Ukraine’s long road in planning an attack on Russia finally happened yesterday. The Ukrainian Ground Forces delivered a counter-offensive attack to recapture Kherson, the first Ukrainian city that fell to Russian forces.
Ukrainian forces used long-range missiles to bombard the Antonivsky bridge, a strategic route that ultimately blocked additional Russian troops and weaponry deployment. Russia retaliated during the offensive and targeted the southern regions of Odesa and Mykolaiv, affecting ports, transport infrastructures, leisure centers, residential houses, restaurants, and parking lots.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Kherson offensive is a strategic “playbook” that enables them to isolate Russian forces.
“Whatever plans they have, we will disrupt them. And we will liberate our territory with military, diplomaty and all other available means until we reach the legal borders of Ukraine.”
This also allowed Ukraine to showcase the outcome of training sessions provided to their military by allies like the US, UK, and Germany.
Ukraine has also gained momentum in the last 48 hours and is now looking at this strategy as an assertive way to reclaim its borders.
Retired Major General Ruper Jones agrees.
“You’ve seen how long it’s taken the Russians to slowly grind their way – small gains – and the Ukrainians with their counterattack again, when they achieved them again,” Maj. Gen. Jones told Times Radio.
“They have achieved small gains. So, yeah, I don’t think we should expect suddenly large swathes of the territory being liberated.”
“But this is significant. And it will potentially give the Ukrainians confidence. It’ll give them a playbook that they can potentially repeat.”
“And cities matter. You know, wars are about people. And it’s about retaking cities. And so, it is really significant.”
As of writing, Ukraine has successfully reclaimed two villages north of Kherson, Andriivka, and Lozove. However, a spokesperson from the military command said these villages would also be critical locations where they could plant Ukrainian artillery.
The Ukrainian military reported digging along Kherson’s western border to penetrate the region stealthily.
“We want to liberate our territory and return it all to our control. We’re ready. We have wanted this for a long time,” said Senior Lt. Sergei Savchenko, one of the members of Ukraine’s 28th Brigade.
After the heavy bombardment, the Ukrainian forces are now about 30 miles from the city. They’re liberating 44 towns and villages in nearby areas. They have covered about 15 percent of the region, according to the region’s military governor, Dmytro Butrii.
Ukrainian spies are also spread throughout the Russian camp to ensure a gap in information transfer. In addition, it has been reported that Ukrainian forces have successfully assassinated Russian authorities, with cars getting blown up in some cases.
In the last 48 hours, the Russian forces have lost thousands of tanks, helicopters, jets, ships, and armored vehicles, costing Putin’s military more than $10 billion. According to US Intelligence, some 75,000 soldiers have either been killed or wounded since the war began. This means Russia’s pre-invasion number (150,000 to 190,000 troops) halved during the Kherson offensive. Additionally, around 80% of Russian forces are stuck because of cut-down routes.
Kyiv Regional Gov. Oleksiy Kuleba notes they also received attacks from Russia. Twenty missiles were shot from Russian bases in northern Ukraine. However, Kuleba said Russia’s defense has already broken.
“Russia, with the help of missiles, is mounting revenge for the widespread popular resistance, which the Ukrainians were able to organize precisely because of their statehood. ‘Ukraine has already broken Russia’s plans and will continue to defend itself.”
Putin’s military is now reliant on mere pontoon bridges and ferries. The nearest bridge they’re looking to defend is the one in Dnipro, some 130 miles from Kherson. This means Russia has no clear means of sending immediate support to Kherson.
The UK Ministry of Defense also said that Ukraine’s use of long artillery was helpful in their strategy.
Ukraine has used its new long-range artillery to damage at least three bridges across the Dnipro River, which Russia relies upon to supply the areas under its control.
“One of these, the 1,000 metre long (3,300ft) Antonovsky Bridge near Kherson city, was damaged last week. Ukraine struck it again on July 27 and it is highly likely that the crossing is now unusable.”
“Russia’s 49th Army is stationed on the west bank of the Dnipro River and now looks highly vulnerable.”
“Similarly, Kherson city, the most politically significant population centre occupied by Russia, is now virtually cut off from the other occupied territories.”
“Its loss would severely undermine Russia’s attempts to paint the occupation as a success.”
Ukraine is expected to continue with this momentum. But, as General Jones said, this was a “significant” trigger because their momentum will slow down Russia in the coming weeks.
“Ukrainians have shown great courage in absorbing that. But with the advent of more advanced Western weaponry being in the hands of Ukrainians, this looks like an opportunity for them to retake the initiative.”
“And war is all about momentum. And for a while, it felt as though it was just ebbing away from the Ukrainians a little bit.”
Ukrainian soldiers are hopeful in their approach. Troops are warning the Russian military and offering them three options: “retreat (if possible, surrender, or be destroyed.“