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Ukraine: Russia Withdraws Troops From Key Southern City

Ukraine: Russia Withdraws Troops From Key Southern City

“Russia’s forces destroyed bridges and ‘laid mines’ to stall advancing Ukrainian troops.”

In an apparent major setback, Russia has announced withdrawal from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson as Kyiv presses on with a counteroffensive to retake the region.

The retreat from the city comes after eight months of Russian occupation. Kherson, the region’s capital by the same name, fell early in the conflict as Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

The withdrawal, announced in the Russian state media, is the biggest territorial loss for Kremlin since Ukraine renewed its counteroffensive in early September.

Kherson, the largest Ukrainian city to fall under Russian occupation, is key for Moscow to maintain its hold over Crimea, a peninsula home Russia’s strategic Black Sea fleet. The Kherson region forms a “land bridge” to Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

“In a rare move, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a televised briefing on Wednesday that troops should leave the west bank of the Dnipro River where Kherson is situated,” German broadcaster DW News reported.

The announced Russian pullback may not translate into a swift victory for the Ukrainian troops in Kherson. The Russian forces are reportedly regrouping on the eastern bank of Dnipro, the river that divides the Kherson region.

“Russia’s commander in Ukraine, Gen Sergei Surovikin, said it was no longer possible to keep supplying the city,” the BBC reported Wednesday. “The withdrawal means Russian forces will pull out entirely from the western bank of the River Dnipro,” the broadcaster added.

A Feigned Retreat?

While the mainstream media coverage of yet another Russian retreat was generally triumphant, the military planners in Kyiv appeared cautious, weary of a Russian ruse to lure their forces into a cauldron — an encirclement tactic perfected by the Russians in WWII.

“A senior Ukrainian official has warned Russia is booby-trapping the city of Kherson and accused it of trying to turn it into a ‘city of death.'” The Irish Times reported. “He claimed that the Russian military ‘mines everything they can: apartments, sewers’ and that ‘artillery on the left bank’ of the Dnipro river ‘plans to turn the city into ruins.'”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy the assessment. “Zelensky said on Wednesday that Ukraine was moving ‘very carefully’ after Russia announced a military withdrawal from the city of Kherson, with officials in Kyiv and analysts warning the announcement could be a trap,” the TV channel France24 reported.

As Russians pulled back, advancing Ukrainian military reclaimed areas surrounding the city. Sky News (UK) reported:

Ukrainian troops claim to have recaptured the city of Snihurivka in the southern region of Mykolaiv this morning.

The claim was made in video published on social media, and was later reported by Ukrainian television channels.

The location of the video has been confirmed as Snihurivka by Sky News. The buildings, surrounding features and distinctive statue can all be matched to existing satellite imagery.

It is on the assessed front line of the conflict – 30 miles from Kherson – and is tactically important as Ukraine attempts to recapture the south.

Retreating Russians Lay Waste to the City

The retreating Russian troops are reportedly carrying out a scorched-earth policy, destroying not only bridges and road links, but also houses and civilian infrastructure.

Germany’s DW News reported Thursday:

“[Russia] wants to turn Kherson into a ‘city of death.’ [The Russian] military mines everything they can: apartments, sewers. Artillery on the left bank plans to turn the city into ruins,” Zelenskyy’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Thursday.

A British defense intelligence update on Thursday said Russian forces “had been placed under pressure by Ukrainian strikes on Russia’s resupply routes.”

According to the update, the withdrawal would likely take days as Russia’s forces destroyed bridges and “laid mines” to stall advancing Ukrainian troops.

https://twitter.com/wartranslated/status/1590470884166598657

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Interesting timing.

Well good. Send as many Russian fighters floating face down the river as possible. Be careful.

They withdraw their people and nuke it to dust when the Ukrainians surge into the city.

