” … Starving Troops Flee Across A Key Ukrainian River.”

The Dnipro at Kherson

“The Kremlin has ordered its forces to withdraw from the city of Kherson on the Black Sea coast in southern Ukraine.

The order comes eight months after the Russians captured Kherson and its 300,000 residents, six months after Ukrainian troops began bombarding the Kherson garrison’s supply line and two months after Ukrainian brigades launched a counteroffensive in the south aimed at liberating Kherson.

It’s a profound victory for Ukraine, and a major defeat for Russia. Arguably the biggest Russian defeat in a generation.

The Ukrainians already had the momentum in Russia’s nine-month-old wider war on Ukraine. Now it’s safe to say the Ukrainians actively are winning the war—and soon could advance on other Russian-occupied territories and cities. The destroyed historic port of Mariupol, for instance. Or even the strategic Crimean Peninsula.

The order for Russian forces to retreat to the left bank of the wide Dnipro River, which runs just south of Kherson before emptying into the Black Sea, came from Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu rather than from Russian president Vladimir Putin. In that way, Shoigu insulated his boss from the outcry that followed the announcement.

Russian media figures and military bloggers melted down over Kherson. “What is happening is a combination of catastrophic mistakes,” one blogger lamented.”

Comment: Milley now says that 100 k Russian troops have been killed or wounded in the war so far and that the numbers are about the same for the Ukrainian military along with 40 k civilians killed. These numbers are probably DIA estimates based largely on SIGINT on Russian casualty reporting in the clear, piecing it together like a jigsaw puzzle. The same is true on the Ukrainian side plus whatever they may tell us.

The Russians admit that Ukrainian long-range fires against their LOCs to the troops on the right bank of the Dnipro have made it impossible to supply those forces and that has made this withdrawal necessary. That is a hell of an admission. pl

Biggest Defeat For Russia In A Generation As Starving Troops Flee Across A Key Ukrainian River (msn.com)

‘Well over’ 100,000 Russian troops killed or wounded in Ukraine, U.S. says (msn.com)

This entry was posted in Russia, The Military Art, Ukraine Crisis, weapons. Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to ” … Starving Troops Flee Across A Key Ukrainian River.”

  1. Fourth and Long says:

    Careful. You may be in danger of losing your sense of humor. Why do I say that? Because this retreat has been discussed now for a few days. No, I don’t mean to make light of terms such as “regrouping.” I had in mind “gestures of good will.”

  2. Leith says:

    Putin is going to be desperate for a victory elsewhere in order to counteract the bad PR of this retreat.

    Where, but who knows? Perhaps General Surovikin will strongly reinforce the troops attacking Bakhmut to try to eke out a win there? Or maybe re-open a front in the north attacking into Sumy or Chernihiv Oblasts? The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported today that there has been increased cross-border artillery shelling in the north.

    • borko says:

      Given enough resources and a much better army, they could try to do what Ukrainians have been doing to them. Blow up the bridges across the Dnieper and pin them against the river.

      • Leith says:

        borko –

        Perhaps. But where specifically are you thinking that Ukraine’s troops could be pinned against the Dnipro (Dnieper)? I suspect that if Ukraine does manage to get a bridgehead over that river to the left (east) bank they won’t let go. And it might even be a feint for the real attack to come from elsewhere?

  3. different clue says:

    Does homefront citizen morale play a role in how well a government can/will support its forces in the field and how well those forces can do?

    If so, should the UkraineGov consider the possibility that whereas a majority of Russians don’t quite consider Ukraine to be an actual part of Russia itself and are not necessarily prepared to support their government in defending it to the bitter end; that same majority of Russians do consider Crimea itself to be an actual part of Russia itself and would near-unanimously support their government in defending and keeping Crimea to the bitter end?

    Because if that is how an overwhelming majority of ordinary Russians would feel about an attack on Crimea, perhaps the UkraineGov should focus on East Ukraine other than Crimea in order to avoid breathing new life into Russian military-political-social effort.

    Just an amateur civilian thought . . . .

