Speed Reads

Battle for Kherson

Russian occupation officials 'paused' referendum on Ukraine's Kherson joining Russia

Plans to hold a "referendum" in Ukraine's occupied Kherson province on whether to join Russia are "being paused because of the security situation," Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of Kherson's Russian-appointed administration, told Russian media on Monday. Stremousov said Ukrainian shelling has made key bridges across the Dnipro River unsafe to cross, but he also cited Ukrainian threats to punish anyone who participates what it deems an illegal sham vote. 

"The Ukrainian Resistance Center similarly reported that Russian occupation authorities are abandoning plans for referenda due to the ongoing counteroffensive" by Ukrainian forces, the Institute for the Study of War think tank reported Monday. "Shortly after TASS published his comment, Stremousov posted on Telegram denying he called for a pause because his administration had never set an official date for the referendum. Both of Stremousov's statements indicate a high level of disorganization within occupation regimes that is likely being exacerbated by the effects of the counteroffensive."

Ukraine's military intelligence also said Monday that the country's special forces had attacked a military base in occupied Zaporizhzhia region, destroying the "base of the unit of the Russian FSB, which guarded the warehouse of ballots," as well as "all existing printed materials" for Russia's planned referendum in that region. 

Ukraine's military is maintaining its "operational silence" about the Kherson counteroffensive, but it's clearly "tangibly degrading Russian logistics and administrative capabilities in occupied southern Ukraine," ISW assessed Monday

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