Russia-Ukraine War: Ukraine Rushes Supplies to Kherson as Military Assesses Destruction (Published 2022) (2024)

Kherson’s buildings largely stand. But much of its infrastructure is severed.

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KHERSON, Ukraine — Ukrainian officials were preparing on Sunday to race food, water and medicine to the city of Kherson just two days after its troops re-entered it, while the military worked to secure more of the city and assess the extent of destruction after nearly nine months of occupation.

Russia captured Kherson, a symbolic and strategic prize for President Vladimir V. Putin, at the start of the war, and immediately moved to cut the city off from the world. Ukrainian officials and allies feared that once the city was liberated they would discover the signs of destruction that Russia left behind in other towns and cities.

More than eight months of war have displaced more than seven million people within Ukraine, leaving some towns and cities with less than half their population. Millions more have fled Ukraine altogether.

“Russian occupying forces and collaborators did everything possible to make those people who remained in the city suffer as hard as possible during these days of waiting, weeks of waiting, months,” Roman Golovnya, an adviser to the mayor of Kherson, said on national television.

The threat from Russian forces remained, officials warned on Sunday. Yaroslav Yanushevych, the head of the regional military administration, on Sunday urged residents of the city and surrounding region to evacuate, citing the risk of Russian attacks.

But on Sunday, though villages outside it have been heavily hit, there were signs that Kherson had not suffered the extent of devastation faced by cities like Mariupol, which Russian forces leveled. While more than three-quarters of Kherson’s residents have fled since the war, leaving about 75,000 people, and there was limited water supply, many buildings and streets appeared intact.

The Ukrainian strategy of patiently attacking Russian forces over months, launching pinpoint strikes on their supply lines and positions, seemed to have preserved at least the fabric of the city.

Residents of Kherson told stories for the first time of enduring months of explosions and shelling, describing the extreme precision with which Ukraine used HIMARS, an advanced missile system, against Russian positions and supply lines. One woman said she remembered surviving a blast 100 yards from her.

Ukrainians targeted Russian positions in the city with the aid of a network of informants, working to avoid hitting civilians. One Russian stronghold near a hospital was leveled by Ukrainian shelling. But the blast appeared to leave the facility relatively unscathed, with its windows intact. Along Ushakova Avenue, an elegant boulevard through the city lined with trees, most of the buildings were undamaged.

The Russian repression often happened in the shadows, with residents speaking of friends and family who were detained and disappeared over nine months of Russian occupation. Ukrainian officials will surely focus on uncovering such reports, as they did in Bucha, the town near the capital where hundreds of bodies were discovered after barely a month of Russian occupation.

In Kherson, after a day of celebration on Friday, the streets were quiet. In one high-rise district, there was a lone light in a window from a kerosene lamp or a candle. With no power, there was no heat or running water. As Russia has lost territory in the war in the past two months, it has turned to indiscriminate attacks on civilians and targeting power infrastructure, leaving cities, including Kyiv, the capital, with blackouts.

Residents of Kherson filled jugs of water to carry up darkened stairwells. But, for now, neighbors were sharing what they had and Ukrainian officials said convoys of aid were being readied to be raced into the city once the roads were considered to be safe from Russian mines.

“And now the city is critically lacking first of all water, because there is practically no water supply in the city,” Mr. Golovnya said. “Now there is not enough medicine, there is not enough bread — it is not baked, because there is no electricity.”

Andrew E. Kramer

Reports of atrocities in Kherson follow similar accusations in other reclaimed areas of Ukraine.

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President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said on Sunday that the authorities had discovered evidence of atrocities in Kherson similar to what has been found in other areas reclaimed from Russian forces.

In his nightly address, Mr. Zelensky said that Ukrainian investigators had already documented more than 400 potential Russian war crimes in parts of the Kherson region that Ukrainian forces have retaken.

“The bodies of both civilians and military personnel are being found,” Mr. Zelensky said. “In the Kherson region, the Russian army left behind the same atrocities as in other regions of our country.” He did not elaborate or provide further details.

Yevhen Yenin, a deputy minister in Ukraine’s Internal Affairs Ministry, said torture chambers were discovered “in the premises of police departments” in Kherson, the Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda reported. Mr. Yenin said that these were “customary” to find in areas that had been occupied by Russian forces.

Russia captured Kherson, a symbolic and strategic prize for President Vladimir V. Putin, at the start of the war, and immediately moved to cut the city off from the world. Ukrainian officials and allies had feared that once the city was recaptured, they would discover the same signs of destruction that Russia left behind in other towns and cities.

