Another hour, another map of the northern zone of Russian occupation in the Kherson region. Throughout Tuesday and into the evening, Ukraine continued to push south, bringing the area liberated since Sunday in this part of this oblast alone to an incredible 1,600 square kilometres.
Not all towns and cities marked have been confirmed, but most of them have been. That in itself shows another huge change in Kherson this week: Opsec. Previously, Ukraine had demanded, and obtained, virtual silence from the forces stationed in Kherson. Villages were back and forth, Ukrainian troops made this daring double back in which they crossed a Russian-built pontoon bridge to liberate a Russian-occupied town. But as far as the videos and images of the Ukrainian forces were concerned, there was nothing to see. Whoever gave that talk on how loose iPhones sink infantry, they did a really good job.
Only now there are videos and more videos. Many, if not most, of the towns and villages liberated in the past two days are accompanied by video of Ukrainian forces walking around, residents tearfully saluting them (sometimes with an apple or watermelon) and the raising of a Ukrainian flag. Ukraine is back in this field, and it doesn’t matter who knows.
By Tuesday evening in Ukraine, the rapid advance of Ukrainian forces had brought them back to the line supposed to represent Russia’s fallback position: a line from Bruskynske to Borozenske to Mylove. Each of these positions would have been reinforced by Russian forces that have withdrawn from the front lines, and each would have defensive positions that Russia hopes to use to hold the roads that lead to Berislav (bottom of the map).
But, just a few minutes ago, reports from Telegram sources indicate that this line is already broken. And apparently, broke badly.
According to pro-Russian source Rybar, “The Ukrainian formations will continue to pass the defensive orders of the Russian Armed Forces. The closest objective of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is Berislav and New Kakhovka. A new phase of the battle for Kherson begins.”
It is not known whether Russia managed to cross the Dnipro at Nova Kakhovka. More likely, as Kos suggested earlier, they have retreated across the Inhulets River to the west side of the map and piled up around the city of Kherson, where they can neither be supplied nor adequately recorded. Others are surely huddled in Berislav, hoping that a barge, or a pontoon bridge, or a helicopter, or a flying horse will come and take them away before the Ukrainian forces reach the town. Because Berislave is only about four small blocks deep in its entire length, with the back of the town flat against the river.
There is a small quarry near the northwest side of town, providing a bit of a ditch and a hill made up of spoil. That’s about it for topography. There’s no big industrial zone in the city, and it’s hard to see where thousands of Russians could position themselves in that area without getting beaten up.
Of course, the Russian guns east of the Dnipro will probably set up on the other side of the river and try to cover the trapped forces, but such a narrow town is not the most comfortable place to be when the shells fuse above their heads. And Ukraine will absolutely declare it HIMARS O’Clock if there is a large group of Russian forces gathered there.
On the other hand, it is actually the site of the Turkish fortress town of Kazikermen, from which a legendary iron chain was raised across the Dnipro, and it also houses the ruins of a 14th century castle. . So someone in the past apparently thought it was a decent place to hide. Of course, these people in the past had never heard of artillery.
Where is the real front line right now? I do not know. I can only tell you this: the map at the top of this page, like all the other maps I’ve created today, is already very outdated. In three days, Ukraine liberated a third of the territory on the western side of the Dnipro. By the time we get confirmation of the new posts, that could easily be more than half.
For three days, Ukraine has been pushing on a broad front. For three days, Russia has been retreating. Now they both look set to collide across the river from Nova Kakhovka. What happens here is going to be significant.
Now Ukraine just has to get there. Meanwhile, just as I was finishing this…
Snihurivka guards a highway that leads directly to the city of Kherson, and there are few places along this highway suitable for defense to the outskirts of the city. Could Ukraine really opt for Kherson and Nova Kakhovka at a time?
Features of this package include:
- Four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and associated munitions;
- 16 howitzers of 155 mm;
- 75,000 155mm artillery shells;
- 500 precision-guided 155 mm artillery shells;
- 1,000 rounds of 155mm Remote Anti-Armor Mine Systems (RAAM);
- 16 howitzers of 105 mm;
- 30,000 120mm mortar shells;
- 200 MaxxPro mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles;
- 200,000 small arms ammunition;
- obstacle laying equipment;
- Claymore anti-personnel ammunition.
Precision-guided artillery shells are particularly important for hitting entrenched armor in this last line of defense around Kherson and Nova Kakhovka in Kherson Oblast. The remote anti-tank mine shells are a curious addition, I wonder why Ukraine asked for them given how quickly they punch through Russian lines.
HIMARS are only useful if the United States has the rockets for them. Or maybe it alleviates maintenance issues, since all military equipment is prone to frequent breakdowns. The 155 M777s are probably a re-enactment, as we saw a handful destroyed by Russia.
105mm howitzers are smaller and can be towed by humvees and other jeep-like vehicles. They have a shorter range than Howitzers, but great support for attacking troops due to their mobility and because longer range objects cannot be fired near friendly forces.
We will eventually know more details about the collapse of the Russian defense in Kherson, but chances are it has a lot to do with Russia’s inability to properly build up its forces in this axis. I have seen credible estimates that only about a quarter of Russia’s supply needs are met by barges and what little truck traffic can safely cross the two damaged bridges in the Kherson Pocket. Cold and hungry troops suffering from a shortage of ammunition and fuel do not lend themselves to effective defense. By collapsing the lines, Russia alleviates its logistical challenges and can concentrate its firepower in a smaller area.
Of course, concentrating their forces around two tight lines also means that Ukraine can concentrate its artillery in a small space as well, and the HIMARS rockets with the tungsten shell balls can do their macabre job even more effectively. It won’t end well for Russia, and they’d better just ferry their forces across the river, gifting Ukraine with all that sweet, soft armor. Well, at least the good stuff, not those old T-62Ms from the 1960s (although they may be useful to Territorial Defense Forces occupying the Belarusian border).