Ukraine advances on southern front as Zelensky assesses preparations for winter

By Isaac M October 4, 2023

Ukrainian forces were advancing in the southern front and inflicted more than 260 losses on the battlefield, a top general said on Tuesday.

“In the Tavria sector, there has been an advance by the defence forces,” Ukrainian general Oleksander Tarnavskyi said in a Telegram post, using the military’s name for the southern front. He did not provide more details of the territorial feats.

This came as president Volodymyr Zelensky visited troops on one of the hottest fronts of the war with Russia and discussed the situation with the leading commanders in the country’s northeast.

Mr Zelensky also discussed the winter preparations in Kharkiv as Kyiv expected an escalation of Russia’s strikes on energy infrastructure.

General Tarnavskyi is leading the military operations in southern Ukraine – one of the two theatres of the counteroffensive to push back Russia’s invading forces.

He said his troops conducted 1,198 assignments in the past 24 hours, with Russian forces sustaining losses of 261 men and a further 10 being taken prisoner.

Tavria has seen consistent Russian losses in the past month, with more than a thousand Russian troops killed, injured, and captured alive in just last week, general Tarnavskyi said.

The gains on the battlefield were further corroborated by the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces who said offensive operations were proceeding in the east and south.

It reported Russian airstrikes in southeastern Zaporizhzhia region as Kyiv’s forces aimed to advance on their drive from south to the Sea of Azov.

Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks in areas of Donetsk region already recaptured by Kyiv and around the long-contested town of Maryinka further west, the latest battlefield report added.

“It is extremely important that Kharkiv, despite everything, not only holds on but helps to keep our entire east strong,” Mr Zelensky said.

Kharkiv, a key target for Russia and Ukraine’s second largest city, has not fallen to Russian control since the invasion began in February last year.

Mr Zelensky said he had been near Kharkiv and heard from Oleksandr Syrskyi – the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces – on defence in the area and on offensive actions further south, near Bakhmut.

He also met brigades fighting near the northeastern towns of Kupiansk and Lyman, he said.

“We met with brigade and battalion commanders to discuss the battlefield situation, pressing issues, and needs,” he said. Photos showed him meeting soldiers in a poorly lighted room.

Video footage shared by Kyiv showed Mr Zelensky shaking hands with troops, inspecting equipment supplied by Western countries as he sat at a long table with commanders and being briefed by an officer standing in front of a map.

According to the military analysts, Ukrainian forces have consolidated positions and gained ground around the village of Verbove on their southward drive.

The drive in the east has focused on recovering land around the devastated town of Bakhmut, seized by Russian forces in May after months of heavy fighting.

The Institute for the Study of War mentioned the offensive operations in the Melitopol direction and military offensive in the Bakhmut direction.

“Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks near Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) and Andriivka (10km south of Bakhmut) south of Bakhmut and on the Kopani-Robotyne-Verbove line (11-18km southwest to southeast of Orikhiv) in western Zaporizhia oblast,” the institute said, hinting at similar encounters recorded by Russia.

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