Ukrainian intelligence: the Russians are preparing for provocations at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant

Ukraine recorded 907 war-related fires in the past two weeks, more than four times the number recorded in the previous period, according to satellite data. She added that their location indicates more Ukrainian attacks and perhaps the beginning of the declared counter-attack.

The British magazine reports that the last time such a number of fires was observed in the fall of 2022, before the Ukrainian offensive in the south of the country, during which Kherson was recaptured.

The Economist’s statistics are based on twice-daily satellite observations of the territory of Ukraine, which reveal areas with high temperatures. Based on pre-war data, the computer model rejects results that are likely unrelated to the war.

The latest reading from Thursday shows an increase in fires in areas controlled by Russia. “It is not easy to say whether this was the beginning of the declared counterattack (…) Our data do not yet prove any serious Ukrainian attacks or territorial gains,” the weekly notes.

Instead, the fires show preliminary attacks by the Ukrainians, which seem to be probing the Russian defences, looking for weaknesses in them and limiting the ability of the Russians to plug such gaps.

An increasing number of fires has been observed since May 11th. As the magazine notes, there are reasons to believe that it was on this day that Ukrainian forces began using British long-range Storm Shadow missiles, which allowed them to hit fortified positions behind the Russian positions.

The ultimate direction of the Ukrainian strike will likely depend on what the initial attacks probing Russian defenses reveal. Possible destinations are the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, regions east of Kharkiv or Donbass — fires have been observed in all of them, writes the weekly.

However, surprise will be a key element in this process, and no matter the direction of the attack, Ukrainian leaders will want to keep the Russians and the world in the dark until the last minute, the Economist concludes.

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