Russia withdrawing troops from Kherson, but Ukrainian authorities skeptical

Kyiv, Ukraine – Russia’s military said on Wednesday that it would withdraw from the single Capital of the Ukrainian region he got it, but Kyiv was skeptical and one analyst warned it could be a ploy to lure the country’s military into a deadly trap. The forced withdrawal from the city of Kherson would mark one of Russia’s worst setbacks in the eight-month war.

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Ukrainian officials have warned against viewing the announced plan to withdraw from Kherson, the gateway to the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula and nearby regions, as a done deal. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that the Russians are pretending to withdraw from Kherson in order to lure the Ukrainian army into fighting in the strategic industrial port city.

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People wearing Ukrainian flags walk towards a Russian army truck during a protest against the Russian occupation in the city of Kherson, Ukraine, in this March 20, 2022 photo.

Oleksandr Chornyi/AP

If confirmed, the withdrawal from Kherson – in the region of the same name that Moscow illegally annexed in September – could amount to another setback in a series of failed attempts by Russia with the seizure of the capital, Kyiv, and the chaotic and hasty withdrawal from the surrounding administrative regions. Second largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv, which the Russians never understood. Russian forces captured Kherson early in the offensive, which began on February 24.

the army of Kiev already landed in the citywhich had a pre-war population of 280,000, and has cut supply lines in recent weeks as part of a larger offensive in eastern and southern Ukraine that has pushed Russian forces out of large areas.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak stressed Wednesday that efforts to retake the city are far from over, however, saying that as long as the Ukrainian flag does not fly over Kherson, It is “nonsensical” to talk about Russian withdrawal.

The capture of Kherson could allow Ukraine to regain lost territory in the Zaporizhzhia region and other southern regions, including Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed. legislation in 2014. A Russian withdrawal from the escalation of the war is almost certain to increase domestic pressure on the Kremlin.

Moscow’s top military commander in Ukraine spoke with a stern voice and steely face on Russian television, pointing to a blurry map as he reported to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday that it was impossible to supplying the city of Kherson, and its defence. will be “in vain”.

General Sergei Surovikin said 115,000 people had been evacuated because their “lives were in constant danger” and suggested withdrawing troops “soon” to the banks of the Dnieper River where Kherson.

Shoigu agreed with Surovikin’s assessment and ordered him to “begin with the withdrawal of troops and take all measures to ensure the safe transfer of people, weapons and equipment across the Dnieper River.”

But Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, told The Associated Press: “So far, we don’t see any signs that Russia will completely leave the city, which means that these statements may be a disservice. “

Yaroslav Yanushevych, the Ukrainian governor appointed by Kherson, called on the population to “not give in to joy”. Another Ukrainian appointed by Kherson regional authorities, Serhii Khlan, told reporters that Russian forces blew up five bridges to slow down Kyiv’s forces.

Oleg Zhdanov, a military analyst, told the AP that Russia’s retreat “may be a Russian trap and trap to force the Ukrainians to attack, to force them into Russian defenses, and in response to a strike on ‘the heavy blow from the army. the side.”

After a day of briefings by his aides on the announced retreat and his meeting with his top military staff in Kyiv, Zelenskyy did not comment directly, saying in a late night video speech “Our emotions must be controlled—always during war. I’m definitely not going to feed the enemy the details of our every move… When we have the answer, everyone will see it.”

The Russian authorities had ordered all residents of Kherson to leave “immediately” in late October, ahead of the advance of the Ukrainian army which launched a counter-offensive aimed at recapturing the occupied territories.

Last week, CBS News senior correspondent Holly Williams caught up with one of the Ukrainian soldiers — a former crane operator who joined the army at the start of the war — who helped liberate villages. -city on the outskirts of Kherson city.

Ukrainian soldiers from what they saw before


Private Andriy Rogalski wanted to show Williams the small town of Vysokopillia. Like many other communities in the Kherson region, it was occupied by the Russian army for months, and many of its houses were destroyed. Rogalski described on CBS News how the Ukrainian army surrounded the city, exterminating the Russians until the remaining soldiers fled in September.

Williams and Rogalski met 74-year-old Nadia Sabsai on Vysokopillia Street as she returned home on her bicycle. He showed CBS News the basement of his house, where he said eight families had taken shelter, with their children trembling in fear, during the fierce battle to liberate the city.

A map shows the regions, or administrative regions of Ukraine and their capitals. Kherson region is located at the southern end, north of the Crimean Peninsula.


Russia’s brutal occupation of much of the Kherson region has left many towns like Vysokopillia reeling, and much land remains to be reclaimed. More than half of Kherson lies east of the Dnieper River, and Russia’s defense chief issued an order on Wednesday for Russian troops to build a new defense line along its banks. east.

Surovikin, Putin’s new general commander in Ukraine, which is a brutal strategy civil war in Syria earned him the nickname “General Armageddon”, told Moscow’s defense minister that the decision to withdraw Russian troops to the banks of the Dnieper was “not easy”, but said it would “save the lives of our soldiers”.

Russia Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin applauds Colonel General Sergei Surovikin during an awards ceremony for soldiers who fought in Syria, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 28, 2017.

Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

In its latest assessment of the situation in Ukraine, published online on Wednesday, Britain’s Defense Ministry said the only bridge connecting the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula had been destroyed. the Russian mainland, as a result of the explosion a week ago that Kyiv did not say but did not deny that it caused, along with the recent Ukrainian attack on the Russian navy in the Black Sea “and the possible withdrawal of Kherson complicates the Russian government’s ability to paint a picture of military success.”


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