Kherson reclaimed. What will Ukraine do next, and will Russia lose Crimea?
Kherson reclaimed; what’s next?
On November 11 the Ukrainian army entered Kherson, which had been under Russian occupation since the beginning of March. Thousands of people celebrated this event in the main square, dancing and thanking the military. They tore down billboards with the inscriptions “Russia is here forever”, with the yellow-blue flag all over the city.
Today is the 262nd day of the war that Russia unleashed in Ukraine on February 24th.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky called November 11 a historic day and promised that “Ukraine will defend all its people.”
With the advance of the Ukrainian army to Kherson the entire Nikolaev region was liberated, except for part of the Kinburn peninsula. The water conduit through which drinking water reaches Nikolaev came under the control of the Ukrainian army, and restoration work will begin after clearing the surrounding area.
The Ukrainian military liberated about 3,000 square kilometers in the south of their country in one day. Ukraine has increased the area of liberated territories tenfold.
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What Russia Says
The official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Igor Konashenkov, said at a briefing that during the retreat from Kherson to the left bank of the Dnieper more than 30,000 Russian soldiers, about 5,000 pieces of weapons and military equipment, and various properties were withdrawn.
The statement says that not a single piece of equipment or weaponry was left for the enemy. But this is still difficult to confirm.
Also, presumably, several thousand Russian military personnel have changed into civilian clothes and remain on the right bank. “Most likely they are trying to retreat as the Ukrainian military advances, but there is also the possibility that some Russians intend to conduct guerrilla operations in small groups,” writes ISW.
Putin’s spokesman Peskov said that the withdrawal of the Russian army from Kherson does not change anything, the city remains part of Russia, and there is nothing humiliating about the withdrawal of troops. The occupying authorities appointed the city of Genichesk as the new administrative capital of the Kherson region.
As early as November 9, the main pro-government channels in Russia broadcast an official video in which General Sergei Surovikin reported to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the need to “regroup forces and take up defense on the left bank of the Dnieper.” After that, Russian TV channels have simply not touched the topic of retreat from the Kherson region at all.
Blown up bridges
After withdrawing from the right bank the Russian military destroyed the Antonovsky bridge across the Dnieper and blew up the railway bridge. Heating stations, a television center and other important facilities were blown up in the city. There is no electricity in Kherson, and the connection is provided only from the left bank of the Dnieper.
By destroying the bridges the Russian military hopes to block the advance of Ukrainian troops into the central part of the Kherson region. Satellite images also show that Russian troops have prepared the first and second lines of defense south of the Dnieper and are likely to continue efforts to strengthen positions on the left bank in coming days, writes the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
It is reported that everything is mined, from roads to administrative buildings and schools. Therefore the Ukrainian authorities urged the departed residents of Kherson and the region not to rush to return home. Moreover, communications have been destroyed.
The Ukrainian police began “stabilization measures” in Kherson. In fact this is a clearing of the territory, and it will last several weeks.
Representatives of the Geneva International Demining Center believe that one month of intense hostilities means exactly one year of demining activities.
Eight months of active hostilities in the Kherson region is eight years of further demining. Ukraine today is one of the most mined countries in the world.
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US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: “It looks like the Ukrainians just won an outstanding victory. The only regional center captured by Russia in this war is now again under the Ukrainian flag — and this is quite remarkable.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on the evening of November 11: “Congratulations on the return of Kherson to Ukraine, this is an important step towards the full restoration of its sovereign rights. France will continue to support Ukrainians and Ukrainian women.” This was also tweeted in Ukrainian.
What will the Armed Forces of Ukraine do next and can Russia lose Crimea?
It is logical to assume that the Ukrainians are not going to cross the Dnieper — for then they, and not the Russian army, will be cut off from supplies.
Republic experts believe that “the Ukrainian defense forces are now likely to take an operational pause and bring up air defense, artillery, and armored vehicles. By this time, they will be supplied with ammunition, shells and rockets.”
HIMARS can operate at a distance of up to 80 km, and they will destroy all Russian warehouses and bases in the south of the Kherson region.
But in the short term Kherson will face the fate of Nikolaev, Nikopol, Zaporozhye, Kharkov, Kramatorsk, Slavyansk and Bakhmut — the city will probably be heavily bombed. Russia is at war with civilians by using artillery, multiple rocket launchers and S-300 missiles against them.
There is no electricity in seven regions of Ukraine and there is no clarity on when the electricity supply will be restored. Russia has launched a series of massive strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure over the past month.
Already about fifteen countries are helping Ukraine with the restoration of energy infrastructure.
But it is extremely difficult to weather these bombings. The only option for the Ukrainian army is to expand the buffer zone — that is, to move forward.
An adviser to the Office of the President Arestovich said that there would be no linear counter-offensive from Ukraine; other ways and options would be used to de-occupy the southern regions of the Kherson region.
For example, in the next tranche of military-technical assistance from the United States there will be at least 40 armored boats.
Fierce fighting continues in eastern Ukraine. It is reported that the Russian command is throwing a huge number of mobilized people under Ukrainian tanks and artillery.
On November 11,the President of Ukraine announced a fundraiser for the creation of a flotilla of sea drones to cope with Russian missiles, some of which are launched from ships in the Black Sea. Funds were collected for the first drone on the same day.
On different sections of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, they have begun to build walls to protect against invasion.
Crimea has thus become the front. There are explosions from time to time in its various regions, primarily where the military activities of the Russian army take place. Russian generals probably understand that after the liberation of Kherson and the south of the Zaporozhye region, the Ukrainian army will bring their counteroffensive further. This has also been stated by Zelensky himself.
The head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Kirill Budanov, gave the following forecast in early autumn: liberate Kherson at the end of November, reach the borders on February 23, 2022 by the end of the year, and liberate the entire territory of Ukraine by the end of May 2023.
About the same forecasts were made by the former US Special Representative in Ukraine, Kurt Volker, and the former commander of the US Army in Europe, Ben Hodges. If three officials with name and authority unanimously speak about the same dates, we can assume that this is settled strategy.
British artist Banksy published a work from Borodyanka in the Kyiv region. One of the main practictioners of world street art did not leave this picture with a signature, merely placing the geotag “Borodyanka” on his Instagram.
Borodyanka is a village in the Kyiv region. From February to April 2022, it was controlled by Russian troops. Dozens of civilians were killed there.
Kherson is taken what’s next for Ukraine?