months. Before the war, the population here was more than a thousand people, now it is about 200. Now there is no communication, water, electricity and gas in Novooleksandrivka. Equipment and plain water are brought here, as well as humanitarian aid, but with the onset of cold weather, life here seems less and less possible, but even so, the locals are not going to leave their native land and believe in the soonest possible restoration.

December 1, 2022 – In February, the tankmen of the 59th Brigade heroically broke through the encirclement near Oleshky, ensuring the exit of the Ukrainian military. Now they have returned to Kherson region, which was liberated with heavy fighting. After the offensive in the South, the tankmen have an operational pause: they are repairing captured Russian tanks and preparing for the next battles. «I said: the New Year we will celebrate in Kherson and the summer — on the Crimean beaches», said Yevhen Palchenko, 23-year-old Hero of Ukraine [the highest Ukrainian national title for performing an outstanding heroic act. In Kherson region, as he says, the Russians «got a big kick in the nuts» and retreated to the left bank of the Dnipro, because they could no longer rapidly deliver ammunition. Tankmen told hromadske journalists how the Armed Forces managed to liberate Kherson.

December 7, 2022 – Serhiy Mak says he spent 25 days locked in the cellar of an office building in Kherson, southern Ukraine, where he was tortured by a Russian man nicknamed “The Specialist.” Mak spoke to RFE/RL after Ukrainian forces liberated the city from Russian occupation.

December 8, 2022 – At the beginning of the Russian invasion, hundreds of volunteers joined the Kherson Territorial Defense . On February 24, they received assault rifles at the draft board office and together with it their first task was to cover the withdrawal of the Armed Forces from Kherson. Some of them without any military experience learned to shoot half an hour before the meeting with the elite Russian landing troops. After the first heavy battles for Kherson, the territorial defenders either left to the mainland or went underground for several months and only later got out of the occupation and joined the liberation of Kherson in the ranks of the 124th Separate Territorial Defense Brigade. Having returned to the city, the partisan fighters slightly raised the curtain over the Kherson underground in a conversation with hromadske.

December 9, 2022 – Kherson was the first major city in Ukraine to be occupied by the Russian army. Since the beginning of March, the residents of the port city located in the south of the country were subjected to the terror and arbitrariness of the occupiers. All access to Kherson was blocked, and the city suffered from a shortage of medicines, food, and cash. Thousands of people fled and there was scant news about those who had stayed behind.

Ukrainian television was no longer received, replaced instead by Russian state channels. Strict exit restrictions were also imposed. After more than eight months Russian forces withdrew from Kherson on 11 November 2022. But the horror of occupation will long be remembered. The film uses eyewitness accounts to describe the first days of the Russian invasion and gives a frightening impression of everyday life under occupation.

December 12, 2022 – In the Ukrainian city of Kherson, recently liberated by Ukrainian forces, joy has given way to anxiety. The Russian army may have retreated, but residents now confront a freezing winter and damaged infrastructure. A month after the Russian troops retreated from Kherson, its residents are still feeling the effects. Bombing continues on the energy infrastructure of the city, and many people are without power. ‘We’ve come to support the people. Kherson is on the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe’, says Oleksandr Kachura, a soldier deployed to bring aid shipments to residents.

After 8 months of occupation, the exodus continues. But those who cannot flee must keep on surviving. ‘Nobody works anymore. We just have to survive, to feed our children’, says Olga Skorikova, a resident. Doctor Leonid Remiga is still haunted by memories of his torture at the hands of Russian troops. ‘They invented this expression, the “Zelensky phone call”; they hang one cable in your ear and the other on the testicles, and they turn on the power’, he remembers.

December 21, 2022 – Exclusive CCTV footage obtained by Sky News from an orphanage outside the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, captures the chilling moment Russian soldiers arrived to find the children.

December 28, 2022 – Many Ukraine civilians are leaving Kherson as it comes under increasing bombardment from Russian forces. The city was one of the first places taken by Russian forces at the start of the war. It was liberated last month in a significant gain for Ukrainian troops, but civilians are now living with a daily onslaught of Russian shelling. On Tuesday, the maternity ward of a hospital was among the places shelled in the city.

December 28, 2022 – Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar said that a maternity hospital in Kherson is among the targets attacked by Russia in an intensified bombing of the city. Russia will allow soldiers mobilized to fight in Ukraine to freeze their sperm for free in cryo-banks, an admission of the risks they face on the battlefield.

March 1, 2023 – Kherson was occupied by Russians on March 1, 2022. At that time, only units of Territorial Defense remained in the city. They met the invaders in 5 directions and engaged in combat. The most tragic one took place in Buzkovyi park. A company of Territorial Defense fought the enemy forces, which, including armored vehicles, were significantly superior. Kherson residents saw the results of this battle the next day. In Buzkovyi Park, under the trees, there were torn bodies with Molotov cocktails next to them.

