Map Shows 'Verifiable Progress' in Ukraine Counteroffensive: ISW

A map released by the Institute for the Study of War shows that Ukraine has made "verifiable progress" in its counteroffensive in the southern region of Kherson.

"The #Ukrainian counteroffensive is making verifiable progress in the south and the east," the think tank tweeted late Sunday. "Ukrainian forces are advancing along several axes in western #Kherson Oblast and have secured territory across the Siverskyi Donets River in #Donetsk Oblast."

The map shows the progress on the Siverskyi Donets River is close to the eastern city of Kharkiv, which fell to the Russians in mid-May after three months of heavy bombardment.

The diagram also shows that Ukraine liberated at least three villages in the south and the east of the country, while Russians made some advances near Soledar in Donetsk and made new claims over Arkhanhelske.

Ukraine map
A new map released by the Institute for The Study of War think tank shows that Ukraine has made “verifiable progress” in its counter offensive in the southern region of Kherson. The Institue for The Study of War

"The pace of the counteroffensive will likely change dramatically from day to day as Ukrainian forces work to starve the Russians of necessary supplies, disrupt their command and control, and weaken their morale even as counteroffensive ground assaults continue," an ISW report released with the map said.

"The Russians will occasionally counterattack and regain some lost ground and will of course conduct likely fierce artillery and air attacks against liberated settlements and advancing Ukrainian troops. Ukrainian forces have made substantial enough progress to begin evoking more realistic commentary from the Russian milbloggers, who had been hewing very closely to the Kremlin's optimistic rhetoric until today," it added.

Newsweek has contacted the ISW and other military experts for further comment.

Ukraine launched its counteroffensive in the Russian-held territory in Kherson on August 29, a region that fell to Russia on March 3, only a week after Moscow invaded its neighbor. Ukrainian forces have been continuously striking Russian ground lines of communication, ammunition depots, as well as key supply routes from the Crimean Peninsula.

Kherson Oblast is strategically important, as it is a gateway to Crimea which Moscow seized in 2014. If Ukraine recaptures Kherson, it could provide it launch pad to take back Crimea.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday claimed a series of successes in the counteroffensive against the Russian military—taking back two settlements in southern Ukraine and one in Donetsk. On Sunday, Ukraine took back the village of Vysokopillia in Kherson and raised its flag over a hospital. The other two settlements were not named.

Meanwhile, Russian plans for a referendum on Kherson's independence from Ukraine have been paused "for security reasons," Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the military-civilian administration (CAA) of the region, said on Monday.

"We prepared for the vote, we wanted to have a referendum in the near future, but because of all the events that have happened now, I think that for now we will pause. This will be understandably practical, because we are not running forward and the main task we are fulfilling—to feed the population, to secure the population," he said on Russia's state-owned Rossiya-1 TV channel.

Speaking to Newsweek, The Intel Hub military analyst said that Ukraine needs to be "very careful" in its counteroffensive due to availability of troops.

"They need to focus on shaping with fires creating pockets and then using maneuver elements once Russian forces are under strength and separated from logistic support. We likely won't see a massive push, if we do it could be dangerous for Ukraine. If they face over attrition they will have a hard time even with defensive operations down the road," the analyst said.

"The shift to more so offensive operations is massive because it's either the time for Ukraine to gain and maintain at least some initiative in their favor before winter sets in. However if they over commit and do not wisely identify decision points it could very well end up badly for Ukraine after winter if Russia is able to hold off their offensive attempts and reinforce."

The analyst said Ukraine's counteroffensives will "likely be focused on tactical advances focusing on pockets and encircled Russian elements after enabling with fires via shaping operations taking advantage of next few months until winter."

This strategy would prevent Ukraine losing large amounts of forces while still regaining terrain before mud and snow hamper mobility, the analyst said.

Update 09/05/2022, 9:53 a.m. ET: This article was updated with quotes from a Russia-Ukraine analyst.