On March 3rd, 2022 Russian Ground Forces (RGF) seized the city of Kherson, the first major Ukrainian city to fall under Russian control. It took RGF nine days to move from staging areas in Armiansk, Crimea, 50 miles northeast to Kherson.
By February 28th, RGF were beaten back from the Antoniivsky Bridge and Ukrainian Armed Forces were able to destroy dozens of tanks and armored vehicles using TB-2 drones and tactical aircraft.
However, after several counterattacks, Russian armored columns led by the 42nd Guards Motorized Rifle Division, the 126th Coastal Defense Brigade, and VDV units seized the Kherson International Airport, then pushed on to the city. The battle for that bridge was so fierce that RGF had to go around and find another crossing point at Nova Khakovka, 20km North, up the Dnieper River.
Due to that encirclement, the Ukrainian 59th Motorized Rifle Brigade chose to withdraw from the city to Mykolaiv in order to fight again another day, while still putting up a stiff resistance with their rear guard. On March 2nd Russian commanders entered the city administration building and received the surrender of the city.
Today, Russian appointed administrators in the city have ordered a shut down of public meeting places and markets beginning November 1st with mandatory evacuations in communities such as Hola Prsystan due to the “threat of overwhelming military action”. Russian appointed Governor of Kherson, Stremousov has told press that military forces continue to fortify the city in anticipation of a counteroffensive. When the civilian government fled the city nearly two weeks ago after a Ukrainian breakthrough near Duchandy, it seemed that RGF would also evacuate the city. However, after the arrival of more than 1,000 mobilized troops, it seems the Russian forces will make a stand at the strategic city. More than 70k residents in Kherson Oblast have been moved to the West Bank of the Dnieper River.
Stremousov expects a full scale attack to happen “soon”, blaming the “Western owners of Zelensky”, who he says are prodding the Ukrainian President to seize the city before Winter sets in and negotiations will be strongly recommended by European supporters.
Currently there is anywhere from 10,000-15,000 Russian troops in the vicinity of the city, which is in a precarious situation due to the lack of bridging to bring reinforcements into the urban areas across the Dnieper River. The Antoniivsky Bridge cannot currently support vehicle traffic due to Ukrainian strikes and a rudimentary barge bridge with ferry services has been running for 45 days. While the Nova Khakovka bridge and damning span are still standing, that crossing is arguably in a more precarious position due to Ukrainian breakthroughs in the last month.
This region is critical to watch for the next two weeks.