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Ukrainian officials cautious as Russia announces withdrawal from Kherson – National

Russian troops announced Wednesday they would withdraw from the only Ukrainian regional capital they occupied.

However, Ukrainian officials have warned against considering the withdrawal from Kherson and its surrounding areas, the gateway to Russia-occupied Crimea, as a completed deal. under the guise of luring the Ukrainian military into a determined battle in a strategic industrial port city.

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The withdrawal from Kherson, the region of the same name that Moscow illegally annexed earlier this year, would add to another retreat after early attempts to seize the Russian capital Kyiv failed. The largest city, Kharkov, itself did not fall into the Russians. Russian forces captured Kherson, with a pre-war population of 280,000, early in the invasion that began on February 24.

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Kyiv’s forces have set their sights on the city and cut off supply lines in recent weeks as part of a massive counteroffensive in eastern and southern Ukraine that has pushed Russian forces out of their vast territory.

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Recapturing Kherson would allow Ukraine to regain lost territories in the Zaporizhia region and other southern regions, potentially leading to a final push back into Crimea, which Russia illegally seized in 2014. conflict.

Speaking in a stern tone and with a steely face on Russian television, Ukraine’s Supreme Military Commander in Moscow told Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Wednesday that it was impossible to supply the city of Kherson and that Defense is ‘useless’

General Sergey Slovikin said 115,000 had been displaced because “lives were in constant danger” and proposed a military retreat across the Dnieper to Kherson.

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Shoigu agreed with Slovikin’s assessment and ordered “every means to be taken to safely move men, weapons and equipment across the Dnieper, starting with the withdrawal of the troops”.

But Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podryak said on Twitter: “Actions speak louder than words. There is no sign of Russia leaving Kherson without a fight.”

Kherson’s Ukrainian-appointed governor, Yaroslav Yanushevich, called on residents to “not give in to the euphoria.” Another Ukrainian-appointed Kherson region official, Serhii Khlan, told reporters that he had blown up five bridges to help Russian forces slow the advance of Kyiv forces.

When reports of a Russian withdrawal surfaced, Zelensky met with his senior military staff in Kyiv to discuss the situation, including attempts to retake the territory, his website reported, without giving details.

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In addition to the largely successful counterattack, Ukrainian resistance fighters behind the front lines have been operating inside Kherson, including sabotaging and assassinating Moscow-appointed officials.

Against that background, reports surfaced on Wednesday that a second official of the Moscow-based Kherson regional government had died in a car accident. There were no signs of foul play.

According to Russian state news agency and his boss Vladimir Sardo, Kirill Stremsov — a prominent local official who published official updates on the war nearly every day — has died in the crash.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported several months ago that Sardo himself had been poisoned and hospitalized.

Russian forces have been preparing for an orderly withdrawal from Kherson for months, as opposed to a haphazard withdrawal from the Kharkov region when invading forces left large amounts of weapons and ammunition. In October, Slovikin appeared ready for a possible withdrawal from Kherson, acknowledging that the situation was “extremely difficult” for Moscow. As well as the evacuation of civilians followed.

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The body of Grigory Potemkin, the Russian general who founded Kherson in the 18th century, was reportedly removed from the city’s St. Catherine’s Church.

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In recent months, Ukraine has used US-provided HIMARS rocket launchers to attack an important bridge on the Dnieper River in Kherson and a large dam upstream, which is also used as a crossing point. The strike forced Russia to rely on pontoons and ferries that also targeted Ukraine.

This cut off the supply lines to Kherson, leaving the Russian forces on the west bank of the Dnieper vulnerable to encirclement. The shortage was exacerbated on October 8 when a truck bomb blew up part of the Kerch Bridge, which connects mainland Russia with Crimea. The Kerch Bridge is a major supply depot for Russian forces in the south.

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Since Russia wanted to keep Kherson and other positions west of the Dnieper, it was able to launch an offensive in other areas and cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea. Allowing the construction of land corridors to Moldova’s separatist Transnistria region, home to major Russian military bases.

The loss of Kherson could have painful consequences for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Criticism of Russia’s military command intensifies from the country’s hawks, further weakening military morale and mounting opposition to his mobilization. We may perceive this loss as a sign of the weakening of the Kremlin in need.

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Other Kremlin setbacks include chaotic and error-filled troop mobilization, lack of weapons, inadequate clothing and other supplies for the army, declining training and morale of the army, and an expanding international sanctions campaign against Russia. , including increasing supplies of Western advanced weapons to Putin’s enemies.

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The Russian withdrawal announcement came as Ukrainian villages and towns saw more intense fighting and artillery fire on Wednesday.

At least nine civilians were killed and 24 injured in the 24 hours, according to the Ukrainian president’s office. She accused Russia of using explosive drones, rockets, heavy weapons and aircraft to attack her eight regions in the southeast.

Ukrainian and Russian forces also clashed overnight in Sniflivka, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Kherson.

The president’s office said a widespread Russian strike against Ukraine’s energy system continues. Not far from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, he said two cities were bombarded overnight. More than 20 homes, industrial plants, gas pipelines and power lines were reportedly damaged in Nikopol, across the Dnieper from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

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Further west in the Dnipropetrovsk region, the Ukrainian governor reported a “massive” overnight strike after an Iranian-made drone explosion injured four workers at an energy company in the city of Dnipro.

Ukrainian officials cautious as Russia announces withdrawal from Kherson – National

Source link Ukrainian officials cautious as Russia announces withdrawal from Kherson – National

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