    Or just attack the civilian population through denial of services as we did in Serbia before carving out Kosovo, and as the post-coup regimes of Zelensky et al have done from Kiev over the past eight years, starting in Crimea, and progressing through Donbas etc., supplementing their affirmative acts of torture and abortion in non-aligned Ukrainian territories.

      Turtler in reply to n.n. | November 10, 2022 at 9:24 pm

      “Or just attack the civilian population through denial of services as we did in Serbia before carving out Kosovo,”

      The Russians have already been doing denial of service attacks, and on a far wider and more brutally acknowledged level than NATO did in the Yugoslav Wars, with open discussion of blowing water treatment plants (which is correctly viewed as usually a No No in legal warfare).

      Moreover, Kosovo was already “carved out” by Tito. long before the Yugoslav breakup; it was Milosevic etc. al.’s ham handed and brutal attempts to return it to the fold and end Kosovar autonomy that led to guerilla war which NATO intervened in.

      ” and as the post-coup regimes of Zelensky et al have done from Kiev over the past eight years,”

      Oh For F—…. No. What “coup”? The so called “coup” you and other Kremlin apologists have been banging on about consisted of the democratically elected Ukrainian Legislature ousting its President (WHO I MIGHT ADD WAS THE SAME PARTY AS THE DOMINANT ONE IN THE LEGISLATURE AT THE TIME) on grounds of incapacity to do his job and refusal to answer questions about his crimes.

      ” starting in Crimea, and progressing through Donbas etc., ”

      This is disgusting projection. We can trace the outbreak of violence in Ukraine and the wider war very clearly, and Crimea was one of the less violent places in Ukraine (in part due to it being so pro-Russian) before Putin illegally ordered Spetznaz units operating under false flag to invade the place and annex it. The Donbas was a lot murkier and you already saw major semi-militarized interest groups protesting and even trading blows, but it wasn’t a war until early March 2014, when again Putin infiltrated several units of Rus Fed military and known intelligence spooks like Igor Girkin to set the region on fire.

      And we know this in large part because Ukrainian loyalist units were consistently caught on the back foot and outgunned by units that “mysteriously” had equipment that only the Russian Federation’s military has.

      Oh, and if we’re talking about “denial of service attacks” or others, please take a look at downtown Luhansk around the airport from about 2014 or 2015. Most of that damage was caused by Russian/”Separatist” artillery fire to try and crush the defenders in the airport.

      “supplementing their affirmative acts of torture and abortion in non-aligned Ukrainian territories.”

      Citation needed, especially considering the Kremlin’s actions there.

But but bit actor and provocateur Penn gave the cross dressing billionaire comedian an Oscar this week

That has to count for something!!!!

The Russians have not been able to supply the troops on the far side of the river. And, these are the best trained and equipped Russian troops. The smart move is to retreat and let the river stop the Ukrainians.

Time for a negotiated settlement. We are approaching a WW1 scenario.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to MattMusson. | November 10, 2022 at 6:37 pm

    I think that if Putin gets away with stealing neighbors territory, that the problem will continue.

    Turtler in reply to MattMusson. | November 10, 2022 at 9:27 pm

    The problem is this has been a WW1 Scenario since about 2015, when the initial Russian/Separatist offensives of the war fizzled out after conquering about two thirds of the Donbas and started to be pushed back to the more or less durable territory of about a third of it, plus Crimea (which was taken with marginal fighting earlier). 2022 was just when Putin etc. al. decided to up the stakes and make it official, and the initial strong blows of the Russian military have started to falter out too. So now we’re likely to see both sides gather their breath for the next issue.

    The big problem with the “negotiated settlement” issue is: who is going to be willing to negotiate, and along what lines?

    Because we’ve had a whole host of negotiated settlements regarding Ukraine going back to at least 1994 (with the Budapest Memorandum in which Ukraine gave up its share of the Soviet nuclear arsenal to Russia in exchange for receiving assurances of its territory integrity and support from the US, UK, and Russia) and about this very war, in Minsk I and Minsk II.

