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Russia’s Withdrawal From Kherson


Ukraine’s defence and intelligence unit has reported on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson but predicts it to be a delusion for a retreat.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Where is Kherson and why is it important?
  2. How did Kherson come under Russia’s control?
  3. Why has Moscow announced its withdrawal from Kherson?

Where is Kherson and why is it important?

  • Geographically, Kherson is a strategic location for Russia and Ukraine.
  • It is situated in the northwest of the Dnipro River, the province shares borders with Donetsk, Crimea and the Black Sea.
  • With Moscow capturing Crimea in 2014, the occupation of Kherson in March 2022 has benefited Russia in transferring its military from Crimea to counter Ukraine.
  • It provides access to Odesa and Black Sea ports in the west and serves as the main route to secure southern Ukraine.
  • For Ukraine, regaining Kherson is significant to protect its population in Kalanchak and Chaplynka districts and also to recapture Crimea.
  • Kherson is also an important region for its agricultural produce, with irrigation channels.

How did Kherson come under Russia’s control?

  • In early March 2022, Kherson was captured by Russia through intense fighting.
  • The battle of Kherson proved to be the starting point to capturing and occupying the southern part of Ukraine while the battles for Kharkiv and Kyiv in the north progressed.
  • Russia’s hold over Kherson since March 2022 enabled Moscow to capture the key port cities — Mariupol in the Sea Azov, and Odesa, thus expanding control.
  • Kherson’s irrigation canals were used as defence positions, creating a strong line preventing Ukraine’s counter-attacks. Russia also had positioned its soldiers in Kherson and stockpiled the ammunition.

Why has Moscow announced its withdrawal from Kherson?

The mobilisation failure:
  • When Russia was advancing rapidly in capturing the southern and northern cities of Ukraine, its military personnel and weapon systems started to run thin.
  • Russia then pursued a partial mobilisation as the next strategy to circumvent its on-ground limitations.
  • The failure of new recruits added an additional challenge to Russia to keep its hold against the Ukraine counter-offensive in Kherson.
The inability of Russia to govern Kherson:
  • Despite imposing martial law, Russia could not effectively rule Kherson; the three-level security in the occupied areas could not enforce Russia’s control on the ground.
Ukraine’s expanding counter-offensive:
  • Until August, Ukraine was supplied only with short-range and low-grade weapons by the West.
  • Later, Ukrainian soldiers received military training; as Moscow continued its onslaught, the West upgraded its support with medium to high-range weapons systems such as the Howitzers, HIMARS, air defence systems, battle tanks and drone technologies.
  • It came from the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, whereas Russia’s procurement was slow and limited to Shahed drones. This helped Ukraine recapture Russian-occupied areas including Izyum, northeast, southeast of Kharkiv, Izyum-Slovyansk, Kupiansk in Eastern Ukraine, and northwest Kherson in the south.
  • On the other hand, Russia has been facing challenges in augmenting its military hardware on the battleground.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024