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Initial Russian invasion group in Kherson Oblast had 12-to-1 superiority in troop numbers over Ukrainian force

The occupiers are entering the territory of the Kherson Oblast from the Crimea
The occupiers are entering the territory of the Kherson Oblast from the Crimea

The Ukrainian Armed Forces had no chance of holding the defense in Kherson Oblast at the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, with the attacking Russians having a numerical superiority of 12 to 1, as reported in the article "How Ukraine lost the South" by NV on Nov. 22.

NV identified several reasons for the swift capture of the vast region from the outskirts of Mykolaiv to Mariupol by Russian invasion forces.

Read also: Russia leaves Avdiivka in ruins, targets private residences ahead of new siege strategy — photos

As of Feb. 24, 2022, the Ukrainian General Staff had 24 infantry brigades, and only one of them — the 59th separate motorized infantry brigade — was in place to defend the entire left bank of Kherson Oblast and the Melitopol sector. It was stationed at the Oleshky Sands training ground.

Additionally, the 137th Marine Battalion was positioned directly on the administrative border with the occupied Crimea, numbering about 1,500 military personnel.

"The artillery had an incomplete composition because two divisions were on training in Divychky in Kyiv Oblast, the group of engineering support — sappers — was also on training in Kamianets-Podilskyi,” said Major General Andriy Sokolov, former commander of the Southern Operational Command at the time of the full-scale invasion, in an interview with Ukrainska Pravda, NV’s sister publication.

Read also: Liberation of Andriyivka foiled Russian counterattack south of Bakhmut

“Plus, there were about 250 people in the 137th Marine Battalion, which was staffed at 50%. Part of them were conscripts who carried out stabilization actions on the border with Crimea."

According to Sokolov's estimates, 20,000 to 25,000 Russian soldiers opposed 1,750 Ukrainian soldiers.

"From the operational point of view, it was necessary to have at least four combat brigades in this sector," the General Staff told NV.

"Given the situation as of Feb. 24, 2022, there was no possibility of transferring additional Ukrainian forces AFU from the existing ones for the defense of the southern region without a significant risk of weakening the defensive capabilities in other invasion directions, first of all, from the north to Kyiv."

"Without mobilization, there were no chances of holding the defense,” said Viktor Chumak, a reserve Major General of Justice.

“Without either hidden or explicit mobilization, it is impossible to increase the number of the army. On what legal grounds will you ‘pull up’ the number of troops to the required level? And what was there to transfer to the south? From where? From the east? That was just as dangerous a sector."

In September 2023, Ukrainska Pravda reconstructed the events during the defense of the south at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The publication reported that the first line of defense was the 137th Marine Battalion, which served directly on the isthmuses from Crimea and monitored the Russians. There were 300 marines, half of whom were conscripts.

The soldiers of the 59th brigade were to take up the second line of defense in the event of a Russian attack.

Read also: Five important factors: What is happening in Kherson and what are its prospects for liberation?

On April 11, 2022, Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) opened a case on the improper defense of Kherson Oblast, which led to its rapid occupation.

In March 2023, the SBI, in response to a request from BBC Ukraine, replied that the case is being investigated under Part 1 of Article 111 and Part 3 of Article 425 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine — treason and negligent attitude to military service.

The case concerns the improper organization of the mining of bridges and dams for further demolition in order to slow down the Russian advance into the mainland of Ukraine.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine