Former security service officer on why liberation of Kherson should not be rushed

16 October 2022, 06:25 PM
Ukrainian military (Photo:8th Special Purpose Regiment “Iziaslav Mstislavich” / Facebook)

Ukrainian military (Photo:8th Special Purpose Regiment “Iziaslav Mstislavich” / Facebook)

Against the background of the successful advance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the south of Ukraine, analysts are increasingly talking about the near prospect of the liberation of Kherson City.

The Financial Times considers such a development likely next week.

At the same time, Russian collaborator in Kherson have released confusing statements about an "evacuation".

Radio NV asked Ivan Stupak, a former employee of the Security Service of Ukraine and consultant to the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security and Defense, when to expect the liberation of Kherson, what it might be like and why the Armed Forces should be careful during the de-occupation of the city.

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— Collaborators began to declare that evacuation is needed for civilians because there is a risk of shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Russia immediately issued a serene public response to them that those who want to leave should leave. I cannot draw a clear conclusion what this means. Is there really a prospect that the Armed Forces could liberate Kherson very soon? Is Russia planning any explosions or attacks in Kherson?

— Let's be very careful, because the Russian occupation machine, special services, no matter how we regard them — pigs, dogs or whatever — know how to fight, how to work. If they didn’t, the war would have ended on Feb. 27-28. And they are learning: from their own experience, from the Ukrainian experience.

Therefore, all this talk that we may leave, "we need to evacuate" — maybe it is so. Or, perhaps, as an option, these are such tricks from the Russians to provoke our military to act more decisively. "That's it, Russians are coming out, let's rush to liberate Kherson", and there may bea trap. There may be provocations with shelling of civilians. When they are lined up in columns, when they are supposedly leaving Kherson, Russians will shoot at them and say that it was "Ukrbanderites who fired", as it was in Zaporizhzhya Oblast at the crossing point of the demarcation line. That is, there can also be a false flag.

We must be very careful with these tricks from the Russians.

— Do you undertake to make forecasts about Kherson Oblast? How actively are the Armed Forces of Ukraine advancing there?

— As for the forecasts. We were asked to keep silent.

Our military is advancing. We do not rush them, there is no requirement, as it was in Soviet times, that it is necessary to liberate something by some anniversary. No. They are moving according to their own plan. The maximum position that our army wants to achieve is to save the lives of our military, our civilians, our infrastructure. Therefore, (the probability of a pitched battle), urban fighting is limited as much as possible.

We saw this in Kharkiv Oblast, when (the Armed Forces) began to surround the Russians, where they made fortifications, dug trenches, (the occupiers) began to abandon their weapons and fled through the forest or gardens. That is, this is the kind of tactics (we use).

— How does the Russian military feel in Kherson Oblast? How strongly are they entrenched there?

— It’s very difficult (for the Russians). From the outside, they are pressured by the Armed Forces, squeezed. And from the inside they are being squeezed by our partisans, the partisan movement.

While earlier when they entered Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, let's be honest, they had support — people came out with tears in their eyes and said "at last you have come", the Russians did not expect any guerrilla movement (yes, there were some actions, but there was no large-scale movement), but here (in Kherson — ed.) everything is different.

All eight months that Kherson has been under occupation, someone is constantly being killed. We hear only about more or less known collaborators, and how many Russian soldiers accidentally died from a brick that fell on their heads, fell into a sewer manhole somewhere, and drowned. All this work is carried out by our partisans.

Because of this, Russians cannot just calmly walk down the street, they constantly have to look around. This is the first thing. Secondly, these leaflets are constantly being put up, they are in constant tension.

HIMARS arrived in the summer — they started to reach those territories that were always a safe cloud where you could rest. (Now) there are almost no places left in Kherson Oblast where you can rest from the guerrillas, from the shelling of our military and HIMARS. You need to take a map, measure 80 km with a ruler and (go to the place) where HIMARS will not reach.

The Russian command left Kherson a month ago, said "you stay here" andmoved to the left bank to be safer.

That is, now it is very difficult for them. And I’m inclined to think that they have plans to leave Kherson and say that "we didn't need it that badly, there was an aggressive environment, Ukrbanderists were everywhere, so we decided to move further and occupy more favorable lines." It’s possible.

But I see that the Kremlin is holding back (from this) solely for political reasons. This is the only big achievement of the Kremlin, of (Russian dictator Vladimir) Putin, in eight months of war.

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