Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of four administrative regions of Ukraine after local referendums on the question of politically joining Russia that were widely recognized as total shams — but the Russian military didn’t and still doesn’t control the entirety of these areas amid Putin’s war against Ukraine.
Among the regions targeted for annexation was Kherson, and new information from a Ukrainian military spokeswoman, Natalia Humeniuk, indicates that Ukrainian troops have — in less than a week — reclaimed territory in the region that, for perspective, is around three times the total area of the city of Kherson, which had a prewar population of over a quarter million. “We have advanced sufficiently. We cannot specify the axes but it is safe to say that over 400 square kilometers of the Kherson Oblast were liberated from the occupiers,” Humeniuk said, per a version of her comments shared in English by Ukrainska Pravda, a Ukrainian news outlet. “We are advancing further,” she added. Comments attributed to Humeniuk in reporting from AFP phrase the situation in slightly different terms. “The Armed Forces of Ukraine have liberated more than 400 square kilometers of the Kherson region since the beginning of October,” she explained, per that source.
Per info from Ukrainska Pravda, Humeniuk also spoke about continuing threats from Russian strikes on liberated territory some distance from the front lines. The U.S. recently announced additional aid to Ukraine to help interests in the country in dealing with that threat, unveiling nearly half a billion dollars worth of aid for civilian security agencies, including those working in both law enforcement and criminal justice. Officials in the latter area in Ukraine’s government are currently working on the prosecution of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, for which the U.S. State Department announcement specified support. “In addition to expanding our direct assistance to Ukrainian law enforcement, a portion of this new assistance will also continue U.S. support for the Ukrainian government’s efforts to document, investigate, and prosecute atrocities perpetrated by Russia’s forces,” per the statement, attributed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Past U.S. support for civilian security personnel, which extends beyond that announcement, has included “personal protective equipment, medical supplies, and armored vehicles,” he said. The U.S. is also continuing its defense support for Ukraine, including the provision of weapons. Across the country, Ukrainian forces are making significant territorial gains, having recently pushed Russian forces from Lyman, which is in the country’s Donetsk region — another locale Putin claimed to annex. Surviving Russian soldiers from the up to 5,000 operating around Lyman fled despite prior directives from commanders to hold the city, according to details obtained by a Western defense official cited in The Washington Post. “But in Lyman, we think that the Russian troops retreated despite orders to defend and remain,” they said. “Relinquishing this area is exactly what the Kremlin did not want to happen.”