Since Russian forces withdrew from the city days ago, a bitter blow to Mr. Putin, Ukrainian soldiers have been working to secure it and assess the damage.

Even though basic services were disrupted in Kherson, the city was spared the destruction that cities such as Mariupol had suffered. But in other parts of the region, whole villages were razed in months of brutal combat.

About 40 miles north of Kherson, in the city of Snihurivka, the authorities are investigating multiple reports of people being detained, tortured and forcibly deported, according to a local official, Ivan Kukhta. The Russians operated a torture chamber in the district police station, he added, and another in the basem*nt of a local restaurant.

“People called us and said that the screams of people being tortured were very loud,” he said. “People who lived there in high-rise buildings had to move in with relatives on other streets, so as not to hear the screams.”

The accusations cast a renewed spotlight on Russian humanitarian violations and potential war crimes.

A United Nations-appointed panel of independent legal experts issued a report in September that concluded that war crimes had been committed in the conflict. The report added more chilling accusations to the list of crimes widely reported by Ukrainian and international investigators investigating the executions ofcivilians in Bucha, a suburb of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and amass burial site found near the town of Izium.

Carly Olson and Marc Santora

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Kherson residents say the Russification attempts ‘just didn’t work.’

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KHERSON, Ukraine — Iryna Dyagileva’s daughter attended a school where the curriculum included memorizing the Russian national anthem.

But teachers ignored it, instead quietly greeting students in the morning with a salute: “Glory to Ukraine!”

The occupation authorities asked Olha Malyarchuk, a clerk at a taxi company, to settle bills in rubles. But she kept paying in the Ukrainian currency, hryvnia.

“It just didn’t work,” she said of Russian propaganda, beamed into homes through televisions and plastered on billboards for the nine months of Russia’s occupation of Kherson. On Sunday, she was walking in a park, waving a small Ukrainian flag.

One roadside billboard proclaimed in bold text, “We are together with Russia!” But a teenager who offered only his first name, Oleksandr, had shimmied up the supporting pole on Sunday and was tearing the sign to pieces. Asked how he felt, he said, “free.”

The Ukrainian army has reclaimed hundreds of villages in towns in three major counteroffensives, north of Kyiv, in the northeastern Kharkiv region and now in the southern Kherson region.

But the city of Kherson stands out: it was the focus of a major Russian campaign to assimilate the citizenry and stamp out of the Ukrainian identity. Judging by his assertions that Ukrainians and Russians are one nation, it was a goal President Vladimir V. Putin had harbored for all of Ukraine, had his military been more successful.

After Russian forces captured Kherson in the early days of the war, Ukrainian national songs were banned in the city. Speaking Ukrainian could lead to arrest. Schools adopted a Russian curriculum, and young students were to be told that they were Russians, not Ukrainians.

In the first hours and days after the city’s recapture by the Ukrainian army, signs have emerged suggesting that the Russian attempt was a largely futile effort, at least among those who remained in the city.

Many pro-Russian residents had evacuated as Ukraine’s army advance on the city, and the Kremlin-installed authorities had encouraged residents to leave. Many local government officials had collaborated with the Russians.

Serhiy Bloshko, a construction worker, had lived at the homes of friends through the nine-month occupation, fearful he’d be arrested for joining anti-occupation protests in March that broke out soon after the Russian army arrived. Soldiers indeed went to his home, he said. Not finding him, they made off with his television and refrigerator, he said.

“They repressed the pro-Ukrainian population,” he said while waiting in a line for water on Sunday afternoon. Friends had been detained and vanished, he said. Of the cultural assimilation effort, he said, “what happened here was ethnic cleansing.”

The entry into his city of the two armies, one in February and the other last week, was telling, he said.

“When our soldiers drove in, their machine guns were pointed up, into the air,” Mr. Bloshko said. “When the Russians drove in, their guns were pointed at the people. That explains everything. And they said they were our liberators.”

Criticism of Russia’s military from the country’s war hawks hits a new high.

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Criticism by Russia’s pro-war faction of the country’s military’s performance in Ukraine has reached its most strident level yet in the aftermath of the withdrawal from the southern city of Kherson. By Sunday, the drumbeat of denunciations broke the taboo against singling out President Vladimir V. Putin himself and Russia’s very system of government.