In total, according to the national police, 12 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in this battle. For a long time, the details of this battle remained unknown. After the de-occupation of Kherson, the participants of the battle in Buzkovyi Park returned for the first time to the place where they met the Russians on March 1. In the film Heroes of the Lilac Park, the terrorist fighters recall the battle, how snipers and armored vehicles “worked” against them, and what losses the Ukrainians inflicted on the Russians.

March 1, 2023 – Since November 2022, Russia has been releasing water from the Kakhovka Dam, thereby draining the reservoir behind it. This will cause all sorts of problems in Russian-held territory: it will flood the area downstream, it will limit the irrigation of agricultural fields to the south, and it might limit the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant’s ability to cool itself. Why is Russia doing this? The straightforward answer is that it will reduce Ukraine’s ability to initiate an attack in Kherson, thereby freeing up Russian soldiers to pursue an offensive in the north. But it also hints at the possibility that Russia is running low on soldiers, otherwise Moscow would not be willing to incur these costs.

00:00 Does Russia Have a Manpower Shortage?
00:48 The Draining of the Kakhovka Dam and Reservoir
02:18 Why Would Russia Release the Dam?
04:00 Where the Flood Goes
05:19 Irrigation Problems
06:54 The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Problem
08:22 Why Russia Is Probably Running out of Soldiers
10:04 Or Maybe Russia WAS Running out of Soldiers
11:30 Is the Russian Winter Offensive a Failure?
12:59 Boris Johnson’s Tie

June 6, 2023 – A state of emergency has been declared after a dam in a Russian-controlled part of southern Ukraine has been irrevocably damaged by an explosion, leading to flooding in the area already hit by months of conflict – Sky’s Alex Crawford has the latest from Kherson.

June 6, 2023 – Russians blew up the Nova Kakhovka Dam! | Ukrainians attacked from 3 locations! | Ukraine update.

June 6, 2023 – An explosion at the Nova Kakhovka dam in the Russia-held part of the Kherson region has reportedly breached the critical infrastructure. The wall of the dam collapsed, gushing water through the Dnipro river, that separates the areas held by the Russian and Ukrainian forces. The Russian-installed head of the city administration told Russian medias that the city of Nova Kakhovka is “flooded”. Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said nearly 1,300 people have been evacuated after 24 settlements were flooded in Kherson Oblast. Meanwhile, both Russia and Ukraine have blamed the other for destroying the dam which contains a huge reservoir. An adviser to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said the dam breach will make Kyiv’s counteroffensive in the region “impossible,” however, Russia claims otherwise.

0:00 – Introduction
0:30 – Kakhovka Dam Breach in Kherson Risks Major Disaster
2:40 – How Damage to the Dam Risks a Major Disaster
3:46 – Attack on Dam a Bid to Prevent Kyiv’s Counteroffensive?
4:53 – Russia-ukraine Blame Game Over Attack on Dam
7:04 – Kyiv and Its Allies Slam “unprecedented Attack” on Dam

June 6, 2023 – The Nova Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant has been destroyed by the Russians. The destruction of this Dam is the largest global ecological disaster since Fukushima and the largest in Europe since Chernobyl. Russia blew the dam in preparation for their retreat from the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in anticipation of Ukraine’s upcoming counteroffensive.

June 6, 2023 – Today, the Nova Kakhovka Dam was destroyed by the Russians. It was quietly a critical piece of Ukrainian infrastructure: drying a flood plain, providing electricity, guaranteeing a nuclear power plant’s safety, and irrigating the regions south. This video looks at the consequences of its destruction, and how it will play into Ukraine’s upcoming (or ongoing?) counteroffensive.

0:00 The Nova Kakhovka Dam Breached
0:35 Humanitarian Problems
3:19 Military Implications
4:50 Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
7:03 Drying Out the Crimean Canal

August 01, 2023 – Day 524 – Today there is a lot of news from the south. First of all, today, Ukrainian forces conducted a devastating HIMARS strike on 5 Russian camps on the Dzharylhach island, which is in front of Skadovsk. Apparently, the recent drone strike on Crimea revealed a weakness in Russian air space, and Ukrainians found out that they could operate in the sky in the deep rear quite freely. A Ukrainian reconnaissance drone operator flew by the southern shore of the Kherson region and identified a relatively big Russian base on the Dzharylhach island. The operator found out that Russian forces felt quite comfortable and relaxed. And this is not surprising as the base is located more than 85 km from the contact line on the opposite side of the Kherson region. Even though they dug the trenched along the shore, nobody really expected a large-scale amphibious operation in this region. That is why Russian soldiers felt safe and accumulated a lot of trucks and equipment in plain sight.

