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The Sneaky Way Ukraine Could Take Back Kherson from Putin: Guerilla Warfare

Ukraine War with Russia
A Ukrainian serviceman fires with a mortar at a position, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at an unknown location in Kharkiv region, Ukraine May 9, 2022. REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The Ukrainian Army is attempting to take back the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, the first major city to fall to the Russian invasion. Kherson had a prewar population of about 300,000 people and has strategic value. 

And if the counteroffensive makes it into the city, the Ukrainians will have plenty of support from the partisans, the so-called “Shadow Army.”

Kherson controls the freshwater flow to the Russian-annexed region of Crimea on the Black Sea. After Russia annexed it in 2014, the Ukrainians cut off the flow of fresh water, which supplied 85 percent of the freshwater to Crimea. 

Kherson is also a port city and is the jumping-off point for Moscow to attack the port of Odesa. It would provide the land bridge between the separatist republics in the east, Crimea, and the Russian proxy-held area of Transnistria in neighboring Moldova. 

Russian Tactics Made it Easy For Resistance to Flourish

As soon as the Russians occupied Kherson, as in other cities and towns, they began typical Draconian Russian measures, which had the opposite effect of pacifying the region. 

Using the Stalinist-era playbook, what followed was purges and food confiscation. Public officials, former Ukrainian military personnel, journalists, and anyone protesting the occupation was sought, many of whom were kidnapped off the street. 

Then they were questioned by FSB members, beaten, tortured, and in many cases, killed while in captivity. 

The Russians introduced the ruble, and would only accept that as the currency. Ukrainian television was shut down, and only Russian news has been allowed in the city. Ukrainian teachers were fired, and Russian teachers were brought in with a pro-Moscow curriculum. 

Back in April, the Ukrainian head of intelligence, Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, announced that an insurgency was getting ready to start. That insurgency is growing inside Russia-occupied Ukraine, and the attacks against Russian troops and proxy government leaders are getting worse. 

What is “the Shadow Army” of the Resistance

Ukraine’s resistance group in Kherson, the so-called Shadow Army, consists of ordinary citizens, who have varying degrees of training, however, their citizen status makes it more difficult for Russian troops to find them. 

There are billboards in Kherson of a hooded figure whose face is in darkness. It says, “Kherson: The partisans see everything.” This was designed to warn average Ukrainians not to collaborate with the Russian military and keep Russian troops on edge. And it is effectively true. 

Ukrainian citizens have been largely utilized to document every move the Russians make inside the city and report them to Ukrainian military officials. The reporting is the dangerous part. They are bolstered by a group that flies drones over Russian positions to pinpoint their locations to the Ukrainian artillery. 

And then there are actual guerrilla fighters of the partisans who have more training and have conducted acts of sabotage and targeted assassinations of proxy civilian leaders and Russian officials. 

Ukraine’s  History of Resistance:

Ukraine’s history shows that its people have the will and ability to fight a protracted guerrilla war. Ukrainian partisans fought against Nazi Germany during World War II. Later they fought against Soviet occupiers, and guerrilla warfare of some sort lasted into the 1950s. 

That resistance against the Soviet Union continued with no outside support, which is amazing, considering that the Soviets would suppress any resistance using the same brutal tactics Russia now employs. 

Today, Ukraine has given rudimentary training to Ukrainian Territorial Defense forces. Training from its special operations forces, which learned from Western militaries – including the U.S. Army Special Forces, who are experts in guerrilla warfare – will greatly increase their effectiveness. Plus, the Ukrainians are getting plenty of outside support from Western democracies to aid in their fight against Russian aggression. 

Ukraine Has Begun Guerilla Warfare In Kherson

The New York Times reported that there have been a dozen attacks since the Russian occupation, targeting high-profile individuals in Russian-occupied territory. That speaks to a highly organized operation, with coordinated attacks to disrupt the Russian occupation. 

