The Russian military in Ukraine’s Kherson region—located south of the Dnipro River and north of Mykolaiv—is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the flow of ammunition, armor, and fuel to front-line units, according to Ukrainian officials and Western analysts. This is due, at least in part, to a concerted Ukrainian campaign to cut off river and rail supply lines as well as target ammunition depots. Ukrainian officials say that Russian forces have moved command posts from the north bank of the Dnipro River to the south bank because bridges have been heavily damaged. The first deputy head of Kherson regional council claims that a significant portion of the Russian military command has already left Kherson city.
Much of Kherson has been occupied since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As part of Kyiv’s counteroffensive to try to retake lost territory in the south, Ukrainian forces are targeting critical bridges to disrupt supply routes in and around Kherson. The Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think tank, said Sunday that the Russians may be leaving for the other side of the river “to avoid being trapped in Kherson city if Ukrainian strikes cut off all ground lines of communication connecting the right bank of the Dnipro River to the Russian rear.” Videos have appeared on social media in the past few days showing renewed long-range artillery attacks on both Antonivskyi bridge and a road bridge over a dam near Nova Kakhovka rendering them impassible for heavily armored vehicles.
Ukrainian forces have targeted railway lines in Crimea, with several bridges destroyed and trains disabled.On Tuesday, a series of fierce explosions rocked the town of Dzankhoy on the main line towards Kherson. Recent video showed a substantial stock of military vehicles and ammunition at the site. Today, Mayor Ivan Fedorov claimed that Russian forces were still clearing rubble from the site of a railway bridge near Melitopol that had been hit last Friday. “Currently, the enemy uses Melitopol as a logistics center for the transportation, trans-shipment of ammunition and heavy weapons,” he added. Fedorov also claimed Monday: “We see the migration of [Russian] military personnel from Kherson to Melitopol.”
Fedorov says he gets information from partisan networks in the city. In the last 10 days, two railway lines from Crimea have been hit. Local residents have reported several hours of explosions in the Henichesk district, a port area along the Sea of Azov, and at Brylivka, a railway crossing further west. The Ukrainian military’s Operational Command South announced that within the last week it has destroyed over 10 ammunition warehouses and military equipment clusters. This does not suggest an imminent Russian withdrawal from Kherson.
Russia has established strong, layered defenses in the Kherson region. According to Western military analysts, Russia has deployed vintage T-62 Soviet battle tanks as stationary artillery pieces to provide defensive support, and attempted regular counterattacks against Ukrainian units trying to push south into Kherson. The Russians require a constant flow of munitions and fuel to sustain their operations in the region. Ukraine has begun using combat aircraft and helicopters in the region, as well as highly accurate long-range artillery systems. Their targeting is also aided by a nascent resistance movement within occupied areas.
Ukrainians have recognized that fighting Russian forces head on is a losing proposition. Instead they are using their newly acquired tools — and some older ones — to hit Russian rear positions and infrastructure.