While a Ukrainian official warned that Russian land mines might transform Kherson into a “city of death,” Russia claimed Thursday that it had started removing troops from a strategically crucial Ukrainian city, potentially marking a turning point in the bloody conflict.
Officials from Ukraine accepted that Moscow’s forces had no choice but to leave Kherson, but they were wary out of concern for an ambush.
The situation in the port city, where the citizens who remained after tens of thousands of people evacuated were terrified to leave their houses, was challenging to understand because Ukrainian officials were coy with their evaluations, reporters weren’t present, and communications were sporadic.
One of Russia’s worst defeats in the conflict would be a forced withdrawal from Kherson, the only provincial capital Moscow had taken after invading Ukraine.
Retaking the city with a 280,000-person pre-war population might give Ukraine a base to launch an effort to retake other lost territories in the south, including Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
Other parts of the Kherson region appear to see further battlefield victories for Ukrainian forces. Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny, the head of the armed forces, claimed that since October 1 in the province that the Kremlin has illegitimately seized, Kyiv’s soldiers have advanced 36.5 kilometers (22.7 miles) and retaken 41 villages and towns.
There were 12 settlements in all on Wednesday.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a presidential adviser for Ukraine, claimed that Russian forces mined Kherson as they left to transform it into a “city of death,” and he anticipated that they would shell it from territories under their control across the Dnieper River.
The Kremlin could attempt to escalate the eight 1/2-month conflicts from these new locations, which U.S. estimates suggested may have already resulted in the deaths or wounds of tens of thousands of civilians and hundreds of thousands of soldiers.
Following a report from his top general in Ukraine that the loss of supply channels during Ukraine’s southern counteroffensive rendered a defense “futile,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered a troop evacuation from Kherson on Wednesday and the surrounding districts.
A “maneuver of units of the Russian group” to the Dnieper River’s eastern, as its left bank, was reported by Shoigu’s ministry on Thursday.
The highest-ranking American military general and several Western analysts think that the Kremlin’s forces were compelled to withdraw and may take some time.