Explosions erupted across Russia and Russian-occupied Ukraine on Thursday evening as Ukrainian forces stepped up their week-long campaign of deep strikes on Russian logistics and airfields.
The explosions, targeting munitions dumps, airfields and other facilities, could disrupt supply lines and air operations and further isolate Russian troops in Ukraine, particularly in the south, where Kyiv is struggling to organize a counter-offensive aimed at liberating the port of Kherson from Russian forces. occupants.
The strikes began around sunset. An ammunition depot exploded in Timonovo, in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, 20 miles from the border with northeastern Ukraine. A fire also broke out at Stary Oskol airfield in Belgorod.
Meanwhile, something exploded at Nova Kakhovka on the bank of the Dnipro River 30 miles east of Kherson. It was the second time in 24 hours that the Ukrainians struck Russian installations in the city.
Around the same time, Russian air defenses reportedly opened fire around Belbek airport in western Crimea. and near the Kerch Strait in the east of the peninsula.
It is not entirely clear that all of the explosions were the result of Ukrainian attacks, but the locations of the fires are consistent with Kyiv’s ongoing campaign of deep strikes. This campaign focused on battlefield training in southern Ukraine while attacking Russian supply centers and airfields around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s most vulnerable free city, just 25 miles from the border with Russia in the northeast.
The strikes from the south coincide with a Ukrainian counter-offensive on the ground. In May, Ukrainian battalions forcibly crossed the Inhulets River, a natural defensive line that for months had separated Russians and Ukrainians north of Kherson.
But the Ukrainians apparently did not advance very far beyond their river lodges. The Russian 49th Combined Arms Army with its dozen battalions stood between the counterattackers and Kherson. And more Russian battalions arrived in July and August as the Kremlin recognized the danger to its position in the south.
As Ukrainian tankers and infantry idled just across the Inhulets, Ukrainian gunners, rockets, missile crews and drone operators launched coordinated strikes on the supply lines of the 49th CAA as well as on air bases directly supporting the southern army.
Ukrainian artillery – possibly 227 millimeter rockets from high mobility artillery rocket systems or 155 millimeter guns firing Excalibur GPS-guided shells – in late July and early August temporarily destroyed the three bridges spanning the Dnipro and the Inhulets near Kherson.
Two weeks later, in mid-August, the Ukrainians added airfields to their target list. An August 9 attack on Saki air base in Crimea potentially destroyed dozens of Su-24 and Su-30 fighter jets belonging to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. This raid bore the hallmarks of a ballistic missile strike. Namely, wide and deep craters.
But Saki’s distance from the front – 120 miles – indicated a new type of Ukrainian missile. Tochka ballistic missiles, which make up the bulk of the Ukrainian military’s long-range rocket inventory, normally fly no farther than about 70 miles.
Kyiv was developing several new types of longer-range rockets when Russia expanded its war against Ukraine in late February. It is possible that some of these new rockets eventually entered service.
Commandos and partisans are believed to be responsible for some of the Ukrainian deep strikes. It is obvious that drones represent the balance. A Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle reportedly blew up an ammunition dump at a Russian airfield near Hvardiiske in Crimea on Tuesday.
While the Ukrainian Air Force and Navy both use Turkish-made TB-2 armed drones, Kyvi’s robotic weapon of choice appears to be custom-built “suicide” drones carrying high explosives. Their operators direct them either to their targets or ground on targets before detonating their payloads.
The Russians are fully aware of the threat. Thursday night’s heavy air defense fire is proof of that.
It is obvious that Ukraine is determined to hit Russian supply lines and airbases. Russia, despite all its heavy losses in six months of fighting, still has a numerical advantage over Ukraine in infantry, tanks, artillery and warplanes.
The Ukrainians cannot hope to match the Russians company for company, battalion for battalion, brigade for brigade, at least not when the Russian formations are adequately supported and supplied.
But if the Ukrainians can cut off the 49th CAA and other Russian armies from their supplies and air support, they could starve and weaken those units. before launch a major ground assault.
This strangulation attempt got much tighter on Thursday night as Russian base after Russian base exploded and burned.