“Russian Officials Flee Kherson as Russian Troops Dig In for a Battle”


“The commander of the Russian invasion said on Tuesday that his army might face “hard decisions” about its tenuous hold over the strategically important Ukrainian region of Kherson, just minutes after a top Moscow-appointed official there announced an evacuation of civilians from four occupied districts.

Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the top Russian commander in Ukraine, acknowledged in a rare interview that the situation in the Kherson region has been “difficult” after the Ukrainian army damaged two key connections to other Russian occupied territory. For weeks, Ukrainian forces have been advancing slowly toward the regional capital, the city of Kherson, in a counteroffensive aimed at driving the Russians back across the Dnipro River.

In a video statement, Vladimir Saldo, the head of the regional occupation administration, said that residents would be evacuated from four districts on the west side of the Dnipro River. Mr. Saldo — who was appointed governor of the Kherson region by the Kremlin shortly after Russia formally annexed the territory at the end of September — cited the risk of shelling and the need for Russia to build defensive lines to repel an expected Ukrainian attack.

General Surovikin, in his first public remarks since he was appointed as head of the Russian military force in Ukraine on Oct. 8, said that the Russian Army would assist the evacuation and stressed the challenging conditions his forces face — with a tacit acknowledgment that a retreat from the city of Kherson might be necessary.

“Our future plans and actions regarding the city of Kherson will depend on the unfolding military-tactical situation,” he said in a televised statement. “I repeat — today it is already quite difficult.”

The announcements underscored Russia’s precarious hold on the strategically important swath of Ukrainian land that allows the Russian forces to operate on the western side of the Dnipro River, which divides the country into two. That control allows Russia to threaten the rest of the Ukrainian-controlled Black Sea coast, including the symbolic city of Odesa. But advancing Ukrainian forces have severed the bridges that were used to resupply and reinforce Russian troops on the west bank of the Dnipro River.

Ukraine has coveted the liberation of Kherson since the first weeks of the war, when the city became the only regional capital to fall to Russian forces since the invasion began.

But as Ukrainian forces push closer to the city limits, they face a conundrum: Unlike the Russian military, which appears to have no qualms about targeting infrastructure and killing civilians to achieve its war aims, Ukraine would like to avoid destroying Kherson in the process of recapturing it. If Russian forces put up a concerted fight to keep the city, Ukraine might hesitate to use all of its firepower.

Pro-Russian military bloggers — an increasingly vocal group in Russia — praised General Surovikin for being frank about the challenges in Kherson. Many interpreted his statement as a sign that Russia might be preparing for a large-scale battle, while others said it could be a sign of a coming retreat.

“There are three options here: Either our forces would dig in where they are, or they would retreat to the city of Kherson, trying to engage the enemy in street fighting,” said Vladlen Tatarsky, a popular blogger. “Or they would evacuate.””

Comment: Three options, eh? Well, no shit sherlock. I agree with TTG that the Russians have little chance of holding Kherson City because their artillery over on the Left Bank will be driven off or wrecked from west of Kherson but what they CAN do is make a mess of the city before they re-enact the surrender scenes from Stalingrad in WW2.

An interesting bit of trivia is that Surovikin seems to be an air force officer at present although he has an infantry background. MG Suheil, one of the most prominent Syrian combat commanders had also begun his professional life in some sort of air force ground commando force. I am devoted to the study of military history. There used to be various international paratroop units that were organizationally part of their respective national air forces and who can forget “Smiling Al” Kesselring.

But IMO the main Ukrainian goal in the south should be to force the surrender of Russian forces WEST of Kherson City. pl

Russian Officials Flee Kherson as Russian Troops Dig In for a Battle – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

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20 Responses to “Russian Officials Flee Kherson as Russian Troops Dig In for a Battle”

  1. Lars says:

    According to Swedish military experts, the Russian efforts in Kherson is “just theater”.

    • Pat Lang says:


      • Lars says:

        I don’t know. It mentioned that the current effort is not all that sound militarily. Sort of showing that they are doing something, even if it will not matter all that much in the long run.

        I think the idea that Russia will somehow turn this all around is not going to work. It was a mistake to start with and it has not gotten any better and the new recruits will either suffer large losses or just run away. Or probably both.

  2. Barbara Ann says:

    Re making a mess of the city, a thought has occurred to me about the timing of the most recent ‘dirty bomb’ allegations made by Russia. Wouldn’t the explosion of such a device in or around Kherson make a military evacuation a necessity? Might a desperate man see this as a way to avoid the spectacle of a catastrophic military defeat and a way to try and save political face by blaming the act on the Ukies? The Ukrainian foreign minister has asked the IAEA to investigate the 2 named nuclear facilities ASAP and they agreed to do so yesterday. A diabolical fourth option?