But this is not the biggest mistake Russians made. Since the base is far from the front line, Russian commanders took a chance to exercise their authority at the expense of operational security by assembling everyone outside every morning. Ukrainian drone operator witnessed precisely that and marked the precise areas that all 5 Russian detachments used every morning to assemble in lines. This was a fatal mistake as today in the morning, Ukrainians waited until all Russian detachments assembled outside and eliminated all 5 detachments virtually simultaneously. Next, it seems like Ukrainians decided to take out equipment as well. The total Russian losses are estimated to be up to 200 soldiers.

Russian sources circulated the footage and blamed the Russian commanders for keeping their pre-war and bureaucratic mentality. Russian analysts viciously critiqued the responsible people who got everyone killed, including themselves. Speaking about bad practices, Russian forces continue losing a lot of troops and equipment by continuing to use big columns near the front line. 2 weeks ago, Ukrainians spotted a Russian column near Ocheretuvate, which is only 15 km away from the hottest part of the front line. Ukrainians swiftly conducted a strike and destroyed the whole column. Russian sources published footage showing the aftermath of the strike and confirming that there was nothing left. Interestingly, 2 weeks prior to that strike, Ukrainians destroyed another Russian column on the same front. Geolocated footage shows that Russians lost 7 trucks loaded with ammunition and possibly personnel.

So, every 2 weeks, Russians lose their forces in bulk because of the refusal of Russian commanders to adjust to the realities of war. Some said that if 17 months of war and dozens of such cases did not teach them anything, then they are unlikely to adjust their practices in the future. Today Russian sources also reported that Ukrainians conducted another marine drone strike on the Russian warships. This time the target of the strike became 2 Russian patrol ships that are blocking access to the Ukrainian harbors and preventing the export of grain. The Russian Ministry of Defense reported that Ukrainians attacked the ships with 3 drones and that Russians successfully destroyed them with machine guns. Some less prominent Russian sources mentioned that Russian soldiers on the ship claimed that catching drones was tricky, and one of them was shot down only 200 meters from the ship, so if they detected it half a minute later, there would have been a high chance that the kamikaze drone would hit the ship.

Finally, today another explosion happened in Sevastopol. If the previous explosion that happened several days ago was made by saboteurs who set explosives on the Russian ammunition depot, then today’s explosion happened in the aftermath of a successful drone strike. Russian military and media once again tried to restrict access to the area and reported that all drones were shot down. Unfortunately for Russians, the mushroom of smoke from the explosion could be seen miles away. The head of Sevastopol claimed that the drone was intercepted and that all facilities are intact, and that the smoke that people saw was just from the burning grass. Ukrainian sources reported that, judging by the footage, Russian lost another ammunition depot.

August 10, 2023 – Update from Ukraine! Raid on Russian outpost by Ukrainian Shamans! Critical end for Russian generals!

August 13, 2023 – Largest port in Russia has returned to hell! Critical raid on secret Russian shipment from Ukraine!

August 14, 2023 – Ukraine has confirmed that its forces took part in a mission on the left bank of the Dnipro River without giving many details on the raid. Around 50 Ukrainian troops reportedly mounted a special forces raid under the cover of darkness along the Dnipro River. British Intelligence claims Ukrainian raids and small-scale engagements across the Dnipro River have left Russian commanders in a “dilemma.” Experts say Kyiv’s latest counteroffensive strategy is likely to pin down Russian forces and create multiple bridgeheads for a future broader attack.

August 15, 2023 – Crisis in Russian defenses – weakness found – Ukraine war map update.

September 5, 2023 – Small, secret boat raids along the Dnipro River are playing an outsized role in Ukraine’s counteroffensive strategy – revealing cracks in Russia’s southern front and creating tough choices for Russian commanders. Slipping through Russian defenses here could allow Kyiv to cut off Russian supply routes and reach Crimea’s doorstep.

0:00 Secret Ukrainian River Raids
0:28 Importance of Dnipro River
1:18 How Ukrainians Execute River Raids
1:43 Penetrating the front line
2:27 Stretching out Russian forces

September 7, 2023 – Russians in panic – insane battle on the southern front – Russian army is running out of men.

November 16, 2023 – Ukraine’s foothold on the left bank of the Dnipro River can be the most important development on the frontline for over a year. If they manage to expand it into a real bridgehead, that will change the dynamics of the entire battlefront.

0:00 Breaking the stalemate
0:39 The frontline of 2023
1:50 The river
3:23 The Ukrainian foothold
4:21 A Russian withdrawal?
5:31 What is a more favorable position? 6:29 The Russian dilemma
7:56 After Russia’s current offensive