Is Russia really withdrawing? Is Russian President Vladimir Putin ceding Kherson, the only regional capital he has occupied since the invasion in February, to the Ukrainian military? Also, is the ink barely dry on the attachment documents? That’s exactly what happened. The Russian Defense Ministry announced the withdrawal on Thursday.
The Ukrainian warning is justified
Q’s first cautious reaction showed that Ukrainians were hard pressed to believe that goal, despite having long fought for it. Since July, the Ukrainian military has systematically attacked and damaged bridges across the country’s largest river, the Dnieper, with the help of the Himars missile system. It would be difficult and impossible to resupply Russian troops on the right bank in this way. The Kremlin has now chosen to withdraw, as the commander of Russian troops in Ukraine, General Sergei Churovikhin, announced on television.
The Ukrainian warning is justified because the withdrawal is a major historical defeat for the Russian army, comparable to the failure of the attempt to take Kyiv at the beginning of the invasion. This is a blow against the highly motivated patriotism and combat morale of the Russian army, which is already low.
Putin has learned from past mistakes
From a military point of view, this defeat was very serious, because with the loss of the right bank of the Dnieper, Russia lost its bridgehead to advance towards Nikolaev and Odessa. Places where this battle can be decided later. If Ukraine is able to retain control of these strategic locations, and there is a good chance it is, the entire military operation will surely fail and with it, the Putin regime.
This is why Putin recently banned his generals from leaving Kherson The New York Times. The fact that the Kremlin leader has now changed his stance shows that he has learned from past mistakes, and that is dangerous. What size? Must see.
From a Russian perspective, it makes sense to give up a bridgehead that cannot be well supplied or defended. Western military experts have also said this. But, until now, anyone looking for logic in Russian behavior in Ukraine has wasted his time. This battle has been crazy since the beginning, in 2014.
Putin agrees to withdraw from Gerson after his humiliation, and after some setbacks, he is not as personally involved in war planning as he has been. But he will not abandon his plans to occupy as much Ukrainian territory as possible and overthrow the Kiev government.
Kherson may suffer the fate of Mariupol
In such a situation, caution is also appropriate, because Russia will not give the Ukrainian army the opportunity to consolidate its position and spend the winter. It would probably attack the Ukrainian positions at Kherson from the other bank. The city of Mariupol is in danger of collapsing.
In winter, there may be a positional battle in Kherson. On the other hand, in the Donbass, fighting may intensify. It is conceivable that Russia would reinforce her forces there with those withdrawn from Kherson. This experience gives Ukraine reason not to celebrate prematurely. There is a long way to go before defeating Russia.
The key lesson from Kherson: Ukraine has proven once again that it can hold its own against Russia despite its vast resources. It is also important for Western support, which is important for Ukrainians. Without this support, the Ukrainian army could not have achieved a victory in Kherson.
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