Russia on Wednesday ordered its troops to withdraw from the west bank of the Dnieper River in the face of Ukrainian attacks near the southern city of Kherson, a significant retreat and potential turning point in the war.
Kherson city was the only regional capital Russia had captured since its invasion in February, and the abandonment of such a strategic prize would be a significant setback for what Moscow terms its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
In televised comments, General Sergei Surovikin said it was no longer possible to supply Kherson city. He said he proposed to take up defensive lines on the eastern bank of the Dnieper River.
The news followed weeks of Ukrainian advances towards the city and a race by Russia to relocate tens of thousands of its residents.
Kherson is the region’s main city of the same name – one of four Ukrainian regions that President Vladimir Putin proclaimed in September he was incorporating into Russia “forever”, and one that the Kremlin said had been placed under Moscow’s nuclear umbrella.