Kyiv: the Russian army announced on Wednesday that it was withdrawing from the Ukrainian city of Kherson and neighboring areas, in what would be another in a series of humiliating setbacks for Moscow’s forces in the 8-month war.
Ukrainian the authorities did not immediately confirm this decision – and the president Volodymyr Zelensky suggested in recent days that the Russians were faking a withdrawal from Kherson in order to draw the Ukrainian army into an entrenched battle. Zelenskyy described attempts to convince civilians to move deeper into Russian-held territory as “theatre”.
Russia’s top military commander in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, reported to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday that it was impossible to deliver supplies to the city of Kherson and other areas on the west bank of the Dnieper on which she is. Shoigu accepted his proposal to retreat and set up defenses on the eastern bank.
Withdrawing from Kherson – which is in a region of the same name that Moscow illegally annexed – would be another significant setback. The city, with a pre-war population of 280,000, is the only regional capital to be captured by Russian forces since the February 24 invasion began.
Ukrainian forces have focused on the strategic industrial city, located on the Dnieper River which divides the region and the country itself.
Over the summer, Ukrainian troops launched relentless attacks to reclaim parts of the greater province.
More than 70,000 residents were evacuated in late October, along with members of the Kremlin-installed regional government, according to Moscow-appointed officials, though Ukrainian officials have questioned that claim. The remains of Grigori Potemkin, the Russian general who founded Kherson in the 18th century, are also believed to have been moved from the city’s St. Catherine’s Church.
The town and parts of the surrounding region were seized in the early days of the conflict as Russian troops pushed their attack north into Crimea – the area illegally annexed by the Kremlin in 2014.
In recent months, Ukraine has used US-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers to repeatedly strike a key bridge over the Dnieper at Kherson and a large dam upstream that is also used as a crossing point. The strikes forced Russia to rely on pontoons and ferries that were also targeted by Ukraine.
The Russian announcement came as villages and towns across Ukraine saw more heavy fighting and shelling on Wednesday.
At least nine civilians were killed and 24 others injured in 24 hours, the Ukrainian president’s office said. He accused Russia of using explosive drones, rockets, heavy artillery and aircraft to attack eight regions in the south-east of the country.
Ukrainian and Russian forces also clashed overnight over Snihurivka, a town about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the southern city of Kherson.
The president’s office said widespread Russian strikes on Ukraine’s energy system were continuing. Two towns not far from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant were bombed overnight, he added. More than 20 residential buildings, an industrial factory, a gas pipeline and a power line were reportedly damaged in Nikopol, which is across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Further west, in the Dnipropetrovsk region, the Ukrainian governor reported “massive” night strikes with Iranian-made drones that injured four workers at an energy company in the city of Dnipro.
“Attacks on civilian infrastructure are war crimes in themselves. The Kremlin is at war with Ukrainian civilians, trying to leave millions of people without water or light (for them) to freeze in the winter,” he said. said Governor Valentyn Reznichenko on Ukrainian television.

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