Ukraine Seeks to Squeeze Russian Troops as It Girds for Battle for Kherson

Ukraine Seeks to Squeeze Russian Troops as It Girds for Battle for Kherson Kyiv’s threats of attack have drawn invading forces to the regional capital, where Ukrainian units are avoiding Moscow’s ‘assault fist’

This is Wall Street Journal so it’s going to present information with a specific slant- still it’s an interesting enough read

Ukrainian forces are preparing for a battle to free the southern city of Kherson from Russian occupiers, and aim to do it on their own terms.

The strategy holds much risk but, if successful, would improve Kyiv’s ability to defend its country, win foreign support and potentially negotiate better terms of an eventual peace deal.

Ukraine is building forces outside Kherson, even as larger battles continue in the eastern region of Donbas, under a strategy that suggests growing confidence. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has for weeks repeatedly outlined his goal of retaking Kherson, and Ukrainian troops have openly targeted local bridges and other infrastructure the Russians are using to supply and reinforce the area.

Russia has responded by strengthening its presence in and around Kherson, potentially readying for large-scale battles. It has moved troops from Donbas, where Moscow gained territory over recent months using artillery-led thrusts often referred to as an “assault fist” to punch through defenses.

Around Kherson, Ukraine won’t engage Russian forces head-on, said Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser. Instead, Kyiv’s forces are chipping away at Russian might in the region, he said, inflicting “a thousand bee stings.”

Ukraine’s won’t engage forces head on but are chipping away at Russian might in the region?

Wouldn’t Russian forces have to be engaged with in order that a ‘chipping away” can take place?

“Russian might” Huh. Western media always claims the Russians are losing, but, now they have might?

“You grind down and destroy enemy personnel and vehicles,” Mr. Podolyak said in an interview. “You gradually squeeze them out.”

Dislodging Russian forces from Kherson poses a monumental challenge for Ukraine. Military analysts say that to eject troops from an established position, such as Russia’s in Kherson, attackers generally need at least three times as many forces as the defenders, and the ratio can reach five-to-one for urban warfare.

The task is even harder if Ukraine wants to avoid destroying Kherson. Nearby Mariupol was largely reduced to rubble earlier this year as Ukrainian forces tenaciously defended it against relentless Russian attacks, before ultimately retreating or surrendering.

Kherson was one of the first cities Russian troops captured following their invasion on Feb. 24 and remains the only regional capital that Moscow has taken in almost six months of fighting, so it holds significance for the Kremlin.

Not only is Ukraine preparing to fight Russian forces on its own terms around the city, ( I find this claim odd, or jingoistic, simply because Ukraine would have to fight based on the situation dictated by the Russian forces hold) it is being unusually overt about its plans. That openness has surprised some observers, but outside strategists say it appears to be a calculated approach both to win Western support and draw in more Russian forces for potential encirclement.

“If the Ukrainians just wanted to push the Russians out of Kherson, they wouldn’t broadcast what they’re doing,” said John Nagl, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who is now an associate professor of warfighting studies at the U.S. Army War College. “It looks like the Ukrainians are baiting the Russians, and they’re taking the bait.”

Ukraine doesn’t intend, initially at least, to launch a massed, direct attack, Mr. Podolyak said, but has already started a counteroffensive aimed at degrading Russian forces.

I’m not a military person or strategist but the above two paragraphs strike me as off. The Ukrainians are baiting the Russians and the Russians are taking the bait- Oh how clever of the Ukrainians and how foolish of the Russians- it’s quite a presentation but is it accurate?

If there is a counter offensive in Kherson we should certainly be reading or hearing about this soon.

He compared the tactics to Ukraine’s defense around Kyiv in late February and March, when small, mobile groups ambushed Russian forces and supply lines, destroying armored vehicles and support trucks and killing soldiers until they retreated. (apples and oranges comparison)

“You have to make small cuts in many places at the same time and bleed the Russian army,” said Mr. Podolyak.

Ukrainian forces on the Kherson front have been bracing for a Russian counteroffensive since the beginning of the month and have focused on defenses while reinforcements are trained. The Ukrainians made only minimal tactical gains on that front over the past month, and those came with high casualties.

Instead, Ukrainian forces have used longer-range weapons, including American M142 Himars mobile rocket launchers, to attack Russian supply depots beyond Kherson and limit Russia’s options for a possible retreat.

Ukrainian front-line commanders say that for a successful offensive into the city, Russian logistics must be battered further—and any move should be swift and surprising, cutting off Russian troops in Kherson from their remaining resupply routes.
The U.S. has supplied Himars rocket launchers to limit Russia’s options for a retreat from Kherson.Photo: Cover Images/Zuma Press

Kherson sits near where the narrow Inhulets river joins the wider Dnipro river, and Russian forces must cross either to reinforce troops in Kherson. Ukraine over recent weeks has disabled several bridges across the two rivers, forcing the Russians to use temporary bridges, boats or longer routes. All provide limited capacity and would be open to attack in a Russian retreat.

Western military observers surmise that Ukraine’s strategy is to draw as many Russian troops as possible into Kherson to defend it, cut off their paths of exit and wear them down. The ultimate objective could be to force their surrender.

“If the Ukrainians can trap several companies worth of defenders, that would be the nightmare scenario for the Russians,” said retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales.

Success remains far from assured, but Kyiv is pushing its initiative in part to convince its Western backers that it can prevail against Moscow’s larger forces, observers said.

Achieving outright victory over Russian forces in Kherson will require a Ukrainian assault involving land and air forces known as a combined-arms offensive, the combat veterans said. Whether Ukraine has sufficient equipment and manpower to do this remains unclear, but its current assault can weaken Russian forces and thereby reduce the cost and risk to Ukrainian troops of an eventual attack, they said.

Russian troops in Kherson could face a difficult choice over coming weeks, as advancing Ukrainian forces destroy more of their avenues of retreat.

“The smart play for the Russians is to redeploy across the Dnipro and use the river as a defensive position,” said Mr. Nagl. “Instead they’re doubling down on stupid by reinforcing Kherson.”

Doubling down on stupid?

Ukrainian forces took the retreat-and-defend approach in the Donbas city of Severodonetsk in June, orchestrating what Western observers have described as a textbook withdrawal that is likely to be studied for years.

Russian forces, in contrast, are expanding in Kherson. Mr. Nagl said this will increase supply requirements inside the increasingly isolated city, posing greater logistical challenges for Moscow, which already struggles with provisioning troops.

Mr. Nagl said the approach suggests that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made defending Kherson a priority.

“For Russia, withdrawing from Kherson would be seen as a huge defeat,” he said.

For Ukraine, he said, “The gamble is to capture tens of thousands of Russians in Kherson.” He said success wouldn’t end the war but would buy Ukraine’s president time. “Zelensky needs a big win.”

I find the piece to be all over the place, perhaps someone else can offer up some input?

Lastly yesterday’s Military Summary update:

Pay attention to the information about the Ukrainians intentionally striking an ammonia storage tank/facility causing ammonia to leak and potentially poison untold numbers of civilians.

Also, the information on Ukrainian’s continued shelling of the nuclear power plant is appalling, their strategy is very dangerous.

2 replies on “Ukraine Seeks to Squeeze Russian Troops as It Girds for Battle for Kherson”

The Mystic Ukrainian Kherson Offensive Did Not And Will Not Happen At All.

There has been much talk in ‘western’ media about a Ukrainian offensive in the southern Kherson region. However most of the claims made about it seem to be divorced from the observable realities on the ground.

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