The Russians are creating the illusion of withdrawing from Kherson to lure Ukrainian forces into street fighting in the key southern city, Ukrainian military spokeswoman Natalia Humeniuk said on Saturday.
“Russian troops are trying to convince everyone that they are withdrawing, but at the same time we are seeing objective evidence that they are staying,” Humeniuk said in an interview with Ukrainian media.
“There are military units that were based there, and a lot of military equipment is stationed there, and their battle positions are also defined there. The battle positions that were fixed on the left bank will be used to support the positions combat on the right bank.
CNN has not independently verified Humeniuk’s claims.
“We understand that the Russians are trying to create the illusion of not being there in order to lure Ukrainian forces into nearby settlements, and settlements are usually the site of fierce street fighting,” she said.
“That’s why we know, we see and we predict what kind of narrative they’re trying to feed us, and we build our own strategy accordingly,” Humeniuk noted.
According to Humeniuk, the Russians are moving their elite units and officers to the left bank of the Dnieper, leaving those on the right bank no way to escape or evacuate. “They are leaving the right bank units to fight until their last breath,” she said.
A bit of context: It has been difficult to determine the exact situation on the ground in Kherson this week.
A senior Moscow-appointed official remarked on Thursday that Russian troops would “most likely” withdraw from their positions in the southern city. Ukrainian officials suggested from the start that the statement could be a trap.
Russia evacuated citizens from the city. Moscow describes the move as vital for public safety. Kyiv compared the evacuations to forced relocation.
A resident last month described the situation in Kherson as tense, with people “emotionally drained”, empty streets from mid-afternoon and Russian soldiers often seen in civilian clothes.