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Putin Has a New Ukraine Problem: His Forces Can’t Retreat?

TOS-1 Rocket Artillery
Russian TOS-1 Rocket Artillery. Image Credit: YouTube Screenshot.

The Russian military is pulling out from many parts of Kherson province on day 242 of the war in Ukraine.

A Pontoon Bridge too Far?

Russian forces are withdrawing from the western bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson province. Their positions have been come unattainable under the constant pressure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

But to get across the Dnipro, which is about one kilometer wide, the Russian forces need bridges. Antonovsky Bridge, the major vehicular bridge in the region, has been partially destroyed by the Ukrainian long-range fires interdiction campaign.

To bypass that restriction of movement, the Russian military has built a pontoon bridge adjacent to the severely damaged Antonovsky Bridge. But that doesn’t necessarily ensure that the Russian forces on the western bank will be able to evacuate in time and in good order with all of the weapon systems.

“Although the use of heavy barge bridges was almost certainly included in Soviet-era planning for operations in Europe, it is likely this is the first time the Russian military have [sic] needed to utilise this type of bridge for decades,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

“Using civilian barges likely provides Russia additional material and logistics benefits, having lost significant quantities of military bridging equipment and engineering personnel during its invasion,” the British Military Intelligence added.

“If the barge bridge sustains damage, it is almost certain Russia will seek to repair or replace damaged sections quickly, as their forces and crossing points over the Dnipro river come under increasing pressure in Kherson,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

But the Ukrainian forces have already targeted and attacked the Russian makeshift pontoon bridge (essentially a series of barges strewn together). The fact that the pontoon bridge is right next to the Antonovsky Bridge makes targeting that much harder, even if the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) or M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) are used.

Russian Casualties in Ukraine 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Saturday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 67,070 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 270 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 243 attack and transport helicopters, 2,579 tanks, 1,653 artillery pieces, 5,266 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 373 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,021 vehicles and fuel tanks, 189 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,341 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 148 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 329 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

Russia and Iran: An Alliance of Pariahs?

There has been a lot of talk about the military assistance that Iran has been providing to Russia. In the past few days, Iranian drones have made their presence known all across Ukraine after the Russian military used them, especially the Shahed-136 loitering munition, to attack Ukrainian urban centers and critical infrastructure.

The cooperation with Tehran is another sign of Moscow’s increasing international marginalization.

The fact that Iran is supplying Moscow with weapon systems is “another sign of how isolated both Russia and Iran are, and they have to rely on each other,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said to Politico.

Ukraine Video Footage

Image of Ukraine attacking Russian tank. Image Credit: Twitter Screenshot.


Soldiers serving with Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Division, shoot a round down range from their M777A2 howitzer on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. The round was part of a shoot to register, or zero, the howitzers, which had just arrived on KAF from Forward Operating Base Pasab. The shoot also provided training for a fire support team from 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, 4th Inf. Div. This is similar to artillery now engaged in Ukraine. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ariel Solomon/Released)

“They continue to lie to the world but the facts are clear. The Supreme Leader should answer why he has Iran directly engaged on the ground and through the provision of weapons that enable Russia to kill civilians and damage civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. It’s just another example of Iran’s desire to export violence, and both Iran and Russia need to be held accountable for it,” Kirby added.

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.



  1. marcjf

    October 23, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    Pro-Russian sources say civilians have been evacuated but Russian military units have been reinforced (to 30,000 strong including heavy armour etc) and have prepared defensive positions. No idea myself but certainly a defeat if forced to withdraw.

    • TrustbutVerify

      October 24, 2022 at 9:01 am

      Well, since the observed barges crossing the Dnipro have been full going OUT (evacuating) and empty returning (no supplies or reinforcements) that probably isn’t exactly true. Strategically, putting 30,000 additional troops and any equipment on the OTHER side of a river when you can’t retreat or resupply them is just dooming them to defeat either through siege or attrition. Having a few hundred or thousand cut off, as the UKAF did in Mariupol, that keep fighting is different than trying to support thousands of troops expending fuel and ammo in a fight.

    • Anybody

      October 29, 2022 at 9:35 am


      Russian pulled back/retreated their crack troops. They sent in ill equipped low moral conscripts. Those conscripts know that they are the cannon folder. Give em half a chance and they will surrender instead of dying.

      I am surprised the Ukraine does not yet have a new problem – too many POWs. And starting now, some with infectious diseases even !

  2. Jacksonian Libertarian

    October 23, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    The Russian military both men and material, have proven themselves to be 3rd rate.

    “Morale is to material as 3 to 1” Napoléon

    What are the chances we will see a last stand like the one in Mariupol, by the Russians in this war?

    The Ukrainians are 1st rate fighters, 1st World smart weapon supplied, and it’s only a matter of time before they win. The 1st World should give them the time, and hand a huge defeat to Russia, Iran, and the entire Authoritarian World.

