The divisions over Kherson are just the latest disagreements between Mr Putin and his top commanders. Senior Russian officers repeatedly questioned the initial plans for the war, US officials said, particularly as the initial phase envisioned a swift assault on Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. . Russian officials believe Putin will go to war with insufficient numbers and weapons, US officials said.
The concerns of Russian officers were proven right, and after the defeat of the Russian army outside Kyiv, Mr. Putin loosened control of his military planning. U.S. officials say he has allowed senior generals to create a new strategy that focuses on giant artillery. The new strategy is actually a war of attrition that has eroded the Russian military’s strength and has succeeded in pushing the army toward eastern Ukraine.
Since Putin ordered his commanders to continue fighting in Kherson, the Russian military has been trying to stop Ukraine’s advance there. Last week the Russians explodes a dam on the river Inhulets to make the current counterproductive more difficult.
But the Ukrainian attacks blew up crossings across the Dnipro River, which cut off much of the Russian army from their supply lines on the other side. Ukrainian officials said the Russians had to use pontoon bridges to cross the river, only to witness them being hit by Ukrainian fire. “They have units there that, if the Ukrainians crossed the line, would be cut off and surrounded,” said Seth G. Jones, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I can’t overstate the dilemma for them.”
Retreating across the Dnipro would have allowed Russian commanders to hold the line south with fewer troops. That would give them more latitude to redeploy forces from Kherson to other areas, or repel Kharkiv’s counterattack in the northeast, strengthen defenses in the eastern Donbass, or open up. a new front in the south.
But Mr. Putin has told commanders that he will set the strategy.
“In this war, there is a consistent mismatch between Putin’s political goals and his means,” said Michael Kofman, director of Russia studies at CNA, a defense think-tank in Arlington, Va. military to achieve them. delay, refusing to acknowledge reality, until the choices turn from bad to worse.”