    • TTG says:

      different clue,

      I’m not so sure that a vast majority of Russians care very deeply about Crimea as a part of Russia. It’s probably a Moscow-Saint Petersburg thing. Crimea is as foreign and exotic as Pago Pago to Yakuts, Buryats, Evenks and so many Siberian and Central Asian Russians. The descendants of the Crimean Tatars surely care about Crimea, but are probably happier to see the land under Ukrainian rather than Russian control. At least the Ukrainians aren’t trying to destroy the Crimean Tatars.

  4. Lars says:

    It will be rather difficult for Russia to get any meaningful victories on the battlefield since they have essentially been retreating since March. As has been pointed out by many others, they have some serious fundamental problems with their armed forces and those things are not easily fixed. Some of Putin’s pals are pointing to what they did in WWII, but there are few similarities today.

    The reality is that corruption and other maladies have deeply affected the Russian Federation and their military has not been spared either. They are also about to have another psychological hit, as the world gathers to play soccer and they are not going to be there, not because they can’t play, they are just excluded. Many Americans may not understand what is about to happen, but the rest of the world does and a lot of national pride will be on display.

    I still think the strain to keep the federation together will exponentially grow and Putin will need all those troops internally, should they show up, to put down “freedom” fighters all over the place. I grew up in a tribal world and I have seen what stress can do as the edges come closer and start to fracture.

  5. ed says:

    Col. Lang,

    You might share thoughts with Andrei Martyanov who has two videos posted today in which he discusses the decision to evacuate by the Russian military. He is clear that it is by no means a reflection of a Russian military failure, but a sensible decision in response to the flood risks both to troops that might otherwise have been trapped on the Eastern side of the river, and what would happen to Kherson city and the viability of any military operations in it, if the dam were destroyed and the city flooded, as has been threatened- and where, with the now completed evacuation, Kherson is now almost a shell of its former self with a fraction of its population still there.

    While the ‘optics’ and propaganda value in the West may feel good, it has nothing to do with the tactical and strategic result achieved.

    And if anyone thinks the Ukrainians are winning this war with the huge losses other credible analysts believe they have sustained (as opposed to Milley’s figures, which one could rate as equivalent to Gen. Westmoreland’s), and what they will be facing in a month or so, then IMHO they are are deceiving themselves- though one won’t know until it happens….or doesn’t.

    • Leith says:

      Lots of Russians like Martyanov are comparing Kherson to Borodino. But Surovikin is no Kutusov, and Putin is no Alexander. Plus both Kutusov and Alexander had a lot of help from the West to defeat Napoleon. If you look at the Russian Army at that time there were hundreds of officers (including generals) who were Prussian, Polish, French, Ukrainian, Georgian, even a Scot and an Irishman. The most famous of course was Carl von Clausewitz.

      And it was not all Russian troops either, Ukrainian troops made up a significant part of the Russian Army when they fought against Napoleon. The same is true in the Turkish wars including conquest of Crimea.

  6. Clueless Joe says:

    Despite the good news for Ukraine, Milley is basically admitting Ukraine has lost as much troops as Russia. Yet Russia is 3.5 times more populous than Ukraine and the latter demographic decline is even worse and steeper. Ukraine’s eventual victory will be dearly paid and will be close to a Pyrrhic victory if what happened to Western European winners of both world wars is any sign, with massive economic hit and decline. Sure, Russia will suffer, but I’m not sure what it’ll take for Ukraine to fare better. US and even Poland and Baltic States might benefit if the war goes on for one more year since it would weaken Russia even more without any loss for them, but I don’t think another 100k casualties would be that great for Ukraine. Might be worth checking if Putin would consider a deal that includes a return to 2015-2021 lines to limit the bloodshed.

    • borko says:

      100k seems a lot but if we assume kill/wounded ratio of 1 : 4, we are talking about 20k KIAs. That is not something that would bring a country the size of Ukraine to its knees, considering it is fighting for its survival.

      Many of the wounded were probably returned to service after recovering from a light/moderate shrapnel injury.

    • JamesT says:

      I have a colleague here in Canada who is ethnically Russian and he says that the Russian population is being told (and they believe) that 40% of the Ukrainian army is now made up of Polish soldiers.

      That sounds crazy to me and I don’t believe it – but I do wonder how many foreign fighters have joined to fight on the Ukrainian side (a la Syria). I can imagine that a few thousand of these might be western SF – a few thousand at most.

  7. ed says:

    Col. Lang-

    I urge your readers to see Scott Ritter’s analysis of the Kherson withdrawal.
    It is at: https://www.scottritterextra.com/p/on-kherson?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

    • TTG says:


      At least Martyanov is Russian. I expect him to cheerlead for his side, even if it’s with blind disregard for actual reality on the battlefield. But Ritter is just sad and delusional.

      • borko says:


        Martyanov is also an American living in America. So is Orlov from the Saker blog.
        Interestingly, despite their taking side with Russia and promoting Russian interests they choose to live in the “evil” West.

        I suspect, they and many other Western based pro Russian bloggers are all in it to make money and are treating this war as a cash cow.

      • ed says:

        TTG – You have always been very civil in your response to my two cents worth, and I frequently read closely yours and Col. Lang’s assessments, since you are both highly experienced and have spotted vulnerabilities in the Russian positions before anyone else, but I also highly value Scott Ritter’s which are solidly fact-based, and draw on his own military and forensic experience, with also a nuanced understanding of how the Russian military itself may be approaching these issues.

        I feel the same about Col. MacGregor. You might check out his interview today in which he provides an excellent clinic on the Taiwan-China relationship, and, in the second half, one on Kherson. It is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rei9F9oeM-Y

        We won’t know who is right for several months or more, but if those who are uneducated like myself are to have any understanding about this conflict and its larger dimensions, we must hear all credible viewpoints with their evidence, from whatever source- and I hope our leaders in Washington are realistic enough to be open enough to set aside their biases and look at the cold hard facts before they set policy.

        • borko says:


          MacGregor and Ritter have both been declaring Russian victory for months. According to them, Russia has been mopping up since like April or May.

          Ffs, Scott Ritter spent a couple of years in prison after being found guilty of what is basically paedophilia.

          Given such abysmal track record why would you take their opinion seriously ?

          • ed says:

            Whatever their initial assessments, MacGregor and Ritter recognized that the SMO with its minimal force numbers, limited destruction of infrastructure, and restraint re: the civilian population was not intended to mop up but to get an agreement with Ukraine. Yet, but for the sabotage of the draft agreement with Zelensky by the US and UK (i.e., Boris’ trip to Kiev where he read the riot act to Zelensky- and, who knows- may have promised him millions in a British Cayman Islands account as opposed to instant death), the terrible loss of life and destruction that has ensured could have been avoided.

            Russia’s mobilization, which incidentally, has been kept open and could result a million troops on the ground, will change matters, though only time will tell. At least, some military people believe that.

            You may dismiss Ritter and MacGregor but other serious professionals believe Ritter’s and Magregor’s track records have been pretty damn good and want to be informed about the facts on the ground, whether they are cheerleaders for, or are opposed to, the war. Good intelligence, from whatever credible independent source, not politicized intelligence is what is needed. After all, we are also talking about 10s of billions or more being stolen from the treasure of our nation and the well-being of our people.

            And, if I recall correctly, both Col. Lang and Ritter were honorable, courageous and fact-based in their opposition to the second Gulf War, while the likes of Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton were dismissive, demeaning and gung-ho for the war.

            As for Ritter’s conviction, that prosecution was just as much an FBI setup, as those of Flynn, Page, Manafort and Stone- and the foiled impeachment of Trump with its Russiagate canard and phony Ukrainegate allegations, manufactured as they were by the DNC, DOJ, CIA, FBI and/or Special Prosecutor, and blessed by politicized and corrupt judges (e.g., Sullivan, Garland (at the Appellate level), and Amy Berman Jackson)

            No one in the MIC (or top officials in the Intelligence Services, or the Pentagon) looks kindly on straight shooting arms control inspectors whose findings and execution of their duties according to their mandate might impinge on MIC sales and profits. After all they’ve killed Presidents for that, if not more.

          • Pat Lang says:

            MacCgregor has made an ass of himself on Ukraine. I do not pay any more attention to Ritter than I do to Moon of Alabama.