    • Scottfs

      October 23, 2022 at 6:06 pm

      I hope the Ukrainians annihilate the Russians.

      And to think Biden wants to lift sanctions on Iran, a proto-nuclear power, with missiles than can hit European and American targets.

      And we can’t forget the $1.7 billion IN CASH that B. Hussein Obama sent to the biggest state-sponsor of terrorism, Iran.

  3. Michael McIntyre

    October 23, 2022 at 2:42 pm

    re: Putin Has a New Ukraine Problem: You were probably voice-to-texting, but it transcribed you line as “Their positions have been come unattainable…” instead of “Their positions have become untenable.
    Nice article.

    • Glenn

      October 23, 2022 at 6:13 pm

      Exactly what I came here to say.

  4. Serhio

    October 23, 2022 at 11:22 pm

    Funny. Although the author is positioned as an experienced expert, he thinks like a person who has never held a machine gun in his hands. His reasoning may seem convincing only to people who do not follow the conflict in detail. And who said that the Russians are going to retreat? Three weeks have passed since Ukrainian troops, with the support of Western mercenaries, forced the Russian troops to withdraw to prepared positions, and the Ukrainians have not made any noticeable progress during this time. Moreover, the Russians were not defeated and not taken into the cauldron. The Russians themselves withdrew from uncomfortable positions to fortified areas. And for three weeks they have been sitting on their prepared and targeted positions and destroying Ukrainian troops like partridges. They mined the space between their troops and the Ukrainians and every attack by the Ukrainians costs them very dearly, because the Russians have an overwhelming advantage in artillery and aviation and the terrain does not contribute much to the offensive. And all this time, the Russians are using powerful equipment to prepare new lines of fortifications. If the Ukrainians can break through the defense, the Russians will move to the next level and everything will start again and again. At the same time, the Ukrainian troops have no less problems with delivery than the Russians. Due to the small number of Ukrainian air defense, the Russians blow up warehouses with weapons and fuel. Russian Lancet attack drones regularly destroy the remnants of Ukraine’s air defense. The Ukrainian Air Force is practically absent. In the absence of massive air support, any offensive is doomed to become one big grave for the attackers. In addition, the Russians are evacuating the civilian population of Kherson in order, if necessary, to turn the city into one big fortress and arrange a new Stalingrad for Ukrainians in Kherson, if they can still reach it. If anyone does not know, then in Stalingrad the Germans were able to destroy all the bridges across the Volga, but this did not help them much. And the Antonovsky Bridge, although it was damaged by several hits of HIMARS, remains in working condition and only civilian cars are prohibited from moving along it. And even if the Ukrainian military manages to damage the Kakhovka dam and the flood demolishes the pontoon crossings and destroys the Antonovsky Bridge, the Russians have enough helicopters to deliver reinforcements and ammunition and take out the wounded until the water level drops and new crossings are built.

    • TrustbutVerify

      October 24, 2022 at 9:11 am

      Komrade Serhio, you said the same things at the start of the invasion. Then the Russians were kicked out of Kyiv. Then Kharkiv. Then the northern Donbas. Now Kherson.

      You keep saying these things, but I do not think they mean what you think they do.

      • Serhio

        October 24, 2022 at 10:52 pm

        First of all, you confuse me with someone. I was not on this resource at the time of the beginning of the conflict and I could not give any forecasts.
        Secondly, I have always maintained and continue to assert that the Russians were not going to seize Kiev. To capture such a large city, the forces that were sent there were clearly not enough. So there are two options:
        1. Russians are self-confident fools who do not understand anything about the war. This option is rejected by the history of all recent wars and the fact that the Russians captured about 20% of the territory of Ukraine with fierce resistance.
        2. It was a diversionary maneuver so that Kiev could not transfer troops to Donbass. The troops were pulled to the capital at the very moment when they were very much needed in the Donbas. When the need for a diversion of forces disappeared, the troops left. They left by themselves. They were not surrounded and exterminated or captured. Kiev and Western propagandists can beat their fists in their chests and make threatening growls, but facts are a very stubborn thing.

        In the Kherson direction and near Kharkov, the counteroffensive of Ukrainian troops forced the Russians to retreat, leaving several settlements, the largest of which numbered 15,000 and 25,000 inhabitants before the conflict began. This is certainly bad for Russians. But who said that war is parades and continuous victories? Bitter pills are also part of the war. And they allow you to change the tactics of fighting. It would be much worse if the Ukrainians were able to build on the success of the offensive and go further. But it didn’t happen. This offensive has cost the Ukrainian troops very dearly. The losses in people and equipment are enormous. Three weeks have passed since the “first victory of the Ukrainian-NATO weapons”. There is no more good news for Ukraine. They have run into the defense of the Russians and are trampling on the spot, watering the surrounding forests and fields with their blood. During this time, the Russians methodically destroy everything they can reach with missiles and drones. Energy, transport infrastructure, military production and repair shops, air defense stations and armored vehicles.

