Confirmed: Russian Forces are Withdrawing from Kherson

A short time ago, Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, together with general Sergei Surovikin who commands all Russian forces in Ukraine, publicly announced that Russian troops will withdraw from Kherson across the Dnipro river. In an awkward, seemingly staged, report to Shoigu Surovikin said:

“Comrade Minister of Defense, after a comprehensive assessment of the current situation, we suggest taking up defense against the left shore of the Dnieper river. Understand that this is not an easy decision, but at the same time, we will, most importantly, preserve the lives of our soldiers, and more generally the combat readiness of those forces which the keeping of on the right bank, in a limited area, offers no prospects. Aside from that, some of the forces will be freed, which will be used for actions, including those of offensive nature, in other directions of the special military operation.”

Shoigu responded:

“Sergei Vladimirovich, I agree with your conclusions and suggestions. To us, the lives of Russian servicemen are always a priority. […] Begin the troops withdrawal and take all required action to to ensure the safe withdrawal of personnel, troops and vehicles across the Dnieper.”

In recent weeks, the exact situation in Kherson has been uncertain as neither Ukraine nor Russia have revealed much information regarding the details of operations in the region. However, it was known that Ukrainian attacks on river crossings, combined with active military operations across the Kherson front, had been placing a severe strain on Russian forces and logistics. The balance of forces also appears to generally favor the Ukrainians.

Russian actions and movements in the preceding days gave some indication that Russian forces may have been preparing to withdraw. Russia had been stepping up its deportation Kherson civilians and the media environment was preparing the Russian public for news of a defeat around Kherson. However, some had speculated that Russia may choose to shorten the front line but continue to defend the city of Kherson itself.

Combat in the Kherson region near the end of October.

Kherson represents the only Ukrainian regional capital captured during the opening phases of Russia’s full scale invasion. This now appears to be the southern high water mark of Russia’s ‘special military operation’. The Russian withdrawal marks the largest Russian defeat since early September when Ukrainian forces achieved a major breakthrough in the North-Eastern segment of the front East of Kharkiv.