Aleksandr Dugin, the right-wing ideologue whose concept of the Kremlin exerting control over a mythical “Russian World” helped to inspire the war in the first place, wrote an online post stressing that the main job of an autocratic ruler is to protect the people and the lands under his control. “The authorities in Russia cannot surrender anything else,” Mr. Dugin wrote. “The limit has been reached.”

Other social media posts questioned the authenticity of a September referendum in Kherson when the population allegedly voted overwhelmingly to become part of Russia — in sharp contrast to the jubilant crowds that have greeted Ukrainian soldiers since they started entering the city on Friday.

Some analysts suggested that the flow of criticism indicated Mr. Putin had failed to distance himself from the repeated setbacks in the war, but that the volume had yet to constitute a real liability.

“Matters are definitely getting worse for Putin, but it is hard to know the extent because he has crossed so many lines and has still been able to keep control of his inner circle and those who matter,” said Maxim Trudolyubov, a political analyst and former newspaper editor now living in exile. “So far they have been successful in doing damage control.”

Neil MacFarquhar

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Zelensky calls the fighting in Donetsk ‘hell,’ a sobering view after the recapture of Kherson.

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Russian attacks have turned the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk into a “hell,” President Volodymyr Zelensky has said, drawing attention to one of the war’s most entrenched battlegrounds even as the country celebrated the recapture of the southern city of Kherson.

A rout of Russian forces in parts of the Kharkiv region in the northeast in September had raised the prospect that Ukrainian forces might advance quickly in Donetsk, one of four Ukrainian provinces, including Kherson, that President Vladimir V. Putin has illegally declared to be part of Russia.

Donetsk presents a stiff challenge, military analysts say, in part because a section of it was seized by separatists backed by Moscow in 2014 and they have had years to dig defensive positions.

“There are extremely brutal battles there every day,” Mr. Zelensky said in a speech late on Saturday. “But our units defend themselves bravely, withstand the terrible pressure of the occupiers, and maintain our defense lines.”

He named four towns, including Marinka and Avdiivka, that run from north of Donetsk’s capital to the southwest as sites of “particularly tough battles.”

There was no independent confirmation of the reports, but the head of the Ukrainian regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on Sunday in a post on the messaging app Telegram that 1,204 civilians had been killed since February, mainly in missile strikes, and more than twice that number had been wounded.

Russia’s loss of Kherson city to a Ukrainian counteroffensive launched in August is a testament to the failure of Moscow to achieve its military objectives in the south of the country. Donetsk shows its struggles in the east.

The Kremlin announced in April that its military priority was to capture all of Donetsk and the neighboring region of Luhansk, which together are known as the Donbas. By July it could claim to have captured the last city in Luhansk, though Ukraine has gained some ground in the area in recent weeks. In Donetsk, by contrast, Moscow has made little recent progress. Indeed, months of fighting in the region has yielded few concrete gains for either side.

Even an attempt by Russian forces led by the Wagner Group, a private military force controlled by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, who is a close associate of Mr. Putin, to pierce Ukrainian defenses at the city of Bakhmut is yet to bear fruit.

Some military analysts said that the recapture of Kherson in recent days after Russian forces withdrew under pressure might enable Ukraine to shift forces as well as artillery east to Donetsk and Luhansk.

“We shouldn’t dismiss Ukraine’s chances of achieving further gains over the winter,” said Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a research group based in Philadelphia.

Separatists backed by Moscow declared breakaway republics in 2014 in Luhansk and Donetsk and fighting since then has created a series of jagged front lines in the region.

Russia’s defense ministry said in a report issued on Saturday that its forces had faced opposition as they advanced in two villages southwest of Donetsk city and one, Stepnoye, to its northeast. For its part, Ukraine’s general staff said in a Facebook post on Sunday that it had “repelled Russian attacks” in a string of towns and villages in the region.

The pro-Russian mayor of Horlivka, a town northeast of Donetsk city, said on Sunday on Telegram that a Ukrainian missile strike had destroyed a hotel in the town. He gave no details of casualties.

Matthew Mpoke Bigg

‘Don’t cry, my sweetheart,’ a grandmother says in a first video call with her family.

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Russia-Ukraine War: Ukraine Rushes Supplies to Kherson as Military Assesses Destruction (Published 2022) (1)

Residents of Kherson were cut off from the wider world under Russian occupation, and retreating Russian soldiers severed communication lines, emptied grocery stores and closed pharmacies.

