Putin’s forces grapple ‘broken morale’ as Russia faces ‘street battle’

Ukraine trying to break Russian morale in Kherson says Bury

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Ukrainian forces have launched an ambitious bid to reclaim the southern city of Kherson, which has been occupied by Russian troops since the early days of the Kremlin’s invasion. President Zelensky’s troops began the operation with a series of strategic strikes on transport routes into the region, plotting to “cut off” Russian troops from vital supplies of equipment, food, and medicine. The initial stages of the counter-offensive mission planned to weaken Moscow’s forces by “breaking their morale” and reducing their ability and will to fight back. As Ukraine escalates its strategy to close in on the city, Dr Patrick Bury spoke to Express.co.uk to explain why both sides would be keen to avoid a “ruinous street battle” in Kherson.

Dr Bury, a senior lecturer in security at the University of Bath, explained how Ukraine had used advanced, long-range weapons to isolate Russian troops.

He said: “In Kherson, it’s been very interesting because the Ukrainians have used HIMARS very smartly. 

“We’ve seen them take out logistics nodes especially, ammo dumps as well which has reduced the rate of fire from the Russian artillery.

“What they have been trying to do is cut off and make it very difficult for the Russian forces in Kherson to sustain themselves and break their morale.”

Dr Bury continued on to explain why both sides would be keen to avoid the open conflict of a “street battle,” having already suffered huge losses in the war so far.

“They don’t really want to get into a street battle – they can’t. 

“If they get into a street battle in Kherson it will be bloody, but also completely ruinous and destructive if the Russians decide to stay and fight in the way that the Ukrainians did. 

“It’s one thing to defend, but when you move onto the attack you need combined arms, which is using artillery, air forces, ground forces. To do that effectively you need at least a 3:1 and sometimes a 5:1 force ratio, for it to be successful generally.

“The problem is easier to defend and harder to attack.”

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The Ministry of Defence reported that Ukrainian armed forces had begun renewed offensive operations in the south towards the end of August.

Intelligence information suggests Russian forces have been struggling to track Ukraine’s advance due to a lack of advanced military equipment.

The Ministry of Defence reported: “It is likely Russia is struggling to maintain stocks of uncrewed aerial vehicles, exacerbated by component shortages resulting from international sanctions.

“The limited availability of reconnaissance UAVs is likely degrading commanders’ tactical situations awareness and increasingly hampering Russian operations.”

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Intelligence updates have suggested Ukraine’s bid to “break the morale” of occupying forces may have been a success.

The Ministry of Defence said: “Russian forces continue to suffer from morale and discipline issues in Ukraine.”

Ongoing frustrations surrounding issues with pay and the longevity of the conflict have been exacerbated by insufficient supplies of arms, rations, and uniforms given Ukraine’s targeting of Russian resupply routes.

Sources from within the Kherson have reported an atmosphere of panic steadily unfolding as Russians who had moved into the city as well as Ukrainian civilians attempt to flee the area amid increased shelling.

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