Ukraine says Russians will take one week to withdraw from Kherson


Article content

FRONTLINE NORTH OF KHERSON — U krainian troops pushed towards Kherson on Thursday, after Moscow ordered one of the war’s biggest retreats, though Kyiv warned that Russian troops could still turn Kherson into a “city of death” and it would take them at least a week to withdraw.

In an interview in Kyiv Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Reuters that Russia had a contingent of 40,000 troops in Kherson region and intelligence showed its forces remained in the city, around the city and on the west bank of the vast Dnipro River.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

“It’s not that easy to withdraw these troops from Kherson in one day or two days. As a minimum, (it will take) one week,” he said.

Reznikov added that such an exit would free up forces from both sides to fight elsewhere. The Russian army under General Sergei Surovikin appeared to have become more disciplined and brutal since his appointment as the new commander of Russia’s invasion forces in October, he said.

Earlier on Thursday, Ukraine’s army chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said Ukrainian troops had advanced 7 km (4.3 miles) in the past 24 hours and had recaptured 12 settlements in the south.

A small group of Ukrainian soldiers was shown on Ukraine’s state TV being greeted by joyous residents in the center of the village of Snihurivka, around 55 km (35 miles) north of Kherson city, with a Ukrainian flag fluttering above the square behind them. Reuters verified the location of the video.

Advertisement 3

Article content

A few kilometers away, in a devastated frontline village reached by Reuters in an area already held by Ukrainian forces, the guns had fallen silent for what residents said was the first quiet night since the war began.

“We hope the silence means the Russians are leaving,” said Nadiia Nizarenko, 85. The Russians could be preparing a trap, said Nizarenko’s daughter, Svitlana Lischeniuk, 63.

Still, there was joy. Petro Lupan, a volunteer distributing bread to residents, said he could not find words to express his feelings after he learned of the recapture of Snihurivka.

If Russia implements its withdrawal from an area that President Vladimir Putin proclaimed annexed a month ago, it would be its biggest retreat since its forces were driven back from the outskirts of Kyiv in March and a clear shift in the momentum of the nine-month-old war.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Moscow ordered troops on Wednesday to withdraw from the entire Russian-held pocket on the west bank of the Dnipro River, including Kherson city, the only regional capital it had taken.

Ukrainian officials have so far mostly been wary in public, warning that Russians may still be planning to sow destruction on their way out.

In the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, 54-year-old Larysa, who had recently fled Kherson to reach Ukrainian-held territory, said she could not reach family in the area.

“We tried contacting them… but there was no connection. We don’t even know … the fate of our relatives.”

“We’ve lived in the occupied territories for eight months. The situation there is difficult, especially psychologically. Our village is full of armed Russian soldiers… It is a miracle that we got out… There were tears of happiness when I saw our Ukrainian flag and our soldiers.”

Advertisement 5

Article content

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said on Thursday Russia wanted to turn Kherson into a “city of death,” mining everything from apartments to sewers and planning to shell the city from the other side of the river.

Russia denies it attacks civilians despite bombarding residential areas throughout the conflict. It has evacuated thousands of civilians from the Kherson area in recent weeks in what Ukraine says included illegal forced deportations.


Kyiv’s public wariness may in part reflect its urge to keep its own operations secret as it plans to inflict as much harm as possible on the thousands of Russian troops likely to need to be transferred across the river by ferry.

Advertisement 6

Article content

Asked about Kherson in an interview with CNN aired on Thursday, Zelenskiy said he could not give details, because “I really want to have an unpleasant surprise for the enemy and not something that they’re prepared for.”

Russian state media and pro-Kremlin war hawks defended the withdrawal as a necessary move while acknowledging a heavy blow.

The retreat would leave Moscow with only limited gains to show for a “special military operation” that made it a pariah in the West and, according to a U.S. estimate, has killed or wounded some 100,000 Russian soldiers.

Russian forces are still holding on to other gains in the south, including a vital land route connecting Russia to the Crimea peninsula it seized in 2014, and cities in the east that they mostly obliterated while capturing them.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Writing by Peter Graff and Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Alex Richardson and Cynthia Osterman)



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.


Source link

Comments are closed.