Saturday, December 10

Russia announces the withdrawal of its troops from the occupied city of Kherson

The Russian Army announced on Wednesday its withdrawal from the occupied Ukrainian city of Kherson, the only regional capital under Russian control in the entire country. “We propose to move the defense to the left bank of the Dnieper River,” said the head of the group of forces fighting in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, informing Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who approved this withdrawal, according to the Efe agency.

This is one of the most significant withdrawals of Russia and a possible turning point in the war, which is already 259 days old. This Ukrainian victory, moreover, will be considered a heavy blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a statement on television, General Surovikin recommended the withdrawal of Russian troops, citing logistical difficulties. “Kherson cannot supply itself and function fully. Russia has done everything possible to ensure the evacuation of the inhabitants” of this city, Surovikin told Shoigu, reports TheGuardian. “The decision to defend on the left bank of the Dnieper is not easy, (but) at the same time we will save the lives of our military,” Surovikin added.

This Wednesday, in addition, in the Kherson region, one of the most relevant Russian officials in Ukraine, Kirill Stremousov, who served as deputy head of the local administration installed by Moscow, died in a traffic accident. as reported by the BBC. His death was confirmed by Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-backed acting governor of Kherson.

Caution on the part of Ukraine

Ukraine, for its part, remains cautious and believes it is too early to talk about a withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson. “Until the Ukrainian flag flies in Kherson, there is no point in talking about a Russian withdrawal,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, told Reuters. He also on Twitter he has insisted that his country “does not see signs that Russia is going to leave Kherson without a fight.”

“Deeds speak louder than words. We see no sign that Russia is going to leave Kherson without a fight. A part of the Russian reconnaissance group remains in the city and additional reserves remain in the region. Ukraine is liberating territories based on intelligence data, not prefabricated television statements,” Podolyak said, referring to General Surovikin’s words.

Another of President Zelensky’s advisers, Oleksiy Arestovych, has specified that Russia has not abandoned Kherson, but that “the Ukrainian Defense Forces have expelled their troops.” The Russian Army in Kherson “has been brought down with heavy fighting, with casualties (…) and we methodically wear down the enemy defenses,” Arestovych detailed on his Twitter account.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has considered “encouraging” the fact that Ukrainian forces are able to liberate more territory from the country, according to Reuters. Stoltenberg, who was in London this Wednesday to meet with British Prime Minister Rishi SunakHe assured that “the victories and progress that the Ukrainian armed forces are achieving belong to the brave Ukrainian soldiers”, but also highlighted the “essential” support they receive from both the United Kingdom and NATO allies and partners.

Later consulted by the British channel Sky News about the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson, the highest representative of the Atlantic Alliance considered that “it is part of a pattern that we have seen in the last month, in which Russia has absolutely lost momentum ”.

Why is Jershon key?

Since the beginning of October, Ukrainian troops have been retaking dozens of towns near the Dnieper River to the south in their attempt to regain control of territory around Kherson, the heart of the region of the same name. This is one of the four territories that Russia annexed on September 30, in addition to Donetsk, Lugansk and Zaporizhia, after holding pseudo-referendums widely denounced as illegitimate and false.

Kherson is a region strategically located north of the Crimean peninsula and on the western bank of the Dnieper River, in the only piece of territory that the Russian Army controls on this bank, in fact. The port city of Kherson, which fell to the Russians in the first days of the invasion, is seen as a vital enclave for control of the south, which is a gateway to the Black Sea.