Russia leaves the right bank of the Kherson region. Perhaps, by the end of the year, nothing more significant will happen in the war. Our analysis of the situation at the front on the 260th day of the full-scale invasion

Oleksiy Yarmolenko
Tetyana Lohvynenko
Russia leaves the right bank of the Kherson region. Perhaps, by the end of the year, nothing more significant will happen in the war. Our analysis of the situation at the front on the 260th day of the full-scale invasion

Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian positions from artillery near Bakhmut, November 8, 2022.

Getty Images / «Babel'»

The Russian army officially announced its withdrawal from the right bank of the Kherson region and Kherson city itself. Ukraine doesnʼt believe in this yet, but has already begun to gradually enter new settlements from which the occupiers fled. At the same time, on other fronts, due to weather conditions, none of the sides can yet achieve significant success.

Over the past 10 days, the Russians have significantly softened their aggressive rhetoric towards Ukraine. Statements about the creation of a “dirty bomb” disappeared from the information space after IAEA inspectors checked three objects on the territory of Ukraine. Experts noted that they didnʼt find signs of the creation of such a bomb. Russiaʼs threats regarding nuclear weapons have also eased: the Russian Foreign Ministry published an official statement on November 2, which listed the conditions under which Russia can use nuclear weapons and emphasized that a nuclear conflict is unacceptable.

The topic of peace negotiations became active. Statements of readiness for them came from Russia. But foreign mass media began to write that representatives of the West are also hinting to Kyiv about this. After the annexation of four Ukrainian regions, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine decided that negotiations with Putin were impossible. But after the publications in the mass media, the Ukrainian authorities also softened their rhetoric a little. Even President Volodymyr Zelensky clearly listed five conditions under which Ukraine will be ready to return to the negotiating table.

Russia needs peace talks to buy time. It is already obvious to the Kremlin that itʼs impossible to achieve the goals it set with the available people and equipment, so the front must be frozen. Putin wants to use the pause to prepare for a new offensive in the winter or spring of 2023 and attract a large number of mobilized civilians. The Ukrainian authorities understand this, so they are unlikely to agree to any truces with the Russian Federation.

On November 6, the Ukrainian authorities also took five strategic enterprises under state control: Motor Sich, Zaporizhtransformator, AvtoKrAZ, Ukrnafta and Ukrtatnafta. For this, martial law regulations were used. The enterprises were placed under the control of the Ministry of Defense, and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal noted that they will work around the clock for the needs of the army and will receive a large number of orders.

These enterprises are extremely important and strategic from the point of view of wartime. Motor Sich is one of the world leaders in the production of aviation equipment, including engines. Even a whole helicopters can be assembled there. AvtoKRAZ manufactures military trucks, as well as chassis for rocket launcher systems. Ukrnafta and Ukrtatnafta should supply the Ukrainian army with fuel. Zaporizhtransformator specializes in the production of transformer and reactor equipment. New transformers are necessary to restore Ukraineʼs energy system, which was hit hard by Russia in October and November.

Now letʼs look closer at the different sectors of the front.

Kharkiv region

In the Kharkiv region, the situation hasnʼt fundamentally changed over the past 10 days. The Russians hold a very small territory of the region on the left bank of the Oskil River near their border. They need it to keep the Ukrainian military as far as possible from the Russian village of Urazovo in the Belgorod region. Itʼs located only 11 km from the state border and is an important railway junction. From there, there is a railroad branch to the city of Starobilsk in the Luhansk region, thanks to which the Russians provide their troops in the north of the region.

Tactical battles continue in the Kharkiv region, in which the Ukrainian army is trying to find weak points in the Russian defense. The most active battles are taking place in the area of the villages of Kyslivka, Kotlyarivka and Orlyanske in the northwest of the region.



In the north-west of Luhansk region, tactical battles continue along the Svatove-Kreminna road. The Ukrainian army is holding the line of settlements here and is trying to break through the Russian defenses in front of the road in order to physically cut it. The Russians constantly resort to counterattacks to knock out the Defense Forces of Ukraine from the settlements of Makiivka, Novovodyane, Karmazynivka, Nevske, Terny, and Yampolivka. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has already reported several times that the Russians are shelling the village of Ploshchanka in the Luhansk region. They did not officially talk about the liberation, but it is located near the Svatove-Kreminna highway. It can be concluded that the battles for this settlement are ongoing, and in case of success, the Ukrainian military will be able to cut the road.

