Battle of Kherson

Engagement during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Battle of Kherson
Part of the southern Ukraine offensive and the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Batalla de Kherson Abril.jpg
Date24 February – 2 March 2022
(6 days)
Location
Kherson, Kherson Oblast, Ukraine
Result Russian victory[1]
Belligerents
Russia Russia Ukraine Ukraine
Units involved

Russian Armed Forces

Russian Airborne Forces

Ukrainian Armed Forces

  • 59th Motorized Brigade[4]
Casualties and losses
Per Ukraine:
Heavy[5]
Per Ukraine:
~300 soldiers and civilians killed[1]
  • v
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2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Kyiv offensive

Northeastern Ukraine campaign

Eastern Ukraine campaign
Donbas offensive
Eastern Ukrainian counteroffensive

Southern Ukraine campaign
Southern Ukrainian counteroffensive

Other regions
Naval war
Spillover and cross-border incidents
Resistance

Possibly related

The Battle of Kherson was a military engagement between Russian and Ukrainian forces that began on 24 February 2022 as part of the southern Ukraine offensive of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The battle ended on 2 March 2022 with the capture of the city of Kherson and a pocket of land on the right bank of the Dnieper river by Russian forces. It was the first major city, and the only regional capital, to be captured by Russian forces during the 2022 invasion.[1] The Russian occupation of Kherson Oblast followed thereafter.

On 29 August 2022, a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the oblast began. Russian forces were ordered to withdraw from Kherson and pullout across the Dnieper on 9 November 2022. Two days later, Ukrainian forces resumed control of the area.[6]

Russian offensive and capture of Kherson

February

The Antonovskiy Bridge in 2006

Russian forces invaded Kherson Oblast from the south through Crimea on 24 February, with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying "Our troops are fighting fierce battles near the outskirts of Kherson, the enemy is pressing from the occupied Crimea, trying to advance towards Melitopol."[7] By the evening of 24 February, Russian forces reached the city of Kherson and had secured the Antonovskiy Bridge,[8][9] which provides a strategic crossing over the Dnieper River and towards the important junction city of Mykolaiv.[10]

By the early hours of 25 February, Ukrainian forces recaptured the bridge in a battle that was described as fierce and left dead soldiers and several destroyed military vehicles lying on the bridge.[9][11][12] The counterattack forced the Russians to push north and capture the next closest crossing of the Dnieper, the city of Nova Kakhovka.[13][14] Russian troops once again seized the Antonovskiy Bridge later in the day.[5]

On 26 February, Ihor Kolykhaiev, the mayor of Kherson, stated that Russian forces pulled back from Kherson after a Ukrainian air strike on Russian armored vehicles, allowing the city to remain under Ukrainian control.[15][16] A Ukrainian official, Anton Herashchenko, later claimed that a Russian army column was defeated by Ukrainian forces near the town of Oleshky, located just south of Kherson.[17] Later, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Iryna Venediktova, claimed that Russian forces killed a journalist and an ambulance driver near Kherson. Venediktova stated that Ukrainian law enforcement had opened criminal proceedings into the shootings.[18]

On the morning of 27 February, the Russian Ministry of Defence stated that Russian forces had encircled Kherson and, according to Ukrainian officials, captured a part of the city, including Kherson International Airport.[19][20][21] Later in the morning, the Ukrainian Air Force allegedly conducted a successful drone strike against Russian forces in the town of Chornobaivka, just to the north of Kherson.[22]

Ukrainian officials alleged that beginning on 27 February, Russian forces began moving civilians from nearby villages towards Kherson, attempting to use civilians as human shields.[23]

March

In the early morning of 1 March, Ukrainian officials stated that Russian forces had launched a renewed assault on Kherson and were advancing from Kherson International Airport to the highway between Kherson and Mykolaiv. While conducting heavy shelling, Russian forces surrounded the city and reached the highway, advancing to the village of Komyshany before establishing a checkpoint.[24][25] Russian forces entered Kherson later in the day.[26] Kolykhayev described the impact on citizens in the city, stating that many remained in their homes and in bomb shelters. He also claimed that schools and high rise buildings were damaged by the fighting, while residential buildings were being fired upon by Russian forces. Kolykhayev also claimed that on 1 March, Russian soldiers shot citizens armed with Molotov cocktails.[27]

