After Russian retreat, Ukrainian military plans next move

Nov 23, 2022, 9:29 AM | Updated: Nov 24, 2022, 12:19 am

A sniper unit aims towards Russian positions during an operation, Kherson region, southern Ukraine,...

A sniper unit aims towards Russian positions during an operation, Kherson region, southern Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. The Ukrainian sniper adjusted his scope, fired a.50-caliber bullet and said he saw a Russian soldier fall across the Dnieper River. Another Ukrainian used a drone to scan for Russian troops. Two weeks after retreating from from the southern city of Kherson, Russia is pounding the territory across the Dnieper with artillery. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — The Ukrainian sniper adjusted his scope and fired a.50-caliber bullet at a Russian soldier across the Dnieper River. Earlier, another Ukrainian used a drone to scan for Russian troops.

Two weeks after retreating from the southern city of Kherson, Russia is pounding the town with artillery as it digs in across the Dnieper River.

Ukraine is striking back at Russian troops with its own long-distance weapons, and Ukrainian officers say they want to capitalize on their momentum.

The Russian withdrawal from the only provincial capital it gained in nine months of war was one of Moscow’s most significant battlefield losses. Now that its troops hold a new front line, the army is planning its next move, the Ukrainian military said through a spokesman.

Ukrainian forces can now strike deeper into the Russian-controlled territories and possibly push their counteroffensive closer to Crimea, which Russia illegally captured in 2014.

Russian troops continue to establish fortifications, including trench systems near the Crimean border and some areas between the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east.

In some locations, new fortifications are up to 60 kilometers (37 miles) behind the current front lines, suggesting that Russia is preparing for more Ukrainian breakthroughs, according to the British Ministry of Defense.

“The armed forces of Ukraine seized the initiative in this war some time ago,” said Mick Ryan, military strategist and retired Australian army major general. “They have momentum. There is no way that they will want to waste that.”

Crossing the river and pushing the Russians further back would require complicated logistical planning. Both sides have blown up bridges across the Dnieper.

“This is what cut Russians’ supply lines and this is also what will make any further Ukrainian advance beyond the left bank of the river more difficult,” said Mario Bikarski, an analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

In a key battlefield development this week, Kyiv’s forces attacked Russian positions on the Kinburn Spit, a gateway to the Black Sea basin, as well as parts of the southern Kherson region still under Russian control. Recapturing the area could help Ukrainian forces push into Russian-held territory in the Kherson region “under significantly less Russian artillery fire” than if they directly crossed the Dnieper River, said the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank. Control of the area would help Kyiv alleviate Russian strikes on Ukraine’s southern seaports and allow it to increase its naval activity in the Black Sea, the think tank added.

Some military experts say there’s a possibility the weather might disproportionately harm poorly-equipped Russian forces and allow Ukraine to take advantage of frozen terrain and move more easily than during the muddy autumn months, ISW said.

Russia’s main task, meanwhile, is to prevent any further retreats from the broader Kherson region and to strengthen its defense systems over Crimea, said Bikarski, the analyst. Ryan, the military strategist, said Russia will use the winter to plan its 2023 offensives, stockpile ammunition and continue its campaign targeting critical infrastructure including power and water plants.

Russia’s daily attacks are already intensifying. Last week a fuel depot was struck in Kherson, the first time since Russia withdrew. This week at least one person was killed and three wounded by Russian shelling, according to the Ukrainian president’s office. Russian airstrikes damaged key infrastructure before Russia left, creating a dire humanitarian crisis. Coupled with the threat of attack, that is adding a layer of stress, say many who weathered Russia’s occupation and are leaving, or considering it.

Ukrainian authorities this week began evacuating civilians from recently liberated parts of Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, fearing lack of heat, power and water due to Russian shelling will make winter unlivable.

Boarding a train on Monday, Tetyana Stadnik has decided to go after waiting for the liberation of Kherson.

“We are leaving now because it’s scary to sleep at night. Shells are flying over our heads and exploding. It’s too much,” she said. “We will wait until the situation gets better. And then we will come back home.”

Others in the Kherson region have decided to stay despite living in fear.

“I’m scared,” said Ludmilla Bonder a resident of the small village of Kyselivka. “I still sleep fully clothed in the basement.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

3 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

3 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

3 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

4 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

4 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference following the NATO Summit in Washington, Thu...

Zeke Miller, Seung Min Kim, Lisa Mascaro and Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Biden says during news conference he’s going to ‘complete the job’ despite calls to bow out

Biden used his highly anticipated news conference to deliver a defense of his policies and batted away questions about his ability to serve.

7 days ago

After Russian retreat, Ukrainian military plans next move