Russia withdraws from Kherson, the most important city it had occupied in Ukraine

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General Sergei Surovikin, Putin's appointed commander of invasion operations, admitted defeat to Kremlin Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. They will fall back to the right bank of the Dnieper River

Russia withdraws from Kherson, the most important city ;s important that he had occupied in Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers from an artillery unit fire at Russian positions on the outskirts of Bakhmut on November 8, 2022. (Photo by BULENT KILIC/AFP)

The Russian Defense Minister on Wednesday ordered his troops withdraw from the Ukrainian city of Kherson, the only Russian-controlled regional capital in the entire country, a major pullback and potential turning point in Putin's invasion.

“Proceed with the withdrawal of troops and take all necessary measures to ensure the safe transfer of troops, weapons and equipment to the other side of the Dnieper River,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu< ordered. /b>, to the head of the group of Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin.

The withdrawal from Kherson -which is located in a region of the same name that Moscow illegally annexed–is another major setback for Russia. The city, with a prewar population of 280,000, is the only regional capital captured by Russian forces since the February 24 invasion began.

Shoigu approved the withdrawal after Surovikin admitted in his report that the defense of the city and its outskirts on the right bank of the Dnieper was “unfeasible”.

The general stressed that under current conditions it is also not possible to supply the Russian military contingent deployed in the area.< /p>

Russia withdraws from Kherson, the most important city it had occupied in Ukraine

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia. October 28, 2022. (Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/REUTERS)

Surovikin, who assumed command of all Russian troops in Ukraine in early October, admitted that the withdrawal It was not “an easy decision”, although he said that the priority for Moscow is to protect the lives of civilians and soldiers.

“We are going to save the lives of our soldiers and the combat capacity of our units. Keeping them on the right (western) bank is useless. Some of them can be used on other fronts,” Surovikin said.

Russia withdraws from Kherson, the most important city it had occupied in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Colonel General Sergei Surovikin, commander of the forces in Ukraine, in a photo from 2017. (Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS)

The news came after weeks ofUkrainian advancesinto the city and a race of Russia to relocate more than 100,000 of its residents.

In recent weeks there has been speculation that Moscow could withdraw its forces from the west bank of the Dnipro or dig in for a bloody battle in the coming days or weeks.< /p>

Previously, the main bridge of a road leading out of the city of Kherson was blown up. Photos published on the Internet showed the span of the Darivka bridge, on the main road out of Kherson to the east, completely collapsed into the waters of the Inhulets River, a tributary of the Dnipro River.

Russia withdraws from Kherson, the most important city It is important that he had occupied Ukraine

One of the bridges over the Dnieper destroyed by the Russians (ukraine.osintukraine)

Ukrainians who posted photos of the destroyed bridge over the Inhulets on Wednesday speculated that it had been blown up by Russian troops in preparation for a withdrawal.

Authorities Ukrainian authorities did not immediately confirm the move, and President Volodimir Zelenskyhe suggested in recent days that the Russians were faking a withdrawal from Kherson to lure the Ukrainian army into an entrenched battle. Zelensky called attempts to lure civilians into Russian-held territory “theatrical.”

Ukrainian forces had targeted the strategic industrial city, located on the Dnieper River, which divides the region and the country itself.

During the summer, Ukrainian troops launched incessant attacks to retake parts of the largest province.

Russia withdraws from Kherson, the most important city it had occupied in Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier from an artillery unit fires towards Russian positions on the outskirts of Bakhmut , in the Donetsk region. (Photo by BULENT KILIC/AFP)

More than 70,000 residents were evacuated in late October, along with members of the Kremlin-installed regional government, according to Moscow-appointed officials, although Ukrainian officials disputed this claim. The remains of Grigory Potemkin, the Russian general who founded Kherson in the 18th century, were also moved from the city's St. Catherine's Church.

The The city and parts of the surrounding region were taken in the early days of the conflict as Russian troops launched their attack north from Crimea, the area illegally annexed by the Kremlin in 2014.

In recent months, Ukraine has used US-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers to repeatedly attack a key bridge over the Dnieper at Kherson and a large dam upstream that is also used as a crossing point. The attacks forced Russia to resort to pontoons and ferries that were also targeted by Ukraine.

The withdrawal announcement had been anticipated by influential Russian war bloggers, who described it as a bitter blow.

“It looks like we will leave town, as painful as it is to write about it now,” said the War Gonzo blog, which tells with more than 1.3 million subscribers on Telegram. “In simple terms, Kherson cannot be held with bare hands,” he said. “Yes, this is a black page in the history of the Russian army. of the Russian state. A tragic page”.

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