Ukrainian commanders have decided that x27;they had more to gain by focusing on Kherson than counterattacking in the Donbass, observers say.
The region's capital, Kherson, was the first major city to fall to Russian forces after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.
While the war will soon enter its sixth month, the Ukrainian authorities are showing more and more openly their desire to retake Kherson, the first major city conquered a few days after the Russian invasion.
The President Volodymr Zelensky and members of his administration urged civilians to get out of the way.
I know for sure that there shouldn't be women and children there, and they shouldn't become human shields, recently said Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.
Over the past six weeks, Ukrainian assaults have brought their soldiers within 20 km of Kherson.
After losing territory to the east, Ukraine is turning south to recapture Kherson and drive Russia out of it.
Ukraine does not hide its intention to take back this seaside and port city, where Moscow has been pursuing a policy of Russification since its occupation four months ago: the ruble has been introduced, Russian passports issued, a first Russian bank has opened there its doors in late June, critical voices are suppressed and economic activity is largely under control of the occupation administration.
In early July, an official Russian from the powerful security services (FSB) has taken over the government of the Kherson region, further proof that it constitutes a strategic target for each of the two military camps.
Retired Ukrainian Colonel Serhiy Grabsky says the outcome of Vladimir Putin's war depends on the Russian military's ability to retain Kherson – and Ukraine's ability to recapture it.
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Local elders talk to a group of Russian soldiers in Kherson (photograph taken during a trip organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense).
According to him, the expulsion of the Russian invader from this very territory would put an end to any threat to other Ukrainian cities, such as Mykolaiv and Odessa, and would put the Russian military installations on the peninsula of Crimea within range of new Western weapons from Ukraine, including US long-range High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) rocket launchers.
Mr. Grabsky, who has held several international positions during a 28-year career, also explains that the southern front remains very small, with Ukrainian and Russian forces there being more or less equal. This is why, according to him, the Ukrainian commanders have an opportunity to regroup their forces and break through the Russian lines.
I am absolutely optimistic, a he told CBC News.
If Ukraine manages to mount a counter-offensive in the south that would lead to the liberation of Russian-held territory, it would be the first such success for the Ukrainian military since the invasion of Ukraine. February.
In comparison, when Russian troops were driven out of the Kyiv region and parts of northern Ukraine around Kharkiv in April, it's ;was after the failure of their own offensives.
Other military observers, however, remain cautious about a possible Ukrainian breakthrough in Kherson.
Philip Breedlove, a retired US Air Force general who served as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 2013 to 2016, told the BBC this week that Russia's abrasive and indiscriminate campaign to deplete the military and civilian infrastructure of Ukraine was effective.
However, he added, Ukraine can probably still field a sizable army against Kherson.
They don't have the massive numbers that Russia has. across the country, but I can tell you that Ukraine has much more experienced soldiers than Russia. This works in favor of Ukraine, Mr. Breedlove explained.
A US M142 HIMARS Rocket Launcher vehicle on display in Dubai. Vladimir Putin believes that Western arms supplies to Ukraine are only aimed at “prolonging the armed conflict as long as possible”.
In the eyes of Rob Lee, an analyst at Foreign Policy Research Institute of Philadelphia which has meticulously followed the course of the conflict, Ukraine will need more help from the West to succeed in this offensive.
Kyiv will likely need a stronger training program and ammunition if it is to retake any significant amount of territory, he wrote in a Twitter post.
According to Phillips O'Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, Ukrainian commanders decided that there was more to be gained by focusing on Kherson than by counterattacking in the Donbass, where Ukraine regularly cedes territory.
Kherson is the x27;where they should be able to attack with the greatest chance of success – when ready.
In this territorial takeover, the mighty HIMARS might do well Tip the balance of the conflict in favor of Ukraine, anticipates retired Colonel Serhiy Grabsky.
Based on information from Chris Brown, CBC