Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson is a necessary humiliation | world news


A very public decision by Russia to order the withdrawal of its forces from the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine appears as a necessary humiliation.

Exposed on the west bank of the Dnipro River, commanders had the choice of staying and slowly dying under Ukrainian bombardment or retreating and living to fight another day.

Ukrainian troops will rightly be wary of a trap designed to lure them under Russian fire.

But if – as it seems – of President Vladimir Putin forces are truly falling back to new defensive lines across the river, this will mark an important victory for Ukraine as well as a much-needed psychological boost after more than two and a half months of a bloody battle against – offensive in the South.

The big question now is whether the Ukrainians can harness their momentum to keep pushing back the Russians, or will the front lines literally and metaphorically freeze until spring?

Both sides are exhausted, have suffered heavy casualties, and face increasingly difficult combat conditions as winter approaches, temperatures drop, and visibility deteriorates.

But there is no doubt that the Ukrainian armed forces will want to keep fighting, provided that their Western partners continue to deliver arms and ammunition.

This is the most important factor on the Ukrainian side that the government in Kyiv cannot control, beyond maintaining pressure on their American, British and other NATO suppliers.

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For Mr Putin, however, he is no doubt hoping – as has happened too often in the past – that the West’s ability to stay the course will falter when things get too tough and drag on beyond too many election cycles.

He will rely on soaring energy prices, collapsing economies and increasingly disgruntled populations in Western countries who will pressure their respective governments to change course on Ukraine.

Despite the underperformance and failure of his troops in the north, east and now the south, the Russian leader shows no signs of backing down or changing his plans to take over Ukraine.

It just needs time to regroup, rearm and wait for the bulk of some 300,000 reservists recently mobilized to acquire some semblance of training to attempt new offensives.

This means that the West’s will and ability to stay with Ukraine must outlast Mr. Putin’s will to go to war.

malek

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