The past week saw the most ambitious ground attack by Ukrainians since the start of the invasion, according to video and satellite imagery geolocation.
“The first thing we saw in the Kherson area was the continued offensive operations by the Ukrainians,” said the Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brigadier General. General Pat Ryder told reporters. “They continue to advance. We are aware that they have recaptured some villages.”
Ryder also said the US had seen “aggressive Russian activity … near Bahmut.”
According to Ukrainian officials, the goal is to capture at least all territory north or west of the Dnipro River, which includes not only the city of Kherson, but also Nova Kakhovka, the site of an important hydroelectric power station, It also includes canals that supply Crimea with many goods. of that water.
At the same time, the Ukrainian military is stepping up its offensive in eastern Ukraine to prevent Russia from shifting troops south to repel a Ukrainian counterattack, said a US official. Recently, Ukrainian forces advanced toward Russian supply lines south of Kharkov, taking several villages and towns in the process.
The current offensive in the south is spread over 100 miles wide to prevent Russian forces from concentrating. In addition, sabotage and attacks on pro-Russian officials in occupied territories are on the rise.
U.S. officials have admitted that Ukraine’s goal of retaking Kherson by the end of 2022 is ambitious, but is still possible if Ukraine continues to advance on its current operations.
Ukraine has publicly stated its intention to launch a major counteroffensive to recapture territories lost to Russia in the six-month war.
And even before Ukrainian forces began stepping up rocket and missile fire on the front lines in southern Ukraine, Kyiv was actively sabotaging Russian supply efforts and command and control across the region.
Those talks included engaging in a “war game” with Kyiv, sources said. This analytical exercise was intended to help the Ukrainian Armed Forces understand the force levels needed to succeed in different scenarios.
CNN’s Paul LeBlanc, Katie Bo Lillis, and Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.