A damaged military vehicle is seen after the withdrawal of Russian troops in Balaklya, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine, September 13, 2022.
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As Russian authorities continue the mass evacuation of civilians from Kherson in occupied southern Ukraine, the movement of people has set the scene for Moscow to withdraw troops from much of the region. I believe there is.
Up to 60,000 civilians are expected to evacuate over the next few days from the western part of the Kherson region on the right side of the Dnipro river to the eastern bank of the river, with residents then told to move to other Russian-occupied territories. .
Residents were told to leave Kherson after Russian-installed officials warned that Ukraine was preparing to launch a major offensive. Ukraine condemned the evacuation, likening it to deportation and telling residents not to obey.
The Russian-appointed acting governor of the region, Vladimir Sardo, said the evacuation was necessary because Ukraine was “building an army for a massive offensive” and Russia wanted to protect its citizens. His deputy Kirill Stremsov, meanwhile, said in a Telegram late Tuesday that “the battle for Kherson will begin in the very near future.”
“We cannot rule out the possibility that both Kherson and the right bank[of the Dnipro]in the Kherson region will come under artillery fire,” Stremsov said on Wednesday. On Thursday, he claimed that Russian forces had repelled four attempts by Ukrainian forces to “break through in the direction of Kherson.”
Ukraine, meanwhile, has challenged the preamble to the evacuation, saying Russia is trying to scare civilians and using the evacuation as “propaganda.”
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry declined to comment further to CNBC on the situation in Kherson, indicating that the military situation in Ukraine is extremely delicate.
Both seem to be.
The newly appointed commander-in-chief of Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Slovikin, described Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, which he called an aggression, as “tense” and added that “further information regarding the city of Kherson will be issued.” Actions and plans are about developing a military-tactical situation that is not easy.”
Even more bafflingly, he added:
Setting the stage for withdrawal
Given the unguarded comments from Russian officials, analysts believe Russia is now setting the stage for an imminent withdrawal from the entire Kherson region.
“Russian authorities are likely to set information conditions to justify the planned Russian withdrawal and significant territorial loss at Kherson,” analysts at the think-tank War Research Institute said Wednesday. rice field.
A recent statement by a Russian official said, “It is likely an attempt to set information conditions for a complete Russian withdrawal across the Dnipro River and the cession of the city of Kherson and other important territories of the Kherson province. ‘ said. [province] To the advancing Ukrainian army. “
Further Russian withdrawal would be further humiliation for Moscow. Previous withdrawals by Russian troops from Kyiv, outpost Snake Island or Kharkov, or the “tactical withdrawals” that Russia characterizes them, have criticized the country’s military officials and strategy, even by Russia’s most pro-Kremlin figures. It was a target.
The most recent humiliation for Moscow was when Ukraine warned it would launch a counteroffensive in the south in the summer, prompting Russia to redeploy troops there, but Russia launched a large-scale attack in the country’s northeast. Launched a surprise counterattack and made it possible to recapture a region of territory.
The Russian Foreign Ministry building is seen behind a social advertising billboard showing the letter Z in central Moscow on October 13, 2022. This is the tactical insignia of the Russian army in Ukraine, which reads: “Victory is being forged in fire.”
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“Russian military leaders have clearly learned from previous intelligence and operational failures during the recent Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkov. [in northeastern Ukraine] It is therefore likely seeking to mitigate the informational and operational consequences of failing to defend against another successful Ukrainian advance,” analysts noted.
The UK Ministry of Defense agreed, saying in its latest intelligence update on Thursday that it believed Russia was likely considering withdrawing troops from parts of Kherson.
In addition to General Slovikhin’s comments, the ministry said that its approval of the plan to evacuate the population from the area “means that the Russian authorities are seriously considering a large-scale withdrawal of troops from the area west of the Dnipro River.” It is likely to indicate that,” he said. It can be difficult to operate.
“A key challenge in the Russian withdrawal operation is the methodical recovery of troops and their equipment across a 1,000-meter-wide river.”
“With all permanent bridges severely damaged, Russia is heavily dependent on the recently completed temporary barge bridge near Kherson and military pontoon ferry units that continue to operate in some locations. “It is very likely,” the ministry said.
false flag attack
Tensions were centered in Kherson, the Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday, claiming that Ukrainian forces “tried to break through the defenses of Russian troops” by “interrupting the defenses” of Russian units near Skakhanovo in the Kherson region. It claimed that Russian forces had “completely” restored the front line of defense in all directions.
There are now concerns that Russia plans to cover up its withdrawal with a false flag attack on the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant upstream from the city of Kherson, the ISW think tank notes: They will withdraw from the right bank of the Dnipro to block or slow the advance of Ukrainian forces across the river. ”
Russia claims to have “intelligence” that Kyiv intends to attack the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant dam, but does not provide any evidence, and Ukraine says that if Russian forces blow up the power plant said it would lead to catastrophe. Casualties.
“Russian authorities have reportedly launched an alleged Ukrainian airstrike on the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant to set information conditions for Russian forces to damage the dam and blame Ukraine for the ensuing damage and loss of life. , likely intended to warn of these, meanwhile, using the resulting floods to cover their retreat further south into Kherson province.”