Ukraine: Russia orders the withdrawal of its forces from Kherson | War in Ukraine

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Ukraine: Russia orders withdrawal of its forces from Kherson | War in Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier walks near a Russian-bombed daycare center in the Kherson region.

Russia was wiped out on Wednesday another major setback in its assault on Ukraine by announcing the withdrawal of its forces from Kherson, a regional capital in southern Ukraine targeted by a counter-offensive by the army of kyiv.

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This withdrawal, decided after the displacement of some 115,000 inhabitants of the Kherson region by the Russian occupation forces, sounds like a crushing defeat for Moscow, already forced to abandon the Kharkiv region in September. /p>

It also intervenes when Vladimir Putin had precisely ordered on September 21 the mobilization of some 300,000 reservists to consolidate the Russian lines. Tens of thousands of them are already in combat zones.

Proceed with troop withdrawal, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a televised meeting with the commander of Russian operations in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, who had just advocated the decision not at all easy to take.

The symbol is all the stronger since Kherson, 280,000 inhabitants before the conflict, is the only regional capital conquered by Russian forces at the start of their offensive in Ukraine.

It is also one of four areas of Ukraine which Mr. Putin claimed for annexation by Moscow six weeks ago. The Russian president celebrated these annexations with a concert in Red Square, under banners proclaiming that Russia would be there forever.

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The announcement of the Russian withdrawal was greeted with caution by kyiv, which for several weeks has suspected Moscow of wanting to draw its forces into a difficult urban battle in Kherson.< /p>

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday evening that his country was reacting with extreme caution to the announcement of the Russian withdrawal.

The enemy does not harm us giveaway, don't show "goodwill gesture", we have to win everything, Mr. Zelensky said in his daily message to Ukrainians. We must therefore exercise extreme caution, without emotions, without taking unnecessary risks, in order to liberate all our land with as little loss as possible.

We see no sign that Russia wants to leave Kherson without a fight. Part of the Russian [troops] are kept in the city, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Mykhaïlo Podoliak, had previously declared.

They are simply trying to get out of a situation difficult, Natalia Gumeniuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian army's southern command, told AFP.

The fact that they so deliberately announced that they were crossing to the left bank [of the Dnieper River] came as no surprise to anyone, but we know we will still have to fight, she added , believing that the battle for Kherson was not over.

I think they are up to something […], maybe some kind of trap. I don't believe they will surrender, said Sergiy Filonchuk, a 48-year-old Kyiv resident interviewed by AFP.

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Commander of Russian operations in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, admitted that it was a “not at all easy” decision to make.

Specifically, Mr. Shoigu ordered the Russian fighters to withdraw from the western bank of the Dnieper, where the city of Kherson is located, to establish a line of defense on the eastern bank of this river which represents a natural obstacle.

The Kremlin postponed this humiliating withdrawal as long as possible, but the situation had become increasingly difficult with a Ukrainian army targeting Russian supply lines using modern armaments delivered by Westerners.

The Kherson region is all the more strategic as its territory borders Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.

General Surovikin on Wednesday justified the withdrawal by his desire to protect the lives of Russian soldiers.

Mr Putin has not commented on the withdrawal, but Kremlin insiders such as the founder of the paramilitary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, have defended the measure.

Between making an absurd sacrifice and saving the lives of the soldiers, General Surovikin made a difficult but fair choice, said Mr. Kadyrov, usually considered with Yevgeny Prigozhin as a supporter of the hardest line .

Since the annexation announced at the end of September, Moscow considers Kherson as part of the national territory.

However, Mr Putin has warned that Russia will defend what it considers its territory by all means, with other senior Russian officials explicitly brandishing the possible use of nuclear weapons.

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General Surovikin also announced on Wednesday that the occupation authorities had in recent weeks evacuated 115,000 people from the right bank to the left bank of the Dnieper.

Ukraine has denounced these population movements, calling them deportations.

Another sign of the chaotic situation in Kherson, one of the most senior officials of the x27;Russian occupation, Kirill Stremoussov, died on Wednesday, according to local authorities, in a road accident in unspecified circumstances.

As the Russian offensive enters soon into its ninth month, the West continued to reaffirm its military, logistical and financial support for Kyiv.

The European Commission on Wednesday offered the 27 member countries a ;to grant Ukraine aid of 18 billion euros for 2023, in the form of loans.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the solidarity of the x27;EU, as Kiev worries about a possible weakening of American support after the still uncertain outcome of the midterm elections in the United States, m even if the White House has assured that its support will be infallible.

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