While Russian forces' conduct in Kherson Oblast seems controversial and shows signs of a major troop buildup in the city, there's not enough information to suggest a trap is being prepared for Ukrainian forces, military historian Igor Kopõtin said on the "Ukraine stuudio" talk show.
Occupying Russian forces seem to be evacuating civilians and moving around units in Kherson, while there are also reports of new and more capable units of being moved into the area. Kopõtin suggested that Kherson is too important for the Russian armed forces and Putin's ambitions to be simply surrendered to the Ukrainians. Kherson was initially meant to serve as a stronghold from which an offensive on Odessa could be launched to wrest control of Ukraine's southern coast.
"It is the only oblast center that the Russians have managed to take. Even though we are hearing reports of the civilian population being evacuated, there is no reason to believe Russia is about to give up Kherson without a fight. On the contrary, they have concentrated considerable forces in the region, more than a corps worth," he said.
Kopõtin said that Kherson currently hosts Russia's 22nd Army Corps, which is a tactical unit greater than a division and smaller than an army.
"There are additional operational tactical groups, with some analysts of the mind that there are paratroopers in the area. It has been suggested Russia could have its finest troops in Kherson," he added.
The historian was not willing to guess at the exact number of Russian troops in the region.
"It is too soon to say whether it's a trap. Kherson is not yet completely surrounded. The Russians are having trouble keeping their forces supplied. Nevertheless, they have managed to set up a triple layer defense that includes artillery and air support. Therefore, a breakthrough and the liberation of Kherson is a difficult task for the Ukrainian forces," he said.
But if Ukraine manages to dislodge the occupying forces from Kherson, the Russians' next task is to stop them from reaching Crimea," Kopõtin said.
"It is difficult to say when Ukraine might succeed in taking Kherson and whether it will happen this year. Rather, I would emphasize that Ukraine has managed to concentrate its forces on the most important headings and achieve the element of surprise this fall. An offensive on Kherson was expected in summer, early fall, while it took place in Kharkiv Oblast instead," Kopõtin offered.
The historian said that it cannot be ruled out Ukraine's art of war is now such that an offensive will happen somewhere other than Kherson.
Editor: Marcus Turovski
Source: "Ukraina stuudio"