          • Bill Roche says:

            I was against Bush “the unready’s” war on Iraq so I drove up to New Paltz to hear some guy named Scott Ritter speak against it. He was very convincing. I don’t know what to make of this man. My impression is he is strange. Who is he.

          • ChrisB says:

            Bill, If you’re ever back in the New Paltz area ,the Mohunk Mountain House (and surrounding areas) make a wonderful visit.

      • LeaNder says:

        But Ritter is just sad and delusional.
        He already was sad and delusional in objecting to the War in Iraq? Even then he did not understand, who the true aggressor was? Do I need to add irony alert?

        Lithuania supported that war too, although among the Eastern Countries of the Willing may not have sent its troops. Poland did sent its Shock and Awe troops.

        As did Ukraine,. I wonder why? Wanting to help to bring democracy to Iraq?
        Approximately 5000 Ukrainian soldiers, in total, served in Iraq in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent Occupation of Iraq (2003–2011). Ukraine provided the seventh-largest number of forces in Iraq with about 1,700 soldiers from 2003-2005 – 18 of them were killed.

        • ed says:

          An Iraq war based on what the Senate Intelligence Committee later admitted was fraudulent evidence?

          Incidentally, Col. Lang, who knows more about the Middle East than practically anyone, in one of his finest hours, testified in opposition to our entry into the war. And I will forever remember and honor him for that.

          • Pat Lang says:

            Have you read “Drinking the Koolaid?”

          • ed says:

            Col. – Thank you for citing your 2004 article, “Drinking the Koolaid”. Yes I have read it. It is a great article, and can be accessed by your readers at: https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/files/drinking_the_kool_aid3.pdf

            I greatly value your understanding of the Middle East, its cultures, and of Islam in its many variants- and how it relates to policy. I have a relative, a retired Foreign Service officer Arabist posted in various hotspots in the Middle East (e.g., Syria under Amb. Djerejian), so I appreciate what you’ve had to offer, even if neocons like, e.g., Douglas Feith were deaf to it all.

            Regardless of your opinion of Ritter, MacGregor, and Bernard (at Moon of Alabama), with all due respect, I think highly of them, and believe they add a huge amount of valuable facts and insight from their own sources- and what the media does not report. And even if one is a professional on the other side, disputing their assessments, there is the opportunity to debate the facts to come to a better understanding of what our leaders don’t want us to know (to prevent us from raising a stink, or questioning policy, or better yet, voting them out of office).

          • Pat Lang says:

            According to the people whose judgment you value, Ukraine was defeated last Spring.

          • Pat Lang says:

            Macgregor just got it wrong. He seems to have shut up about it lately. I have never paid much attention to Ritter. I remember him as a searcher in Iraq working off the de-briefing operation that DIA and CIA ran in the visa application line in the consulate in Amman. Other than that … Bernhard is a once upon a time oberleutnant in the Bundeswehr who is a wildly ant-American leftist who never saw a US activity he did not hate. I asked him once why he dislikes us so much. He said his grandparents’ house was burned by soldiers at the end of WW2. They were British. Go figure.

          • Pat Lang says:

            A basic fact is that if you get major issues wrong you should expect people to stop listening to you.

    • jimmy says:

      when has scott ever been rigjt on this war?

  8. Peter Williams says:

    Col. when was the last time that the US CIC made a major military announcement? VVP does not interfere in the military, announcements are made either by the Minister of Defence or the area Commander. You seem to have forgotten how the Chain of Command works.

    Milley can say whatever he wants, the man is a fool and gets his information only from the Ukrainian side. The Ukrops project their losses onto the Russians. Unlike the Ukrops, Russians aren’t hiding their 200s. Every week in my daughters’ town (and surrounding region and towns) there are announcements of the death and funerals of the Russian fallen. The Ukrops hide their deaths so as not to pay compensation.

    • TTG says:

      Milley doesn’t have to rely on the Ukrainian MOD fro information. He also has the resources of the entire US and NATO IC at his disposal.

      • Peter Williams says:

        US and NATO IC showed just how effective they were in Afghanistan.

