Russia Retreating from Kherson, end of Ukraine war now possible. Peter Ziehan has come commentary, and Lawrence Person has picked out the main points and added a few comments of his own.
Russia has announced a complete withdrawal from the Kherson pocket north and west of the Dnipro River. Big river, only two bridges, already damaged and within artillery range. Possibly the biggest rout since WW2.
“Reports at this point indicate that the Russians are withdrawing at full speed from all positions.”
Not a rout…yet.
“Based on whose statistics you’re looking at, they’re somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 Russian forces in the area, but it’s generally accepted on both sides these are the best troops that the Russians have, with the best training and the best equipment.” …
“There are only two bridges across the [Dnipro] river, and the Ukrainians have excellent intelligence on the entire zone, so if the Russians put up a pontoon bridge it usually only lasts for a few minutes before it gets taken out.” I rather strongly suspect that Zeihan is either exaggerating here, or the sources he’s depending on are. It’s a bit too far front the frontlines for easy Excalibur range, and I sincerely doubt Ukrainian observers can get approval for HIMARS strikes within minutes for targets of opportunity. They’re just too expensive, and it’s not like they have huge quantities on hand. …
“Best guess is that not only are the Russians going to be leaving behind their best gear, but they’re leaving behind more gear than what Ukrainians captured from the Russians in the Izyum assault back in September.” …
“The Russians have already used the majority of their missile and tank forces, which began this war as the world’s largest.” That, I think, is accurate. Russia has been expending smart ordinance at a furious rate, and with sanctions, it doesn’t have the technological base to easily replace them.
“The Kherson withdrawal, and the likely rout to come, does mark the end of any hope the Russians had of regaining any sort of strategic initiative, or any sort of meaningful offensive operations, until at least to May. It’ll take them at least that long to bring in fresh troops and fresh gear.”
“In capturing Kherson, the Ukrainians are going to be able to cut the water flows to the Crimea canal, and water from that canal is solely responsible for three-quarters of the food grown in Crimea.
Now there is a chance for peace. The Ukrainians needed to evict the Russians from the west bank of the river, so that when the next war starts (in this region, there is always a next war) they could defend the strong river defensive line — no Russian beachhead to the west. If the Russians started with Kherson, they would threaten Odessa and Ukraine’s access to the sea.
Kherson was the only major city captured by the Russians, and soon it will be back in Ukrainian control.
After the Russian retreat from Kherson retreat is complete, the war will probably enter a stalemate, with neither side able to make any decisive gains. A few kilometers either way of generic countryside in a large nation doesn’t matter much. The influx of untrained Russian manpower will eventually stabilize the Russian front line, and the weather is poor for fighting (snow and mud) until next May.
Both sides have suffered grievously and may be in a mood to make a dirty compromise, so long as it brings peace.