I am not very good at graphics, but I tried to draw up an explainer for the Ukrainian Kupiansk Offensive. Redish = the territory occupied by Russia.
Yesterday Ukrainian troops liberated Balakliia (Blue 1)
During the night Ukrainian troops moved to Volokhiv Yar (Blue 2)
Currently Ukrainian troops are advancing to Shevchenkove (Blue 3)
Once Ukrainian troops have firmly established themselves in these three settlements, the Russian forces in the black hatched area must retreat north or will be crushed by Ukrainian forces. Once the black hatched area is cleared Ukraine can move its M777 up and take the rail and road junctions, and Russian supply depots in Kupiansk under fire.
The outer yellow rings show the range of M982 Excalibur rounds for precision strikes and the inner yellow rings show the range of unguided M795 155mm projectiles.
With Kupiansk (upper red circle) under artillery fire, the Russian supply line to its forces around Izyum (lower red circle) becomes unusable. If Ukraine then uses M777 fired Excalibur projectiles and M142 HIMARS fired M31A1 GMLRS rockets to take out the bridges over the Oskil river (the four purple pentagons) and whatever pontoon bridges the Russians try to build, then the Russian forces West of the Oskil river are trapped, just like the Russian forces in Kherson.
This will give Ukraine two options how to finish the Russians: either advance and take Kupiansk (Green 4) and then battle the trapped Russians into surrender or leave an escape route for the Russians between Shevchenkove and Kupiansk and then hammer them with artillery, TB2 drones, and rocket artillery when they flee north.
The first option guarantees annihilation for 10,000+ Russians, but will also cause many Ukrainian casualties, while the second will brutally decimate the fleeing Russians, with minimal Ukrainian losses. No matter what options the Ukrainians choose, the Russian forces West of the Oskil are doomed, as Putin doesn’t have 5-6,000 fresh troops for a counter attack.
This offensive (like the Kherson Offensive) makes excellent use of rivers, and while the Kherson Offensive ensures that Russia can never launch an attack on Mykolaiv, the Kupiansk Offensive ensures that Russia can never launch an attack on Sloviansk. And with no chance to take Sloviansk, Russia has also lost the Battle of Donbas.
Putin is a moron, and now all can finally see that.
Comment: This thread by Thomas Theiner is the clearest account of this offensive and what it means. Igor Girkin and Tom Cooper offer more colorful accounts.
This strike toward Kupiansk was talked about months ago when the Ukrainians cleared the Russians from the outskirts of Kharkiv. It was wishful thinking at that time. The Ukrainians were still too weak and the Russians were too strong. Conditions have changed and here we are.
This offensive is closer to the bold and decisive blow that Colonel Lang is talking about. It is maneuver warfare at its finest. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the long, clearly visible buildup to the Kherson offensive. Even the manner that Ukraine is carrying out the Kherson offensive seems designed to focus all Russia’s attention, much of her logistical support and many of her troops towards Kherson. The Ukrainian MOD is thinking and planning on a grand scale.
It is my opinion that the fall of Kherson will not break Russia by itself. But the death knell of Putin’s stated goal of seizing the Donbas just might do it. The two together point towards some sad times in the Kremlin.