Russia: Withdrawal From Kherson Is Complete

Unconfirmed video purports to show locals hugging Ukrainian soldiers in celebration
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2022 12:10 PM CST
Updated Nov 11, 2022 7:36 AM CST
Russia Says It Will Retreat From Kherson
In this handout photo taken from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu speaks during his meeting with the top Russian military commander in Ukraine, Gen. Sergei Surovikin.   (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
UPDATE Nov 11, 2022 7:36 AM CST

Russia now says it has completely withdrawn its forces from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson. Russia's Defense Ministry says there is "not a single piece of military equipment or weapons" left on the western bank of the Dnipro River and remaining troops have been moved to the eastern bank as well, reports NPR. Ukraine has yet to confirm the movements. Unconfirmed footage shows the Ukrainian flag being hoisted atop the city's administration building and police headquarters. One video purports to show jubilant locals hugging Ukrainian troops. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claims Russia maintains a legal hold on the territory, which it illegally annexed in September.

Nov 9, 2022 12:10 PM CST

In what is widely being labeled a blow for Vladimir Putin, Russia on Wednesday announced it was pulling its troops from Kherson—the sole regional Ukrainian capital it had managed to take since its February invasion. NPR notes Russian forces seized Kherson on the war's second day. The Guardian reports Gen. Sergei Surovikin, head of Russian forces in Ukraine, ordered Russian troops to retreat from the western bank of the Dnipro River to the river's eastern bank. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday said in televised remarks that Russia was unable to supply the city and that its defense would be "futile."

CNN reports Russians have struggled to hold the city as Ukrainian forces took out bridges that spanned the river and targeted Russian supply lines. Shoigu ordered Surovikin to "start with the withdrawal of troops and take all measures to ensure the safe transfer of personnel, weapons, and equipment across the Dnipro River." But Ukrainian authorities expressed some skepticism and advised against considering the retreat a sure thing. As the AP puts it, "President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that the Russians were feigning a pullout from Kherson to lure the Ukrainian army into an entrenched battle in the strategic industrial port city."

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Indeed, an adviser to Zelensky tweeted, "Actions speak louder than words. We see no signs that Russia is leaving Kherson without a fight. A part of the ru-group is preserved in the city, and additional reserves are charged to the region. Ukraine is liberating territories based on intelligence data, not staged TV statements." But should the retreat come to pass and Ukraine manage to retake Kherson, the AP notes it could pave the way for Ukraine to next seize lost territory in the Zaporizhzhia region and other southern areas, "leading to an eventual push back into Crimea, which Russia illegally seized in 2014." (More Kherson stories.)

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