The regional administration worked for weeks to move civilians from the area, citing Ukrainian attacks
Russia has decided to withdraw its troops from the right bank of the Dnieper River, including the regional capital of Kherson. The Defense Ministry explained that it wants to avoid unnecessary losses among its forces and spare the lives of civilians.
While saying the decision was not easy, the commanders see little sense in keeping the troops on the right bank, the chief of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, Army General Sergey Surovikin, told Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Wednesday. The general pointed to continued Ukrainian attacks on the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric dam on the Dnieper River, arguing that it could mean the total isolation of Russian troops in Kherson.
“If the Kiev regime … launches an even more devastating attack on the Kakhovskaya dam, a flow of water could arise that would flood large areas, causing significant civilian casualties,” Surovikin added. This, according to the commander, “would create further threats for civilians and risk total isolation of our force grouping on the right bank of the Dnieper.”
A pullout would help avoid the worst-case scenario and also keep the combat effectiveness of the force grouping in the area, Surovikin said.
This is a very difficult decision. Yet, we would be able to preserve the most important thing: the lives of our soldiers.
“Start the pullback of forces,” Shoigu told Surovikin in a video released by media outlets. The minister ordered the general to organize secure relocation for both soldiers and civilians.
Over the past weeks, the local authorities have launched an effort to bring as many civilians as possible to the left bank of the Dnieper, citing a threat posed by Ukrainian forces located on the opposite side. Over 115,000 people had left the city as of today, according to Surovikin.
Russia incorporated Kherson Region last month, after residents voted in a referendum to break away from Ukraine and seek accession to Russia. Kiev rejected the vote as a “sham” and pledged to use military force to recapture all territories it considers to be under its sovereignty.
Ukraine has been waging a counter-offensive over the past two months, forcing Russian troops to fall back in some places. Earlier this week, Ukrainian troops launched several attacks, making an attempt in the east of Kharkov Region, in the northwestern part of the Lugansk People’s Republic, and in Kherson Region. All of the assaults were successfully repelled, the Russian military said.
According to Surovikin, Kiev’s troops suffered heavy losses, amounting to over 12,000 soldiers in October. Russian casualties were seven to eight times lower, he said. The general claimed that Russia’s troops managed to “stabilize” the situation on the frontlines, including with the help of those mobilized since late September.