The fact that they have been moving behind enemy guerrilla groups since the beginning of the conflict is obvious. Several attacks have also been confirmed by Ukrainian military officials – such as the bombing of two Russian bases in the occupied Kherson region in early June. According to the Ukrainian media, several were staged in a targeted manner – for example, a strong car explosion in Melitopol during the Russia Day celebrations.
The active activity of the guerrillas was also confirmed by an adviser to Ukrainian President Oleksiy Arestovych, who pointed in particular to the recent artillery attack in the village of Chkalova, which was launched on the basis of information from scouts operating behind the enemy line. According to Arestovych, about two hundred Russian soldiers lost their lives there.
Guerrilla groups are made up of both ex-soldiers and civilians who gather important data on the movements of enemy troops. They are coordinated by a unit of the Ukrainian Armed Forces called the Special Operations Forces (SSO), explains The Economist, referring to a former agent in the unit. “The division was created in 2015 after attempts at guerrilla activity failed catastrophically in the early stages of the conflict in Donbas. It is divided into three factions: military action, support operations and psychological warfare, “added The Economist.
In Melitopol, the second largest city in the Zaporozhye region, however, guerrilla groups drew attention to themselves earlier – for example, in mid-May, when, according to the Ukrainian Pravda website, they blew up a Russian armored train. “The bomb under the train, numbering ten wagons, was detonated at a distance and exploded when a wagon with Russian soldiers passed by,” the Ukrainian Truth claimed at the time, adding that they were soldiers from units taking turns at the front.
The daily also recalled several times the liquidation of high-ranking Russian commanders, and the April report of the Ukrainian General Staff, according to which the guerrillas in Melitopol killed about seventy enemy soldiers in three weeks. In the same city, an explosion erupted in early June near the office of Ukrainian pro-Kremlin official Yevhen Balycki.
The “assassination”, specifically on the car of the head of the Kherson prison, Yevhen Sobolyev, who joined the occupiers, was supposed to be responsible last week, and shortly afterwards there was also an attack on employees of the Russian Ministry of Emergencies in Mariupol. Similar actions there are likely to continue to undermine Russia’s efforts to consolidate full administrative control of the occupied territories.
“We will not give the South to anyone. We will get back everything that is ours. The sea will also be safe, “said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier.
As already mentioned, guerrilla groups are also waging a “psychological” war with Russian troops. On posters, which have often appeared in Kherson in recent days, for example, they call for the approaching freedom and singing of the Ukrainian anthem. According to President Zelenský, Ukrainian forces are putting pressure on the Russian army to liberate the occupied city in the south.
“Ukrainians expect their counteroffensive to be successful. If the guerrillas can weaken Russian lines from the inside while the army attacks from the outside, it could in a way mean the siege of the Russian armed forces, “said Alexander Motyl, an American historian with Ukrainian roots.
The fact is, however, that the increase in guerrilla activity, especially in the Kherson region, is benefiting both sides. Russians to justify repression in the areas they occupy, Ukrainians to demoralize enemy troops.