“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.
— Arslon Xudosi 🇺🇦 (@Arslon_Xudosi) November 10, 2022
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.
Ukrainian fighters are advancing in the Kherson region. Bruskinskoye, Kiselyovka and Borozensk are liberated pic.twitter.com/QGz3xY2kDG
— Oriannalyla 🇺🇦 (@Lyla_lilas) November 10, 2022
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.
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