UK Defense Ministry: Russian shelling of Kherson aims to deter Ukrainian counteroffensive across Dnipro River

The Russian military likely aims to degrade civilian morale and deter potential Ukrainain counterattacks across the Dnipro River with its heavy shelling of Kherson and other settlements on the western bank, but the rationale behind the expenditure of strained ammunition stocks remains unclear, the U.K. Defense Ministry said on Feb. 1.

The ministry's daily update comes as Russia intensified its shelling of Kherson and its surrounding areas over the past few days, killing at least three people in the liberated regional capital on Jan. 29. The ministry added that Russian forces were carrying out “some of the most intense shelling in the conflict” along the Dnipro River in the south of Ukraine.

“Kherson remains the most consistently shelled large Ukrainian city outside of the Donbas,” the British intelligence report said. “Russia’s precise rationale for expending its strained ammunition stocks here is unclear."

Russia has begun indiscriminately shelling the liberated parts of Kherson Oblast since its withdrawal to the river's eastern bank in November, pushing many residents to flee their homes even after surviving eight months of Russian occupation.

Despite the continued Russian shelling, Ukraine is still waging a counteroffensive to liberate the rest of the Kherson Oblast, according to Southern Operational Command spokeswoman Natalia Humeniuk.

Earlier this week, Humeniuk claimed that Ukraine was conducting a “quite powerful” counteroffensive on the east bank in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and that Russian forces deployed there lacked equipment for a major combat operation.