Kherson: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered his soldiers to retreat from the west bank of the Dnipro River, near the strategically important southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, a severe setback for Moscow and potentially a turning point in the war.
Ukraine reacted cautiously to Wednesday’s claim, stating that some Russian military remained in Kherson and that additional Russian personnel was being deployed in the region.
Kherson city was Russia’s lone regional capital during its February invasion, and it has been the focus of a Ukrainian counter-offensive. The city controls the only land route to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, as well as the mouth of the Dnipro, Ukraine’s main river. The Russian-installed authority has evacuated tens of thousands of residents in recent weeks.
The Kherson region is one of four that Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed in September would be incorporated into Russia “forever,” and which Moscow said had been placed under its nuclear umbrella.
General Sergei Surovikin, in overall leadership of the war, reported to Shoigu on broadcast comments that it was no longer able to feed Kherson city. He stated that he planned to establish defensive lines on the Dnipro River’s eastern bank.
“I agree with your views and ideas,” Shoigu stated to Surovikin. The lives and health of the Russian military are always a top priority for us. We must also consider the risks to civilians.
In a Wednesday night address, Zelensky said Ukrainian forces were improving their positions in the south “step by step.” Moscow’s order to withdraw from Kherson, US President Joe Biden said, was “proof of the fact that they have some significant problems with the Russian military.”
After Tuesday’s midterm elections, in which his Democratic Party performed better than predicted, Biden said he hopes Democrats and Republicans can maintain their bipartisan approach to tackling Russia’s aggressiveness in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military issued a usual evening statement on Wednesday that made no direct mention of the Kherson region or its capital. According to the report, Russian forces blasted more than 25 towns and villages along the southern front along the line of contact, and more than 50 drone surveillance missions were carried out.
However, Ukrainian politician David Arakhamia, who led Kyiv’s delegation to peace negotiations early in Russia’s invasion, stated that a military operation was underway in the Kherson region.
According to military experts, if Ukrainian forces seize the entire west bank of the Dnipro, their US-supplied long-range artillery and HIMARS multiple rocket launchers will be able to hit Russian supply bases and positions on the east side.
However, the Ukrainians could confront multiple booby traps as well as strong Russian artillery barrages. On a visit to London, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the news from Kherson but expressed caution. According to Moscow, Kherson’s number two official, Kirill Stremousov, died in a car crash on Wednesday.
Russian war hawks
Russia’s top war hawks quickly backed the decision to abandon Kherson city on Wednesday, putting a brave face on one of Moscow’s most humiliating withdrawals in over nine months of conflict. There has been conjecture in recent weeks that Moscow may remove its forces from the Dnipro’s west bank or prepare for a deadly struggle in the next days or weeks.
Previously destruction includes the main bridge on a road leading out of Kherson. Photos on the internet showed the entire span of the Darivka bridge on the main highway east out of Kherson collapsing into the Inhulets River, a tributary of the Dnipro River. Reuters confirmed the pictures’ location.
Ukrainians who tweeted photographs of the fallen Inhulets bridge on Wednesday feared Russian troops had blown it up in a retreat.
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