        • fredw says:

          Actually the IC have been pretty accurate in this war. As (more surprisingly) has the Ukrainian MOD. Events, including the invasion itself, happen about when predicted at about the predicted scale. After the first few days of the war, the surprises have nearly all been in the Ukrainians’ favor.

          “gets his information only from the Ukrainian side”
          How do you, or any of us, know what information General Milley sees or pays attention to? Mind reading?

          • Pat Lang says:

            I assure you all that DIA, which feeds Milley his info, does not rely on Ukrainian suppied information..

          • jld says:

            Of course, but might Milley choose to report the same numbers as the Ukrs in order to comfort them?

          • TTG says:


            Milley is the JCS Chairman, not a babysitter or care giver. Any comfort he gives to Ukraine comes from ensuring that logistical, intelligence and training support is provided as directed by this administration.

          • Pat Lang says:

            I don’t think much of Milley but he has no reason to stroke them.

          • jld says:

            To “comfort them” more precisely by not making them look like babbling idiots. 😀

  9. Lars says:

    The idea that Putin is not calling the shots is at best laughable and realistically delusional. Others may make statements, but we know who wrote them. That is one of the main problems with dictatorships. The one at the top tries to micromanage both society and especially the military and thus limit the performance of both. I am reminded of the policy by the US Navy regarding flight operations on an aircraft carrier. Even somebody on the second day on the job can stop everything, if uneasy about something and even if wrong, nothing will happen career wise. There is just too much very expensive equipment and too little time to engage the chain of command. You will find the same at nuclear power plants.

    You will never find the same bottom up decisions in a place like Russia and the consequences are now on vivid display on the battlefield and in their economy. In essence, it is a learning opportunity, but it may take some time before Russians learn, but lots of others certainly are.

    • JamesT says:


      What are your criteria for characterizing Russia as a “dictatorship”? I would characterize Russia as authoritarian, but “dictatorship” is a pretty strong word that people throw around a bit casually … even, these days, when talking about the US.

      • JamesT says:

        As in “a vote for Trump is a vote for dictatorship”. I consider such hyperbole more than a little overblown.

      • Lars says:

        When Putin made himself essentially “president for life”, Russia became a dictatorship, no matter how much Potemkin scenery is on display. He still calls the shots and the effort to shield him from the fallout from the retreat policy in Kherson show the reality of the situation. He has to be seen as infallible. It is just not going to work in the long run, as his edifice keeps crumbling.

        • JamesT says:


          So if the people of Russia wanted their constitution changed so that Putin could serve more than two terms then that means the country is a dictatorship? You care not at all what the Russian people wanted and what they now want?

          I have sat in kitchens in Moscow and talked to Russians about Putin and it was clear they really liked him and that they were not being forced to vote for him. That was back in the aughts – a lot has happened since then and I think that Russia may well now be a dictatorship.

          But I think you should be careful about buying into whatever the corporate news media is spoon feeding you. The same news media that has been calling Putin a dictator for years is now equating voting for the GOP as a vote against democracy. Treating Russians as ignorant children who are not entitled to choose their own leader is one thing – treating Americans that way scares the heck out of me.

      • Muthaucker says:

        Uh, One Man rules over Everything?

  10. mcohen says:

    Probably down to grain supplies and turks.grain for the middle east will be important.who takes over now from the old system will be interesting.Russia has changed the way things were being run.Bread uprisings are a dangerous thing.

  11. Fred says:

    What precisely is this “rules based order” that Milley is talking about in the MSN video? We have treaty obligations and there is international law, but ‘rules’?

  12. cobo says:

    Wow, Putin’s latest stroke of genius is sure bringing out the concern from some participants of the Committee of Correspondence. I am so impressed by the even and educational tone of the Committee, long engaged here. Bravo!

  13. elkern says:

    Russian retreat from Kherson City must have been going on for days/weeks, and seems to have been done in remarkably good order. News today is that Ukrainian troops are already in downtown Kherson, so it looks like the Russians really are out.

    I suspect that there was some truce which allowed Russian troops to get across the river without massive casualties, in exchange for leaving the city undefended, but that would have involved *lotsa* details (where are the minefields?).