    • Fourth and Long says:

      Quite likely a rumor – the untidy bomb – spread with two ideas in mind:

      1- Increase fear levels to promote/incentivize negotiations.

      2- Play the swings up & down on the commodities and currency options and futures exchanges.

      A good movie:
      Murder in Coweta County (1983): Johnny Cash; Andy Griffith; June Carter Cash


    • Muralidhar Rao says:

      Ms. Ann is Putin going to blow up a dirty bomb just like Assad did in Syria? Do you know that IAEA team never could establish who is shelling Nuclear plant when they know that the Russians were inside the plant? Wow this guy Putin must hate his own soldiers to shell them and then send them on suicide missions. Thanks

      • cobo says:

        Muralidhar Rao

        I don’t recall the dirty bomb incident in Syria. But Putin is sending recently drafted, largely minority soldiers to the front without proper equipment, weapons and training. In fact, it’s looking like his entire war on the people of Ukraine has been a suicide mission.

        • Eliot says:

          “But Putin is sending recently drafted, largely minority soldiers to the front without proper equipment, weapons and training. In fact, it’s looking like his entire war on the people of Ukraine has been a suicide mission.“


          That’s our propaganda machine, whirring away. The Russians will have problems, their bureaucracy will make mistakes, but you shouldn’t take those grand claims seriously.

          It appears only a very small fraction of the mobilized soldiers, a few thousand, have arrived. The vast majority are still going through their refresher courses.

          We tell a lot of stories.

          Washington always place articles in the paper about how enemy leaders have cancer for example. Or some other deadly ailment. The idea is to depict the target as feeble, incapable.

          But be skeptical of lurid claims, like the alleged rape kits, and especially claims that mirror WW2 tropes. Also be skeptical of articles that portray the enemy (or at least your enemy) as an incompetent fool. There are dumb people in Russia, like anywhere, but you’ll be disappointed if you expect the Russians to collectively act like morons.

          – Eliot

        • Bill Roche says:

          Cobo; “Largely minority soldiers”: is Putin sending Asian soldiers to Ukraine to do the fighting/dying for young Caucasian Russians? If these troops are ill trained, equipped, motivated, and led why do they go. Were Putin’s enlistment numbers designed to impact Asian Russians disproportionately. The draft pictures I saw did not look skewed to Asian men, but if this is true why have the European press not reported it?

        • LeaNder says:

          He might have vaguely comparable and slightly controversial WMD’s in Syria mind.

          * “(WMD), which also includes chemical, nuclear, and radiological weapons.”

          • cobo says:


            I get that. I do remember the chemical attack scenario that seems to have been disproven. But, if he has trouble with facts, everything else he says is a wash.

        • Muralidhar Rao says:

          Sorry I was not specific, what I meant was the fake chemical weapon use by Assad with the WHITE HELMETS with their camera crew ready to film. As far as I see from the web these guys served in the military before and were going through the refresher courses. On the other hand what I read is Ukrain is sending it troops on suicide missions for OPTICS (remember Ashraf Ghani was being asked to say that the Afgan Army was doing great for OPTICS by Pres Biden) Unfortunately we live in a world of mirrors

          • Pat Lang says:

            Assad did not create and/or employ the White Helmets. Her Majesty’s Government did that, although I think the grand old girl did not know.

      • Barbara Ann says:

        Muralidhar Rao

        “Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Monday that it had prepared its forces to work in conditions of radioactive contamination..”


        Anyway, all that would be needed is a bomb ‘dirty’ enough to get the Geiger counter needles moving a little so as to justify an evacuation, it wouldn’t have to be anything on a Chernobyl scale.

        The suicide mission sounds like option 2 where the Russians try and hold Kherson city cut off from all resupply and with no possibility of retreat. It is educational to look again at the photo of Kherson city and the lower Dnieper Col. Lang included in a recent post. Not a bridge in sight.

        Can you think of a better way for Putin to abandon a district center city of the Russian Federation to the enemy and not look like a total loser?

  3. Wally Jones says:

    Small detail.

    The officer in the photo has a name tag of V. N. Bondarev. This may be Air Force General Viktor Nikolaevich Bondarev.

    Editorial stuff probably. Doesn’t detract from the article unless he has a solution to saving a bunch of retreating Russians.

    • different clue says:

      Which photo? A separate photo linked-to from deeper within the post or from within one of the comments?

  4. Dave says:

    That picture is of Victor Nikolaevich Bondarev, judging by his name patch.

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