Geopolitical Monitoring Report | November 11, 2022
Ukraine | Russia
Ukrainian Troops Recapture Kherson City after Russia Withdraws
Ukrainian troops were welcomed by local residents that remained in the city following the withdrawal of approximately 30,000 Russian troops to the east bank of the Dnieper River. The city was the only regional capital that Russia has been able to capture since the beginning of their invasion that began on February 24.
The Russians completed their exit from the city rapidly after the Russian Ministry of Defense announced two days ago they would be leaving the city due to the constant Ukrainian targeting of their supply lines with US-donated HIMARs rocket systems and the threat they would be encircled. Notably, Russian hardliners – like Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov – that have grown increasingly critical of the Russian military’s performance have issued statements of approval for the decision to withdraw from Kherson. The lack of criticism from those like Kadyrov demonstrates how untenable Russia’s position in Kherson had become.
While the Russian withdrawal marks Ukraine’s third major victory, it is somewhat unlikely this will result in a cease-fire or peace talks. While the US has encouraged Ukraine to begin exploring negotiations, that decision can only be made by their leaders and Moscow does not appear to be receptive to talks.
Russian troops are likely to continue reorganizing their supply lines east of the Dnieper River, where there are fewer chokepoints like bridges that can be targeted by Ukrainian rocket systems. Additionally, Russia is still training the recently mobilized conscript forces and has also deployed troops in Belarus that could theoretically be used in future offensives to open up an additional front.
While the retaking of Kherson may not bring an end to this conflict, these battlefield successes will likely secure additional Western support for Ukraine from the governments that have been providing military support. Additional Ukrainian offensives are unlikely at this time, as they will need time to recuperate, resupply, and reorganize their forces.
While the war appears to be entering an operational pause, there will be continued Russian efforts to shape the narrative in their favor and to discourage additional Western support for Ukraine.
Social media companies will continue to have to manage coordinated inauthentic behavior by Russian-linked entities and organizations that are attempting to shape the narrative and encourage those in the West to pressure their governments to end support for Ukraine. Organizations and companies, particularly those in Europe, should also prepare for continued supply chain issues as the conflict drags on. It is unlikely that Russian gas shipments to Europe will resume and alternative solutions are likely to struggle to fill the gap.
In addition, the war dragging on will also continue the disruptions to Ukraine’s agricultural production, especially as Russia continues to target Ukraine’s critical infrastructure as a way to coerce Kyiv into capitulating. This means that global food prices and food inflation are likely to remain elevated, which could cause significant social unrest in countries that are heavily reliant on Ukrainian grain shipments.
Organizations that operate in or rely on supply chains linked to areas that have persistent food insecurity should ensure that they have high-quality third party intelligence capabilities in place to identify potential unrest and they should also ensure they have conducted sufficient threat landscape assessments to ensure they remain aware of any potential threats.
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