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Russia's illusory retreat from Kherson, fighting in the Donetsk region. What’s happening on the front line in Ukraine?

The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) continue their offensive in the east of the country. According to updated maps, there were no major changes on the front on November 3rd. The Russian offensive on Vuhledar has bogged down, and there is fighting in the Pavlivka area of the Donetsk region.

Photos depicting the Russian flag being removed from an administrative building in Kherson were circulated on social networks. Natalia Humeniuk, Head of the United Coordinating Press Center of Security and Defense Forces of the South of Ukraine, said that the Russian army can «create the impression that populated areas have been abandoned and it is now safe to enter them.” This is how Russia hopes to lure the Ukrainian army into the city – with the help of a provocation.

Boris Rozhin, a military expert at the Russian propagandist “Center for political-military journalism,” claims that there are no significant changes in the Kherson direction, as the AFU continues to mount attacks and scouting operations.

“Our troops continue to stand in the same positions amid rumors of a withdrawal from Kherson. The enemy has intensified shelling of the Antonov bridge area and settlements on the Dnipro.”

An anonymous analyst with the nickname Def Mon on Twitter has studied satellite images west of Kherson and concluded that Russia is building fortifications in the area, as there are defensive positions in almost every forest belt.

There are battles for Vodiane, Pervomaiske and Opytne in the Avdiivka direction, according to Russian propagandists.

In the Svatove direction, Russia is trying to attack the AFU in the direction of Makiivka, Nevske and Bilohorivka.

In Pavlivka, Russia's offensive was unsuccessful, as the Russian army has failed to seize control of the road to Vuhledar, and fighting continues for fortifications near Novomykhailivka. One of the former representatives of the “DPR” occupation administration, Vostok battalion commander Alexander Khodakovsky, also stated that the Russian army's operation in the Donetsk region is not yielding results. According to him, on the night of November 3, soldiers of the Russian Armed Forces “were held hostage” by weather conditions, as dirt roads became impassable due to rainfall.

“In Pavlivka, we advanced as far as we could and were held hostage by the mud and altitude... Pavlivka itself isn’t impassable – the approaches to it are. These are kilometers of rugged terrain, watched by the enemy, along which the supply of all vital necessities crawls, rather than leaping, as it is supposed to do in relatively open terrain.”

Video of Ukrainian Excalibur artillery strikes against Russian armored vehicles in the south have been published online. It is claimed that the 2016 model T-72B3 and BMP-2 were destroyed.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Civic Council, made up of public figures from nine Russian regions, has begun recruiting volunteers into the ranks of the AFU. The organization has announced the creation of the Technical Mobilization Center for Russians who want to volunteer for the Ukrainian army. When asked by The Insider as to who made up the organization, Denis Sokolov, a member of the Civic Council, replied that it was currently impossible to name all the council’s participants – among them were prominent figures “who hadn’t yet guaranteed their own safety.”

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a US-based think tank, had assessed that the AFU was going on the offensive in the direction of Svatove and Kreminna in the Luhansk region, as well as the Kherson region, on November 2. Russian troops were on the defensive, the ISW said, especially in southern Ukraine.

The institute’s experts also wrote that Russia's mobilization efforts, combined with Western sanctions, are having a long-term devastating effect on the Russian economy.

On November 2, the Ukrainian Armed Forces were reported as continuing to outflank Russian forces near Svatove – a key defense hub for the Russian army in the northern Luhansk region. Def Mon analyzed and geolocated several videos and concluded that the Ukrainian troops’ line of action now stretches eastward. Fighting has also intensified in the south, the shelling of Nova Kakhovka has resumed, and a fire was reported near the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant.

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