Seven people, including a 23-day-old baby girl, died in Russian attacks on the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, according to the country’s Ministry of Interior on Sunday, August 13th.
Artillery fire in the village of Shiroka Blaka, on the banks of the Dnieper River, killed a family – a father, a mother, a 12-year-old boy, and a 23-day-old baby girl – and another resident.
Two men died in the neighboring village of Stanislav, where a woman was also injured.
The attack in the Kherson province occurred after Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense, Hanna Maliar, attempted to quash rumors on Saturday that Ukrainian forces had landed on the occupied left (eastern) bank of the Dnieper River in that region.
“Again, the commotion of experts about the left bank in the Kherson region has started. There is no reason to get excited,” she said.
Kherson Regional Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said on Sunday that three people had been injured in Russian attacks on the province on Saturday.
Ukrainian military officials stated on Saturday night that Kiev’s forces had made progress in the south and announced advances near a major village in the southern Zaporizhia region, as well as the capture of other unannounced territories.
The Ukrainian General Staff said they had achieved “partial success” around the strategic area of Robotyne in the Zaporizhia region, an important point that Ukraine needs to retake to continue advancing south towards Melitopol.
“These are liberated territories. Defense forces are working,” said General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, commander of the southern forces of Ukraine, about the southern front.
In recent weeks, battles have taken place at various points along the 600-mile (1,000-kilometer) front line in the midst of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which employs Western weaponry and troops trained in the West against Russian forces that invaded the country nearly 18 months ago.
Ukrainian troops have made only small advances since launching the counteroffensive in early June.
In Russia, local authorities indicated on Sunday that anti-aircraft defenses had shot down three drones over the Belgorod region and one in the neighboring Kursk region, both bordering Ukraine.
Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian border regions have become quite common. Attacks by unmanned aircraft in the heart of Russian territory have increased since a drone was destroyed over the Kremlin in early May. In recent weeks, attacks on Moscow and Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 – a decision that most of the world considers illegal – have escalated.
Sending drones against Russia after over 17 months of war seems to hold little military value for Ukraine, but the strategy has succeeded in unsettling the Russians and forcing them to deal with the conflict’s consequences on their own turf.
The Wagner mercenary group has played a role in the Russian military campaign, but there is a “realistic possibility” that the Kremlin is no longer financing them, according to British defense officials.
In its latest intelligence report, the Ministry of Defense said it believed Wagner was “likely moving towards a process of reduction and reconfiguration” to save costs, and that the Kremlin had “acted against other business interests” of Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Officials estimated that Belarusian authorities were the “second most plausible payers.”
Thousands of Wagner fighters arrived in Belarus, a Russian ally, as part of an agreement that ended their armed rebellion at the end of June and allowed them and Prigozhin to avoid criminal charges.