One of Russia’s successes so far since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has been the capture of Kherson. Because it is the only provincial capital and the largest territory in Russian possession. However, the Ukrainian forces have put up strong resistance against the Russian forces in this region. Therefore, analysts are fearing a bloody conflict around the region.

Trenches have been dug west of Kherson, Oleh, commander of the country’s mechanized infantry unit, told Reuters about preparations of Ukrainian forces in Kherson. I think the Russian enemy will be forced to abandon the strategic port for sure due to winter weather, logistical logjams and the threat of encirclement.

But neither he nor his men thought the Russians would leave the place quickly or quietly. Besides, they don’t want to let them go.

Olehr’s remarks foreshadowed the bloody clashes that could erupt in the key city on the west bank of the Dnipro River. The region serves as a gateway to the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed in 2014.

Regarding the Russian troops, Oleh said, ‘They will continue to fight. They will defend their position as long as they have the power to do so. It will be a tough fight.’

Kirill Stremasov, deputy head of the Russian-run administration in the Kherson region, said Thursday he expects Russian forces to fight back.

“If we leave Kherson, it will be a huge blow,” he added in comments broadcast on Russia’s RT television.

Losing control of Kherson would be another blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin after several significant losses on the battlefield since mid-August.

With control of the west bank of the Dnipro, military experts said, Ukrainian forces would have a springboard from which to seize a bridgehead to the east to advance toward Crimea.

Crimea is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet and has made the recapture of the Kiev peninsula its sworn goal.

If Kherson were to counterattack, it would also be a political affront to Putin, experts say. Because Kherson is one of four partially occupied regions of Ukraine that he declared with great fanfare to be part of Russia ‘forever’ on September 30.

Philip Ingram, a retired senior British military intelligence officer, said, ‘Primarily it would be a huge blow politically and it would cost him (Putin) militarily. If the Ukrainians manage to get a bridgehead east of the Dnipro, it will be worse for the Russians.’

Retired US General Ben Hodges, the former commander of US forces in Europe, said the Ukrainians would be able to crush the Russians who are defending their approach to Crimea.

The Russians now appear to have already begun a phased, organized withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnipro, a US official said on condition of anonymity.

(November 5)