Ukraine War: The Road to Kherson
After weeks of significant gains in the east, the Ukrainian military is starting to gain ground in the south too. Over the past 48 hours, the Ukrainian military has liberated more than 800 square miles of territory in northern Kherson.
The Russian forces are holding a sizeable bridgehead on the west bank of the Dnipro River—Kherson city itself is located on the east bank of the river. But that bridgehead is now in danger of being cut off from the Russian logistical hubs and reinforcements located on the east bank.
Over the past several months, the Ukrainian forces have expertly used their long-range weapon systems, notably the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), and the M-777 155mm Howitzer outfitted with M982 Excalibur precision-guided munitions, to target the Russian lines of communication that connect the two banks of the Dnipro. With only two main bridges linking the Russian forces, the Ukrainian task wasn’t that hard. And now the Russians can only move supplies and troops reliably to the east bank through boats and pontoon bridges.
“Russia faces a dilemma: withdrawal of combat forces across the Dnipro makes defence of the rest of Kherson Oblast more tenable; but the political imperative will be to remain and defend,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
To complicate matters further, the Russian military has committed the majority of its elite VDV airborne forces to the defense of Kherson. A defeat there and the capture or destruction of the VDV would be a major blow to the Russian military’s morale. The Russian military can’t afford to lose more men and weapon systems, and yet Moscow continues to insist on holding unattainable positions.
“Therefore, Russia currently has few additional, high quality rapidly deployable forces available to stabilise the front: it likely aims to deploy mobilised reservists to the sector,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 61,330 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 266 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 232 attack and transport helicopters, 2,449 tanks, 1,424 artillery pieces, 5,064 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 344 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,854 vehicles and fuel tanks, 177 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,047 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 134 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 246 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
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. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.