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Ukraine war latest: Intelligence says Russia prepares ‘terrorist attacks’ in Kherson Oblast in anticipation of Ukraine’s ‘speedy’ advance

by Asami Terajima October 21, 2022 11:25 PM 4 min read
Russian soldiers stand near Moscow-held Kakhovka hydroelectric power station in the occupied territory of Kherson Oblast in Ukraine's south. (Defense Ministry's Intelligence Directorate)
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Key developments on Oct. 21
  • Ukraine’s intelligence says Russia mined Kakhovka dam in April
  • Ukraine says it liberated 88 settlements in Kherson Oblast, 551 in Kharkiv Oblast
  • PM: Dozens of energy facilities damaged by Russian attacks in 10 days
  • Russia fires 4 missile strikes, 10 airstrikes across Ukraine

Ukraine amplified its claim about Russia preparing to blow up a major dam holding an enormous reservoir in the Moscow-held part of Kherson Oblast on Oct. 21.

The Ukrainian intelligence said that Russian forces had planted explosives at the Kakhovka dam back in April and that it’s a long-standing plan. A day earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of planning to cause “a historical disaster” by blowing up the dam and flooding over 80 settlements.

The Kakhovka dam is located on the Dnipro River in the largely occupied Kherson Oblast in the south of Ukraine. As Ukrainian forces are steadily advancing toward the regional capital, Kherson, amid the ongoing counteroffensive, Russia’s proxies fled the city. Occupied since early March, Kherson is the only regional capital that Moscow managed to capture since the beginning of its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24.

This week, Russian forces had planted additional explosives at the Kakhovka hydroelectric station, according to the intelligence, as they expect Ukraine’s “speedy liberation” of the occupied territory on the west bank of the Dnipro River.

“(Russians) are preparing a series of terrorist attacks on this territory,” the Defense Ministry's Intelligence Directorate said.

Kyiv’s accusations come as Ukraine reports new achievements in its ongoing counteroffensive in the south.

Deputy Head of President's Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on Oct. 21 that Ukrainian forces had liberated 88 towns and villages in Kherson Oblast. He added that critical infrastructure is currently being restored in the liberated areas.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a U.S. defense think-tank, said on Oct. 20 that “continued Russian preparation for a false-flag attack” on the Kakhovka dam is likely meant to steer away attention from Moscow’s battlefield losses in the south.

Zelensky said in his evening address that Ukrainian forces are showing “good results” in Kherson Oblast. According to him, the Ukrainian military has seized over 30 Russian armored vehicles and a thousands of munitions in the oblast in October.

As Ukraine sets its sights on liberating Kherson, Russian proxies try to push people out

Battlefield development

More than a month after launching its northeastern counteroffensive, Ukraine’s military had liberated 551 towns and villages in Kharkiv Oblast, Tymoshenko said on Telegram. This leaves about 2% of the region still occupied by Russia, according to its governor Oleh Syniehubov.

Ukraine’s General Staff reported that the Russian military “does not stop trying” to launch an offensive in the directions of Bakhmut and Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast.

Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said the situation in Bakhmut remains “extremely tense,” with Russian forces shelling along the front line.

In the rest of the region, the Ukrainian military repelled attacks near Lyman, Soledar, Ozarianivka, Odradivka, and Pervomaiske, according to the General Staff.

In easternmost Luhansk Oblast, most of which is under Russian control, the Ukrainian military repelled attacks near the recently liberated villages of Bilohorivka and Zolotarivka, according to the General Staff.

Luhansk Oblast Governor Serhiy Haidai said the most intense battle is going on in the direction of the occupied town of Svatove, one of Ukraine’s next targets for liberation.

Declining Russian morale

Andrey Kartapolov, head of the Russian State Duma Committee on Defense, said on Oct. 21 that about 10,000 mobilized Russian soldiers have returned home for various reasons, Russian Interfax news agency reported.

While Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin had announced the end of mobilization in the capital earlier this week, Kartapolov said that Russia is still drafting men in St. Petersburg.

A Russian independent joint investigation study showed on Oct. 5 that Russia mobilized at least 213,200 people from 53 Russian regions in two weeks.

A growing number of reports suggest that newly mobilized recruits are already at the front line in Ukraine without adequate training.

Russian soldiers’ families are also reportedly having issues with payment which was supposed to be awarded for their relatives’ service, further declining the morale, Ukraine’s General Staff previously said on Oct. 19.

Payments are being delayed and relatives of the killed Russian soldiers are not receiving the promised compensation, according to the report.

A man takes pictures with a phone beside a damaged building in Lyman, Donetsk Oblast on Oct. 21, 2022. (Photo by Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

Casualties and attacks

Russian forces launched four missile strikes and 10 airstrikes across Ukraine on Oct. 21, according to Ukraine’s General Staff.

Donetsk Oblast Governor Kyrylenko said that nine more bodies of civilians were found in the region’s liberated territory.

Russian forces shelled a residential area in Bakhmut overnight, killing two civilians and wounding one, Kyrylenko reported. Seven houses were reported damaged by the attack.

In the north, Russian forces had fired upon areas bordering Russia in Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts using artillery and mortars early on Oct. 21, the northern military command said. No casualties were reported.

In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, a Russian missile strike hit industrial infrastructure early on Oct. 21, wounding six people, Governor Syniehubov said.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that “dozens of energy facilities” have been damaged due to Russia’s attacks between Oct. 10 to Oct. 20, adding that Ukraine’s energy sector is also “under constant cyber attacks.”

“The Russian army has identified our energy sector as one of the key targets for its attacks,” Shmyhal said.

Intensified Russian attacks on Ukraine infrastructure unlikely to achieve Kremlin's goals
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