A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Jul 27, 2022

What Happens As Ukraine Appears Likely To Retake Kherson Region From Russia?

A growing number of accounts suggest that Ukraine's counteroffensive to retake the Kherson region and southern Ukraine has begun. 

It is widely believed to be the crucial battle of the war. If Ukraine prevails, it threatens Putin's entire Ukraine strategy as well as his standing globally and at home. If, as many predict, Ukraine will succeed in pushing the Russians out, Russia's hold on Crimea is threatened and its entire Ukraine invasion will be deemed a failure. The stakes could not be higher. JL 

Mick Ryan reports in War In the Future:

For both the Ukrainians and the Russians, the campaign in the south will be the decisive front in the war (But) only one side is fighting for its lands and people. With continuing Western support, clever planning, effective execution, adaptation, and leadership, the Ukrainians are very capable of taking back the south. A Russian loss in the south will be a significant blow for Putin and provide additional impetus for Western support for Ukraine. (It) will force Putin to make difficult strategic choices (retaining Crimea, for instance) and will have significant political ramifications for Putin at home. For Russia, success in this war to subjugate Ukraine rests on retention of the south.As we seen the unfolding Ukrainian operations in southern Ukraine, it is worth pondering, what happens when Ukraine takes back the south?

 

This region is a significant source of Ukrainian GDP. It is also the location of major power plants, and the ports through which goods are dispatched that represent over half of Ukraine’s export earnings. Russian government agents, assisted by the military, are seeking to institute a range of Russian government systems to annexe Ukraine’s southern region.

 

These all provide an imperative to undertake large scale military operations to take back their lands seized by Russia. The Ukrainian President has recently directed his armed forces to conduct such a campaign. Offensive operations are much more difficult than defensive operations. However, the Ukrainians have demonstrated a canny ability to surprise Western observers with the rapid absorption of equipment and adaptation of battlefield tactics so far.We should expect that this kind of strategic learning will continue as they prepare for and conduct a southern counter offensive.

 

The Russian government has been very clear in their intention to retain the Ukrainian territory they occupy. And while both sides have the will and the capability for a sustained campaign, only one side is fighting for its lands and its people. Predications in war are perilous. But with continuing Western support, clever planning, rehearsals, effective execution, adaptation, and excellent leadership, the Ukrainians are very capable of taking back their territory in the south.

 

This poses an important question; what happens next? If the Russians are pushed back into Crimea, how does this affect their overall campaign in Ukraine? First, a Russian loss in the south will be a significant blow for the Putin government. It will make international headlines, embarrassing Putin’s friends in Beijing and Tehran, and emboldening Ukraine’s supporters. And it will also cause unease at home. 2nd, it will provide additional impetus for NATO and Western support for Ukraine. A significant Ukrainian battlefield victory in an offensive should energise those who have lagged in providing important offensive capabilities.

 

It will demonstrate (again) that #Ukraine has both the will and the ability to defeat Russia and push them back to (at least) the 24 February borders. It would serve as a massive confidence boost for Ukraine and the West more broadly. 3rd, it will unhinge the current Russian strategy. Putin placed a heavy emphasis on seizing the south in the early weeks of the war. He was hoping that possessing the south and its ports would allow Russia to slowly strangle #Ukraine.

 

But without possessing the south, Russia’s current strategy will have failed. As the Ukrainians have shown throughout the war, they are very willing to fight and kill as many Russians as it takes. But they are at their best when undertaking clever, indirect actions that destroy Russia’s #strategy. Finally, losing the south will force Putin and his military commanders to make difficult strategic choices.Because if the Russian Naval base at Sevastopol comes into range of Ukrainian long range strike weapons in the south, is it then a bastion worth retaining and defending for Russia?If not, a Russian withdrawal from Crimea (as a goodwill gesture, of course) will have significant political ramifications for Putin at home. But if Russia stays in Crimea, they will need to further dilute their forces in the east to send more defenders to Crimea.

 

For both the Ukrainians and the Russians, the campaign in the south will be the decisive front in the war. For Ukraine, ongoing or increased Western support may be a vital outcome of victory. For Russia, overall success in this war to subjugate Ukraine, and extinguish their democracy, probably rests on their retention of the south. The stakes are the very high indeed.

3
1,322


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is no way that Russia will give up Crimea which contains are only warm water port and the majority of their naval capacity, at least easily or in a sign of good faith. The will give up the east first, attempt a peace treaty and resort to bioweapons or anything to give them a new edge. Putin is a child me will act like one getting his favorite toy taken away.

Post a Comment