August 29, 2022:
Russia is losing control of the 20 percent of Ukrainian territory they occupy. Even in areas (Crimea and Donbas) occupied since 2014) the inhabitants are refusing to support the Russian war effort. Currently, few Ukrainians or Russians living in Crimea or Donbas are willing to join the military or police. This is the result of the populations in Crimea and Donbas realizing that Russia could lose control of these areas to Ukrainian forces, which does not work out well for “collaborators.” Returning to post-war Russia is not an attractive prospect either. One thing both Ukrainian residents and Russian immigrants of these occupied territories have learned since 2014 is that living standards are higher in Ukraine than in Russia. When Ukraine became independent of Russia in 1991, living standards were equal. Russian soldiers invading Ukraine since then were surprised at how much better Ukrainian living standards had become than Russia’s. Russian propaganda had implied that Ukrainians were repressed and impoverished, not better off and willing to fight and defeat their Russian “liberators”.
Local security forces in Crimea and Donbas have been there since 2014 but the high casualties suffered by front line troops meant a lot the troops occupying Crimea and Donbas were sent to the front, where most became casualties. Russia needs fewer troops in Crimea now that they have withdrawn most of their warships, aircraft and shipyard workers to Russia. Ukrainian partisans have been more active in Crimea, destroying military aircraft with seeming impunity. Similar attacks are made on prominent Russians in Crimea and Ukrainian collaborators. In Donbas ethnic Russians and their Ukrainian collaborators are also under attack and departing for Russia or, if Ukrainian, quietly switching sides. Donbas used to be a good source of Russian troops but the heavy casualties and Ukrainian offensive and partisan activity in Donbas has put an end to Russian recruiting efforts there.
Russia did manage to occupy most of Kherson province north of Crimea but holding on to it is another matter. The Russians were never able to establish full control over Kherson and now the province is a major target for Ukrainian offensive operations. Russian troops are being forced back in Kherson and partisan activity is growing. Kherson must be liberated before the Ukrainians can go after Crimea. Russia does not have enough troops to prevent that. The Ukrainians are patient and not attempting a reckless and costly offensive. Time is on their side and, while Ukrainian troops get better, Russian troops get worse.
Despite all these efforts Russia cannot obtain enough troops to win in Ukraine, much less stop the Ukrainian offensive. As a result, Russian occupation forces in Kherson are on the defensive and taking heavy losses. Using the nuclear power plant complex in Kherson to cause a nuclear accident has the rest of the countries in the region protesting Russian threats to release a lot of radioactivity that will cause problems for Russia and other nearby countries. This threat has created a lot of international criticism of Russian tactics in Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces can bypass the power plant complex and give the Russian forces there a chance to surrender and avoid war crime prosecutions (or death from radiation sickness). Russian forces occupying the nuclear complex appear aware of this and are preparing to evacuate before being surrounded. Failing that the Russians appear unwilling to cause a nuclear accident.
Even pro-Russia Ukrainians in Donbas and Crimea want to stay in Ukraine and are willing to make deals with the partisans and the Ukrainian government. Russians still in Ukraine are unsure of who they can trust. Ukrainians expect their former pro-Russian Ukrainians to demonstrate their loyalty and this is apparently why the Ukrainians are receiving so much information on what is happening in occupied territories, especially where the Russian ammo bunkers and other military assets are.
As happened in earlier wars, partisan activity grew quickly as the occupation forces were under more threat.