    • Anybody

      October 29, 2022 at 9:55 am

      @Serhio A one week ‘special ops’ is ongoing into 250+ days war of attrition and you still suspect Russian can win???? I’ll give you one irrefutable argument why Russia will lose:

      Russia + Iran + N. Korea is economy of <$2T GDP and w/o semis ala HIMARs. The coalition they are fighting against has ~$60T GDP + semis. As long as the Ukrainians will fight, and they will because they are fighting for their homeland, they WILL win in the end.

      Best/worst outcome Putin can get – the whole earth getting nuked. But I suspect Putin will be taking a long walk out of a very high story window way before that happens.

      Net net – my advise is not to bet your hard earned money on Putin.

  5. Serhio

    October 23, 2022 at 11:45 pm

    “The fact that Iran is supplying Moscow with weapon systems is “another sign of how isolated both Russia and Iran are, and they have to rely on each other,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said to Politico.”

    The fact that Iran supplies weapons to Russia is not yet a proven fact. At least the declared characteristics of the Iranian and Russian drones differ. “Shahed 136” can carry 50 kilograms of explosives and “Geranium 2” 75 kilograms. The wingspan of the Russian drone is farther, it is longer and flies a longer distance. Ukraine has a lot of remnants of these drones at its disposal. And apart from empty words that these are Iranian drones, we do not yet have any evidence. Are there any? What is there specific Iranian? Chinese engine from a lawn mower? Standard American Texas Instruments chips that are manufactured by millions and sold to hundreds of countries? What is there in Iranian technology that Russians cannot produce independently?

    But if we assume that the drones are still Iranian, then this still does not confirm Kirby’s words about isolation. If Western countries use Ukraine as a testing ground for their own weapons (an example is the German IRIS-T air defense system, which is supplied to Ukraine, although it has not yet been tested in real battles), then what prevents Iran from doing the same? Conduct tests of their products in real combat conditions. Make sure it’s effective and deadly. Two countries have the same enemy. This is the USA. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    • TrustbutVerify

      October 24, 2022 at 9:09 am

      Komrade Serhio…you aren’t fighting the US or NATO. If you were, it would already be over. You are just fighting competent soldiers using combined arms tactics. As to Iranian drones…they have video of the drones in flight that allow you to clearly see they are Iranian drones, not Russian.

      If Iran is the only place that Russia has to go for cheap drone tech – not producing its own – then, yeah, that does reinforce that they are isolated and don’t have access to the materials needed to make them. Isolated is when you have the vast majority of the world participating in sanctions and only China, Iran and sorta-kinda India providing any support or technology.

    • Scott

      October 24, 2022 at 6:35 pm

      Iranians are on the ground piloting the drones against Ukrainians. We should be bombing the crap out of them.

  6. Serhio

    October 24, 2022 at 11:56 pm

    The Russians are fighting an army that was trained by NATO, with weapons supplied by NATO, with the participation of soldiers-mercenaries of NATO countries. If NATO announces its official participation in the conflict, then strikes on their territory are possible. Whether NATO will do this will depend solely on the United States. The president is too old, communicates with spirits every day. Actually, he was put forward because he does not think anything, does not solve anything and it is very convenient to write off all sins on him.
    About drones: there is no reliable data whose drones they are. For me, the 3 versions are about the same:
    1. These are Iranian drones.
    2. This is a Russian copy of Iranian drones
    3. This is a Russian proprietary development that looks similar to the Iranian one.
    I repeat, so far I have not seen a detailed analysis of the remains of the strike drone anywhere with evidence that it is an Iranian drone or a Russian drone. If you have seen such evidence, show it. The statement of the Russian, Ukrainian and Western press should not be offered. I don’t consider the “highly likely” versions. The proof can only be a detailed analysis of the remains with expert comments on which details he determined the origin of the drone. I repeat: these drones are not a miracle of engineering. Most of these drones are spare parts that can be assembled in my garage. The only high-tech thing about these drones is the control system. Russians make wonderful planes, helicopters and rockets. All these products use microchips that the Russians make themselves. It’s part of their national defense strategy to rely only on their own. If you start to prove to me that the Russians don’t have the ability to make much more primitive chips for drones, then I won’t believe it. Moreover, much more advanced drones like the “Lancet” and others, they definitely produce themselves. According to unverified data, the production of “Lancet” drones has reached the level of 100 units per day. I can’t check it yet. It is also a shock drone, but equipped with a camera with which it can capture the moment of the attack. There are already hundreds of recordings from such a drone on the web. They primarily hit air defense stations, HIMARS, tanks and artillery.

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