December 3, 2022

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Russia says it is withdrawing from Kherson: Russia-Ukrainian war live updates

Russia says it is withdrawing from Kherson: Russia-Ukrainian war live updates
attributed to him…Andrey Borodulin/AFP – Getty Images

Russian Defense Minister announced on TV On Wednesday, he was ordering the withdrawal of Moscow’s forces from the strategically important southern city of Kherson, in a potentially serious blow to President Vladimir Putin’s war efforts.

The statement, in a televised meeting with senior army officers, came after General Sergei Sorovikin, commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, told Sergei K. Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister, that the decision was “difficult” but that the withdrawal would be “preserving the lives of soldiers and the combat readiness of the troops.” “.

Ukraine has warned that Russia may try to pretend to withdraw in the hope of drawing Ukraine into fighting in the cities.

The army had He was tracking signs of a Russian withdrawal until Wednesday, but was not convinced that the Russian army intended to completely withdraw from the city of Kherson and the surrounding Russian bridgehead on the western bank of the Dnipro River, according to Roman Kostenko, an army colonel and head of the committee. Defense and Intelligence Committee of the Verkhovna Rada.

“We have signs that they are withdrawing,” Colonel Kostenko said in a telephone interview. They blew up the bridges that would have allowed our troops to advance. We see them leave the population centers, but in some they leave the soldiers behind to cover their movements.”

He said that Ukrainian intelligence agencies were assessing Russia’s moves, and suggested that the Russian announcement might be disinformation.

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“We’re watching,” Colonel Kostenko said.

Mikhailo Podolak, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, was more cautious and said the country does not rely on “fabricated television data” from the Russians.

“Actions speak louder than words,” wrote on Twitter. “We see no signs that Russia will leave Kherson without a fight.”

Deep concern about the announced withdrawal was pervaded by reports from influential Russian military bloggers throughout Wednesday.

“The decision is shocking to thousands and millions of people who are fighting for Russia, dying for Russia, believing in Russia and sharing the beliefs of the Russian world,” wrote influential blogger Yuri Kotionok.

The withdrawal from Kherson would be a great victory for Ukraine, which had long sought to retake it and push Russian forces from the western bank of the Dnipro River. It is the only regional capital that has fallen to Russian forces since their invasion in February, and the withdrawal would also be a humiliating defeat for Putin, who Western intelligence officials said He had refused previous requests from commanders to allow them to withdraw.

The Russian-appointed civil administration had already fled to the new headquarters east of Dnipro, and residents reported widespread looting by Russian forces. The residents of Kherson have been without electricity for four days, and communications have also been cut off.

On Wednesday, Serhiy Khelan, deputy governor of the exiled Kherson region, said conditions were getting increasingly difficult for tens of thousands of civilians. “Kherson is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster,” he said.

The Russian withdrawal from Kherson will have both strategic and symbolic significance. A vital port on the Black Sea, Kherson was the first major city Fall under Russian controlLess than a week after the invasion. The city is the gateway to Crimea and provides access to the southern coast of Ukraine for the invasion of Russian forces.

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The withdrawal would have added resonance because the city is the capital of the Kherson region, one of four that Putin illegally annexed in late September, even as his forces faced a major Ukrainian counterattack.

Earlier on Wednesday, before Mr. Shoigu announced the withdrawal, Russian state media reported the death of the deputy prime minister of the occupation government in the Kherson region, Kirillo Strimosov, who was outspoken about the deteriorating Russian military positions on the west bank of the river. .

Russian state news agencies TASS and RIA Novosti reported that Mr. Strimosov died in a car accident on Wednesday.

While the withdrawal from Kherson will provide a military and psychological boost to Ukraine at a time when Russia has been attacking civilian targets across the country, military experts have warned that Military challenges ahead For Ukraine it will increase intensity as winter approaches.