Russo-Ukrainian War 7/10/22

U.S. and Norway soldiers train Ukraine artillerymen on using an M109 tracked self-propelled howitzer at Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, May 12, 2022 (image via Sgt. Spencer Rhodes, Army National Guard)

Zelenskyy has reportedly ordered the Ukrainian Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov to begin planning the liberation of Southern Ukraine.

Currently, this means Ukraine has likely begun the ‘planning phase’ for a significant offensive in the Donbas, contacting Allies and seeking to secure more weapon systems ahead of the offensive. Ukraine has reportedly expressed interest in HIMARS, heavy artillery, and armored personnel carriers.

“We understand that, politically, it’s very necessary for our country. The president has given the order to the supreme military chief to draw up plans. After that the general staff are doing their homework and say to achieve this goal we need XYZ […] This is my job. I’m writing letters to counterparts in partner countries […]”

Oleksii Reznikov, Ukrainian Minister of Defence

Ukraine has already launched limited counteroffensives near Kherson, often with limited success. At times, the Russian forces in the area have been able to resist the Ukrainian counterattack or even retake positions lost momentarily. Though Ukraine has been making gradual advances, most have been northeast of Kherson, attacking the Russian advance towards Kryvyi Rih. However, this has created the false illusion in Russian spheres that Ukraine has already attempted a major offensive in Kherson, which is not yet the case.

The success of an offensive in Kherson will likely be dictated by several key factors. Western weapons, including HIMARS, will be crucial in targetting ammunition depots and command centers, as they have been for the past week. The activities of Ukrainian partisans coordinating with the advancing Ukrainian force will also be crucial, as will civilians evacuating ahead of the invasion to ensure Ukraine can fight with full force. Regional authorities have repeatedly called for residents to leave Kherson immediately, through Crimea and into Russia if absolutely necessary.

If Ukraine is able to break through Russia’s limited defenses in the region, its offensive in Kherson could have a snowball effect on the region, though heavy and brutal fighting is expected in the city of Kherson itself. Retaking Kherson in any capacity would open the possibility of an attack on Crimea (including an attack on the Kerch Strait bridge), but more crucially, it would allow Ukraine to push towards Mariupol and Berdyansk, both crucial port cities occupied at the beginning of the war. At that point, Putin would likely be forced to escalate Russian involvement in Ukraine or choose between a landbridge to Crimea or his recent gains in the Donbas.

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