On Sunday, Ukrainians in the city were relieved to be free from Russian control — and to have the opportunity to contact their loved ones on the outside.

Lubov Peshkova, 49, right, cried as she looked at her grandchildren while speaking with her daughter by video call. Ms. Peshkova’s daughter, Danya, lives in Denmark.

“Don’t cry, my sweetheart,” Ms. Peshkova said through tears. “Everything is OK.”

A large group of residents gathered nearby, a common occurrence wherever there is a Starlink satellite signal and internet connection. The Starlink internet service, which works with satellites orbiting in space to provide online access, has become a digital lifeline for both Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.

Ukrainian officials have said they are working to restore the damaged infrastructure.

“We are restoring communication, internet, television,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in his nightly address on Sunday. “We are doing everything to restore normal technical capabilities for electricity and water supply as soon as possible.”

Lynsey Addario and Carly Olson

The artist Banksy unveils a mural in a war-scarred Ukrainian town.

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The British street artist Banksy unveiled his latest creation on Friday: a female gymnast depicted on a war-torn building in Ukraine.

In an Instagram post, the anonymous artist posted three photos of the mural with the simple caption, “Borodyanka, Ukraine.” The mural is black and white and features a gymnast, who is dressed in a leotard, doing a handstand on rubble by the building.

Borodyanka, a Ukrainian commuter town about 35 miles northwest of Kyiv, was among the first places to be hit by Russian airstrikes after the invasion in February. The town, where at least 200 people were killed in Russian attacks, used to have about 13,000 residents and was described as a simple, modest place to live. In early April, Ukraine recaptured the town.

Banksy did not reveal any additional details about his whereabouts, though many suspected the artist had been in the area after murals that align with his style were spotted throughout Ukraine.

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Many believed another mural near the rubble where the gymnast was displayed was also a Banksy creation. It showed a child throwing a man who many believed resembled Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, to the ground during a judo match. (Mr. Putin is a known judo aficionado.)

For nearly two decades Banksy has remained anonymous with the help of nondisclosure agreements, trademark law and a team that authenticates his work.

His street art, which often has social and political undertones, has been seen around the world from New York City to London, the West Bank and elsewhere. His work has also included stunts, such as in 2018 when a painting self-destructed moments after it was sold for $1.4 million at auction; a rigged frame shredded the canvas. That painting, retitled “Love is in the Bin,” was resold by Sotheby’s in London for $25.4 million, a record for the artist.

He goes to great lengths to regulate the resale of his work and prevent fakes. In 2008 he set up Pest Control, an agency to authenticate works and prevent fakes and site-specific street pieces from appearing on the market. Reputable dealers and auction houses now sell Banksy works only with Pest Control certification.

The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

McKenna Oxenden

Zelensky says bomb squads are clearing explosives in reclaimed Kherson.

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As the residents of Kherson continued to celebrate the retreat of Russian troops from the southern Ukrainian port city, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that dangers still lay ahead from Russian soldiers who were digging defenses outside the city and had left behind mines as they fled.

“It is very important now to tell all Kherson residents to be careful and not try to independently check any buildings and objects left by the occupiers,” the Ukrainian leader said in his nightly address on Saturday. “Please, dear citizens of Kherson, be careful and inform the police or rescuers about any suspicious objects you see.”

Mr. Zelensky’s plea reflected Ukrainian concerns that some Russian soldiers were still in the area, fortifying defensive positions on the other side of the Dnipro River, and that it was unclear whether they would fight, flee or surrender. Ukrainian military officials said some Russian soldiers in and around Kherson city were still actively fighting with Ukrainian forces, and that the city remained vulnerable to Russian artillery fire.

Ukrainian officials had cleared more than 2,000 explosive devices, mines, trip wires, and unexploded ammunition, Mr. Zelensky said. Ten bomb squads were active in the area, and one soldier had been wounded while working, he added.

Kherson, a vital Black Sea port and a gateway to the occupied Crimean Peninsula, was the first major city to fall to Russian forces after the start of their invasion on Feb. 24. Their retreat has left the city’s residents jubilant as Ukraine reclaims territory in the south of the country. Kyiv is in control in more than 60 settlements around Kherson, Mr. Zelensky said.

But amid the celebration, a devastating humanitarian crisis was coming into focus in Kherson, a city with a prewar population in the hundreds of thousands that has been left without basic services.