    Putin is pretty out of credibility in terms of how many people will trust him to deal honestly, especially after Minsk II.

    Which is why this war’ll probably keep dragging on for at least another few months. And that’s terrifying.

Colonel Travis | November 10, 2022 at 2:36 pm

Russia and Ukraine are two corrupt countries I don’t give a shit about, Why we are escalating things there I find to be on a level of stupid that is hard to top. Does the US really understand what would happen if Russia thinks it is going to lose this war? I don’t know what will happen. I’m not that smart. But I think asking the question and thinking hard about the answers is smart if you are in this administration. I get the warm fuzzies that we have a commander in chief who is a mental defective, surrounded by an endless supply of Dunning-Krugers.

    Cold, hot or proxy we’ve been at war with Russia since the Bolsheviks overran every state they shared a border with. Poland and Finland were semi-autonomous grand duchy states controlled by the Tsar of Russia. After the Tsar fell the Bolsheviks refused to allow or recognize Finland’s declaration of independence. Same with Poland and Ukraine. The Finns under Mannerheim won their freedom through force of arms. Likewise Poland. Stalin was forced to sigh the Treaty of Tartu. He later got his revenge on those recalcitrant Poles. And now Putin wants his revenge.

    Do they fall into your category of “not giving a shit?” Proxy war is our cheap way to undermine a very nasty historical enemy.

    Here’s a historical pro-tip: Putin and his crew are irredentists. They believe all former border states are Russian territory. Every Tsar and every Bolshevik felt the same way.

    Purposefully conflating Biden’s “globohomo” new world order and “we can’t afford it” to play pacifist-possum is strategically foolish.

    * When is war – hot or cold or proxy – considered affordable?

      Colonel Travis in reply to Tiki. | November 10, 2022 at 5:52 pm

      Yes, the rivalries of Europe go back centuries. Yes, I do not give a shit. Ukraine/Russia is not our business. Poland of 1939 is not Poland of 2022, neither is any other European country, and despite the valid criticisms of NATO, the mere presence of NATO has prevented Russia from even throwing a rock over the border of any NATO member.

      I understand what Russia wants. This isn’t a secret. They want to plug every hole they lost when the Soviet Union fell. They cannot achieve that. Russia is losing territory in Ukraine. The country is a joke militarily. It floors me that our alleged intelligence services were surprised by this. You think they can advance through to Moldova? Poland? The Baltics?

      My argument is not that we can’t afford to pay for involvement. Where did I write that? I never did. My argument is that our involvement, period, is stupid. We are pushing Russia to the brink. And then what? You don’t have an answer because no one has an answer. Forgive me, but I find that to be a dangerous, idiotic policy.

        I’m speaking specifically about Russian aggression 1800 to 2022, not some amorphous historical “european rivalry,” dating back to the crusades.

        In 1991 Russia literally snatched a section of Moldova – now called Transnistria. A decade later it snatched south Ossetia from Georgia. Then in 2014 it invaded the Crimean peninsula. And in 2022 invaded all of Ukraine east of the Dnieper. So, yes, Russian irredentism is still very much on the mind of the Russian Boyars and Tsar Putin the First.

        If you think it all ends at the Dniester, then you’re willfully ignoring recent history.

        The Finns don’t scare easily, but recent developments have led them to apply for NATO membership. Same with “neutral” Sweden. They know something you don’t appreciate about Russia.

        We all wonder at Neville Chamberlain and the british gentry-conservative class ignoring the warning signs leading to war – and that loudmouth gangster known as Winston Churchill. That’s what they called him at the time. History doesn’t repeat but it certainly echoes.

          Tiki in reply to Tiki. | November 10, 2022 at 8:42 pm

          All Putin need do is mouth the words “nuclear” and skittish westerners tuck tail. Might as well hand him everything he wants right now before we push him to the B R I N K.

          I’m coldly cynical about this – Ukrainians need to fight and die to appreciate their freedom, their country and cleaning up the corruption inherent in their culture. I don’t mind sending them the means to push Ivan back to Mother Russia.

          Turtler in reply to Tiki. | November 10, 2022 at 9:37 pm

          “All Putin need do is mouth the words “nuclear” and skittish westerners tuck tail. Might as well hand him everything he wants right now before we push him to the B R I N K.”

          In defense to Westerners – including our own hideously bad “leadership” – that has largely not happen. The West has generally hung on strong as Putin has made many veiled threats of a not-explicitly-nuclear-but-clearly-meant-to-be-read-that-way nature, and this has led to Putin and many of his hawks like Dmitry “the career Neo-Nazi” Medvedev to back down, at least vocally, and start talking explicitly about how nuclear weapons are not needed in the “Special military operation.”

          Kudos there.

          “I’m coldly cynical about this – Ukrainians need to fight and die to appreciate their freedom, their country and cleaning up the corruption inherent in their culture. I don’t mind sending them the means to push Ivan back to Mother Russia.”

          Likewise, that’s my basic stance. I also think it will help buy us valuable time and breathing space to help us clean up our own house, and help minimize the Left’s ability to use the Russia/Putin cards as a cudgel to persecute us as a Fifth Column of “the enemy.” America has to come first, but if I believe its interests can be served by helping a friendly neutral I will support that.

          Colonel Travis in reply to Tiki. | November 10, 2022 at 10:21 pm

          This is literally not 1991 any more and it is literally not a Neville Chamberlain moment, Russia is a conventional threat to no one. Gee, they invaded Ukraine in 2022? I had no clue. Not sure if you’ve noticed but they have been getting their ass kicked on 2022. What happens when a country on the decline has its back to the wall? Again, you do not have an answer except to keep buying those blue and yellow bumper stickers.

        Since I can’t reply to the third order comment…

        “This is literally not 1991 any more and it is literally not a Neville Chamberlain moment,”

        Sure, though I’d argue that this is much better than Chamberlain had to deal with during his tenure, since while the Czechoslovaks were decently sized, armed to the teeth, and fortified they weren’t battle hardened or facing a hollow husk of an enemy, let alone one hesitant to mobilize and whose possible places to attack were limited.

        Which would argue we should capitalize on it, to some degree.

        “Russia is a conventional threat to no one.”

        As an alumni of 2008, I imagine Georgia would beg to differ. Likewise Moldova and others. And in any case, they are certainly an unconventional threat to plenty, whether it is the threat of nukes or other WMD, cyber warfare, or simply helping our scumbag “leaders” shoot us in the neck with things like the Iran Nuclear Deal II : Atomic Boogaloo.

        “Gee, they invaded Ukraine in 2022? I had no clue. Not sure if you’ve noticed but they have been getting their ass kicked on 2022.”

        Indeed, though they invaded it in 2014 with better results, and the fighting drags on.

        They’ve also been getting their ass kicked in large part because of how widely and openly we’ve been supporting the Ukrainians (indeed, in some ways I find rather ill-considered, like publicly boasting we are helping Ukrainians kill Russian staff officers).

        “What happens when a country on the decline has its back to the wall? Again, you do not have an answer except to keep buying those blue and yellow bumper stickers.”

        I don’t think you have an answer too. But I think it’d be more important to ask ourselves:

        How would we get Russia’s back “out from against the wall” in your theory? I’m legitimately curious. Because the big issue I keep coming back to is that Putin is the one who put his neck and his country’s neck against said wall in the first place, and prior experience indicates this is something he is prone to do in an attempt to get away with all he can. Which means that any sort of “ceasefire” agreement with him will likely be built on sand and might encourage him to double down.

        I don’t know the answer, but I’ll freely admit it. So I guess the question is: what ideas do we have going forward?

    Russia should lose this war.

    A reasonable and respectable stance, though I disagree with your assessment and prescriptions (about policy in this case, not the Brandon regime and its makeup).