In the early morning of 2 March, Kolykhayev reported that Russian forces captured a railway station and a river port.[27] Later in the morning, Russian forces were seen at Svobody Square in central Kherson, where the Kherson Regional Administration building is located.[24] The Russian Ministry of Defense later claimed to have captured the city,[28] while Ukrainian and American officials denied the claim and stated that fighting continued.[29][30]

Later on 2 March, a group of around ten Russian soldiers, including a commander, entered the city council building and began negotiations with Kolykhaiev. That evening, Kolykhaiev announced that he had surrendered the city and that the Russian commander intended to set up a military administration. Kolykhaiev acknowledged the Ukrainian military was no longer present in Kherson, and another official stated the Russian military was in all parts of the city. According to Kolykhaiev, the battle led to the deaths of around 300 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians and severe destruction of the city's infrastructure. He also said that bodies were being buried in mass graves, and that many remains were unrecognizable.[1][31]

Occupation

On 23 March, Ukrainian forces launched counterattacks against Russian forces in Kherson Oblast.[32][33] A senior US defense official claimed that the Russian forces no longer had full control of Kherson as the Ukrainians fought "fiercely" to recover the city, however, CNN reported the situation in the city remained unchanged, citing residents confirming Kherson was under full Russian control.[34] Ukrainians in Kherson also "questioned the Pentagon’s assessment, saying that the city remained in Russian hands".[35][36]

On 18 April, Igor Kastyukevich was appointed by the Russian authorities as mayor of Kherson.[37]

On 23 April, Ukraine claimed to have struck a Russian command post in Kherson. Two Russian generals were killed and one seriously injured. Some 50 officers were present, in total, during the strike.[38]

On 6 May 2022, Secretary of the United Russia General Council Andrey Turchak visited Kherson city while it was under Russian control and stated, "Russia is here forever. There should be no doubt about this. There will be no return to the past. We will live together, develop this rich region, rich in historical heritage, rich in the people who live here." He stated that a humanitarian aid centre would be opened in Kherson.[39]

According to Mykolaiv Oblast governor, Vitaliy Kim, Russian forces began demolishing bridges near Kherson in late May-early June in preparation for a future Ukrainian counterattack.[40]

Abandonment and retreat

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, participating in reraising the Ukrainian flag while visiting liberated Kherson, on 14 November 2022

On 3 November 2022, eight months after the battle ended, Russian forces removed their flag from the city administrative building and advised remaining people to leave the city and cross the river to the southern bank.[41]

As part of the 2022 Ukrainian southern counteroffensive, Russian troops retreated across the river Dnipro. Ukrainian troops went further into Kherson Oblast and surrounding areas.[42] On 9 November 2022 General of the Army Sergey Surovikin announced that Russian forces would abandon the city and move to the eastern or left bank.[43] On 11 November 5 a.m. Moscow time (2 a.m. UTC) the Russian Ministry of Defence claimed on that all soldiers (approximately 30,000) and all military equipment had been successfully moved across the river in an orderly withdrawal.[42][44] Some analysts doubted that such an exercise could be conducted in a matter of three days.[42] The Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Reuters: 'It's not that easy to withdraw these troops from Kherson in one day or two days. As a minimum, [it will take] one week' to move them all (40,000 by his estimate).[45][42]