“Before fleeing from Kherson, the occupiers destroyed all critical infrastructure — communication, water supply, heat, electricity,” Mr. Zelensky said. “But we will restore everything.”

Food and medicine were also in short supply, but local officials said that they were expecting humanitarian aid to be delivered from the southern city of Mykolaiv and other nearby areas. Kherson’s current population is down to about 80,000, Roman Golovnya, an adviser to the city’s mayor, told a local television station.

Another pledge came from the head of the Ukrainian railways, Oleksandr Kamyshin, who said that crews will repair damaged tracks and rail cars. “A train to Kherson will be launched soon,” he said on the Telegram social network, without providing specifics.

Ukrainian officials also said they had restored television and radio service. “We are currently broadcasting only one channel of Ukrainian television and radio, as the primary task for us was to provide Ukrainians with access to information as quickly as possible,” said an official with the state information service, Serhiy Semerey.

Concerns also were growing on the outskirts of Kherson, where a dam about 40 miles to the northeast, in the town of Nova Kakhovka, had suffered damage from Thursday into Friday, when Russian forces retreated, according to satellite images.

For weeks, the Ukrainians and the Russians have accused the other side of planning to damage the dam. But the Ukrainians have said they have no incentive to flood their own land, and accused Moscow of preparing a “false flag” operation to blow up the dam itself. Damage to the reservoir, which holds roughly the amount of water as Utah’s Great Salt Lake, could flood as many 80 towns, villages and cities, including Kherson.

Marc Santora contributed reporting.

A correction was made on

Nov. 13, 2022

:

An earlier version of this article misstated the title of an official in Kherson. Roman Golovnya is an adviser to the mayor, not the mayor.

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Vivek Shankar

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‘Let me hug you’: Ukrainian soldiers receive a hero’s welcome in Kherson.

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KHERSON, Ukraine — Women hugged them, men shook their hands, and children looked on admiringly.

“We waited for you! We love you!” people in a crowd in Kherson’s central square yelled as a half-dozen Ukrainian soldiers arrived in a dusty pickup truck on Saturday, piling out to mingle with the crowd.

“Good job! Good job!” a woman yelled. “Come here, let me hug you.”

The soldiers sweeping into the strategic southern Ukrainian city received a hero’s welcome from a population that had lived through nearly nine months of Russian occupation.

But a day after Kyiv’s forces began reclaiming the city, the people gathering on the city’s streets told visiting New York Times journalists that their joy was mixed with a deep sense of unease about possible Russian retaliatory strikes, which had followed earlier Ukrainian successes in the war.

Svitlana Horbunova, a hairdresser, said she even worried that the celebration in the central square could be targeted.

“Everybody expects something,” Ms. Horbunova said. “Everybody is afraid.”

Col. Roman Kostenko, a member of Parliament serving in the Ukrainian military, said the risk of a retaliatory bombardment of Kherson was high.

Although Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Friday that all of its forces had withdrawn from the city, the Ukrainian military’s intelligence agency said on Saturday that there were still soldiers in fixed defensive positions, and that it was unclear whether they would fight, flee or surrender. The military reported some skirmishes with Russian forces on the outskirts of Kherson.

Despite the palpable trepidation about what would happen next — and amid hardships in a city mostly without heat, water and medicines — there was obvious pride in what Ukraine’s military had accomplished in forcing the Russian retreat. The victory, said Roman Lozinsky, a member of Parliament serving in the Ukrainian Navy, “shows the whole world that Ukraine can do it.”

The celebration in the city, he said, showed that Russian claims that Ukrainians in the south and the east of the country wanted to join Russia were false. “Even people who speak Russian came to the streets to greet Ukrainian soldiers,” he said.

He told a woman who came to hug him, “Sorry it took so long.”

Under overcast skies occasionally broken by rays of sunlight, Ukraine’s army was taking up defensive positions along the west bank of the Dnipro River, across from where the Russian army was now arrayed. Units of Ukrainian scouts fanned out to search for Russian deserters or saboteurs left in the city.

The sounds of cheering and car horns in the center of the city mingled with occasional explosions from demining teams and incoming artillery on the city’s edges.

But as night fell and the city went dark, blacked out by electrical cables blown up during the fighting, the party in the square went on.

Ukrainian songs banned under the occupation blared from a speaker. People cheered and sang along, dancing in the light of headlamps and flashlights.

One cheeky tune praised the guided missile-firing Bayraktar drone. “You are on a foreign land, and we beat you,” the people sang, adding an expletive to refer to the Russians, and stomping on the brick sidewalks.

