“Stalingrad in reverse” is how military analysts are describing the battle shaping up to liberate Kherson totally. The battle of Kherson is almost becoming Stralingrad battle in full fledge. The battle of Stalingrad lasted five months, causing a total of 2 million killed and wounded on both sides, the present Russian-Ukraninan war is following the same plot.In January 1943, Soviet soldiers fought in a pincer movement across the steppe, trapping Nazi invaders in a semi-circle stronghold, their backs against the Volga River. This time, Ukrainian soldiers have blown up bridges, ammunition dumps, and command centers.
At the moment, many villages were liberated. Russia’s 49th Army and other units are largely isolated and bracing for a siege. Their backs are already against the wide Dnipro River, the Mississippi of Ukraine. Supplies only can come from Nova Kakhovka, a road and rail bridge 50 miles to the north. Many experts now believe that the Russians now have the river at their back since they can’t get supplies easily and morale is probably quite low at this point.But as Ukrainian ground troops slowly advance, Kherson city now stands as Russia’s lone beachhead on the west bank of the Dnipro. It was not supposed to be this way. Kherson was supposed to be a launching pad for Russia’s westward thrust, one that would take Ukraine’s Black Sea ports of Mykolaiv and Odesa. Knowing that 80 percent of Ukraine’s trade goes through the Black Sea, the Kremlin wants to reduce the nation to a landlocked vassal state. As Ukraine’s southernmost city on the Dnipro, Kherson also controls river traffic.For the Kremlin, control of Kherson region, an area the size of Belgium, is key to the viability of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014. After annexation, Ukraine blocked the North Crimea Canal, a vital source of fresh water for the semi-arid peninsula.
Russian dominance also is key to the Kremlin’s desire to control a “land bridge” or corridor from Russia to Crimea. At present, the only fixed link is a 10-mile road and rail bridge from the Russian mainland, inaugurated in 2019. But now that Ukraine is becoming victorious, it spells the beginning of the end for Vladimir Putin’s dreams of a new Russian Empire – the dream is leaving his grasp already.As it stands, old memories of Stalingrad will be refreshed in Putin’s memory bank.Dates for a September referendum on joining Russia keep changing as the military outlook worsens. With the Ukrainian encirclement of Kherson tightening, officials of Mr. Putin’s United Russia party reportedly fled the city this week, crossing the Dnipro on an improvised pontoon ferry.As the 100-mile long front line tightens, so does Russian repression inside the city. Residents report detentions, brutal interrogations, and disappearances. About half of the 1 million residents of Kherson city and region have slipped away to Kyiv-controlled Ukraine.