    The big issue I see is simply that Putin pushed Russia to this brink. If we took his BS about NATO expansion half seriously, he’d have gotten what he wanted in That regards (though with much less territory than he wanted) around 2015, when the Ukraine War started to hunker down into positional attrition, leading to another destabilizing frozen conflict the Western left bent itself out of shape to appease him on, in which Putin held Crimea (the jewel of all this) and a small but not insignificant portion of the Donbas Basin (about a third of it total) under vassal leadership, which could block Ukraine joining NATO until that was resolved. It could’ve easily ended up on his collection of frozen conflicts like Georgia and Molodova. But apparently that wasn’t enough.

    Putin has continuously been playing brinkmanship on this for quite a while, and while I don’t think it is our primary concern, especially given the fiasco that is going on with the rot of our Republic, I do think it is a significant concern.

    The issue I see is that if Putin is going to push Russia to the brink to try and get what he wants, he will do so largely independently of what we do. As for “and then what?” I don’t know. But I do know that even if worst came to worst and he went to play Nuclear Football tomorrow, it would be better that he at least has to spread the targeting around Ukraine as well as us.

    And more likely he will fizzle out as he is slowly pushed back, like we saw in 2015.

    It’s a risk, but I don’t see how limiting our involvement would really limit the risk in that.

Russians or Ukrainians, perhaps Russian-Ukrainians? And they have been at war with Kiev and aligned domestic and transnational axis since the Biden/Maidan/Slavic Spring over eight years ago.

    Turtler in reply to n.n. | November 10, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    “Russians or Ukrainians, perhaps Russian-Ukrainians?”

    Russians, as in Russian-Russians. Check various Open Source Intel outlets about the Russian ORBAT in the South. While I’m sure there are some local pro-Russian paramilitaries’ or collaborators, there have been remarkably few of them for various reasons, starting with the fact that the Kremlin moved speedily to annex Crimea into the Motherland Proper (but still is not big on recruiting wholesale units from it) and most of the “Separatist” units are in the Donbas, in the form of the LNR and DPR. The attempt to get some kind of collaborationist regime going in Kherson did not go well, as we’re now seeing.

    So the overwhelming majority of the units and personnel on this front are and always have been Russian Federation regulars from the pre-2014 borders.

    “And they have been at war with Kiev and aligned domestic and transnational axis since the Biden/Maidan/Slavic Spring over eight years ago.”

    Yeah, abject nonsense.

    You’re conflating the South near the Crimean Peninsular neck with the Donbas. These are two very different regions, and pro-Russian sentiment largely died out North of the Neck in 2014.

    Moreover, this isn’t a war in which “Russian-Ukrainians” are fighting “Kiev.” This is a war between the Russian government and assorted client states it set up in 2014, in which there are Russian-Ukrainians and ethnic Russians on both sides. Trying to turn this into some kind of sharp ethnic or linguistic war is contrary to the evidence.

Russians probably booby-trapped the whole city and intends to flood it

I do not give a shit about Russia’s grudges, they should stay within their own borders. American taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for this, yet if Russia is successful they will attack others. This kind of conduct is what led to WWII, and appeasement did not stop it. Right now we have plenty of people advocating appeasement. I think that Ukraine needs some cruise missiles to strike deep into Russia. Russia needs their nose bloodied.

Who’s doing the operations-level thinking for Ukraine?

Kherzon & points West big prize for Russia. Threat to Kehrzon, they move their troops in. Then take the bridges, n break the logistics. Then go after the thinned occupation elsewhere, while the Kharzon region troops get ground down by their own broken logistics.

The Russians are out of position, all the time, in every aspect of the conflict. Psychologically, and politically they were out of position, coming after the Ukraine capitol. More recently, their Black Sea fleet was all in position be a threat and a symbol. That same fleet wasn’t in good position to withstand swarming sabotage, nor the PR of getting hit in harbor.

Thanks, Vijeta, for your usual great reporting with context and background.