On Russian social media, many troops appeared to be in panic as they sought to escape, with pro-Kremlin bloggers echoing panic, suggesting a collapse in morale and logistics.[45][42] Many reports from journalists, Ukrainian civilians and authorities as well as individual Russian soldiers indicated that the withdrawal had been rather chaotic, with many Russian servicemen and materiel left behind on the right bank.[42] DW reported that major equipment pieces such as anti-aircraft defence systems appeared to have been successfully transferred to the other bank, but this would leave troops stuck on the northern side vulnerable to Ukrainian artillery and drone attacks.[45] Groups of Russian soldiers (some of them wounded) were reportedly captured, or voluntarily surrendered to advancing Ukrainian forces.[42] Ukrainian official Serhiy Khlan stated that some Russian soldiers failed to leave Kherson, and changed into civilian clothing.[42] One unidentified Russian soldier appeared to confirm that the last order his unit received was 'to change into civilian clothing and fuck off any way you want'.[42] Some Russian soldiers reportedly drowned while trying to swim across the Dnipro.[42] Ukrainian intelligence posted a Russian-language statement on social media, calling on remaining Russian soldiers to surrender.[42] Footage on social media suggested that Ukrainian troops had captured several Russian tanks, armoured vehicles and crates of ammunition, contradicting the Russian Defence Ministry's statement that '[n]ot a single piece of military equipment or weaponry was left behind on the right [west] bank'.[44]

On 11 November, Ukraine recaptured the city.[46]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Schwirtz, Michael; Pérez-Peña, Richard (2 March 2022). "First Ukraine City Falls as Russia Strikes More Civilian Targets". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 3 March 2022. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  2. ^ "Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 25, 2022". Critical Threats. 25 February 2022. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 25, 2022". Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  4. ^ Schwirtz, Michael (6 March 2022). "Proud Band of Ukrainian Troops Holds Russian Assault at Bay — for Now". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 9 March 2022. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Ukraine loses control over crossing to Kherson". www.ukrinform.net. Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  6. ^ Ponomarenko, Illia (10 November 2022). "How Russia's humiliating defeat in Kherson came to be". The Kyiv Independent. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  7. ^ "Most Problematic Situation In South, Fierce Battles Taking Place Near Kherson – Zelenskyy". ukranews_com. 24 February 2022. Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  8. ^ Schwirtz, Michael; Schmitt, Eric; MacFarquhar, Neil (25 February 2022). "Russia Batters Ukraine With Artillery Strikes as West Condemns Invasion". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Battle rages for strategic bridge in southern Ukraine after days of fighting". 26 February 2022. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  10. ^ "Російські війська хочуть прорватися до Миколаєва, йдуть бої в околицях Чернігова". Українська правда (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  11. ^ "Імовірність прориву на Миколаїв знизилася: військові відстояли Антонівський міст". www.ukrinform.ua (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  12. ^ Video: See aftermath of battle over key bridge in Ukraine – CNN Video, archived from the original on 26 February 2022, retrieved 25 February 2022
  13. ^ desk, The Kyiv Independent news (24 February 2022). "Russian troops moving towards town of Nova Kakhovka in Kherson Oblast". The Kyiv Independent. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
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  18. ^ "Journalist shot dead by Russian occupiers in Kherson Region". www.ukrinform.net. Archived from the original on 27 February 2022. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  19. ^ "Russia claims to have besieged Ukraine's Kherson, Berdyansk". Daily Sabah. 27 February 2022. Archived from the original on 27 February 2022. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  20. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (27 February 2022). "Russian forces advance on Kyiv: fighting on fourth day of invasion". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 27 February 2022. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
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  23. ^ "Russian invaders plan to use Kherson residents as human shield". www.ukrinform.net. Archived from the original on 1 March 2022. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  24. ^ a b "Russian military vehicles seen across Kherson after heavy shelling". CNN. 1 March 2022. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
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  27. ^ a b Eugene Shaporenko (2 March 2022). "У Херсоні ворог захопив залізничний вокзал та річковий порт". Fakty i Kommentarii (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
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  37. ^ "Russia has already appointed Igor Kastsyukevich, a Russian MP from Putin's United Russia party, as a "mayor of Kherson." The photo shows Kastyukevich (L) meeting Sergei Aksyonov (R), the head of Russia's occupation administration of Crimea". Twitter. Euromaidan Press. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
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  46. ^ Mick Krever, Anna Chernova, Teele Rebane, Gianluca Mezzofiore, and Sophie Tanno (11 November 2022). "Ukrainian troops enter key city of Kherson after Russian forces retreat, dealing blow to Putin". CNN. Retrieved 11 November 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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