KYIV, Ukraine—Russia is deepening a crackdown on dissent in occupied areas of Ukraine, the Ukrainian military said Sunday, as Kyiv’s forces launched fresh attacks aimed at weakening Moscow’s hold in the south.
In occupied parts of Ukraine’s Kherson region, Russian security forces were raiding homes and checking local residents’ phones for prohibited photos and videos, Ukraine’s general staff said in its daily briefing.
Ukraine has maintained an active network of informants and partisans in Russian-held areas, where people loyal to Kyiv send coordinates of Russia’s military bases and logistics hubs to handlers in the Ukrainian security services and military command, according to officials in Kyiv.
Russia has sought to root out these networks, but has had limited success, and targeted strikes—that Russia has blamed on partisans—have destroyed infrastructure that Russia relies on to ferry equipment and supplies.
The home raids reported by Kyiv come as Ukraine steps up attacks on Russian positions south of the city of Kherson, the regional capital it retook after weeks of fighting in November.
With Russian forces positioned across the Dnipro River from the city, Ukrainian special forces have conducted operations in contested marshy territory dotted with small islands to the west, and carried out targeted attacks across the water.
On Sunday, the Ukrainian military’s southern command said artillery units positioned around Kherson had destroyed a Russian logistics hub and observation post on the islands, killing 12 Russian service members stationed there. Russia didn’t immediately comment on the claim.
As part of its efforts to build support in occupied areas, Moscow has also launched television channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin propaganda and encouraging local residents to acquire Russian passports. The U.K.’s Defense Ministry said occupied parts of Ukraine remained unstable despite Russian efforts to portray itself as in control.
“In reality, much of the area remains an active combat zone, subject to partisan attacks, and with extremely limited access to basic services for many citizens,” the ministry said in its daily intelligence briefing on Sunday.
In the east of Ukraine, the country’s armed forces said Russia was continuing its grinding campaign to seize territory, launching fresh offensives against the cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka despite mounting costs in personnel and equipment.
Ukraine said Sunday that it had repelled more than 50 attacks along the front line in the east, with a major Russian push focused on the town of Bohdanivka, northwest of Bakhmut, control of which could allow Russia to directly target Ukrainian defensive lines in Chasiv Yar. Russian shelling overnight into Sunday damaged homes in 15 settlements in the east, Ukraine said.
As it gears up for a counteroffensive to push Russia out of its territory, Ukraine has continued urging its Western backers to provide more financial and military aid. President
this week visited Poland, a staunch ally, to press for further support.
In his nightly video address on Saturday, Mr. Zelensky said Poland had pledged to supply 200 Rosomak armored personnel carriers as well as artillery and mortar shells. “It’s pleasant to end this week with positive results for our country,” he said.
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