THE Russia announced this Wednesday, 9th, the withdrawal of its military troops from the city of Khersonuntil then the greatest achievement of Moscow in the ukraine war due to its strategic location in the south of the country. According to the general and commander of Russian forces, Sergei Surokivin, the withdrawal became necessary to preserve the lives of soldiers “and the combat readiness of the forces”. Withdrawal would be a victory for Kiev, but the Ukrainewho was preparing a counteroffensive to retake the site, views the ad with suspicion.
Kherson, capital of the region of the same name, was dominated by Russia on March 2 and annexed on September 30 after a referendum held by Russian authorities – and not recognized internationally. In his presentation on Wednesday, Surovikin showed troop movements in the region and argued that Ukraine’s planned bombing would be relentless. He also cited difficulty maintaining the crossing points and the muddy geography of the site at this time as reasons for the withdrawal.
Ukraine had warned that Russia might try to fake a pullback to draw in Ukrainian troops and combat. Ukrainian Colonel Roman Kostenko said the country’s military had tracked signs of a retreat until Wednesday, but were not convinced that the Russians intended to pull out of the city entirely and relinquish control of the bridge linking it with the west bank. of the Dnieper River.Ukrainian soldiers during the advance on the Kherson region, in this Wednesday, 9th image. Russians decided to leave the city after the threat of a counteroffensive
Photograph: Stanislav Kozliuk / EFE
According to Kostenko, the Russians were seen leaving population centers in Kherson, but some soldiers stayed behind to cover the movements. Ukrainian soldiers also entered villages in the Kherson region that were previously under Russian control without resistance late Wednesday. “We are watching,” he declared.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhailo Podoliak took a cautious tone when speaking of the alleged withdrawal and said the Ukrainian government does not trust “statements staged on television”. “Actions speak louder than words,” he said on Twitter. “We see no signs of Russia leaving Kherson without a fight,” he added.
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For Ukrainians, the Russian announcement does not mean a retaking of the city. “Until the Ukrainian flag is on Kherson, there is no point in talking about a Russian withdrawal,” Podolak told the agency. Reuters.
Since the retaking of territory in the east and northeast of the country, Ukraine is preparing a counteroffensive to reconquer the Kherson region and retake the only regional capital conquered by Russia in the war. The withdrawal would be one of the biggest losses for the Russians, who would be pushed to the west bank of the Dnieper River and lose one of the main accesses to the Crimea. Kherson also has one of the main ports in the Black Sea region, the Port of Odessa.
Western military experts say, however, that the Russians’ departure from the city to the east bank of the Dnieper would make tactical sense, given the vulnerability and relative isolation of Russian troops at this location.
However, the withdrawal of troops from the Kremlin could be a watershed in the conflict given the strategic position and Russian control since the beginning of the war in March. When he mastered it, Russian President Vladimir Putin hoped to use the region as a land bridge from Russia to the city of Odessa, where the Port of Odessa is located. Putin has not achieved this goal in eight months of war.
Russia announced Kherson’s annexation last month but failed to consolidate power. Citizens’ protests were recorded in the city and, in parallel, the Ukrainians moved to isolate the troops that were in the place. With Western help, Ukraine began a coordinated campaign to isolate Russian forces west of the Dnieper, bombing bridges that Moscow used to resupply forces in the city, and moving infantry troops from across the country towards the region.
The Ukrainian advance was stopped due to the geography of the region, crossed by channels that serve as a defense position. The onset of the rainy season also hampered the counter-offensive by turning the region into muddy conditions. According to reports from the last few days, they are still far from the city and, in addition to the geographical difficulties, they face Russian troops on the way. One of the last major clashes was at the Nova Kakhovka dam, about 60 kilometers from Kherson.
Continues after advertisingImage provided by Russia shows Russian general Sergei Surovikin during justification of the withdrawal of Russian troops in Kherson
Photograph: Russian Ministry of Defense / via EFE
Russia could wait for Ukraine in the city to engage in urban combat, but according to military experts, the result could be carnage, with potentially greater losses for the Kremlin.
Had Moscow chosen to defend the city rather than withdraw, military experts say it could have been a bloody street-to-street battle, potentially dealing heavy losses for Russia. Ukraine could also suffer heavy casualties, considering that there is a suspicion that the main Russian fighter jets and large stock of ammunition were on hand to defend the domain over the territory. The two countries had issued statements that signaled a battle.
Meanwhile, Kherson loses much of its civilian population. Before the Russian arrival, there were more than 250 thousand inhabitants. Now, estimates from Ukrainian organizations point to 30,000 to 60,000. The real number is impossible to find.
Last month, Russian officials said they would relocate tens of thousands of civilians from the west side of the river to more powerful Russian-held territory. Ukrainian officials and residents accused the relocation as a pretext for forced deportations.
For citizens who remain in the city, the future is increasingly uncertain. The supply of energy and drinking water has been cut, the routine has been changed and the fear of a bloody battle is in the environment. /NEW YORK TIMES