    The Dnieper is a natural line of defense for both sides, and it will likely become the new border in this area. Does Ukraine have the materiel & manpower to force a river crossing there? Seems unlikely. Likewise, the fantasies of taking Odessa that I read on pro-Russian sites now sound silly.

    IMO, the strategic reason for retreating from Kherson (city) was really reduce Ukraine’s incentives to blow the dam at Kakhovka. Blowing the dam would have made isolated any Russian troops North/West of the Dnieper and led to a very costly defeat for Russia.

    Blowing the dam would still cause two very serious headaches for Russia: loss of water supply for Crimea, and loss of coolant for the ZNPP. Turning over Kherson makes Ukraine responsible for the city, which would be seriously damaged in any big flood (especially the industrial sector south of the Kosheva River), so Ukraine now has reasons to leave the dam standing.

    The Russian retreat – and the apparent willingness of Ukraine to let them leave safely – gives me some hope for a diplomatic solution to this mess in the not too distant future.

    • Pat Lang says:

      IMO the Ukrainians will cross upstream and advance down the left bank.

      • Bill Roche says:

        Ditto. Its either that or a move into Crimea. The latter leaves the Russians in the Ukrainian rear along the east bank of the Dneiper. I agree, go upstream cross, and advance down the left side of the water. Does the UKM have the oopmfh to do that.

    • mcohen says:

      Russia had no intention of occupying the kherson just the area south of the river.pr looks good.the whole show was well played.crimea now has its water supply.
      Turkey is now in the sights of the change management team.

  14. Bill Roche says:

    Did anyone believe Ukrainians would be pushing Russians out of Kherson in Nov?
    Not MacGregor. I first brought up his name in early March and you commented you knew him as a good man. Enough said. He has been unrelenting in his predictions of Ukrainian doom. Is he reading from a different set of info? Maybe he has an uncle Boris? He has an axe to grind against Ukrainian independence. Could be he simply d/n have a strategic military mind b/c Ukrainian moves have surprised him. If, by May, the war favors Putin MacGregor can say “see, I told ya”. Keep saying the same thing time again and ultimately you’ll be right.

  15. jim ticehurst.. says:

    Looks like this is more of a NATO and EU..(Plus) War..Being Fought against Russia..In
    Ukraine..Instead of Germany..(Where every empty Building now Houses Ukrainian
    Refugees..)That Said..These Results are what Should Be Anticipated.Tor..
    JT Best Regards to All Veterans..

  16. Kilo 4/11 says:

    @ Pat Lang
    Kilo 4/11 is a USMC artillery battery?

    Yes. After a brief spell with HQ battery, 2/13, Kilo battery was my unit in Nam, 155 mm self-propelled guns, attached to the First Marine Division. We were on various hills and firebases southeast of Da Nang—Hill 34 and Hill 65 stand out in my memory—during my tour in 1968-69, firing in support of deep penetration recon missions and the occasional grunt unit.

    • Kilo 4/11 says:

      Make that southwest of Da Nang—we weren’t firing from the South China Sea!

      • Pat Lang says:

        The best arty unit I saw in VN was the New Hampshire NG arty unit that asked to be called to active duty for this. These people had been in the unit for many years. They would break into your radio talk to say they were laid on your target and ready to fire.

        • Kilo 4/11 says:

          Sounds like a great bunch of guys. We liked to shoot, too, but were not as close, in distance or relationships, to the troops we fired for.

    • Leith says:

      Kilo –

      I believe I heard your rounds going overhead sounding like freight trains. What unit had the 8-inchers? They sounded even worse.

      • Kilo 4/11 says:

        Sorry for the fright!
        I went out on a patrol one night, something I tried to do whenever I didn’t have FDC duty, forget exactly the mission, something about checking out the river that ran around the base of our firebase, the Song Vu Ghia, I think, and as we were going along some arty came over our heads. It was pretty far up and in the outgoing direction, but I remember thinking “man, I hope they know we’re out here!” My hat is off to the grunts, who somehow had to preserve their courage as this deadly sound approached.
        We had an 8 incher on our hill at that time, too. They were Army, not Marines. A very ugly looking gun.

Comments are closed.