Russia has ordered its military to pull out from the Ukrainian city of Kherson, the only regional capital it has seized since the war began.
Following weeks of Ukrainian advances towards the city, the announcement on Wednesday represented a significant blow to Russia, as it means that its forces will withdraw entirely from the western bank of the Dnipro River, which it invaded in late February.
General Sergei Surovikin, Russia’s commander in Ukraine, announced the planned withdrawal of his troops from Kherson on television.
General Surovikin, stated that it was impossible to continue supplying the southern city.
“I realize this is a difficult decision, but we will preserve the most important thing,” he said.
“The lives of our servicemen and, in general, the combat effectiveness of the group of troops, which it is futile to keep on the right bank in a limited area.” he further added.
A Russian defense analyst, Pavel Felgenhauer, told Al Jazeera that the announcement was “Politically very embarrassing, But militarily it makes sense. This is not a Russian defeat since it will be withdrawing in an orderly manner & Ukraine will advance cautiously, afraid of any kind of Russian trickery.”
According to the US, approximately 100,000 Russian and 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or injured since the war began.
While Kyiv is cautious about Russia’s withdrawal announcement
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in response to Russia’s statement that “actions speak louder than words.”
“We see no signs that Russia is abandoning Kherson without a fight,” he wrote on Twitter.
While commenting on the decision to withdraw from Kherson, US President Joe Biden said: it demonstrates that the Russian military has “some real problems.”