Sunday, September 24, 2023

Russia’s Likely Withdrawal In Kherson Shows Shifts In Ukraine’s War

Must read

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Russia says yes withdraw from the Ukrainian city of Khersonpossibly leaving an important southern city it has occupied since close to the beginning of the war.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Wednesday that Russian troops would withdraw to the east side of the Dnieper River. territory that Russia still controls.

Ukrainian officials expressed some skepticism about a Russian retreat; she was recently concerned that, although Russia had shown signs of a possible withdrawal, it could instead be a feint to lure Ukrainian troops into a costly urban battle. So the sentiment among Ukrainian leaders was basically: Ukraine will confirm a full Russian withdrawal when it sees it happening. Ukraine “liberates areas based on intelligence data, not staged TV statements,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, tweeted.

Zelenskyy said Wednesday that “there is a lot of joy in the information space these days, and it’s obvious why.”

“But our emotions must be kept in check, always during war,” he added.

Even if there is any doubt about Russia’s exact steps, Moscow’s withdrawal from the city of Kherson would mean a political and symbolic victory for Ukraine – and another incredible defeat for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“You’re withdrawing for the biggest prize you won after the invasion. That’s the only big city, that’s Kherson, the capital of the province, and you retreat there,” said Rajan Menon, director of the Grand Strategy program at Defense Priorities. “So how this can be spun as an act of strategic genius, I don’t know.”

Russian troops conquered the city of Kherson in the first days after Putin launched his war in Ukraine, and it was the only regional capital held by Russia. In late September, Putin announced that he had annexed and incorporated four regions of Ukraine, including Kherson, into the Russian Federation. Although the international community broadly condemned it as the illegal land grab they were, Russia’s possible withdrawal from this regional capital also shows the emptiness of Putin’s territorial claims and undermines his propaganda about the liberation of parts of Ukraine.

“It’s another turning point,” said John Spencer, a retired Army officer and chair of urban warfare studies at the Madison Policy Forum. “It is the only regional capital that Russia could take, which it took in the early moments of the war, [but] they cannot hold it.”

For Ukraine, “it is more of a political victory than a battlefield victory,” he added. “But it’s definitely still a big win.”

If Russia were indeed to move across the Dnieper River, it wouldn’t come as a huge shock – Ukraine has been pushing for this for some time now. The Ukrainian army launched a counter-offensive to recapture Kherson this summer, and the Ukrainian army has the Russian position in the south of Ukraine for weeks and weekssteadily advancing in Kherson and blow up key transitions over the Dnieper that strained Russia’s ability to resupply.

Gene. Sergei Surovikin, who commands Russian forces in Ukraine, admitted on Wednesday: proverb the decision to move across was not an easy one, “but at the same time we will save the lives of our soldiers and the combat capability of our armed forces.”

The victory in Kherson is also a story of the two wars

The liberation of the city of Kherson – if that is what it is – will change the stories for both Russia and Ukraine. It could also change how both sides approach this final phase of the war as winter approaches.

For Russia, leaving the city is another huge setback in its ill-conceived war. (Again, just a reminder that Russian forces still control part of the Kherson region.) Yet Putin has responded to past embarrassments by terrorizing the Ukrainian people — including indiscriminate bombings, sometimes far from the front lines. These Russian attacks also deliberately targeted critical civilian and energy infrastructure, such as water and electricity. Zelenskyy said in early November that Russia damaged about 40 percent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. The Mayor of Kiev has warned that people should be prepared for a worst-case scenario where the entire city could lose power or water.

Russia’s strategy is about suffering: for people, to reduce the morale and popular support for Ukraine’s war effort; and for the economy, to crush it so that Ukraine cannot meet the needs of its people and is even more dependent on the West – a West also dealing with the cost of living, inflation and energy crises as winter approaches. The strategy is cruel, but, as experts have pointed out, so far it has done nothing but hardening of attitudes towards Russia. And it has not increased Russia’s fortune on the battlefield at all. “Despite the massive wave of terrorist attacks that [Putin] recently, he’s still losing ground,” Spencer said.

Russia’s withdrawal from the city of Kherson may also help Ukraine claim that its strategy to retake Ukrainian territory and expel Russia is the right course. As Menon said “it’s a big morale boost” even if Russian and Ukrainian troops are confronted heavier and more critical battles in the east.

It will probably also strengthen Ukraine’s case to the West that it can potentially win those battles if only it can get more western military support, including advanced weapons and air defense systems to protect against Russian barrages targeting infrastructure. “They also have a very strong card to play, which is, you deliver us – but we deliver, we show we are capable of winning,” Menon said.

That can also make Ukraine stronger for continued economic aid, which it also relies on. On Wednesday, according to ReutersUkraine’s economy minister Yulia Svyrydenko said Russia’s attacks on civilian infrastructure would shrink Ukraine’s gross domestic product by 39 percent, more than the 35 percent previously forecast. Ukraine’s successes on the front lines overshadow Russia’s economic warfare, but right now this is arguably where Ukraine is most vulnerable – perhaps in part because it is winning on the battlefield.

More articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest article