Ukraine – A Second ‘Counteroffensive’ Contrary To U.S. Advice – IAEA Report

The Ukrainian ‘counteroffensive’ in the southern Kherson region has made little progress and binds a lot of Ukrainian resources and available units.

Despite that, and against advice from the U.S. military, Ukraine has now launched a second ‘counteroffensive’ in the north-eastern Kharkiv region of Ukraine.

AZ 🛰🌏🌍🌎 @AZmilitary1 – 13:06 UTC · Sep 6, 2022

‼️ 🇺🇦 🇷🇺 AFU has launched an offensive on Balakleya, heavy fighting started is underway
▪️For more than a month, the AFU pulled together reserves and created a strike force in the Kharkiv direction.
▪️Now, after a powerful artillery preparation, they have gone on the offensive, throwing forward armored vehicles, fighting is going on on the outskirts of the city.
▪️The artillery and aviation of the Russian army are hitting the sprawling advancing enemy forces.
▪️Allied forces blew up bridges to obstruct the AFU’s advance.
▪️Armored vehicles work in battles on the outskirts.
▪️Allied reserves are being tightened.
▪️The Russian Aerospace Forces struck the headquarters of the operational command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Chuguev
▪️The offensive in the south is not a distraction, it’s just that the enemy has planned and launched several offensive operations, and attempts to break through are also continuing in the Kherson region
▪️There is no panic. In Balakleya there are mostly mobilized. Now reserves are going to Balakleya. The barrel and rocket artillery are working. Aviation is actively working.
There is no talk of a deep breakthrough. The situation + is similar to the Nahtsee counteroffensive in the Kherson direction.

Balakleya (Balaklya, Balakliia) originally had 25,000 inhabitants, many of whom will likely have departed by now. On March 3 it was taken by Russian forces without much fighting.

Here is an overview of the area. Balakleya is in the middle of the map, southeast of Kharkiv and northwest of Izium.

Here are more details. West and south of the city are various rivers and streams but also some woods where troops can assemble and hide until they get called up.

Attacking across a river is always dangerous as supplies and the way of retreat can easily be cut off.

A satellite view of the city. To the north-northeast of the city, where the above map shows a rail yard, was once a very large ammunition depot. In March 2017 it famously blew up (vid). Back then the city was evacuated. Lots of houses got damaged (vid).

West of the former strategic ammunition depot is the village of Verbovka where fighting is currently ongoing.

I do not understand why the Ukrainian military decided to attack in Balakleya. A medium size city is relative easy to defend. The rivers on the Ukrainian approach make it difficult to keep the supplies going. The bridges can be bombed any time. The city is not really near to any significant supply route between Russia and Izium which was the target of previous offensives in the area (all failed). The strategic value of the city is thus dubious.

A week ago it was reported that the U.S. military had urged Ukraine to not launch several ‘counteroffensives’:

In the buildup to the current Ukrainian counteroffensive, the US urged Kyiv to keep the operation limited in both its objectives and its geography to avoid getting overextended and bogged down on multiple fronts, multiple US and western officials and Ukrainian sources tell CNN.

Those discussions involved engaging in “war-gaming” with Kyiv, the sources said — analytical exercises that were intended to help the Ukrainian forces understand what force levels they would need to muster to be successful in different scenarios.

The Ukrainians were initially considering a broader counteroffensive, but narrowed their mission to the south, in the Kherson region, in recent weeks, US and Ukrainian officials said.

Its really hard to understand why the Ukraine is launching two operations with the main effort in both involving a river crossing. They bind resources that will likely soon be needed in the south of the Donetsk region where the Russian 3rd Corp is preparing for an attack.

The latest Rybar report on the situation near Balakleya says (machine translation):

The situation in the Kharkov direction as of 17.00 September 6, 2022

▪️After several days of artillery preparation, the Armed Forces of Ukraine launched an attack on Balakleya, which had been occupied back in March. The Ukrainian command has been preparing an offensive for a month and daily transferring equipment and personnel to the city: the last large column passed through Andreevka, located to the north-west, just yesterday.

▪️Ukrainian units advanced from the village of Prishib in the direction of Verbovka to the north of the city. Local resources reported that bridges across the Balakleyka and Extreme Balakleyka rivers were blown up in order to prevent further advancement of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, while some of the overpasses were allegedly put out of action in advance in the previous few days.

▪️Despite the bravura statements of Ukrainian resources, units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not enter Balakleya. All battles are currently taking place in the area of ​​the village of Verbovka and the 65th arsenal located there. Reinforcements of the RF Armed Forces were sent to the city and its environs.

▪️The Russian Aerospace Forces attacked the headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Chuguev, from where the leadership of the attack on Balakleya was going. In order to camouflage, the Ukrainian command set up a false command post in the city, but the RF Armed Forces did not fall for the trick and hit the target.

▪️At the same time, unconfirmed information appeared about the advance of Russian troops in the north of the Kharkiv region in the direction of the village of Shestakovo and the capture of the settlements of Bayrak and Peremoga.

In other news the IAEA has published its report (pdf) on nuclear safeguards in Ukraine. As expected the report does not say that the Ukraine army is shelling the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant (ZNPP), which the IAEA recently visited. It also does not say that Russia is shelling the plant (which it does not). The shells and the damage the IAEA has seen during its visit just somehow must have appeared from the sky.

It reports that the personnel on the site is working under nearly normal shift conditions and is not under pressure from Russia. The Ukraine had falsely claimed that the reactor crews were under duress.