Another hour, another map of the northern area of Russian occupation in the Kherson area. Over the course of Tuesday, and into the evening, Ukraine has continued to press southward, bringing the area liberated since Sunday, in this one part of this one oblast, to an astounding 1,600 square kilometers.
Ukraine has now reclaimed about a third of the formerly Russian occupied area on the west side of the Dnipro River.
Not all the villages and towns marked have been confirmed, but most of them have been. That in itself shows another huge change in Kherson this week: Opsec. Previously, Ukraine had been demanding, and getting, near radio silence from the forces stationed in Kherson. Villages were going back and forth, Ukrainian troops made that daring doubleback in which they crossed a pontoon bridge built by Russia to free a Russian-occupied town. But when it came to videos and images from Ukrainian forces, there was nothing to see. Whoever gave that lecture on how loose iPhones sink infantry, they did a really good job.
Only now there are videos and more videos. Many, if not most, of the towns and villages liberated in the last two days comes complete with a video of Ukrainian forces strolling in, locals giving them a tearful greeting (along with the occasional apple or watermelon), and the raising of a Ukrainian flag. Ukraine is back in this area, and they don’t care who knows it.
As of Tuesday evening in Ukraine, the rapid advance of Ukrainian forces had brought them down to the line that supposedly represented Russia’s fallback position: A line running from Bruskynske to Borozenske to Mylove. Each of these positions is reportedly beefed up by Russian forces that retreated from the front lines, and each reportedly has defensive positions that Russia hopes to use in holding the roads that lead down to Berislav (bottom of the map).
But, as of just a few minutes ago, reports from Telegram sources indicate that this line is already broken. And apparently, broken badly.
Russian sources now tell the defensive line towards Beryslav is broken, and that AFU units are pushing to the city from two sides already (north and east). They also say that there is nearly nothing left of the 126th brigade. pic.twitter.com/QhaulvgZ3k
— NOËL 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) October 4, 2022
According to the pro-Russian source Rybar, “Ukrainian formations will continue to push through the defensive orders of the Russian armed forces. The nearest goal of the armed forces of Ukraine is Berislav and New Kakhovka. A new phase of the battle for Kherson begins. “
Whether Russia has been able to get anyone across the Dnipro to Nova Kakhovka is unclear. More likely they have, as kos suggested earlier, retreated across the Inhulets River at the west side of the map and crowded around the city of Kherson, where they can neither be adequately supplied nor relieved. Others are surely huddled in Berislav, hoping that a barge, or pontoon bridge, or helicopter, or flying horse will come to take them away before Ukrainian forces reach the town. Because Berislave is only about four small blocks deep along it’s whole length, with the back of the town flat against the river.
Berislav is not a great place from which to make a last stand.
There’s a small quarry near the northwest side of town, providing a bit of a ditch and a hill composed of spoil. That’s about it for topography. There’s no large industrial area of town, and it’s hard to see where thousands of Russians could position themselves in this area without just getting the snot beaten out of them.
Of course, Russian guns on the east of the Dnipro will likely set up across the river and attempt to give the trapped forces cover, but a town this narrow doesn’t make the most comfortable place to be when shells are arcing overhead. And Ukraine is absolutely going to declare it HIMARS O’Clock if there’s a big cluster of Russian forces gathered in this place.
On the other hand, this is actually the site of the Turkish fortress city of Kazikermen, from which a legendary iron chain was raised across the Dnipro, and it’s also home to the ruins of a 14th century castle. So someone in the past apparently thought this was a decent spot to hole up. Of course, those folks in the past had never heard of artillery.
Where is the actual front line at the moment? I don’t know. I can only tell you this: The map at the top of this page, like every other map I’ve made today, is already badly outdated. In three days, Ukraine has liberated a third of the territory on the west side of the Dnipro. By the time we get confirmation of the new positions, that could easily be more than a half.
For three days, Ukraine has been pushing across a wide front. For three days, Russia has been retreating. Now they both seem set to collide across the river from Nova Kakhovka. What happens here is going to be significant.
Now, Ukraine just has to get there. Meanwhile, just as I was finishing this …
Snihurivka guards a highway that leads right into the city of Kherson, and there are few spots along that highway suitable for defense until right in the suburbs of the city. Could Ukraine actually go for Kherson and Nova Kakhovka at the same time?
New goodies for Ukraine.
Capabilities in this package include:
- Four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and associated ammunition;
- 16 155mm Howitzers;
- 75,000 155mm artillery rounds;
- 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds;
- 1,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems;
- 16 105mm Howitzers;
- 30,000 120mm mortar rounds;
- 200 MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles;
- 200,000 rounds of small arms ammunition;
- Obstacle emplacement equipment;
- Claymore anti-personnel munitions.
The precision-guided artillery rounds are particularly important to hit entrenched armor in that last line of defense around Kherson and Nova Kakhovka, in Kherson oblast. The remote anti-tank mine shells are a curious addition, I’m wondering why Ukraine asked for them given how quickly they are punching through Russian lines.
The HIMARS are only valuable if the U.S. has the rockets for them. Or maybe it mitigates maintenance issues, as all military equipment is prone to frequent break downs. The 155 M777s are likely a replenishment, as we’ve seen a handful destroyed by Russia.
The 105 mm howitzers are smaller, and can be towed by humvees and other jeep-style vehicles. They are shorter range than howitzers, but great support for attacking troops because of their mobility, and because the longer-range stuff can’t be fired anywhere near friendly forces.
We’ll eventually know greater details about the collapse of the Russian defense in Kherson, but odds are that it will have much to do with Russia’s inability to properly reinforce their forces in this axis. I’ve seen credible estimates that only about a quarter of Russia’s supply needs were being met by barges and what little truck traffic can gingerly cross the two damaged bridges into the Kherson pocket. Cold and hungry troops suffering from a shortage of ammunition and fuel don’t lend themselves to an effective defense. By collapsing the lines, Russia mitigates its logistical challenges and can concentrate its firepower in a smaller area.
Of course, concentrating their forces around two tight lines also means that Ukraine can similarly concentrate its artillery in a small space, and the HIMARS rockets with the tungsten shrapnel balls can do their gruesome work even more effectively. This won’t end well for Russia, and they’d be best to simply ferry their forces across the river, gifting Ukraine will all that sweet, sweet armor. Well, at least the good stuff, not those ancient 1960’s era T-62Ms (though they might be useful to Territorial Defense Forces manning the Belorussian border).