Over the past 10 days, it has become obvious that the Russians have transferred a lot of mobilized troops to the Svatove direction in order to quickly patch up the holes in the defense line. In the Russian media, there are appeals from the relatives of the mobilized, that their relatives were thrown without training, command, and communication immediately to the front line in the Luhansk region, and they suffered terrible losses there. In particular, the story is spreading that about 500 mobilized people died near the village of Makiivka. There is a video of the Ukrainian military capturing a whole group of 21 mobilized Russians who decided to surrender.

The other day, a video appeared where the Ukrainian military hit a Russian warehouse with fuel, which was located in the village of Dibrova west of Kreminna. It isnʼt known when it was recorded. Therefore, it is also impossible to say with certainty who controls this village.

The Russian army is still trying to advance on the administrative border of Luhansk region and Donetsk region on the right bank of the Siverskyi Donets river. Here, the main battles are taking place in the village of Bilohorivka and the village of Spirne. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces constantly reports on repelling Russian attacks in this direction.

The situation around Bakhmut also remains difficult, although the Russians havenʼt been able to achieve significant success here for several weeks. Their attempts to bypass the city from several sides at once fail, but they continue to storm Ukrainian positions on the line from the village of Yakovlivka near Soledar to the village of Klishchiivka, which is southwest of Bakhmut. In order to get to the city from the south, the Russians need to capture the settlements of Ivangrad and Opytne, which they unsuccessfully storm. From the latest videos, it can be said that they reached the southern outskirts of Ivangrad, but did not advance further.

The battles in the western suburbs of Donetsk are not very successful for the Russians. Over the past 10 days, they havenʼt made much progress on the line from Avdiyivka and Maryinka either. Fairly fierce fighting continues in Maryinka itself, but there is no accurate information about the situation there yet. The Ukrainian army holds at least half of the city.

The Russians planned to advance in one more direction — in the area of the city of Vuhledar and the village of Pavlivka. They began to advance there on October 30-31, and for several days there was no information from the village. Some Russian Telegram channels reported on the “completion of cleaning Pavlivka”, but already on November 4, their mood changed. The offensive almost stopped, and many videos of serious losses suffered by Russian units appeared on social networks. Then an open letter appeared, allegedly written by the Russian military from the 155th brigade of marines of the Pacific fleet, who addressed the governor of Primorskiy Krai. They wrote about how poorly the generals had planned the operation, and that they had already lost 300 soldiers in a few days.

Obviously, the advancing operation was planned in advance. The Russians launched an offensive from four sides. They carried out the main attack from the south and east on Pavlivka, as well as several auxiliary ones: on Vuhledar, on the village of Novomykhailivka (to cut the road between Vuhledar and Maryinka), and on the village of Prechystivka (to reach Pavlivka and Vuhledar also from the west). The Russians were able to reach at least the center of Pavlivka, but the Ukrainian military from Vugledar, located on higher ground, worked effectively against them there. As of now, the exact situation in Pavlivka is unknown, but the Russians have not been able to capture the village and probably control only a part of it. Their attacks on the rest of the directions were repulsed.

The Russians often choose targets that have no strategic importance, but there was a sense in the attack on Pavlivka and Vuhledar. First, the southern front actually connects here with the eastern, and this creates certain problems for the Ukrainian army, because the Russians can attack from two sides at once. If such an attack was successful, they would create another flanking threat to the Defense Forces of Ukraine, and then the Ukrainian military would have to level the front and retreat from Vuhledar to avoid encirclement.

Secondly, the explosions on the Crimean bridge did damage the railway track, and it needs to be replaced. The Russian authorities have already officially announced that repairs will be carried out there. And the occupiers provide the forces of the entire southern front via the railway from the Crimea. Only it can handle the amount of ammunition and equipment that needs to be transported. An alternative to the Crimean railway is only one railway branch — from Donetsk through Volnovakha, Komysh-Zorya, Tokmak and all the way to Kakhovka in the Kherson region. But one of its sections is located extremely close to Ukrainian positions, only 20 kilometers away from them. And this section is in the area of Vuhledar and Pavlivka. So the Russians wanted to move the Ukrainian military away from this railway branch in order to ensure traffic on it.



Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions

The situation at the front doesnʼt change in the Zaporizhzhia region. Ukrainian and Russian positions are not moving. However, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported on November 6 that the Russians were trying to advance on the village of Shcherbaky in the Zaporizhzhia region. The Ukrainian military repelled this attempt. This was the first mention of any attacks by the occupiers in the Zaporizhzhia region in the last half a year.

But this does not mean that there are no battles. The Russians continue to shell the front-line settlements, and the Ukrainian military destroys the occupiers and their equipment on the other side of the front.

Things are much more interesting in the Kherson region. The situation at the front has hardly changed here, but a lot of events have taken place in the Russian rear over the past 10 days. On the second of November, the occupiers officially announced the completion of the civiliansʼ evacuation from Kherson and surrounding settlements. In the future, local residents were advised to go to the left bank on their own. At the same time, photos appeared showing how the occupiers had shot and sunk almost all civilian boats, as well as other watercraft standing near the coast of Kherson. Of the occupiers, only the military remained in the city. Neither the “police”, nor the occupation administration, nor any “authorities” — they all left for the left bank, to Skadovsk.

Photos and videos of abandoned Russian checkpoints began to appear on social networks, both in Kherson itself and beyond. OSINT-researchers confirm by satellite photos that there are no more people in the positions where there were usually dozens of Russian soldiers and several pieces of equipment. Despite this, the Ukrainian authorities continued to claim that, in fact, the Russians are not leaving the right bank of the Kherson region, but are conducting an informational and psychological special operation.

On November 9, the Russians began blowing up bridges on the left bank of the Kherson region. Such a step is resorted to when it is necessary to stop the enemyʼs offensive, retreating in parallel. But the occupiers continued to hold the entire front line and did not retreat. In the evening of the same day, the Russians officially announced that they were leaving the right bank of the Kherson region and the city itself. The Ukrainian side once again publicly stated that it does not see any signs of withdrawal.

Most likely, Russian units in advanced positions cover the retreat of the rear group, and then they will try to retreat either to the left bank or to Kherson itself, where they will maintain the defense. It is obvious that the front line on the right bank of the Kherson region will change, but it is not yet known how. The occupiers can either completely leave the entire right bank or greatly shorten the defense line, for example, to the outskirts of Kherson, turn the city into a fortress and impose street battles on the Ukrainian army. But even this will not help them to hold the city, because sooner or later, without security, the Russians will still surrender Kherson.

On the left bank, the Russians are setting up several lines of defense along the Dnipro: digging trenches and installing concrete long-term defense points (DOTs). They also decided to evacuate civilians from the left bank of the Kherson region: they are asking everyone who lives up to 15 km from the Dnipro River to leave. Locals say that Russians are moving into the houses of people who have left.



Supply of weapons

On November 9, the United States announced another package of military aid. This time a number of new positions appeared in it. In particular, the United States promised to transfer tanks to Ukraine — but not Western ones. The USA, together with the Netherlands, will finance the repair and modernization of 90 Czech T-72 tanks, which will then be handed over to the Ukrainian army. The first batch is promised by the end of 2022.

Ukraine will also receive 250 M1117 armored personnel carriers. It is a wheeled vehicle armed with a grenade launcher and several machine guns. Previously, the States did not announce the delivery of such armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. For the Ukrainian army, any armored vehicle is now useful, since it is armored vehicles that are needed for offensives to cover infantry.

New Western air defense systems have also arrived in Ukraine. We are talking about the Norwegian-American NASAMS systems and the Italian Aspide anti-aircraft missile systems. They will strengthen Ukrainian air defense and allow shooting down even more Russian missiles and Iranian drones.

The Aspide air defense system was handed over to the Ukrainian army by Spain together with the Hawk air defense systems. These are old Western systems, but they are still in service in many countries of the world. It is important for the Ukrainian military to get as many air defense systems as possible. This will allow them to saturate the territory of Ukraine and protect the airspace much more effectively.

Translated from Ukrainian by Anton Semyzhenko.

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A Russian tank track in the Kherson region, used by the Ukrainian army as a spare part. November 9, 2022

Getty Images / «Babel'»