The guerilla attacks are largely concentrated in southern Ukraine’s Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. This is significant because the partisan activity will require Russia to pull front-line troops back to secure rear areas and population centers in the very places where the Ukrainian military is conducting a counter-offensive. 

Ukraine has set up a website called the Center of National Resistance, which features reports of Ukrainian guerilla attacks, as well as instructions on methods of sabotage and how to use VPN to get real news instead of Russian propaganda. 

Alexander Motyl of 19fortyfive.com, back in late May, amassed reports of numerous incidents where resistance elements killed Russian troops, assassinated pro-Russian bloggers or government officials, sabotaged acts, and much more. In some cases, attacks against Russian troops may have been conducted by members of Ukraine’s Special Forces or were guerrilla actions led by them.

Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.

Written By

Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 1945, he covers the NFL for PatsFans.com and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. KC

    July 29, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    This is encouraging information. We adopted our son from Mariupol in 2007, and I just finished writing a book called shops for Ukraine: Stories of Grit and Grace from the Frontlines of War. I had to change many names to protect Ukrainians working in-country in the manner in which you report above. Godspeed— KD

  2. Yrral

    July 29, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    What about the war Russian are waging inside Ukraine government,with agents , implanted right in Zelensky government as dysfunctional as their military is ,their great at espionage,they arrested a Russian couple that took the indentity of dead children,and had military and military industrial careers and even got government pension Google Hawaii Russian Arrest

  3. David Chang

    July 30, 2022 at 4:31 am

    God bless people in the world.

    I read the history documents of Vietnam war again since four months ago.

    I read the speech of Eisenhower which is at Seattle, August 4, 1953.

    I read the speech of Kennedy which is at Washington D.C., June 1, 1956.

    I read the speech of Trump which is at U.N. headquarters Tuesday, September 24, 2019.

    I read the Karl Marx socialism war declaration of Putin which is published in February 21, 2022.

    I read Force Design 2030.

    Putin is smart, he mix facts and lies by materialist dialectics, but elders who write the documents of nuclear weapons and foreign policy remind these lies.

    Putin said:
    “In the mid-1980s, the increasing socioeconomic problems and the apparent crisis of the planned economy aggravated the ethnic issue, which essentially was not based on any expectations or unfulfilled dreams of the Soviet peoples but primarily the growing appetites of the local elites.

    However, instead of analysing the situation, taking appropriate measures, first of all in the economy, and gradually transforming the political system and government in a well-considered and balanced manner, the Communist Party leadership only engaged in open doubletalk about the revival of the Leninist principle of national self-determination.

    Moreover, in the course of power struggle within the Communist Party itself, each of the opposing sides, in a bid to expand its support base, started to thoughtlessly incite and encourage nationalist sentiments, manipulating them and promising their potential supporters whatever they wished. Against the backdrop of the superficial and populist rhetoric about democracy and a bright future based either on a market or a planned economy, but amid a true impoverishment of people and widespread shortages, no one among the powers that be was thinking about the inevitable tragic consequences for the country.

    Next, they entirely embarked on the track beaten at the inception of the USSR and pandering to the ambitions of the nationalist elites nurtured within their own party ranks. But in so doing, they forgot that the CPSU no longer had – thank God – the tools for retaining power and the country itself, tools such as state terror and a Stalinist-type dictatorship, and that the notorious guiding role of the party was disappearing without a trace, like a morning mist, right before their eyes.”

    Can we stop Putin to preach the theology of liberation if we don’t obey Ten Commandments?

    God bless America.

  4. Jacksonian Libertarian

    July 30, 2022 at 5:08 am

    The Ukrainians have been surprising most people by their stalwart defense in the face of overwhelming Russian military power. Most in the west are used to seeing American backed Vietnamese, Afghanistani, and Iraqi forces routed by the first hint of combat. America needs to reinforce Ukrainian strength with smart weapons.

  5. Bobby

    July 30, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    Russian Military Code of Conduct: murder children and civilians, bomb hospitals, rape, pillage and torture. Pretty difficult for anyone to be proud of this group of thugs.

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