The Kherson oblast in Ukraine has seen some of the fiercest fighting since Russia’s full-fledged war on the country in early 2022. Initially wanting to use the oblast as a stepping stone to launch an assault toward Odesa, Ukraine stopped the Russian advance at Mykolaiv in the spring of 2022.

Reversing Russian gains, Ukraine launched a major Southern offensive on the right bank of the Kherson oblast in the autumn of 2022, liberating the city and forcing the Russian military into a humiliating withdrawal. Nevertheless, the most crucial fight will be a liberation of the left bank of the Kherson oblast, a gateway to putting Crimea under effective fire control.

Russia’s Foothold on the Left Bank

Then, under the command of “General Armageddon,” Suvorikin, Russian Forces immediately withdrew from the right bank of Kherson across the Dnipro River in early November of 2022. The garrison set an effective line of defense there and would continue to shell Kherson City across the river. The consistent shelling has caused numerous civilian casualties in the oblast’s capital.

Russia’s orderly withdrawal was critical for their war effort, as much of their electronic radar and air defense systems were ferried before the Ukrainian army (ZSU) captured them. Before the Ukrainian counteroffensive, numerous Russian conscripts were deployed to the left bank to reinforce the depleted professional army.

Ukrainian Sniper
Ukrainian Sniper from Reuters

Ukraine’s Preparations to Retake the Rest of the Oblast

Ukraine has taken a calculated approach to cross into the left bank into Kherson eventually. As the Dnipro River is wide with little concealment, probing operations have occurred for the past few months.

Immediately after Kherson City’s liberation, the ZSU began preparations for probing and scoping operations towards the Kinburn Spit. The spit is a strategic location where Russian Forces have placed numerous artillery and electronic warfare systems that the ZSU must destroy to keep the civilians and troops safe on the left bank. Ukrainian reconnaissance forces have been active against the Russian garrison on the Kinburn Spit for the last several months.

Compared to the Zaporizhzhia oblast, the left bank of Kherson isn’t as fortified, and a potentially successful amphibious assault by the ZSU would allow Kyiv to have a straight shot at cutting off Crimea from the rest of the Russian military. The threat of amphibious assault was one of the reasons why Russia ultimately mined and detonated the Nova Kakhovka Dam on June 6th.