Ukraine asks Kherson residents for self-imposed news blackout as key counteroffensive looms

A Ukrainian attack to seize back the key city could be one of the bloodiest battles of the war, as Kyiv seek to dislodge Russian troops who have spents weeks preparing hardened defences

Ukrainian artillery shells are checked before transportation to the front line in Kherson last week (Photo: Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty)

Ukraine has asked its citizens to put in place a voluntary news blackout in the key region of Kherson, a move interpreted as providing cover for a long-awaited counteroffensive aimed at pushing back Kremlin troops.

A senior administrator posted messages over the weekend asking people in the strategic southern region to refrain from putting any information in the public domain and to await official updates on Ukrainian military activities.

Kherson is considered a gateway to Crimea, which is occupied by Russia and acts as a key staging post for supplying and transporting Moscow’s armed forces.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said the instructions from Sherhiy Khlan – an adviser to the Ukrainian authorities in Kherson – were among growing indications that a potentially game-changing counterattack by Kyiv’s forces has begun or is in the final stages of preparation.

This weekend, a Pentagon official was reported to have acknowledged successful Ukrainian attacks to reclaim unspecified villages in the area, while the UK Ministry of Defence reported “heavy fighting” in the region.

In a Facebook post, Mr Khlan said: “Do not disseminate important information until official release. There are newly assaulted villages – this is confirmed by American intelligence, there are gains. But you need to remain silent.”

A Ukrainian assault is likely to presage perhaps the most attritional phase yet of the four-month war, with Kyiv’s troops seeking to dislodge Kremlin forces who have had months to prepare and reinforce defences in and around Kherson city, the main urban centre in the region.

Hitherto, Moscow is thought to have stationed less able military units, with older, sometimes antique, equipment, in the region, while concentrating its most effective combat units in Donbas in the east.

However, Russian forces in southern Ukraine are reported to have been instructed by Moscow to build hardened shelters and extensive trenches. Images posted on social media show trucks transporting prefabricated pillboxes – a defensive military structure – into the region.

Kherson city, which was seized in the early days of the war by Kremlin troops, is widely regarded as a key target for sides.

It is the only major Russian-held town on the western bank on the Dnipro river – offering Moscow a potential land route towards the Black Sea port of Odesa.

However, more significantly, if Kyiv can retake it, it offers the possibility of rolling the invaders back towards Crimea.

ISW said the sparse population in the area to be contested meant it was likely there would be a time-lag in tracking any Ukrainian progress on the battlefield.

In its latest assessment, the US think tank said: “The area between the front line and Kherson city is rural and primarily composed of small settlements that are less likely to report on force movements and engagements, allowing control-of-terrain in this area to change without evidence appearing in open-source reporting.”

The voluntary information curfew in Ukrainian-held territory contrasted with moves in Russian-occupied areas, including Kherson, to forcibly restrict access to non-Russian news and media sources.

This weekend, the heads of Kremlin-appointed authorities in Kherson and neighbouring Zaporizhzhia regions announced plans to start restricting online access to Google and YouTube, which would prevent the population from accessing Ukrainian and Western websites ahead of efforts by Moscow to formally annex occupied territory.

The Kremlin-appointed Zaporizhzhia regional administration also unveiled a decree setting out preparations for a referendum this autumn on joining the area to Russia.

https://inews.co.uk/news/ukraine-asks-kherson-residents-news-blackout-counteroffensive-battle-russia-defence-1759214

3 comments

  1. “Do not disseminate important information until official release. There are newly assaulted villages – this is confirmed by American intelligence, there are gains. But you need to remain silent.”

    A sensible measure. With reckless blathering, civilians often give away valuable info to the enemy without even knowing it.

    “…Russian forces in southern Ukraine are reported to have been instructed by Moscow to build hardened shelters and extensive trenches.”

    Useless measures by the cockroaches if UA forces have inventive plans to circumvent them or to make sections innocuous.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The Ukrainian army are doing God’s work. The enemy is a horde of foul, sewer-dwelling degenerates. God willing, Kherson oblast will be completely cleared of putinazi vermin.

    Liked by 3 people

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