The military said that Ukrainian forces were clearing mines and explosives left behind by departing Russian forces, and searching for any Russian soldiers who might be hiding in abandoned homes.

But people in the square continued to wave Ukrainian flags and sing the country’s national anthem.

“It’s our city!” one woman shouted. “Ours! Ours! Ours! Our Ukraine!”

Andrew E. Kramer

Architects plan a Ukrainian city for the future, even as bombs fall.

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The Russian invasion obliterated much of civilian infrastructure of the Kyiv suburb of Irpin. Attacks blew out thousands of residential windows, collapsed roofs, eviscerated heating systems and destroyed the water filtration system. The Central House of Culture, the public market, the hospitals and the stadium were shelled. All of them would somehow need to be restored.

“We started counting all the damage, scanning everything with drones,” Mikhail Sapon, the 30-year-old chief municipal architect of Irpin, said recently. “We realized that 70 percent was destroyed, that the bridges were gone, all the kindergartens are damaged.”

He is working with Irpin’s mayor, Oleksandr Markushin, and the executive director of the Irpin Reconstruction Fund (and a former mayor), Volodymyr Karpluk, to restore the city even as rolling blackouts and energy cuts remind residents that more pain is still to come.

Iryna Yarmolenko, an Irpin resident and Bucha City Council member put together an open call for Ukrainian architects, designers and urban planners to come to Irpin and develop proposals for how the city should rebuild. By July, submissions were already flowing in, and Ms. Yarmolenko had extended the call to foreign architects.

Some plans reimagined Irpin’s architectural landmarks as gleaming modernist complexes, with monumental glass additions supporting whatever facades could still be saved. They were expensive, ambitious designs, experiments in conceiving of a future still to come, a future radically unlike the past.

Linda Kinstler

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Winter will be a major factor in the war in Ukraine, officials say.

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WASHINGTON — Senior Biden administration officials say Russia’s military operations in Ukraine will remain stalled well into next year, as recent Ukrainian advances upset Moscow’s hopes to seize more territory in areas that President Vladimir V. Putin has tried to portray as historically part of Russia.

While the officials say that Moscow is likely to continue to attack Ukrainian troops, bases, infrastructure and the electrical grid, the coming winter is expected to bring a slowdown in military advances on both sides.

A winter pause could last as long as six months. Rain and soft ground in late November will slow the movements of both militaries. Then, as temperatures fall and the ground freezes, it will be easier for tanks and trucks to move. But the possibility of heavy snows and even colder weather could make it difficult for the poorly equipped Russian army to mount any new offensive.

“You’re already seeing the sloppy weather in Ukraine slow things down a little bit,” Colin H. Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy, told reporters this past week. “It’s getting really muddy, which makes it hard to do large-scale offensives.”

With a weather-enforced pause in major military movements, the war will enter a new phase.

Helene Cooper,Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes

Ukraine signals it will stay on the offensive, despite talk of a lull.

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As jubilant Ukrainian troops hoist their national flag over Kherson after a comprehensive Russian retreat, they give no sign of stopping their offensives for the winter, or allowing the war to settle into a stalemate.

In the east, Ukrainian forces continue to grind forward and have repelled repeated Russian efforts to seize towns like Bakhmut and Pavlivka, reportedly killing hundreds of Russian soldiers. In the south, they are striking deep behind Russian lines, hitting Moscow’s troops before they can settle and build defenses on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, across from Kherson.

And there are growing hints from troops on the ground, and volunteers close to them, that the Ukrainians are preparing for a new land offensive between those two fronts, south through the Zaporizhzhia region toward Melitopol, challenging Russia’s hold on the entire southern area that it seized in the invasion that began in February.

“The logic of war is not to pause and somehow continue to move forward,” said Senior Lt. Andriy Mikheichenko, a commander of an anti-tank unit defending the embattled town of Bakhmut, in the eastern Donbas region. “I think there will be counterattacks in other directions, so that the enemy does not have time to transfer reserves and block strikes.”

Many analysts and diplomats have talked about the war entering a period of stasis during the cold of winter, with both militaries needing to rebuild. Some leaders — most notably, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Thursday — have suggested that a lull in fighting would be a good time for talks.

Carlotta Gall

Russia-Ukraine War: Ukraine Rushes Supplies to Kherson as Military Assesses Destruction (Published 2022) (2024)
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