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Russia ‘abandons 20,000 troops’ near Kherson as Ukraine counter-attacks

Russia has abandoned 20,000 troops near Kherson in the face of a Ukrainian counter-attack, the regional governor has claimed. 

Vitaly Kim said Russia is relocating command posts on the west bank of the Dnipro River to the east, leaving ‘stupid orcs’ – his term for Kremlin soldiers – behind. 

Ukraine has already blown up all three bridges under Russian control connecting the two banks, meaning its soldiers on the west side have no easy way of resupplying, reinforcing, or retreating as Kyiv‘s men continue their advance.

Kim, the governor of Mykolaiv which sits on the west bank, said Monday that Russian commanders have now begun withdrawing – apparently fearing capture or death at the hands of the Ukrainians.

Russia has begun moving command posts from the west bank of the Dnipro River (left) to the east (right, with mayor Vitaly Kim saying troops are being ‘abandoned’ by their leaders

‘I feel just a bit sorry – but not much – for the stupid orcs who had been abandoned on the right bank of the Dnipro,’ he wrote on Telegram.

‘All of the commanders are moving to the other side.’

Kherson was captured by Russian forces back in March, as Putin’s troops stormed out of occupied Crimea and captured swathes of Ukraine’s south.

It is a strategically important city as it spans the Dnipro River – which divides Ukraine in two – and sits close to the Black Sea coast, which connects Ukraine to valuable sea trading routes.

The city also has huge symbolic value, because it is the only regional capital to have been captured by Putin’s forces during the invasion.

Ukraine announced plans for a counter-attack in the region last month, before blowing up two road bridges – the Antonovsky Bridge in Kherson and Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric dam bridge – using HIMARS rockets.

Both have been struck several times, including again at the weekend, with British intelligence saying they are now likely impassable to most vehicles.

‘Even if Russia manages to make significant repairs to the bridges, they will remain a key vulnerability,’ the Ministry of Defence said.

‘Ground resupply for the several thousand troops on the west bank is almost certainly reliant on just two pontoon ferry crossing points.

Ukraine says Russia has around 20,000 men stationed in Kherson who are now vulnerable to counter-attack because all major bridges across the river are out of action (file image)

Ukraine says Russia has around 20,000 men stationed in Kherson who are now vulnerable to counter-attack because all major bridges across the river are out of action (file image)

Ukrainian troops are counter-attacking towards Kherson city, with the aim of re-taking it before the winter comes (file image)

Ukrainian troops are counter-attacking towards Kherson city, with the aim of re-taking it before the winter comes (file image)

‘With their supply chains constrained, the size of any stockpiles Russia has managed to establish on the west bank is likely to be a key factor in the force’s endurance.’

But American think-tank the Institute for the Study of War believes that Russia has already lost the ability to hold the area.

‘Russian forces on the west bank of the Dnipro will likely lose the ability to defend themselves against even limited Ukrainian counterattacks,’ it said on Sunday.

‘Bringing ammunition, fuel, and heavy equipment sufficient for offensive or even large-scale defensive operations across pontoon ferries or by air is impractical if not impossible.’

Recapturing Kherson would be a huge morale boost for Ukraine while also proving that its ultimate war aim – re-taking all of the territory occupied by Russia – is possible, with the right kind of support.

It would likely trigger an increased supply of weapons from Kyiv’s western backers, along with more financial support.

And it would make the prospect of a Russian assault on the vital port city of Odesa – around 90 miles to the west of Kherson – extremely remote.

In order to try and thwart those plans, Putin has moved thousands of troops from the eastern frontline to reinforce the area around Kherson.

But that – combined with HIMARS strikes devastating ammo dumps and command posts – has slowed Russia’s advance in Donbas to a crawl.

Kherson is the only regional capital in Ukraine to have fallen to Russian forces during the war, and re-capturing it would be a major morale boost for Kyiv (file)

Kherson is the only regional capital in Ukraine to have fallen to Russian forces during the war, and re-capturing it would be a major morale boost for Kyiv (file)

Putin’s generals have captured no significant ground since taking the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in late June and early July. 

America believes Russia has now lost around 75,000 men killed and wounded – half the force Putin amassed before invading – and is struggling to recruit more men.

The shadowy Wagner mercenary group is said to be so desperate for recruits that Prigozhin is going in person into Russian jails looking for convicted murderers to draft into its ranks.

Conscription is also underway in occupied regions, but these troops are poorly trained and equipped and have been called ‘canon fodder’ by Ukrainian soldiers.

Putin is also being forced to turn to an ever-smaller group of allies to help, buying up to 1,000 drones from Iran and vowing to deepen ties with North Korea.

At a major arms exposition that began today, Putin bragged that Russian weapons are ‘decades ahead’ of rivals – despite obvious shortcomings in Ukraine – and vowed to supply his allies with the best he has available.

Putin said: ‘[We] are ready to offer our allies the most modern types of weapons, from small arms to armored vehicles and artillery to combat aviation and unmanned aerial vehicles.

‘Almost all of them have been used more than once in real combat operations. Many of them are years, if not decades, ahead of their foreign counterparts. 

‘And in terms of tactical and technical characteristics they are significantly superior to them.’

Delegations from more than 70 countries are attending Army-2022 to take advantage of good deals on Russian kit.


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