Zelensky Aide Claims Big Win in Kherson, Russians Caught With 'Pants Down'

Troops and equipment from a Russian battalion tactical group (BTG) were destroyed by Kyiv's forces fighting a counteroffensive in the southern Kherson region, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has said.

Oleksiy Arestovych said that Ukrainian troops capitalized on tactical errors made by Russian forces who were trying to advance near the village of Inhulets by the river of the same name.

He said that Russian forces were about to attack using air defense, tanks and other equipment but coordination from Moscow's military command was conducted "very poorly."

"And our [troops] again caught them with their pants down. I won't say it took place on the night before the offensive, but a very short time before it, when they were in their most vulnerable position," Arestovych told YouTube channel Feygin Live on Thursday, hosted by lawyer and former Russian opposition politician, Mark Feygin.

Arestovych said that Ukrainian forces organized three crossings of the river and created a bridgehead from where they targeted Russian forces, who lost dozens of pieces of equipment and at least a hundred troops. He said that there were Ukrainian losses but the Russian BTG was wiped out.

Kherson was seized by Russian troops early in the war and its liberation would be gradual, according to Arestovych, who said Kyiv's forces would not storm the region's main city.

The Russian Ministry of Defense, which Newsweek contacted for comment, did not mention the Kherson region in its daily update on Thursday although it rarely acknowledges military setbacks.

Arestovych didn't specify when the attack took place. However, his comments chime with those made by the head of the Kherson regional military association, Hennadiy Lahuta, who said on Thursday that Ukrainian forces were progressing in the Kherson region and had "liberated" 20 small towns and villages.

The Kherson region forms part of a strip of land Russia occupies between Crimea and the Donbas and is strategically important for Moscow. Controlling the coast has allowed Russia to block Ukraine from exporting grain and other products from its Black Sea ports, raising fears of a global hunger crisis.

Meanwhile, in its daily assessment on the 100th day since the start of President Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, British defense officials said that Russia "is now achieving tactical success in the Donbas," although it pointed out that "none of the strategic objectives" that Putin intended "have been achieved."

The U.K. Ministry of Defence said that Russian forces "appear to hold the initiative over Ukrainian opposition" in the region. It now controls over 90 percent of the Luhansk region over which it is likely to have "complete control over in the next two weeks," the defense ministry added.

Russian troops in Kherson, Ukraine
Russian servicemen are seen on a roadside in the Kherson region on May 19, 2022. A Ukrainian presidential adviser said a Russian battalion was destroyed by Kyiv's forces in the southern region. OLGA MALTSEVA/Getty Images