Russia may resort to false flag attacks near Kherson to reduce support for Ukrainian Armed Forces — ISW
17 June, 2022

Russian troops may stage false flag attacks near the city of Kherson. Thus, the Russians are trying to reduce support for local counter-offensives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, believes the American Institute for the Study of War.

The analysts noted that Russian troops continued to strengthen their reserve positions in southern Ukrainian Kherson and Mykolaiv oblasts, probably in response to local counterattacks by Ukrainians. According to the General Staff, Russian engineering units have improved their defensive positions in the Bezvodne and Ishchenka areas.

The army command reported that Russian troops were dismantling concrete irrigation facilities in the Kherson Oblast to hide heavy artillery from Ukrainian strikes. The Russians also fired on Ukrainian positions — probably in an attempt to hinder the advancement of Ukrainians, according to ISW.

Analysts noted a statement by Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional authorities, that Ukrainian forces had made some progress on the southern axis, but ISW could not verify the information on its own.

"Russian forces may be staging false flag attacks around Kherson City to discourage civilian support for Ukrainian counteroffensive operations," analysts said.

In particular, ISW cites reports from Operational Command South about civilian casualties during the June 15 explosion at a local market in Chornobayivka. According to the Ukrainian military, the Russians seek to destabilize public opinion in Kherson and accuse Ukrainian forces of striking at civilian infrastructure.

In addition, it is reported that the Russians carried out demonstrative assaults on settlements in the east of Zaporizhzhya Oblast to restrain Ukrainian units. The ISW notes the General Staff's report that Ukrainian troops liquidated a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group operating on the border of Zaporizhzhya and Donetsk oblasts on June 16.