November 16, 2022
Ben Hodges, ex-commander of the US Army in Europe, gives an assessment of the Kherson operation, predicts the future plans of the Ukrainian army and emphasizes: “The Russian army today is very, very weak.”
On November 11, the Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated Kherson, the only regional center that the Russian invaders were able to capture and hold for more than nine months of a hot war in Ukraine. For the majority of Ukrainian and international military experts, the de-occupation of Kherson was the turning point that determines the further course of the war.
About what opportunities for Ukraine the retreat of the aggressor provides, when and how the Ukrainian army will attack, what is the state of the Russian group on the approaches to the Crimean peninsula, and also when the possible de-occupation of Crimea appears, NV talks with the ex-commander of the US Army in Europe General Ben Hodges.
— How do you assess the operation of the Ukrainian army to liberate Kherson, what opportunities does it open up for Ukraine?
– First of all, I want to congratulate the Armed Forces of Ukraine on this military operation and how its goals were achieved. Seeing your president in Kherson yesterday was something. I think this operation is part of a very good operational plan developed by your generals. If we recall the counter-offensive operation in September, then it had two wings – one was moving in the direction of Kherson, the second was moving through Kharkov and Izyum towards Mariupol. As a result, both of them should reunite on the outskirts of the Crimea. This is an important step before the start of its de-occupation. And I expect that in January the Ukrainian forces will reach positions from which it is possible to launch a mission to de-occupy Crimea, this operation can begin.
Now , being in Kherson, the Ukrainian command can place HIMARS and other short-range fire installations there in order to make their way to the left bank, especially since there is a steppe there, but the main thing is to actively destroy the supply system of the grouping on the left bank, in such a way that approach the Crimean peninsula.
Overall, this is a great and glorious operation in terms of its psychological effect, operational planning and tactical implementation.
– Can we also say that the Russian military has relatively successfully withdrawn its forces from the right bank, without catastrophic losses?
— I don’t know. I see a lot of conflicting information about what they left, what they took, what their losses are, how many managed to escape, and how many died. But I suspect from how hastily they left Kherson that the number of weapons left behind and the number of dead is quite serious. We do not know how much and what, but the good news is that they left Kherson, the Ukrainian armed forces still have the initiative, and today the Ukrainian troops are in much better positions for that. in order to fire well on the left bank of the Dnieper and the grouping located there. Also, the current location of the Armed Forces of Ukraine significantly reduces the threat of shelling for Odessa.
– What does the supply of the Russian group on the left bank of the Dnieper look like today, how much is it sufficient today for conducting hostilities?
“Logistics is a factor that determines the future of this grouping. The Ukrainian command is conducting a very professional military campaign, which constantly narrows the ability of the Russian Federation to support its military groups, because, for example, Crimea is becoming more and more like a trap for Russia. The damaged Kerch bridge significantly reduces Russia’s ability to support its troops in southern Ukraine. All other ways of supplying the army by land through Rostov, along the coast of the Sea of Azov to Mariupol, and then to the south and to the Crimea are very risky, lengthy, and, in fact, narrowed down to one, in fact, road. At the same time, reinforcements should be measured in thousands of fresh contingent soldiers and resources needed not only for the war, but also for the maintenance of the civilian population in the occupied territories. Of course, they can deliver something by ships, but it all looks very unreliable.
“HIMARS will soon be firing from Kherson. The approaches to Crimea are within range. This will degrade Russian defenses/LOC’s while “left wing” of the counter-offensive takes Mariupol & Melitopol by January. Then begins the decisive phase of the campaign…liberation of Crimea,”
“Approximate range for GMLRS launched from HIMARS via Kherson is the blue circle. I imagine this will start soon, and will degrade/fix Russian defenses and LOC’s north of Crimea,”