|Battle of Kherson|
|Part of the southern Ukraine campaign of the Russian invasion of Ukraine|
|Casualties and losses|
Per Russian soldier:
76 killed, 140 wounded (247th Airborne Regiment)
~300 soldiers and civilians killed
The battle of Kherson was a battle between Russian and Ukrainian forces that began on 24 February 2022 as part of the southern Ukraine campaign of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.The battle ended on 2 March 2022 with the capture of the city of Kherson and a pocket of land on the right bank of the Dnieper river by Russian forces. It was the first major city, and the only regional capital, to be captured by Russian forces during the invasion. The Russian occupation of Kherson Oblast followed thereafter.
On 24 February, Russian forces invaded Kherson Oblast from the south through Crimea, with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying "Our troops are fighting fierce battles near the outskirts of Kherson, the enemy is pressing from the occupied Crimea, trying to advance towards Melitopol."
At 4:30 AM, Russian forces began shelling the Kherson International Airport with Kalibr missiles in an attempt to destroy Ukrainian helicopters. However, the Ukrainian military was aware of the Russian invasion ahead of time and had moved the helicopters away from the airport. At approximately 10:00 AM, Russian troops entered Nova Kakhovka, briefly capturing the city, with the Russian flag being hung on the roof of the Kakhovka Dam. Around 11 AM, Russian forces disembarked from helicopters around the Antonivka Bridge as well as the towns of Antonivka, and Sadovoy.Later in the day, Russian forces reached the city of Kherson and captured the Antonovskiy Bridge, which is a strategic crossing over the Dnieper River, and provided a route towards the important junction city of Mykolaiv. The Kherson Teroboronov, units of the 59th Infantry Brigade, and the 80th separate amphibious assault brigade managed to knock out the Russian landing force and hold positions under the Antonovskiy Bridge, which enabled the Ukrainian military to escape from a brief encirclement. At the end of the day, Russian troops had captured several towns in the region including Henichesk, Skadovsk, Kakhovka, Nova Kakhovka, Tavriysk, the Kakhovka Dam, and the North Crimean Canal. The head of the Kherson State Administration, Gennady Laguta, left the city of Kherson on the first day of the war. The mayor of Kherson Ihor Kolykhaev remained in the city.
By the early hours of 25 February, Ukrainian forces recaptured the bridge in a battle that was described as fierce and left dead soldiers and several destroyed military vehicles lying on the bridge.The counterattack forced the Russians to push north and capture the next closest crossing of the Dnieper, the city of Nova Kakhovka. Russian troops once again seized the Antonovskiy Bridge later in the day.
On 26 February, Ihor Kolykhaiev, the mayor of Kherson, stated that Russian forces pulled back from Kherson after a Ukrainian air strike on Russian armored vehicles, allowing the city to remain under Ukrainian control.A Ukrainian official, Anton Herashchenko, later claimed that a Russian army column was defeated by Ukrainian forces near the town of Oleshky, just south of Kherson. Later, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Iryna Venediktova, claimed that Russian forces killed a journalist and an ambulance driver near Kherson. Venediktova stated that Ukrainian law enforcement had opened criminal proceedings into the shootings.
On the morning of 27 February, the Russian Ministry of Defence stated that Russian forces had encircled Kherson and, according to Ukrainian officials, captured a part of the city, including Kherson International Airport.Later in the morning, the Ukrainian Air Force allegedly conducted a successful drone strike against Russian forces in the town of Chornobaivka, just to the north of Kherson.
Ukrainian officials alleged that beginning on 27 February, Russian forces began moving civilians from nearby villages towards Kherson, attempting to use them as human shields.
On 28 February, Russian troops entered the village of Zymivnyk from the Kherson International Airport in Chornobaivka after having completely surrounded the city of Kherson.
In the early morning of 1 March, Ukrainian officials stated that Russian forces had launched a renewed assault on Kherson and were advancing from Kherson International Airport to the highway between Kherson and Mykolaiv. While conducting heavy shelling, Russian forces surrounded the city and reached the highway, advancing to the village of Komyshany before establishing a checkpoint.Russian forces entered Kherson later in the day. Kolykhayev described the impact on citizens in the city, stating that many remained in their homes and in bomb shelters. He also claimed that schools and high rise buildings were damaged by the fighting, while residential buildings were being fired upon by Russian forces. Kolykhayev also claimed that on 1 March, Russian soldiers shot citizens armed with Molotov cocktails.
At around 10 a.m., more than 40 Ukrainian soldiers of the 194th Belozersky Battalion of the 124th Separate Territorial Defense Brigade went to Lilac Park, a park in the shipping district of Kherson.Located near Lilac Park is the Kherson Oil Refinery. The Ukrainian military expected only light Russian infantry to be present in Lilac Park, however, when they arrived, the Russian military was fully present in the park, with tanks and armored vehicles. At around 11 a.m., a 20-30 minute engagement took place between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers at the park. The engagement left at least 24 Ukrainian soldiers killed, with the Russian military “finishing off” any wounded Ukrainian soldiers found after the battle. Only one Russian solider was killed during the engagement. Some of the Ukrainian soldiers who survived the battle retreated to the oil refinery and later left it.
In the early morning of 2 March, Kolykhayev reported that Russian forces captured a railway station and a river port.Later in the morning, Russian forces were seen at Svobody Square in central Kherson, where the Kherson Regional Administration building is located. The Russian Ministry of Defense later claimed to have captured the city, while Ukrainian and American officials denied the claim and stated that fighting continued.
Later on 2 March, a group of around ten Russian officers, including a commander, entered the city council building where Kolykhaiev was.That evening, Kolykhaiev announced that he had surrendered the city and that the Russian commander intended to set up a military administration. Kolykhaiev acknowledged the Ukrainian military was no longer present in Kherson, and another official stated the Russian military was in all parts of the city. According to Kolykhaiev, the battle led to the deaths of around 300 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians and severe destruction of the city's infrastructure. He also said that bodies were being buried in mass graves, and that many remains were unrecognizable.
In total, the battle resulted in at least 376 combined Russian and Ukrainian deaths.
After the city fell, a military occupation began of the city and the Kherson Oblast. On 23 March, Ukrainian forces launched counterattacks against Russian forces in Kherson Oblast.A senior US defense official claimed that the Russian forces no longer had full control of Kherson as the Ukrainians fought "fiercely" to recover the city. However, CNN reported the situation in the city remained unchanged, citing residents confirming Kherson was under full Russian control. Ukrainians in Kherson also "questioned the Pentagon’s assessment, saying that the city remained in Russian hands".
After Kherson was captured by Russia, questions about how it was captured so easily were questioned by several people.Orysia Lutsevych, a member of the Chatham House think tank stated that "Russia had its agents infiltrated into the Ukrainian security forces". On April 1, 2022, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed the head of the SBU's Kherson regional branch as well as another general in the region as traitors. Zelenskyy described their actions as "anti-heroes" and that he "had trouble determining where their Fatherland is". An aid to one of the generals was also arrested for handing over minefield maps to Russian forces and helping coordinate Russian airstrikes in the region.
In November 2023, Gilbert W. Merkx, a professor at Duke University, along with the United States Marine Corps University published an article in the Journal of Advanced Military Studies and in Project Muse, where it was stated Russia captured Kherson with “little resistance”.Merkx also stated that Russia planned and attempted to execute an amphibious landing assault on Kherson as a second offensive axis, but was stopped by the Ukrainian coastal defenses in the early stages of the invasion.
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