Can Ukrainian Forces Recapture Kherson?

Can Ukrainian Forces Recapture Kherson?

The extent of Ukrainian progress during its offensive forays in the Kherson region so far is difficult to determine. However, senior Pentagon officials say updates will likely emerge in the coming days.

It might have been unimaginable six months ago but could Ukraine defeat the Russian invasion? This is a question many are asking given the unanticipated intensity and success with which Ukrainians have handicapped or denied Russian advances.

While there may be no way to truly measure intangibles such as tenacity or resolve, it appears that a combination of survival instincts and unexpected tactical proficiency has yielded notable results for Ukrainian forces.

As surprising as this may sound, given the sheer numerical advantage of Russian forces, this week Ukrainian forces have increased their offensive forays in the southern Kherson region.

During a background press briefing, a senior Pentagon official said “Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen them [Ukrainian forces] making some offensive moves in and around the Kherson pocket.” 

The official then went on to say that Ukrainian officials have confirmed an increase in offensive activities to the Pentagon. 

“The Ukrainians have told us what you're seeing in open source media, that they have started an offensive of some sort. We just don't know the level of that,” the official said. 

This might help explain why the Ukrainians are now receiving blast-deflecting Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs) with mine-detection rollers which is the kind of platform suited for offensive operations to take back territory occupied by Russian forces. But does Ukraine have enough heavy mechanized forces to take back and hold contested areas? This is an open question but given Ukraine’s unanticipated successes, the answer may well be yes. 

Other elements of the Ukrainian offensive are likely incorporating GPS-guided precision rockets such as Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) against Russian supply lines, command and control centers, troop concentrations, and equipment. These strikes, which Pentagon officials have said are extremely effective, may have degraded Russia’s logistics systems in the rear. Ukraine has certainly demonstrated an ability to use dismounted infantry to target and destroy Russian armor. 

The extent of Ukrainian progress so far is difficult to determine, however, senior Pentagon officials say updates will likely emerge in the coming days. 

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Reuters.