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Russia Completed Retreat from Ukrainian City of Kherson

By Vusala Abbasova November 12, 2022


Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered the withdrawal on Wednesday, following the recommendation of Russia’s commander in Ukraine Sergei Surovikin.

The Russian military said on Friday it had completed the pullback of its troops from the Ukrainian city of Kherson.

“In the Kherson area today at 5 o'clock in the morning Moscow time, the transfer of units of Russian troops to the left bank of the Dnipro River was completed,” the defense ministry said in a statement.

“Not a single unit of military equipment or weapons have been left on the right (western) bank. All Russian servicemen crossed to the left bank,” it added, saying that Russia had not suffered any loss of personnel or equipment during the withdrawal.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered the withdrawal on Wednesday, following the recommendation of Russia’s commander in Ukraine Sergei Surovikin.

“The decision to defend on the left bank of the Dnipro is not easy, but at the same time we will save the lives of our military personnel and the combat capability of our forces,” General Surovikin said in a televised meeting with the defense minister on Wednesday.

In his speech, General Surovikin said that it was no longer possible to keep Russian troops in the city.

“For us, the life and health of Russian servicemen are always a priority,” Shoigu said. “We must also take into account the threat to the civilian population. Make sure that everyone among the civilian population who wanted to leave was able to do so.”

Russian troops gained control of Kherson, which is one of the key port cities in Ukraine, in the beginning of March. Located in the country’s south, Kherson sits above the delta of the Dnipro River, which flows into the Black Sea. The fall of Kherson, which was home to about 300,000 people before the invasion, had strategic importance to Russia as its military could use it as a base to push its forces further inland.

The city is the capital of the Kherson region, one of four Ukrainian territories that Moscow officially incorporated into Russia on September 30. The Kherson region is key to establishing a land bridge to Crimea, which has been under Russia’s control since 2014.

The Kherson region and part of neighboring Zaporizhzhia came under Russian control as a result of the ongoing war that began on February 24. Russia also controls about 60 percent of Donetsk and 70 percent of Zaporizhzhia, where fighting has raged close to Europe’s biggest nuclear plant.

What the Western countries called the “annexation” of the regions came shortly after President Putin recognized Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as independent states. He also signed a similar decree shortly before invading Ukraine, in which he recognized two separatist regions in the east of Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk, as independent entities.

It has been more than eight months since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an all-out offensive in Ukraine, claiming that the assault was aimed at protecting the people of two self-proclaimed separatist-controlled regions in the country, allegedly being attacked by the Ukrainian military.

Before invading Ukraine in late February, Russia recognized the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics as independent entities. Putin signed friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance agreements with the two separatist territories.

Ukraine and Russia have been at odds since the 2014 crisis in Ukraine’s southern and eastern regions. Ukraine accuses Russia of annexing the Crimean Peninsula — a territory that extends into the Black Sea — and backing anti-government separatist regimes in the country’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The Moscow-backed referendum held in March of that year allegedly revealed that over 90 percent of Crimea's residents wanted the peninsula to be under Russian control. However, the vote was declared illegitimate by Ukraine, Western countries and the United Nations.