Russia abandoned the Ukrainian city of Kherson in a major decline

LONDON (Reuters) – Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday ordered his forces to withdraw from the occupied Ukrainian city of Kherson and take defensive lines on the opposite bank of the Dnipro River.

The declaration marks one of Russia’s most significant setbacks and a potential turning point in the war, now approaching the end of its ninth month.

In televised comments, General Sergei Sorovikin, commander-in-chief of the war, informed Shoigu that it was no longer possible to maintain the supply of the city of Kherson.

“After a thorough assessment of the current situation, it is proposed to take defense measures along the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro River,” said Sorovikin, standing at a pulpit showing the locations of the troops on the map, the details of which were in grey. TV audience.

“I understand that this is a very difficult decision, but at the same time we will preserve the most important thing – the lives of our soldiers and, in general, the combat effectiveness of the group of forces, for which there is no point in continuing the right bank in a limited area.”

This news came weeks after the Ukrainian advance on the city and raced Russia to relocate more than 100,000 of its residents by moving them to the other side of the river.

Kherson is the main city in the region of the same name – one of four Ukrainian regions that President Vladimir Putin announced in September that he would annex to Russia “forever,” which the Kremlin said are now placed under Moscow’s nuclear umbrella.

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Shoigu told Sorovikin: “I agree with your conclusions and proposals. For us, the life and health of Russian soldiers has always been a priority. We must also take into account the threats to the civilian population.

“Proceed with the withdrawal of forces and take all measures to ensure the safe transportation of personnel, weapons and equipment across the Dnipro River.”

This announcement was expected by influential bloggers of the war in Russia, who called it a bitter blow.

“Obviously we’re leaving town, no matter how painful it may be to write about it now,” War Gonzo’s blog, which has more than 1.3 million subscribers on Telegram, said.

“In simple terms, Kherson cannot be held in his hands,” the statement read. “Yes, this is a black page in the history of the Russian army. About the Russian state. A tragic page.”

Adding to the sense of Russian chaos in Kherson, Moscow’s second official, Kirill Strimosov, was killed in a car accident on Wednesday.

Strimosov was one of the most prominent faces of the Russian occupation. Ukraine viewed him as a collaborator and traitor.

In a video statement just hours before his death, Strimosov denounced what he called Ukrainian “Nazis” and said the Russian army was “in full control” of the situation in the south.

Reporting by Reuters. Written by Mark Trevelyan. Editing by John Boyle and Jonathan Otis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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