Military expert Carlo Masala expects Ukrainian forces to attack the city of Kherson. Masala says on Friday in the stern podcast “Ukraine – the situation” that there are “some indications that an attempt will be made to take the city in the next few days”. From a Russian perspective, the planned evacuation of civilians therefore makes sense. However, it is difficult to say whether the attack will be successful. He thinks the probability is relatively high, but the advance will not be easy.

Because the city, which originally had almost 300,000 inhabitants, is also strategically important with a view to Crimea, since control over it makes it possible to interrupt the supply of drinking water to the peninsula annexed by Russia. “That would be a major catastrophe for the Russians in Crimea,” says the politics professor at the Bundeswehr University in Munich. That is why Russia must have an interest in defending its positions in Cherson.

dr Carlo Masala is Professor of International Politics at the Bundeswehr University in Munich.

Masala says Ukraine’s goal remains to liberate its entire territory. But the Ukrainian troops are also exhausted and it is difficult to predict when this will have consequences, despite the incredible combat readiness of the soldiers. He therefore does not rule out that at some point the Ukrainian leadership will agree to talks with the Russians if they come to the negotiating table without any preconditions. At the same time, he calls it an “old Russian trick” to offer talks that should only be used to give their own troops a much-needed breathing space. “That’s why I’m very skeptical about the seriousness of the attempts to negotiate here,” says Masala.

In his estimation, entry into the war by Belarus, an ally of Putin, could relieve the Russian troops. “It would force the Ukrainian army to thin out its fronts in the east and south,” he explains. This could also open up the prospect for the Russians of relaunching offensives from newly fortified defense positions to recapture areas that had fallen to Ukraine in recent weeks.

The Ukrainians have kept the Russian units on the move in recent weeks. Now the Russian units would fortify positions and bring in supplies. As Masala says, “the momentum that we’ve seen since mid-August on the Ukrainian side is out of the war for now.”