Ukraine, analyst: “That’s why Russia can’t lose Kherson”

Nona Mikhelidze (Iai): “Nuclear power forced to suffer a counter-offensive. Panic and flight from the front among the new enlisted in the ranks of the Kremlin. It would be the second defeat for Putin”.

It is an operation that, regardless of how it will go, “has enormous political and also military significance”, because “a nuclear power that was perhaps the second or third military force in the world has failed in more than six months to break through “and even if” we do not know how the “Ukrainian” counter-offensive will go, today in fact Russia has to suffer it “. This is how he speaks with Adnkronos Nona Mikhelidze, head of research of the Iai, more than six months have passed since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine after the Russian invasion and a few hours since the announcement by the Ukrainians of the start of the “active phase” of the counter-offensive in the south. A “slow and planned operation”, not “a full-scale offensive”, but one that will be successful, in the words of Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, while armed clashes are underway in Kherson.

“If Russia were to lose” this strategic city in southern Ukraine that had been occupied since the beginning of March, “it would be a sign of the Kremlin’s second defeat,” the expert said. “At the political level it would be a great defeat” and – he highlights – it would represent “the beginning of the third phase of the war”, as well as a development “difficult to explain” in Russia that “will reinforce those doubts that have existed for months about Putin’s ability to win this war “while among” the new enlisted (among the ranks of the Russians) there would be a flight from the front “.

In the “first phase” of the war, he explains in his analysis, “we witnessed the first defeat” of Russia, “the withdrawal from the northern regions of Ukraine of Kiev, Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv” and if Russia were to “lose Kherson “it would be” a signal of the second defeat in this second phase of the war because the city has been occupied since the beginning of the war, since the beginning of March “and because here” Russia had already started a Russian government, it was planning to organize a referendum “in September” to announce the birth of the so-called ‘Kherson People’s Republic “, in the wake of what happened with Donetsk and Luhansk,” or even to incorporate Kherson into the Crimea region and thus directly into the Russian Federation “.

Mikhelidze recalls in this context the visits to Kherson of Sergey Kirienko, deputy of the presidential staff of the Putin administration, remembers how here the Russians had “immediately started a Russian government despite the very strong civic resistance of the city”. And, he continues, “even now the role of local partisans is very strong”. If Russia were to “lose such a city” it would also be “difficult to explain it to the Russians” because “perhaps it would not work” to speak of withdrawal as a ‘sign of goodwill’, as in the case of the Island of the Snakes, “closing of the first phase of the conflict “, according to the analyst. This, he highlights, “does not mean that it will create revolts against President Putin and whether it will create problems for Putin is another question, but it will certainly reinforce those doubts that have existed for months about Putin’s ability to win this war and on a political level it would be a great deal. defeat”.

Kherson, he remarks, “has enormous political significance for Russia” and, from the “propaganda point of view, Putin has always given symbolic importance” to the city, which – first of all because of its position – “made more of Russian presence in Crimea sure “. And in recent months “there was no sign that the Russians wanted to keep Kherson for negotiations”, that they “intended to withdraw or give up this territory in exchange for something”.

And, Mikhelidze urges, the goal announced “by the Russians in the” second phase of the war was to take the Ukrainian southeast, with the deadline of July 1 to take all the Donbass. “But, remember,” 45% of the region of Donetsk remains out of occupation with its four important cities “and in fact” they have not even been able to complete what was to be the conquest of Donbass “.

Now, after more than six months of war, the Ukrainian counter-offensive is entering ‘live’, having begun in “late July” with the “Ukrainian strategy” that it wanted “before weakening the Russian armed forces – with almost daily explosions in depots of weapons and oil “and attacks to hit supply lines and cut escape routes, for example with” the continuous bombing of the bridges over the Dnipro River – to “then attack” them head-on.

This “active military phase”, he highlights, goes in parallel with the strategy of attacks on the Russian logistics and is “characterized by ‘close’ clashes”, but the operation will be slow and according to the expert it will take at least “two or three weeks “and it will also be necessary to see” what the Russian response will be “. The “first information that leaks – he says – speaks of a sort of panic and above all among the new enlisted there would be an escape from the front while the ‘veterans’ continue to fight”.

A new meeting of the ‘Ukraine Support Advisory Group’ is scheduled for 8 September in Ramstein and in the meantime, Mikhelidze concludes, in the past month “Ukrainians have received the amount of weapons that allow them to launch this counter-offensive”. Himars systems first.