Ukraine’s strategy to ‘choke out’ Russian troops in Kherson

Ukraine's strategy is to isolate Russian troops says expert

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President Volodymyr Zelesnky’s advancing troops in the south are expected to encircle and “choke out” Russian soldiers in Kremlin-controlled Kherson. Rather than a direct strike on the city which could deteriorate into an open street battle, the Ukrainian military is tipped to steadily isolate President Putin’s troops until they are forced to retreat due to a lack of resources. Dr Patrick Bury, a senior lecturer in security at the University of Bath, spoke to to discuss Kyiv’s renewed counter-offensive against Russian-occupied regions in the south of Ukraine.

Speaking of the Ukrainian military strategy, Dr Bury said: “They don’t want to get involved in an urban fight in Kherson.

“So, what you do is you isolate it, you envelope it, you basically cut it off.

“You do that and you will probably leave a few routes out for the Russians.

“If you do that, you’ve kind of gone around and past the city to try and choke them out.”

Intelligence reports have supported this analysis as Ukrainian troops have targeted a series of transport routes into the Kherson region.

Ahead of the large-scale counter-offensive operation, Ukrainian forces made use of Western-supplied long-range weapons to destroy key road bridges into the city.

The Russian military, who had been using these roads as essential resupply routes, attempted to construct a pontoon bridge across the Dnipro River to compensate for the destruction.

However, the UK Ministry of Defence has reported the makeshift floating bridge remains incomplete, leaving Russian troops in Kherson lacking a reliable transport route through which to receive military supplies, rations, and additional personnel.

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Dr Bury suggested the deficit of Russian supplies will play to Ukraine’s advantage as President Putin’s soldiers lack the manpower and equipment to launch an effective fight back.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed: “In the south, near Kherson, Russia is likely struggling to bring sufficient reserves forward across the Dnipro River to the front line.”

While he acknowledged that the Russian troops could “hole up” in the city and defiantly refuse to flee, Dr Bury claimed this strategy was unlikely.

He explained: “I don’t think they have the morale for that, they’re not fighting for their own territory, it’s very different.”

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In addition to the advancing troops in Kherson, the Russian military has come under pressure from a simultaneous counter-offensive operation in the east, focused largely on the Kharkiv region.

President Zelensky confirmed at least 4,000 square kilometres of Ukrainian land has been liberated from Russian control since the mission began in late August.

Professor Michael Clarke, a senior military analyst, weighed in on the situation in Kherson: “The Russians seem to be out of food and everything. Once they run out of ammunition, they’re got no choice but to surrender or run.”

Kherson, which fell to Russian forces in the early days of the invasion, offers a particular strategic advantage to the Ukrainian troops if their counter-offensive achieves success. The city is located just north of Crimea and, if Ukraine were to reclaim the territory, Kyiv’s artillery would be positioned in striking distance of the Russian-annexed land.

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