A senior Russian-appointed official in Kherson said Russian troops would “most likely” withdraw to the eastern bank of the Dnieper, leading to an unclear situation in southern Ukraine.
Speaking on Russian television on Thursday, Deputy Head of Regional Administration Kirill Stremousov said: “Most likely our troops will retreat to the eastern shore of the Kherson region.”
Still, he gave no timetable for the withdrawal, and with no apparent signs of Russian troops in the West Bank making any substantial moves to leave, the statement sowed confusion on the ground.
A resident of Kherson told CNN that to his knowledge there was no mass withdrawal of Russian troops from the city, but there was an unusual movement among Russian forces, some checkpoints in the city having been deleted.
Deputy head of the Kherson regional council, Yurii Sobolevskyi, told CNN that the Russians had “abandoned some of their checkpoints at Chornobaivka, Stepanivka and Bilozerka (settlements north and west of the city, closer to the front lines)”, confirming that there are also “fewer checkpoints in Kherson”.
Sobolevskyi believes that statements about a possible troop withdrawal are “more like a trap” because he sees “no mass withdrawal”.
A video on Kherson’s social media on Thursday showed the Russian flag no longer fluttering over the main administrative building. This video was confirmed by Sobolevskyi.
The photo was taken today. The mysterious disappearance of you know what…” he said on Telegram.
A local Russian journalist disputed this, saying he had toured Kherson and that it was “not a systemic phenomenon”, adding that the Russian flag “still hung over other administrative buildings and establishments”. ‘education”.
“The roar of tanks moving in great numbers at night”: The Kherson resident, meanwhile, whose identity CNN is withholding for its own safety, said that “during the day there are very few large military vehicles; they were constantly driving all day.”
In the north of Kherson, in the direction of Mykolaiv, the resident said “there is a large accumulation of manpower and materials. Residents of the suburbs hear the roar of tanks moving in large number at night” in the areas near the airport”.
The Ukrainian army said fighting continued around Beryslav, up the river from the city of Kherson, with the southern operational command saying enemy troops continued to launch rocket and artillery attacks on peaceful settlements.
He also said that the occupation authorities had “temporarily banned the movement of civilian vehicles on the (Dnieper) river”, opposing Stremousov’s call for civilians in the city to leave for the eastern bank.
Russian-appointed authorities said there was “a temporary evacuation of civilians from all settlements within the 15-kilometer zone of the eastern bank of the (Dnieper)”.
Strikes on Russian targets: Ukrainian forces intensified their attacks on critical Russian supply centers in Kherson this week, with renewed attacks on Nova Kakhovka and pontoon bridges over the Dnieper near the city of Kherson. Geotagged images by CNN on Thursday showed shipwrecks on the shore near the city of Kherson.
Ukrainian forces also hit an administrative building on the eastern bank in Hola Prystan.
Stremousov confirmed the strike and said no one was injured in the shelling, but the Hola Prystan administration building was “completely destroyed”.
Russian forces are fortifying an area on the eastern shore, which extends 15 to 20 kilometers downstream from Nova Kakhovka.
Stremousov has previously said Russian forces are entrenched and will defend areas of the west bank of the Dnieper that they still hold. At the same time, Russian forces began building fortifications on the eastern bank, according to Ukrainian officials and Russian-backed local administrations.
If Russian forces withdraw completely from the West Bank, they will cede thousands of square kilometers of occupied territory that they annexed in September to Ukrainian forces.