Russia withdraws from key town near Kherson, ISW report says

13 September, 10:32 AM
Ukrainian military on the front line (Photo:Ground forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine / Facebook)

Ukrainian military on the front line (Photo:Ground forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine / Facebook)

Fresh satellite imagery of the battlegrounds in Ukraine’s south suggest Russian troops have abandoned defensive positions just 15 kilometers away from the Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson, U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its Sept. 12 report.

Satellite imagery of known Russian positions in Kyselivka, 15 kilometers northwest of Kherson, shows that all but four Russian vehicles have departed from previous forward positions, consistent with rumors that the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR) troops have abandoned Kyselivka and moved back towards the Dnipro River.

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Kyselivka is an operationally significant location for Russian forces around Kherson because it is the last major settlement along both the E58 highway and a railway line between current Ukrainian positions and Chornobaivka, the outermost suburb of Kherson.

The apparent withdrawal of Russian troops from this position may compromise the Russians’ ability to defend the northwestern outskirts of Kherson and suggests that Russian troops in this area perceive an imminent threat to their positions.

Spokesperson for Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command, Natalya Humeniuk, stated on Sept. 12 that Russian forces located along the right bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast are attempting to negotiate for surrender under the auspices of international law.

Ukrainian operations in Kharkiv Oblast are unlikely to have had such a dramatic psychological effect on Russian troops this far south, and both the withdrawal of troops from forward positions in Kyselivka and reports of surrender negotiations are indicators that Ukrainian counteroffensives in the south are progressing in a significant way, even if visibility on this axis is limited by the shift in focus to Kharkiv.

The success of recent Ukrainian counteroffensive operations may be impacting the will or ability of the Russian military command to use newly formed volunteer units in Ukraine in a timely fashion. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that the Russian military command has suspended sending new, already-formed units to Ukraine due to recent Russian losses and widespread distrust of the Russian military command, factors which have caused a large number of volunteers to categorically refuse to participate in combat.

This assessment is still unconfirmed, but low morale due to Ukrainian counteroffensive success may prove devastating to the Kremlin’s already-poor ability to generate meaningful combat capability. The deployment of these newly formed units to reinforce defensive lines against Ukrainian counteroffensives would be an operationally-sound decision on the part of Russian military leadership; and the delay or potential suspension of these deployments will afford Ukrainian troops time to consolidate and then resume the offensive.

Other key takeaways of the report are as follows:

  • Russian forces are failing to reinforce the new frontline following Ukrainian gains in eastern Kharkiv Oblast and are actively fleeing the area or redeploying to other sections of the front;
  • Ukrainian forces continued targeting Russian military assets and positions in Kherson Oblast, likely steadily degrading them;
  • The Ukrainian recapture of Izyum has likely degraded Russian forces’ ability to conduct artillery strikes along the Izyum-Slovyansk highway;
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced the restoration of the second reserve power transmission line to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP);
  • Ukraine’s sweeping counteroffensive is damaging Russian administrative capabilities and driving Russian departures from occupied parts of Ukraine far behind the line of contact.

Russia's war against Ukraine: map of hostilities

Фото: ISW

Battles and offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Kharkiv Oblast: map of combat operations

Фото: ISW

Battles and offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the south of Ukraine: map of combat operations (Kherson Oblast)

Фото: ISW

Battles in Donbas: map

Фото: ISW

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