According to various reports, it would appear that Ukraine has been conducting successful counterattacks and mopping-up operations in four fronts of the conflict. The countryside around Kherson and Mykolaiv is increasingly in Ukrainian hands, which may threaten to isolate Russian units south of Kryvyi Rih against the wide Dnieper river if progress is made to cut off the crossing at Kakhova.
With the recapture of Trostyanets, and reports of Ukrainian troops operating in Slavhorod and Krasnopolia, it would appear that the main Kharkiv-Sumy route has been reopened. Despite coming under attack from the Russians since the very start of the conflict, resistance in and around Sumy appears to have been highly effective. Fighting around Kharkiv appears to have cleared several areas of the countryside, capturing at least a dozen Russian troops (we do not show videos of captured POWs here). Finally, operations to the northeast of Kiev appear to have cleared some of the countryside and reopened the main road towards Chernihiv.
Russian air defences were recorded apparently engaging targets over Sevastopol, in the Crimea.
Near Luhansk, the towns of Lysychansk, Ruizhne, and Sievierodonetsk were subject to intense bombardment on day 31.
Russian TOS-1A MLRS systems were recorded bombarding targets near Kamienka, south of some way south of Kharkiv.
The bombardment of Kharkiv continued, with shellfire recorded by local residents.
It appears that four Russian missiles were shot down by air defences north of Lviv. Ukraine claims to have downed 18 objects on day 31, including twelve Russian drones and five missiles.
Evacuation buses have arrived in Zaporizhzhia from the occupied port city of Berdyansk, according to the regional administration.
South Ossetia, a separatist republic broken away from Georgia in a 2008 war with Russia, claims to have sent its troops into Ukraine to support Russia.
During speeches in Poland, US President Biden appeared to call for regime change in Russia, stating that ‘Vladimir Putin cannot remain in power’. The White House later released a contradictory statement claiming that ‘Biden’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.’ This is not the first time that the President’s statements have been ‘corrected’ by the White House, apparently without consulting Mr Biden; this highlights a strange power dynamic within the US leadership.
In Russia-occupied areas, local officials such as mayors are frequently subject to detention by the occupiers (often termed ‘kidnapping’ in Western media). While there have been too many such instances to fully keep track of, the treatment of these officials will be important to follow. Some officials have already been released following a brief detention, while others appear to remain detained. Russia has experienced difficulty in finding pro-Russian locals to replace the detained individuals in administering captured towns, since these people appear to be few in number and viewed as Quislings or collaborators by the occupied population. Today, the mayor of Slavutych, Yurii Fomichev, was apparently released by occupying soldiers after a protest by local residents.
Photo Credit: Ministry of Defence of Ukraine. CC-SA-2.0.